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Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (0) Hardcover – 17 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 1 edition (17 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195385640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195385649
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.5 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,062,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A thought-provoking and highly readable book by one of America's top copyright scholars. Anyone interested in modern copyright debates needs to read it (Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law)

Patry's insight into copyright law itself has long been established, but with this book he takes us deep into how the debate surrounding copyright law has been twisted and distorted. This is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the real issues in the copyright debate, both from the business-model and policy perspectives (Mike Masnick, Founder and CEO, Floor64)

Patry makes real policy prescriptions and emphasizes hard economic data, combined with his characteristic morality, innovation, and learning. This is an important book. (Carl Malamud, Founder, Public.Resource.Org)

Patry's argument for reforming copyright law to promote modern day innovation is both engaging and meticulously supported by history and facts - an essential read for copyright practitioners and policymakers alike. (R. David Donoghue, Partner, Holland & Knight)

A bold and brilliant analysis of key cultural, business, economic, philosophical, and legal issues. Do we need creative destruction? A must for the copyright community and its onlooker (Howard Knopf, Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP)

Written with an energetic style that is consistently engaging, and with 50 pages of notes which attest to the wide sweep of author interests, the book can be recommended as one of the livliest and most thought-provoking works on the law of copyright (David Lewisohn, Entertainment Law Review)

Patry's text offers a liguistic and philosophical view of copyright over the last 250 years in the USA. For those interested in linguistics, philosophy and Copyright issues in the 21st century, it provides a fascinating read. (Stephen A. Bowman, Managing Information)

For those interested in linguistics, philosophy and Copyright issues in the 21st century, it provides a fascinating read. (Stephen A. Bowman, Managing Information)

About the Author

William Patry is Senior Copyright Counsel at Google Inc. He previously served as copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, a Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights, a law professor, and in the private practice of law. He is the most prolific scholar of copyright in history, including being the author of an eight-volume treatise and a separate treatise on the fair use doctrine.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Patry is one of the world's leading authorities on copyright, and previously acted for the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee as copyright counsel and as an adviser for the US Register of Copyrights. This angry book gives you a sense of just how frustrating these roles became as copyright interests resisted all meaningful reform while the Internet revolutionised the information environment around them. It's an essential read for anyone interested in how copyright could be redesigned to better support innovation, creativity and the public interest.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By biggles on 14 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Patry is a great expert on Copyright Law and has written some brilliant academic papers but he has really dumbed himself down for the purposes of shifting copies of this book.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C.Amari on 14 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
... Google, from whom Patry admittedly derives his paycheck. If you liked the "science" from the likes of the Tobacco Institute, you will love Patry's cartoonish take on copyright law.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
How to Fix Copyright: The Seque; 10 Feb. 2010
By William Patry - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thanks for the comments. The last (second) review noted that I don't offer a prescription out of the current situation. That was deliberate: I wanted this book to be about how we talk about copyright and the influence that plays in our thinking. Had I wrote a prescriptive book, that's all people would have focused on, I feared. But, since in the book I frequently advocate giving consumers what they want rather than what businesses want to give to them, I am heeding my own advice. I am writing a sequel, which is entirely prescriptive, called "How to Fix Copyright." It will be published by Oxford University Press too and will come out I imagine at the beginning of 2011. so please read and judge Moral Panics for what it set out to do.
P.S. I had to rate the book to post these remarks, and was not being presumptuous. I obviously would have preferred to post without rating myself.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the Valley of the Copyright Nerds 13 Aug. 2009
By benboy - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read other policy explorations by copyright experts -- Copyrights and Copy Wrongs, Copyright's Paradox, Copyright's Highway,The Future of Ideas, and Digital Copyright -- and Patry's book is distinguishable on a few levels. Most importantly, it's better written. Patry's use of language and metaphors (he discusses the distinction between metaphor and simile) is a few steps ahead of his colleagues and makes his thesis more palatable and an enjoyable read. As for Patry's brain, that also may be a few steps ahead of his colleagues. Not only is he able to accurately report on the shipwreck of copyright law (and to prescribe a reasonable approach for towing and repairing it) but he presents this approach in a simple, persuasive style. Finally, Patry's 'big picture' overview -- as painful as it may be for many of us copyright owners -- is the perspective of someone with practical, and not merely academic experience. I'm not sure if the appeal of this book extends beyond copyright nerds, but it should.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Thorough analysis, convenient conclusions 31 Dec. 2010
By Don McGowan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I work, and have for years, for content creators. I therefore believe that content creators should have the right, among other things, to place conditions upon the uses made of their creations. I believe this because this is their bargain: I will make things if you will let me choose how they will be used. Because I believe this, I'm good at my job of protecting content creators, and I have a commercial interest in preserving the law as it stands. I'll try to review objectively, but you should know that before I start because it's going to be a bias.

Patry works on the other side: for a company that has made its money by taking and aggregating content made by other people. It is also a company that has found a way to protect its IP through a monopoly: the monopoly in this case just happens to be a patent and not a copyright. Patry would have you believe that, although this is his background, it doesn't affect his conclusions. If that were true, he shouldn't have his job, because he would be a hypocrite in his daily life. I don't think he's a hypocrite: I think he really believes what he's saying and reasonable minds can certainly believe this too. You just need to keep in mind as you read that he has a commercial interest in having the law end up the way he advocates in this book.

Patry's analysis of the law and how it has developed is excellent. He has obviously done his homework and knows the historical development of copyright. These sections will provide you with an outstanding overview of the literature and the history, and will save you literally thousands of pages of reading to get you to the same place. His analysis of US law is bang-on, and he does make a compelling case for the idea that corporate copyright ownership and the way that copyright law protects corporate owners (who are really assignees from the original creators of the art) might be overbroad. I disagree, but his points are very strong and they require to be addressed.

He then moves to recommendations for how US law should expand to permit more types secondary uses without requiring the permission of the original creator. This is where we need to be aware of the biases I describe above. I find his analysis doesn't distinguish enough between original creators and corporate assignees. It's disingenuous to speak of a creative intent for a corporate assignee, but very easy to speak of one for an artist, and Patry conflates "owner of original work" with corporate assignees and "secondary users" with artists being held back by copyright law. But there are plenty of artists who create original works, and Patry's analysis doesn't seem to hold when you consider their position: if you draw a cartoon for your friend as a gift, should your friend be allowed to make t-shirts from it? If so, why? If not, why not? There are principled answers to each, but they're not as easy questions to address as whether a company should be allowed to block a small artist from creating derivative works.

The way these rights of original creators are protected outside the USA is by moral rights. Patry doesn't really talk about the doctrine of moral rights (which in the USA is limited to works of fine art but outside the USA is an inalienable right of all creators). I think that's because it cuts contrary to his point: if an original creator is able to limit downstream uses of their work that they believe are inconsistent with their original creative vision, then Patry's vision of unrestricted reuse doesn't work.

Long review, short conclusion: Patry's work is a detailed and excellent snapshot of a particular legal system (USA) and a particular time in its development. But this is a legal brief with a conclusion in mind. He argues it well. But he is not unbiased.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Necessary background for thinking about copyright 21 Feb. 2010
By D. Dobkin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Patry has written a very useful book, albeit a dense one. He recites the litany of cases in which content holders have declared the end of the world should a given technology be permitted, only to find themselves its eventual beneficiaries. Excerpts from the centuries-long history of the debates over copyright debunk the favored position of content owners that their rights are natural and not subject to constraints in favor of the public. He makes the connection between excessive copyright and suppression of innovation in the course of reciting the story of the various technologies attacked by content owners --from the player piano through digital audio tape to Napster. As noted in previous reviews and Mr. Patry's remarks in this space, the book is not prescriptive, although it does provide a key thought that is anathema to our business culture but not necessarily so to the public good: to wit, that companies should give customers what they want and then figure out how to make money doing it.

Potential readers should note that the book is often pedantic and repetitive, and may focus on issues of terminology and philosophy of argument that are likely of more interest to attorneys than other folks. It is nevertheless a very valuable read for anyone concerned about redressing the balance of copyright so as to further the progress of science and the useful arts, rather than criminalizing our children.
Great writing, argument and piece of history 7 Jan. 2014
By Amir - Published on
Verified Purchase
I like the writing and argueents of this book that are not really limited to IP or copyrights law!! its really refreshing, novel and powerfull. it covers a wide range of attitudes toward IP, ethics and societial attitude and need toward IP Law. with an eagle eye on ecoomical aspect of it. truely a master piece.
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