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Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (original 2009; edition 2009)

by William Patry

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Member:bfister
Title:Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars
Authors:William Patry
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Tags:copyright, rhetoric, moral panics, scare tactics, music industry, motion picture industry, intellectual property

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Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars by William Patry (2009)

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Patry, who begins this short book on copyright’s overextension of control with the mildly ironic request not to preface any discussion of the book with the fact that he’s now Senior Copyright Counsel at Google, doesn’t have much to say on the subject that you couldn’t get more punchily from Larry Lessig and the like. He focuses his discussion on the use and misuse of metaphors, specifically piracy and property, in expansionist copyright rhetoric, but I was most amused by his discussion of the metaphor of work-as-child: Daniel Defoe claimed, for example, that an author’s work is “as much his own, as his Wife and Children are his own.” Patry makes two points in response: (1) no author creates in a vacuum, and (2) copyright law has never actually worked that way. By contrast, I’d think the most obvious responses include (1) actually, you do not own your wife or your children, at least (Inspector Clouseau voice) not any more, and (2) if you claimed the rights to do to your children what copyright owners do to their works (including to sell, chop up, and destroy them), we would send you to jail. Someday I want to write a paper on this metaphor, and, though today is not that day, Patry does have a good point about the rhetorical differences between “orphan” works—poor works faultlessly separated from their owners and in need of protection from exploitation—and “abandoned” works—which also need to be taken care of, but differently. ( )
  rivkat | Sep 26, 2011 |
I reviewed this book in Library Journal's Academic Newswire.
  bfister | Dec 17, 2009 |
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This is a curious book in many ways. It is also disappointing, coming from an author whose reputation raises high expectations and from a prestigious press like Oxford. ... Copious references to law review articles and other authoritative sources in the fifty pages of notes at the back are mixed with frequent quotes from Wikipedia entries, making this a peculiarly schizophrenic book, as though the author could not decide between aiming at a popular audience and impressing his professional colleagues with his grasp of the specialist literature.
added by lquilter | editJournal of Scholarly Publishing, Sanford G. Thatcher (Oct 31, 2011)
 
Patry leads the reader on an engaging romp through the business models and mindsets of those who run the copyright industries in America. Though unapologetic in tone, Patry's arguments in "Copyright Wars", much like his other writings, are well researched and documented.
 
Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars is an informative interdisciplinary excursion into the issues that draws on legal, economic, and sociological theories to examine a debate that affects us and our students on a daily basis.
 
Patry is a lively critic of major copyright industry groups and of the copyright policymaking process. He forcefully argues that "copyright is a utilitarian government program—not a property or moral right." One comes away from the book, however, wishing that he had offered some sage advice or insights about how to avert these moral panics and copyright wars.
added by lquilter | editScience, Pamela Samuelson (pay site) (Oct 23, 2009)
 
Patry's stature makes "Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars" an "important" book. Unfortunately, what the book delivers is a choppy and directionless narrative, sometimes illuminating but too often scattershot, unoriginal and strident. Unsupported claims abound.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195385640, Hardcover)

Metaphors, moral panics, folk devils, Jack Valenti, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, predictable irrationality, and free market fundamentalism are a few of the topics covered in this lively, unflinching examination of the Copyright Wars: the pitched battles over new technology, business models, and most of all, consumers.
In Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, William Patry lays bare how we got to where we are: a bloated, punitive legal regime that has strayed far from its modest, but important roots. Patry demonstrates how copyright is a utilitarian government program--not a property or moral right. As a government program, copyright must be regulated and held accountable to ensure it is serving its public purpose. Just as Wall Street must serve Main Street, neither can copyright be left to a Reaganite "magic of the market."
The way we have come to talk about copyright--metaphoric language demonizing everyone involved--has led to bad business and bad policy decisions. Unless we recognize that the debates over copyright are debates over business models, we will never be able to make the correct business and policy decisions.
A centrist and believer in appropriately balanced copyright laws, Patry concludes that calls for strong copyright laws, just like calls for weak copyright laws, miss the point entirely: the only laws we need are effective laws, laws that further the purpose of encouraging the creation of new works and learning. Our current regime, unfortunately, creates too many bad incentives, leading to bad conduct. Just as President Obama has called for re-tooling and re-imagining the auto industry, Patry calls for a remaking of our copyright laws so that they may once again be respected.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:35 -0400)

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