2009 Frey Lecture - William Patry

Photo (c) Oxford University PressThe Eighth Annual Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property

William F. Patry

Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars:
A Reply to Jack Valenti

October 21, 2009

[ More Information | View the Lecture ]  

Photo (c) Oxford University Press

William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google, Inc., delivered the eighth annual Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property on Wednesday, October 21, 2009. Mr. Patry framed his discussion as a response to an earlier Frey Lecture delivered by the late Mr. Jack Valenti, then President and C.E.O. of the Motion Picture Association of America, on "The Moral Imperative" in copyright law.

Before joining Google, Mr. Patry served as Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, copyright counsel to the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, policy planning advisor to the Register of Copyrights, and an attorney in private practice. Mr. Patry is the author of the treatises Patry on Copyright (Thomson West 2009 ed.) and Patry on Fair Use (Thomson West 2009 ed.). He is also the author of the recently released Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (Oxford University Press 2009).

Moral Panics and the Copyright WarsFrom the Publisher's Description: 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.

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. Patry calls for a remaking of our copyright laws so that they may once again be respected.

Reviews: "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 onlookers." –Howard Knopf, Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP

Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property

The Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property was established by Duke Law alumnus Kip Frey '85 and his wife, Meredith, to increase discussion about emerging issues in the areas of intellectual property, cyberspace, and science and technology law.

Past Frey Lectures have included:

Professor Suzanne Scotchmer
A Nonobvious Discussion of Patents
» click to view the Lecture

Professor Joseph Stiglitz
The Economic Foundations of Intellectual Property
» click to view the Lecture

Professor Pamela Samuelson
Enriching Discourse in
the Public Domain
» click to view the Lecture

Professor Lewis Banscomb
Where Do High Tech Commercial Innovations Come From?
» click to view the Lecture

Mr. Jack Valenti
Comments on the Moral Imperative
» click to view the Lecture

Professor Yochai Benkler
Freedom in the Commons: Towards
a Political Economy of Information
» click to view the Lecture

Professor Lawrence Lessig
Architecting Innovation
» click to view the Lecture