Posts on this blog represent my opinion. It may be my considered opinion on the basis of my formal study of law and technology. But it is not legal advice. It must not be treated as, or acted upon as, legal advice and no liability is accepted for doing so.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A Lost Voice of Reason

I'm very saddened to see that William Patry has decided to close his long-running and very highly regarded copyright blog. Even more depressing are the two main reasons he gives for doing so: that the copyright system has become so overwhelmed by the interests of massive corporate rightsholders as to in his view leave it beyond hope of repair; and that it had become impossible for him to present his own views without them being assumed to be those of Google, his current employer.

More and more, any discussion of copyright seems polarised between ever more extremist positions, with those on one side demanding ever wider and more prolonged protection for anything that can be shoehorned within the confines of 'intellectual property' and those on the other for whom "information wants to be free" has become a mantra to be recited in the face of any suggestion that artists should be able to benefit from their creativity. More than once I have had to explain that just because I am an aspiring IP lawyer it does not mean that I favour unlimited expansion of copyright any more than someone wanting to practise land law would necessarily want to abolish rights of way and enact a right to shoot trespassers on sight. We need IP centrists like Patry to point out that there is a sensible middle ground - even if we seem to be ever more losing sight of it.

I see that many of the people commenting on Patry's final post have implored him to at least make the archives available in some form (he has currently removed them because of what he sees as the ongoing problem of having his opinions cited as those of Google). I've added my voice to this plea; this is too deep a well of good sense to be filled in forever.

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