William Patry has shut down his personal blog, The Patry Copyright Blog. The reasons are that it is increasingly difficult to separate his personal views from his day job at Google, and the current state of copyright law. Here’s what he says about the latter:
Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.
This mirrors my thinking. When I started blogging in earnest several years ago, I was passionately interested in copyright. This went back to my early years as a graduate student and researcher when I had the privilege of participating in and managing several national and international research projects dealing with copyright, photocopying, database sharing, and copyright formalities. I moved on after deciding that to make it in copyright required a law degree and I was already suffering from graduate school fatigue.
I picked the interest back up when DRM — digital rights management — was being used in earnest by the recorded music industry. As Patry notes in the quote I’ve provided above, though, copyright law no longer serves to encourage the creation of new works but is used by large businesses via lawsuits and lobbying to promote existing or outmoded business models. So while I still believe in the importance of protecting intellectual property rights, the realities of the marketplace and politics have prevailed. Patry will be missed.
There is another significance to his shutting down his blog. This has to do with the difficulty he experienced in keeping separate his business interests and his personal professional interests. This is a problem that many professionals face every day but it can be exacerbated by personal blogging. When personal and professional loyalties and values are parallel, things can run smoothly. If these interests diverge and are publicized in some way, problems can arise. It’s a fine balance and we’re still working out the details of how to manage the overlap between personal and professional interests.
- Copyright (c) 2008 by Dennis D. McDonald