Two weeks ago, I gave a speech in London, the Stephen Stewart Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Intellectual Property Institute. The Institute has a journal, the Intellectual Property Quarterly which typically publishes the lectures, and wanted to do so in my case. I was happy to have them publish it. The printer is Sweet & Maxwell; I say printer because as far as I can tell that's all they do: they don't solicit the articles and they don't edit them; they don't pay for them either although they do charge for the journal. That doesn't mean they are passive, far from it. For an entity that in this case does nothing intellectual they seem quite opinionated about the content.
Here's the problem. The speech was called "Metaphors and Moral Panics in Copyright." Before drafting the actual text, I spent a large amount of time on the introduction because I became obsessed with the whole idea of introductions to talks, how people try to tell lame jokes, or refer to previous speakers; foreigners usually try to ingratiate themselves to the locals. I decided I would do a parody of such introductions by using all of the most common forms of such introductions and make sly fun of them without seeming to be doing so. This involved in one portion the use of photographs, due to the prevalence of inane PowerPoint presentations that have slide shows. I wanted to parody this too, and did.
Whether the audience got my PostModern assault on introductions or not, I don't know, but I had tremendous fun. I sent a copy of the speech to the journal and they were happy to publish it; that's where Sweet & Maxwell entered. They wanted the photos out: they were expensive to publish in color and there were allegedly copyright problems. I offered to have them printed in black and white, and in that event there would be no cost since they were embedded in the text. I also offered to indemnify them for any copyright problems. No go: their lawyer got involved, and they refused to publish the article with the photos. Well, the introduction wouldn't work without the photos because they are integrally related in every sense to the text. I then told them to simply drop the entire introduction, which is what they are doing.
In my view this exchange is symptomatic of why copyright has failed as a system, but I am interested in others' view. I am happy to send anyone who wants the entire article with the introduction and the photos inhtact, but in order to permit you to form your own views on the merits of whether the use of the photographs is fair use or fair dealing, here is the entirety of the introduction, but with a gaping hole where the photos should be, much like the Girl Scouts danced around the campfire without the music in the Great Macarena Dispute:
The Stephen Stewart Memorial Lecture
William Patry, November 13, 2007
to the Intellectual Property Institute
As a lecture in memory of a most distinguished scholar, I confess to feeling inadequate. One reason for this inadequacy is my nationality: U.S. intellectual property writers have a reputation for being parochial, for lacking a solid grounding in comparative law, and for lacking the nuanced thinking that marked Stephen Stewart’s work with such greatness.
My sense of national inferiority was, however, happily overcome when I looked through the PowerPoint presentation for Charles Oppenheim’s talk to the Institute in July, entitled “What’s Wrong with Copyright?” The second slide in his presentation was entitled “Yanks: over-sexed, over-paid and over here.” At the risk of insulting my wife, who is present tonight, and colleagues from Google’s London office, I take exception to the first two of Professor Oppenheim’s accusations, which I chalk up to extreme jealousy.
And what a long-simmering jealousy it is: over 65 years have elapsed since that saying became popular. British men, have you been doing nothing for the better part of a century to prove your mettle? If I may be so bold as to offer you some advice, you may want to avoid this look:
[PHOTO OF PRINCE CHARLES IN KILT MISSING HERE DUE TO SWEET & MAXWELL]
in favor of this:
[PHOTO OF GEORGE BUSH AS A COWBOY MISSING HERE DUE TO SWEET & MAXWELL]
Of course, if you do look and act like that there are many problems, such as approval ratings in the
[PHOTO OF TOILET MISSING HERE DUE TO SWEET & MAXWELL]
so you will, I think, be best served by being:
[PHOTO OF HUGH LADDIE MISSING HERE DUE TO SWEET & MAXWELL]
Given the lack of eye-catching images found in Professor Oppenheim’s presentation, I wondered whether I should attempt a joke in order to win you over. I consulted with my father in-law, who is a native of London, and a lawyer. He recommended I look at some collections of British humor. I promptly commenced an amazon.com.uk book search for British humor. The first book listed on the search was “Bears Can’t Run Downhill and 200 other Dubious Pub Facts.” The second search result was “Enough to Make a Cat Laugh.”
I quickly concluded that the British regard animals as particularly amusing, and in a way Americans don’t. I then came across a story that convinced me this is indeed the case.
In the middle of July, at the very time of Professor Oppenheim’s talk, I read Prince Charles had given Camilla a pair of sheep for her 60th birthday, accompanied by a card that read, “Happy Birthday to Ewe.” Camilla was reported to have been “chuffed to bits” by the gift. I was unfamiliar with the expression “chuffed to bits.” I didn’t know if the chuffing was something Charles or the sheep did to Camilla, or whether it was a good thing, no matter who did it. I recalled too a famous episode from the very first Monty Python’s Flying Circus show, called “Flying Sheep.” This was far from being the only Monty Python sketch about sheep; there was Sheep in Wainscoting segment, and perhaps most famously, the Killer Sheep skit. Between Prince Charles and Monty Python, I concluded that humor, especially about sheep, was better not explored, so I am sorry to say I have no joke tonight.
Lacking a joke, I sought inspiration from those who delivered previous Stephen Stewart lectures. I naturally decided to go to the most recent, by Mr. Gowers. His talk, however, came right before the release of his report, and accordingly he was circumspect in his remarks. Indeed, I understand from the institute’s newsletter that what wowed you last year was not Mr. Gowers’ presentation, but rather, and I quote, “the chance to own an IPI duck, generously donated by Professor Jeremy Phillips.”
This unexplained and perhaps unexplainable enthusiasm for ducks, much like the intense British fondness for sheep, so befuddled me that I gave up on the entire idea of an introduction. Lacking an introduction, I shall instead now launch directly into my presentation, “Metaphors and Moral Panics in Copyright.”