Friday, August 01, 2008

End of the Blog

I have decided to end the blog, after doing around 800 postings over about 4 years. I regret closing the blog and I owe readers an explanation. There are two reasons.

1. The Inability or Refusal to Accept the Blog for What it is: A Personal Blog

I have been a full-time copyright lawyer for 26 years. My late mother, aleha ha-shalom, told me repeatedly that I had a religious obligation to learn every day, and I have honored her memory by doing exactly that. Learning also involves changing how you think about things; it doesn't only mean reinforcing the existing views you already have. In this respect, Second Circuit Judge Pierre Leval once said that the best way to know you have a mind is to change it, and I have tried to live by that wisdom too. There are positions I have taken in the past I no longer hold, and some that I continue to hold. I have tried to be honest with myself: if you are not genuinely honest with yourself, you can't learn, and if you worry about what others think of you, you will be living their version of your life and not yours.

I started the blog when I was still in private practice with the above goals in mind and one more: I felt there was no blog devoted to the geekery of copyright; meaning a blog where people who loved copyright could come and discuss copyright issues in a non-partisan way. In order to encourage open discussion I permitted not only comments but anonymous and pseudonymous comments. I did that because I wanted to encourage the largest number of people to participate, and after four years I believe that was the right decision. But it is also the right decision to end the blog. While in private practice I never had the experience of people attributing my views to my firm or to my clients. I moved from private practice to Google I put a disclaimer to the effect that the views in the blog (as in the past) were strictly mine. I also set a policy, which I strictly adhered to, of never discussing cases Google was involved in, and I refrained from criticizing those with whom Google was involved in lawsuits. I did not run ads, including not using Google's AdSense program. I cannot see what more I could have done to make what was a personal blog more separate from my employer.

For the first year after joining Google, with some exceptions, people honored the personal nature of the blog, but no longer. When other blogs or news stories refer to the blog, the inevitable opening sentence now is: "William Patry, Google's Senior Copyright Counsel said," or "Google's top copyright lawyer said... ." There is nothing I can do to stop this false implication that I am speaking on Google's behalf. And that's just those who do so because they are lazy. Others, for partisan purposes, insist on on misdescribing the blog as a Google blog, or in one case involving a think tank, darkly indicating also a la Senator Joe McCarthy, that in addition to funding from Google, there may be other sources of funding too. On Blogger, blogs are free. The blog had no funding because it doesn't cost anything, because I don't run ads, and because it was my personal blog, started before I joined Google.

On top of this there are the crazies, whom it is impossible to reason with, who do not have a life of their own and so insist on ruining the lives of others, and preferably as many as possible. I asked myself last week after having to deal with the craziest of the crazies yet, "why subject yourself to this?" I could come up with no reason why I should: My grandfather chose to be a psychiatrist, but I chose a different professional path, one that doesn't obligate me to put up with such nonsense.

In the end, I concluded that it is no longer possible for me to have a blog that will be respected for what it is, a personal blog. I don't draw any grand conclusions from this and hope others don't either. The decision was 100% mine. No one at Google ever asked, suggested, or hinted that I should end the blog. To the contrary, in keeping with Google's deep commitment to free speech, the company encourages blogs like mine, and has stood completely behind me.

2. The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing

This leads me to my final reason for closing the blog which is independent of the first reason: my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries. I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others. But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage. Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better. 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.

It is profoundly depressing, after 26 years full-time in a field I love, to be a constant voice of dissent. I have tried various ways to leaven this state of affairs with positive postings, much like television news shows that experiment with "happy features." I have blogged about great articles others have written, or highlighted scholars who have not gotten the attention they deserve; I tried to find cases, even inconsequential ones, that I can fawn over. But after awhile, this wore thin, because the most important stories are too often ones that involve initiatives that are, in my opinion, seriously harmful to the public interest. I cannot continue to be so negative, so often. Being so negative, while deserved on the merits, gives a distorted perspective of my centrist views, and is emotionally a downer.

So between the inability or refusal of some people to accept the blog for what it is -- a personal blog --- and my inability to continue to be Cassandra, I decided it was time to pull the plug. I thank profusely all those who have accepted the blog for what it is, and who have contributed so much to it and to my learning over the years. I intend to spend my free time figuring out a constructive way to talk about the difficult issues we face and how to advance toward their solution.


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Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm sad to see you end your blog, Bill, but I very much understand and appreciate your reasons. Thank you for four amazing years of copyright geekery!

enobrev said...

I've been a fan for about a year. I'm not in law, but as a web programmer, an artist and American citizen, the subject matter is close to my heart. I'm really sorry to hear that you won't be posting anymore. I learned quite a bit as a reader.



Amy said...

I am truly sorry that you have made this decision. I have read your blog regularly since finding it, and although I only commented a few times, I have found it immensely helpful. As a law professor who teaches copyright law, I will greatly miss your insights. Thanks for all your work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for providing the most in depth blog on copyright around. It is a shame that so many negative aspects of can arise from speaking your mind but I respect your decision.

I do fear that losing a voice like yours means more negative copyright-related developments will come and fewer strong voices will be there to speak out about them.

David Ferrance said...

Wow! How disheartening. As a law student interested in IP, I'd formed roughly the same view of copyright, but to hear it from someone like you is, well, depressing.

Anyway, thanks for all the work you've put into this over the years. This blog has been a great educational resource for me.

X.Trapnel said...

Thanks so very much for all you've given us in the last 4 years. Best of luck going forward! Keep fighting the good fight, etc.

Ray Corrigan said...

Thanks for your crystal clear blogging voice of reason on copyright for the past four years and the very best of good fortune in figuring out constructive ways of reshaping the copyright landscape.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your past efforts on this blog. Your thoughts and comments on the current state of Copyright Law will be greatly missed.

It's a shame that attorneys are unable to speak freely on the Internet without their thoughts being attributed to their clients/employers. I suppose that's our lot in life.

Anonymous said...

This is very sad. Thank you so much for all you have written so far. This blog has clarified my understanding of copyright law to a great degree and led me to other places on the internet that are interesting and useful. Thanks again and good luck!

Unknown said...

I am enormously sad to hear this. Your blog was by far the best source of well-commented news and opinion on copyright I have ever read. And even though you report negative news, it is enormously positive for me and others to hear you express your (negative) opinion about them.

And for someone like me, who has grown up without ever experiencing copyright law at a fair/reasonable level, it was good to be reminded that copyright-law has been better.

I really hope you find some other way of expressing your opinion and sharing your knowledge.

1) Write somewhere under pseudonym?

2) Write somewhere a) as part of a larger collective. b) where you have some financial gain.
(to remove the charge you are doing google-work). I suggest

3) ?

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you'll no longer be blogging. As a writer, you've been my primary and most reliable source of information on copyright law.

I agree with you that copyright law is in a mess and for much the same reasons as those you enumerate along with one other. Because a few judges in the Second Circuit got a bit out of line in 1998 and still haven't cleaned up the mess they made, I spent over a year defending my Lord of the Rings chronology, Untangling Tolkien, in Seattle federal court. I won, with the judge dismissing my opponent's lawsuit "with prejudice." But it cost a lot of unnecessary time and left me with the impression that the courts let lawyers get away with threats that, displayed by any other professional, would land them in jail. I'm tough enough to fight back. Many people aren't and concede to IP lawyers in situations where they've have won in court.

Just keep in mind that a decade ago patent law was in even worse shape and it has begun to turn around. The same thing could happen with copyright. With patents it came when the patent office began to invalidate ridiculous patents. With copyright, it's begun to get costly to make groundless lawsuits and very soon (I hope), lawyers will begin to defend small clients just for the fees the other party will have to pay when they win. After that, we can turn our attention to whittling down these absurd extensions in copyright terms. The most obvious might be some 'publish or perish' requirement applied to copyright.

Paul said...

I am deeply sorry to see this blog go. I have never commented here, but I've read religiously for a while, and have learned so much from your posts. I'll be sorry to lose that information, and I will be less knowledgeable about the state of copyright as a result.

I'm also sorry to see that, so far as I can tell, you have removed your archives. You must do as you see fit, of course, but I wish you felt you could leave your past posts available so that we could, at least, have the benefit of the information and commentary they contain.

I appreciate what you did with this blog, and it saddens me to see it go. I hope that at some point you might find some alternative form or way of resuming it, for I do think this blog performed a great service. For now, thank you for educating me, and I will miss your writing.


Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to see this great center for insight on copyright and copyright law close for good.

You mentioned reason number 2, "The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing," and yet for me, having a great copyright expert and a corporate copyfighter writing a blog gave a form of hope. Sure, the news could be dark, but William Patry was on it. That seemed to somehow make it seem more positive. The retirement of the blog is, I'm afraid, is about the most depressing news you've ever reported on your blog! :-(

Thanks for the blog as long as it lasted. Perhaps someday you'll get an itch to revive it.

Rob G. said...

Well, allow me to join the chorus. I'm really sorry to see you go. As a musician and vintage film buff, I found your blog very interesting and helpful to me in trying to figure out the labyrinth of our copyright laws.

However, I completely understand about the personal vs. public nature of this blog. I always wondered if stating who you were wouldn't come to get you in exactly the ways you described.

As for the trolls, well, there are just idiots out there. Some of whom just are idiots, others feel they own the Internet.

But, yeah, really sorry to see you go as I feel, like others, yours was an important voice. Best of luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry to hear that you won't be blogging any longer. I look to your blog for important and timely information about the copyright caselaw. But even more important to me, I value your insight, your perspective, and your bold commentary. I identify with your opinions about matters, respect you for taking strong stands against what seems to be madness to me, and feel heartened that someone as distinguished and experienced as you feels the same way about so many aspects of the law as I do.

As you might guess, the whole thing depresses me too. I applaud you for putting up with it for this long. I sincerely hope that you manage to escape from the negativity this area of law holds for so many of us, but it is hard for me to imagine how you will do that with a 7-volume treatise to keep updated and an active copyright practice!

Absolutely the best of luck to you Mr. Patry. I will look forward to reading anything you have to say, in whatever venue. I count myself among what must be your many, many fans!

Dan said...

This is, indeed, upsetting. For some reason, my news reader had literally dozens of your posts in it today; I was amazed by the volume and thought that I'd never have time to read it all while keeping up with the posts as new ones come in. Instead, I find this -- new ones promised to never appear, archives removed. Those of us who share your interest in copyright law have lost a great commentator. Thank you for the four years we had -- and the three months I knew about this blog.

Unknown said...

Pity indeed, but I empathise with the difficulty of a personal blog being quoted as the company view.

Copyright is depressing. Would be a great book title..

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see you end your blog. Like you, I have found the current state of the copyright discussions very depressing.

Mega-corporations 'buying' courts and legislators with impunity.

Legislators of all stripes bowing to pressure from 'lobby' groups and 'donors' while betraying the very people they 'serve' just so they can get re-elected. What a bunch of cowards.

Thanks for all your hard work in trying to enlighten the rest of us.

Eric Goldman said...

Bill, I'm sorry to see the blog go. It was a great resource that I enjoyed daily, and I learned a lot from it.

On the other hand, I think a major downside of being in-house counsel is that you really aren't free to compartmentalize your professional life the way you wanted. I don't know any way to avoid that.

Thanks again for the ride while it lasted. Eric.

ck said...

Sad times, indeed. I am an IP lawyer, and I have followed your blog with intense interest since discovering it a year or two ago. I have always appreciated the quality of your writing and of your insights. Your voice has always stood out as one of thoughtful, informed reason, and you have taught me a great deal via your blog. I understand your reasons for bringing it to an end, but still, it is a huge loss for all of us that care about the current state of copyright law. I hope that you will soon find another outlet where you can continue to frequently and generously share your insights with interested parties both inside and outside the legal profession.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your many years of dedicated and devoted blogging, bill. you will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for running a great personal copyright blog! It has been a wonderful read. As a law student the blog has given me a lot to think about.

Good Luck continuing the good fight.

Unknown said...

Your blog has been wonderfully entertaining and incredibly interesting, and I cannot thank you enough for what you have written. I will miss your humor and erudition, as well as your habit of quickly posting reasoned and insightful opinions on breaking copyright news. Your voice will be missed here.

All the best,

Lewis Perdue said...

Thank you for all your work and thought.

My comments about the blog's demise are here:

ripley said...

Wow, I can understand your reasons (on all sides) but your blog will be missed. thanks for all your efforts in these public spaces.

Larisa Mann

Unknown said...


Thanks for your enormous contribution via the blog. It has been a daily, invaluable read for so many and will be greatly missed.


Michael Geist

Phil said...

Like Dizave, I am also a law student interested in IP. I viewed and used your blog as a fantastic resource and learning tool. I went through a career change before ending up "here" and totally empathize with your reasoning and justifications both for creating the blog and for now putting it to bed. To me you are a grosse macher, a great force, and a true mensch.

I only wish that you would leave all your postings available for reading but maybe turn off commenting and leave it strictly as an archive. For example, I loved your take on the Orphan Works today, but the link to your blog comments no longer work so I cant share it with other interested folks.

Best wishes

Michael F. Martin said...

Thanks for the time and effort you have put in up to now. I'm pretty sure you've inspired others to carry the torch after you.

And remember things always look darkest before dawn.

Lydia Pallas Loren said...

Micheal Geist said it so well. Your blog has been an invaluable asset from which so many of us have benefited. Thank you for what you have given to all of us. Good luck on whatever you decide to allow to occupy your time.

Lydia Loren

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear. Why don't you consider a domicile on Facebook. It can be personal but give you the social graph connection that indemnifies you from the Google association.

If so I'll friend you -

John Furrier
Palo Alto

Anonymous said...

So sad to see this go. I am a working artist, independent, and my future and livelihood is very much affected by the nature of copyright law in this country. I learned a great deal here, and while I might not always have agreed, I always learned from the reading.

Thanks again for putting this up. I hope you find another venue to keep this alive. Writing is another form of learning, as is teaching too.

All the best to you.

Joseph Hunkins said...

Wow, it's always sad to see a blog die, especially when the author is a key, well informed online citizen like you.

But...the band plays on... and maybe you'll be back!

Anonymous said...

I'll miss this 'blog. It was one of the best copyright-related blogs on the web.

I am reminded of James Boyle's analogy likening fighting on behalf of the public domain to fighting on behalf of the natural environment. There must have been, and be still, things that break the hearts of our farthest-seeing environmentalists. They must feel as though they are slamming their heads against brick walls. But slowly, slowly, always too slowly for our most inspired prophets, there has been progress in pollution control and wildlife habitat preservation. I hope that we will see analogous progress in restoring a true public spirit to copyright law, even if we must settle for progress as slow and conflicted as we have seen in the field of wildlife and natural resource conservation.

I am glad to hear that you will be thinking of "a constructive way to talk about the difficult issues we face and how to advance toward their solution." Whatever medium to pick for transmitting your words, whether on-line, or through broadcast interviews, or through the old dead-tree periodicals, I'll be listening to hear them.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry to see the end of this blog. Best wishes in all of your future endeavours

Pamela Chestek said...

The loss of your blog is huge. You were a voice that was not afraid to speak its mind. We will all be worse off without your thoughtful addition to the copyright dialogue. Please continue to fight the good fight, even if we don't witness it every day.

Anonymous said...


Very sorry to hear this. Hopefully, you'll have a change of heart? If not, we lose a very valuable voice.

Whatever your decision, best of luck.


Anonymous said...

why not blog under a pseudonymn at some other commensurately authoritative copyright blog? Just a suggestion. Sad news from you.

raybeckerman said...

It is a great loss for all of us.

I thank you for being a voice of reason and clarity.

I do not agree that copyright law has gotten that bad. What has gotten that bad is the conduct of 10 professional plaintiffs.

The law is bigger than them, and will catch up to them and shut them down.

And I wish you the best of everything in continuing your important scholarship.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you have quit blogging. Please, post your insights somewhere anonymously using a pseudo-name.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your years of insights and exposition. Best of luck for whatever the future may bring!

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to see the blog end. It had become one of my favorite resources for indulging my own copyright geekery. As layperson I've learned a great deal from you and I am very grateful.

I share the fears of library playground and despair at loosing yet another important voice on the internet because of the nature of the medium. I am also horrified that you must censor your personal speech because of shoddy journalism and the nasty smear campaigns that plague our political discourse. That said, I absolutely respect your decision to maintain some sanity in your life.

Like Paul, I do hope that you at least consider placing your writing somewhere accessible for reference- if not self hosted than in some library's digital collection or as a publication in Google Books or what have you (Purely selfish reason: I'm desperate to find out exactly what the multilateral and trade agreements you refer to are!). In the meantime I'll be heading over to the regional law school when I need to get my Patry fix while I wait to see what you get up to next.

Best wishes for a constructive future and many, many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bill, for your readers' sake, can you please (1) keep the archive of past posts available online? and (2) perhaps suggest other copyright blogs?

Bruce Boyden said...

I emailed Bill in a panic last night because I saw the blog slowly disappearing and thought it was being attacked by a hacker. Like others here, I am very sorry to see this "blog devoted to the geekery of copyright" go, even though I disagreed with many of the posts (and don't think things are nearly as bad as Point 2 suggests). I hope I saved all of the gems I'll need in the future!

Anonymous said...

"It is profoundly depressing, after 26 years full-time in a field I love, to be a constant voice of dissent. I have tried various ways to leaven this state of affairs with positive postings, much like television news shows that experiment with "happy features." I have blogged about great articles others have written, or highlighted scholars who have not gotten the attention they deserve; I tried to find cases, even inconsequential ones, that I can fawn over. But after awhile, this wore thin, because the most important stories are too often ones that involve initiatives that are, in my opinion, seriously harmful to the public interest. I cannot continue to be so negative, so often. Being so negative, while deserved on the merits, gives a distorted perspective of my centrist views, and is emotionally a downer."

This paragraph resonates very strongly with me and it is even a little eerie how perfectly it describes how I feel about my own writing on a completely different topic.

On a different note, is there an archive of this blog anywhere?

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your contribution to the world "wise" web.

There are some that always seek to shout down and suppress reasoned argument. Being anonymous is sometimes the only way to speak out.

I hope you find other ways to get your message across. Good luck for the future.

"Whatever the immediate gains and losses, the dangers to our safety arising from political suppression are always greater than the dangers to the safety resulting from political freedom. Suppression is always foolish. Freedom is always wise."
- Alexander Meiklejohn

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see you go. However this only demonstrates one thing to me: anonymity and pseudonym have existed for thousands of years for all writers from cave dwellers to blogs for a reason. It is one of the most established practices in professional writing. It even exists in the Bible. Too few have learned this and instead spill ink decrying its practice out of ignorance. Thankfully you were not one.

Your professional career is about protecting a legal identity of ownership and rights. You have now learned there is another type of identity that needs protection: one's personal identity that the law nor reason ever can win back. For some, that type of privacy is more valuable than gold. It is an investment that cannot be devalued. There are timeless principles that we would do well to heed. The use of pseudonym and its variants is one.

However, I am afraid, the reason many find it impossible to blog or write under a pseudonym is because at the end of the day they are not trying to advance thought, best practices, or a challenge... but instead, an avenue to advance their own name, ego or in today's terms--page rank.

Writing anonymously has also served people in expressing thought while eliminating the judgement of skin color, religion, political affiliation or personality from wrongly coloring the content of one's arguments.

Your image is all you have. If you don't protect it who will? Perhaps we will find your fine thoughts elsewhere down the road. I wish you well.

NeilK said...

I understand your reasons for stopping, but I hope you can leave the archives of this blog standing. Thanks being an informed commenter on the scene.

Max Lybbert said...

Sad to see this blog go. I guess I'll just need to purchase a few of your books when I want to get my copyright law fix.

Rick Falkvinge (pp) said...

Thank you for carrying the torch proudly and this far.

Others will carry it forward from this point. It is together that we can still bring sanity to lawmaking - just because there are many of us.

Your contribution to this desired sanity has been immense, and you have well earned your place in history.

Rick (pp)

Crosbie Fitch said...

One day, copyright abolition, and those crazies that argue for this restoration of the public's natural right to liberty (suspended to privilege publishers), won't seem so crazy any more.

People might even welcome their views as how best to enable audiences to reward artists for their work.

For that period until you considered me crazy, I enjoyed reading and conversing with you.

דן said...


Don't give up blogging

I'm a fan of your blog, and the blogsphere needs you.

No crazy person worth it - don't look back in anger - keep your head uo high and smile - you've got many fans among Israeli bloggers.


Anonymous said...

Just came here via techmeme- what a frustrating way to discover what appears to be/have been a very interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sad to see this blog go. As a documentary film maker I am, both a copyrighter holder and 'user' and from where I work the law is clearly dysfunctional and serves to benefit a small group of large corporations.

The Patry Copyright Blog has been a real eye-opener, even for a non-specialist like myself. It's even inspired me to look at trying to make a documentary on copyright!

Thank you so much for your hard work and sharing your wisdom in such a lucid, brave and gracious fashion.


William Patry said...

I want to thank all those who have posted comments for the wonderful things you have said. I will think about the archive point; I deleted prior posts because leaving them up meant subjecting myself to the same misunderstandings that led me to close the blog. And even for this last post, one attracts trolls. I had one comment that said "I have never read the blog but what inane prattle, good riddance." Another that said, "What self- congratulatory nonsense. Idiot." Both were of course anonymous. Others were simply rants about extraneous issues.

I do encourage others to carry on with the things you believe in. I haven't stopped working in the field or moved on to something else. I will continue to do what I have always done, outside of the blog. I will still be deeply involved in policy work in my day job. I may post things on other blogs, and if the right occurrence comes along I may post something on Google's blog when it is clear I am in fact speaking for Google (that would be a first, btw).

I will probably turn into a book the stuff I am working on about how we got where we are; not a legal book, but a book about copyright discourse and the business of copyright. I have been thinking about this in a concentrated way for a few years: how do we move forward, constructively. So, if I think I have something constructive to say about moving forward constructively, I will put it out as a book, and in the $30 list price range too for a hardback. The blog was becoming an obstacle to me thinking constructively, since I was so often critical.

So, in short, I will continue to be very involved.

enigma_foundry said...

I am sorry to see this blog go away; it's been a good source of enlightenment and well-reasoned critique.

As an Architect, I am very fortunate to work in a field that has not been subject to the excesses of copyright/patent laws.

However, I am slightly concerned that this is a temporary condition, and would very much like to know of any good blogs/forums centered around IP for the design/architecture professions.

I would be very thankful for any such blogs which could be posted here:

raybeckerman said...

An avid reader posted this information about obtaining cached material:


In case the judges missed them, the pure text copied from google's cache can be found here

And in case someone also wants to read the comments:
As long as google does not clean its cache, those entries can be found at NEED i.e

Steve R. said...

See this Ubersoft comic. While not specifically on copyright it is a poignant statement on our current state of affairs, where any activity that somehow frustrates a corporate business model is increasingly characterized as a criminal act.

Ethan said...


I'm quite sure you helped us all "learn every day." Please recognize all the gratitude this blog has spawned and thank you for the "copyright geekery."

-Ethan Ackerman

Mike Cane said...

Sorry I didn't know about this blog before this closing post was sent up as a flare for many to see.

Yes, the state of Copyright is depressing. It will take an utter collapse of the existing framework and a rout of the brigands to set everything back on path.

Good luck in your career and thanks for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great resource and valuable service you provided over the past four years. I appreciated the time and effort you took to provide up to the minute reports and analysis of copyright litigation, big and small. I wish you had left your blog postings online as there were a great number of informative and useful posts that have now been removed from the vast cultural database that is the Internet.

Perhaps if we start a petition, he would repost his materials... maybe on the blog for his copyright treatise?

SecondComingOfBast said...

William, if you ever change your mind, you can always disallow anonymous comments. I allow them on my blog, but it is a more general interest blog. Well, or that's what I try to make it. Your blog would seem to be more of a specific interest blog, and there is no valid reason for outside parties to comment on it anyway. If they do, they should be willing to do so without hiding behind a shield of anonymity.

There are a number of bad things about closing this blog.

1. It's obviously of interest to a good many people, judging by the positive comments I've read on this post.

2. It enables what is probably a relatively small group of idiotic morons to pat themselves on the back for "running you off" the blogosphere. The ironic thing is these people probably don't even have a clue what you're really talking about in at least some cases.

On the other hand, I certainly understand how devoting so much time to blogging might well be interfering in other interests. Blogging can be addictive, and it does tend to take up time and energy that might well be better spent on other pursuits. Some people can moderate it. Perhaps if you set aside so many hours a week, or even a month?

As a would-be, wannabe writer, I am saddened to have discovered this blog, only to find I have read what seems to be the last post.

Whatever you do, best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've posted to this blog. However, I have greatly appreciated your posts for some time, especially those on the history of copyright. I do hope you maintain an accessible archive.

Dave said...

The number of non specialists who read your blog is my source for hope. To reverse the incredibly restrictive changes happening in copyright will take popular engagment -- as specialists tend more to be employed by rights holders that the public.

Thank you for the years of sharing your thoughts in this way....and I hope to be able to enjoy your perspective through other means.

Anonymous said...

Your reasons are cogent but I am very sorry to see your blog come to an end, and even sorrier that the state of copyright law is so poor as to depress one of its greatest students.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm sad to see this happen. I've dropped by to see the state of copyright from time to time.

Hearing the response from your readers, would you reconsider? If you stop "they" win and "we" lose an important voice. You are not just learning yourself, you are teaching... and I know your mother would be proud.

It is hard to ignore what you know is wrong, but on the other hand, you are propagating what is right.

If you cannot reconsider, I like the others wish you the very best, and look forward to any public writings you will undertake!

Best regards and many thanks, Jana

Howard Knopf said...


Yours was clearly the leading American and international copyright blog by any measure. Unfortunately, these are not easy times in which to be scholarly, frank and to hold even perfectly reasonable views. You are indeed a “centrist.” You have defended the real purpose of copyright throughout your career. Above all, you have had the courage to hold views, which is an indispensable but increasingly rare quality in the world of scholarship and jurisprudence. It’s no wonder you have an affinity to Judge Posner and former Justice Sir Hugh Laddie.

Many have watched your personal views evolve over the years and agreed with them, or disagreed with them, as the case may be. That is healthy. Your views have always been well informed and impeccably researched. As I said in my review of your treatise, “Mr. Patry's evolution is an important indicator of where copyright law may be going.”

However, there are indeed some very powerful forces who view anyone who holds views critical of their own on such issues as the DMCA or ACTA as an “enemy of the people.” Add to this the results of “public choice” politics and economics and one can understand both your pessimism and your pragmatism.

This cannot have been an easy decision for you. You have clearly invested thousands of hours in this blog in its three splendid years. You should be very proud of it.

Since your critics and those who may try to embarrass you have no doubt already saved whatever nuggets they may attempt with futility to use against you, I hope that you will consider leaving the blog up as an invaluable research archive of these times and as an shining star for those who might take up the torch in the future.

Bravo, Bill.


Howard Knopf

Anonymous said...

this is the first time im visiting your blog.

i would really like to read your old posts and gain some perspective and knowledge on copyright.

Can you please have your older posts archives available? its surprising that u have removed them.

thank u

Red said...

Thanks for your work. I'm shocked and disappointed, but as those who've commented before me have mentioned, I understand your reasons.

I don't think I've ever commented before, but I would like to let you know that as an IP lawyer, this was one of the most interesting and informative blogs I've seen - and, thus, I checked it often. Your work will be missed. Good luck with your future endeavors. Thanks!

Robin said...

This is an immense tragedy, William. I don't have words for my reaction. You were an important resource for me.

Stephen said...

Bless your heart, you will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of your blog until I stumbled upon a post about it closing. From one human being to another, you are doing the right thing. Reason #2 alone is enough. I once left an entire job field (EEO) because I felt that the day to day negativity was ruining my mind and life. The world is not on your shoulders, so don't put it there.

Have a happy rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

How terribly sad. In a world of ever more strident and uncompromising views, your blog was a beacon of erudition and common sense. It is a disaster that you have chosen silence even if the reasons for doing so are understandable.

As you will have seen from all the comments posted on your blog, there are many who will miss your insight and willingness to tackle the big issues without partisan bias.

The world of copyright will be the poorer for your decision.

However, I believe that I am like you in one respect. We are both optimists. For that reason I refuse to accept that this is the end of Patry Blog. This is just its suspension. I live in hope, and expectation, that the intellectual honesty which has driven you to make this wonderful contribution to copyright learning will force you back in the not too distant future.

Your brother - Hugh Laddie

Anonymous said...

I find it profoundly disturbing that the first reason you cite for closing your blog is that the critics cannot distinguish your position from Google's. I work for a large corporation whose policy is essentially that I may say nothing in public related to that corporation's business without an involved process of clearing the statements with both legal and public relations offices. My understanding is that the restriction extends even to "fine weather we've been having lately, isn't it?" -- because several of my employer's many businesses have fortunes that might rise and fall upon the weather.

While I have a voice that I imagine might contribute to several discussions, I have made it a practice to post only anonymously or pseudonymously (and not to maintain a blog of my own) in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. I can ill afford to be in the middle if someone should choose to attack my employer through me -- or to attack me by exploiting the policy. I am certain that a crackpot could cost me my job simply by filing nuisance litigation against my employer. The response would be "he was speaking for himself, not for us, and we have dealt with the situation by dismissing him (and sending him the bill for our legal process so far)."

The fact that you have decided to self-censor for similar reasons, even with an employer who nominally supports your writing, indicates to what extent we have all surrendered our freedom of speech to our corporate overlords, in a system of industrial feudalism. If as powerful a voice as yours can be silenced by a war among rival corporations (which is how I see the present state of copyright law), what chance do the holders of weaker and less respected voices have?

I respect your decision - because it matches my own - and wish you all the best. But it leads me to approach the world of the Internet with an even heavier heart.

William Patry said...

Dearest Brother Hugh, I am so very happy to hear from you. There is no one, beside my dear twins, who can make me smile more and feel anything can be accomplished, including resurrecting the blog in the future if conditions warrant. I miss you terribly and pray you are well.

Matthew Flaschen said...

I've been a casual but very appreciative reader, and I'm sorry to see the blog go. However, I fully respect your decision.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye and God bless.

Virginia Rutledge said...

Bill, your blog has been a most generous gift. Thank you.

It seems ungrateful to ask for more, but I join the many others who hope you will consider restoring and archiving this great resource you have created.

Anonymous said...

I've been casually reading your blog now and again as someone who was always interested in copyright. However, I'm preparing to go to law school in the future, and I wish the stuff was archived so that I would be able take another look at your views in a more meaningful way sometime in the future.

Either way, thanks for your words!

raybeckerman said...

Dear Anonymous

If it is indeed "a war among rival corporations" it seems to me that one side is not putting up much of a fight. Only when they are directly attacked do they take any action at all.

In the most important arena, the battleground over what constitutes copyright infringement, where the war is being waged by the 10 large content companies against a rag tag band of defenseless individuals, the "corporations" who have the most to lose are eerily absent, content to let the law be rewritten in a series of virtual default judgments.

If it is a "war" it is a "war" that may be lost without the "rival corporations" having fired a significant shot.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to see you depart, and if Hugh, Ethan and Michael Geist all bemoan the fact you are putting your pen/keyboard down, you may want to reconsider !

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the fine writing you have done here. Sad you feel the need to stop.

Mark Christiansen

Anonymous said...


This may be the end of this blog but may be a start of brand new, awesome one.

Stephan Kinsella said...

Mr. Patry, as a practicing patent attorney and editor and author of various treatises myself (International Investment, Political Risk and Dispute Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide and Trademark Practice and Forms, to pick two), I admire your scholarship and your professionalism and your dedication to your clients. I appreciate that you are willing to acknowledge that our copyright system has become obviously harmful. You still seem wed to the notion that some copyright law is essential... yet how is this achieved?--by giving the power to legislative over our lives, to a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats. We cannot have a government empowerd to legislate in these hours and expect it not to become corrupt, and metastasize. In my view, the only sane approach is to recognize *the state* as the problem. The state necessarily corrupts justice. Any support of copyright state law is in effect support for what it necessarily presupposes.

My advice: cleanly and forthrightly admit copyrght and patent are both utterly corrupt and injust , by their nature. Patent and copyright ar a mistake. They ought to be completely abolished.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I too regret your decision to close the blog. In view of "public demand" and as it seems that this last post is the only post remaining on your blog, can I help you archive your blog at our server for safe keeping?

Joseph said...

I am sorry to hear of this. Your point about the state of copyright reminds me of this quote from Candide:
"our noses were made to carry spectacles, so we have spectacles,"

Anonymous said...

It's a real sad post, I considered your site as the best copyright blog I'm subscribed to, amazing posts and an admirable capacity to communicate these issues to the world.

This is a huge lost for the copyright community who enjoyed every single post you wrote. You have accompanied me in my eReader in many metro trips, letting me know, from Spain, what was going on in the U.S., where I also studied and practiced.

William, you are leaving a big gap in the copyright blogosphere, we will miss your wise and moderate thoughts.

Hasta pronto


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

"The world of copyright will be the poorer for your decision." This sentiment nails it. Thank you for the great public service that your blog has been, Bill, and
All the best, Tom

Anonymous said...

You haven't given any reason for removing your archives, which makes us wonder why they're gone and hope for their return. -d

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Patry, even if you take down your blog, people will still reference it. Partly obscuring your own speech after you've released it publicly will in no way prevent others from quoting you, accurately or inaccurately.

Please, do everyone a favor and put the archives back into being.

If you don't (well, even if you do), you can bet somebody with a cache will make a bootleg copy and distribute it, which would be enjoyably ironic.

Paul Kamp said...

Thanks for carrying on as long as you did. Keep fighting the good fight only now without your blog!

Kevin Parks said...

Congratulations on a great run. Your prolific blogging will be greatly missed. Kevin Parks

William Patry said...

I had mentioned in an earlier comment why I had removed the archives: the problem of attributing to Google the views expressed by me personally would continue with an archive. I am happy to rethink the issue though.

Since my dear brother Sir High Laddie took the time to post a comment, I would like to return the favor by pointing to an amazing new UK historical resource. Had I done a blog post today, it would have been on this: the project in the UK House of Commons to digitize (or as they say (digitise) Hansard, the official record of the House of Commons, for the period 1803 to 2005. I have already used it and found great discussions of copyright issues, including the term of protection, as early as 1803.

Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

First, thank you. The level of discussion and information has been tremendous. I'm truly sorry to see it shut down, but I do understand the reasons.

If the first reason is primarily driving you, then there is little to do about it. The quotes are the price of competence, and I don't see any way around it either.

With respect to the second reason, I would urge you to reconsider. If Eldred means anything, it means that copyright policy will be enacted by the legislature. The legislature is in some measure accountable, at least every once in a while. Someone who understands this material well enough should sound the bells. (For example, there was a story last week about DHS detaining laptops to look for contraband. Compare that with the recent "secret" trade bills.) That's not to say that I've agreed with everything that you've written; I don't. I do, however, believe that sound policy is best made when opposing vocies are heard, and especially well considered and thoughtful ones. Please do not silence yours.

(Second, I would also ask (please please please) to not turn the treatise into a blog. There's quite enough of that in "the other one." (no, not goldstein)) ;-)

All the best. (Goodbye for now?)



William Patry said...

Dear Rumpole of the Bailey. No need to worry dear chap, I shan't turn the treatise into a blog. I can segment tasks. I have to update the treatise twice a year, and have just finished proofing the next update, and in November have to turn in the one after that. Plus, hopefully if I can find a way to constructively discuss the current state of affairs, I will turn that into a trade book. And, I still have my full-time day job where I will remain 100% as active on policy issues and others the blog has covered. Nothing has changed with that.

Anonymous said...

How sad, Bill! But, now you can turn your attention to a much more cheerful topic... trademark!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your lucid, concise, balanced and entertaining writings. I have always respected your personal blog and opinions for what they are. Copyrights in these times are indeed challenging and depressing, even for the best of the best, like you. But that cannot keep a good person down very long, especially one of the few that has so much to say that is worth hearing and who so treasures balance, fairness,learning and wisdom. I hope you will be back, in one form or another.

Anonymous said...


I'm apparently late to the affair, but I'm sincerely sorry to see this blog was truly a pleasure for those with an interest in copyright.

Anonymous said...

As others have said, it is indeed a sad day. I have appreciated and benefited from your insights. As an IT professional, I am troubled by the issues created by current copyright and patent practice. I fear more harm than good is being caused. As a law student, I have found your blog to be a delightful introduction to the world of copyright. I hope someday to pursue IP law, and your thoughts have been part of that impetus. While I understand the thinking that led you to this decision, I regret that you will no longer be sharing your insights.

As others have, I would like to ask that you re-consider your decision to remove your archives. I've only been following you for about 18 months, and based on what I've read so far, I'm confident your archives would be a significant treasure for the IP community.

Best of luck, and thank you for providing what had to be the most insightful blog on copyright available.

Anonymous said...

I see many comments above which echo my own feelings on reading this sad news.

I'm not a lawyer, just a technologist concerned about the never-ending creep of the domain of "Intellectual Property" in its many guises. I've found some of your posts incredibly (legally) technical, and some very accessible. All of enriched my understanding of copyright statutes, the intent of the legislature with whom you worked to write some of them, and their interpretation by the diverse circuits.

Thank you for your contributions. Like others, I'd love to see your archive preserved for future reference and education.


aram said...

My students and I will miss your astute analysis and reasoned tone.

planetmcd said...

Mr. Patry,

I am saddened to hear that you are closing your doors, understandable though it is.

I recently discovered you blog and it has been fantastic reading. As someone who elected to go into programming instead of law, it has been absolutely fascinating reading your insights into copyright law. For the first time in many years I've regretted the road not traveled. I've even taken to reading philosophy/law books in my free time instead of the usual programming tomes thanks in part to your blog.

I regret that there are community members that have made things annoying for you and at least the shutting down of your blog may prompt many of the previously silent community members to let you know how grateful they are so you can see the fans far outweigh the annoyances.

Thanks again for your efforts, time and sharing of knowledge,

Bill said...

Thanks for the great posts over the years. I've learned a ton from you. You'll be sorely missed on my morning Internet rounds.

I don't suppose you might leave your archives up?

Also, I hope this frees you up some time to write some amicus briefs in cases you feel strongly about or have personal knowledge of. :)

William Patry said...

For those looking for the Second Circuit's just handed down decision in the Cablevision RS-DVR case, reversing and remanding, here is the (long) link:

Stephan Kinsella said...

(Re-doing my comment above--I hit "send" as I was nodding off to sleep, before it was finished.)

Mr. Patry, as a practicing patent attorney and editor and author of various treatises myself (International Investment, Political Risk and Dispute Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide and Trademark Practice and Forms, to pick two), I admire your scholarship and your professionalism and your dedication to your clients. I appreciate that you are willing to acknowledge that our copyright system has become obviously harmful. You still seem wed to the notion that some copyright law is essential... yet how is this achieved?--by giving the power to legislate over our lives to a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats. We cannot have a government empowered to legislate in these areas and expect it not to become corrupt, and metastasize. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, "No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves."

In my view, the only sensible approach is to recognize *the state* as the problem. The state necessarily corrupts justice. You cannot have copyright--even in "good doses"--without empowering the state; and when you do this, you get what we have today. There is just no way to expect the state to do the right things. It would be like expecting a cat to bark.

The honest IP attorney should simply and forthrightly admit copyright and patent are both utterly corrupt and injust, both as instantiated today, and by their very nature as grants of state privilege. Patent and copyright ought to be completely abolished.

I've argued this in my Against Intellectual Property monograph.

Anonymous said...

This is terrible news, but thank you for the insightful, timely, and spot-on perspective on copyright law that you offered over the years. Your blog will be sorely missed.

Please don't trash the archives!

Anonymous said...

Para todos los que seguimos el devenir del copyright y del Derecho de autor, el cierre de este Blog es una gran perdida. Al igual que cuando Kim Weatherall cerro su blog, se crea un vacio de informaciòn que dificilmente se puede sustituir.
Gracias por todo este tiempo,

Carlos O. said...

I've been a fan of your blog since you started it. Thank you for all of the thoughtful writing that you've done here. Your commentary has been one of the things that made the area of copyright less depressing, for me. ^_^


Michael La Porte said...

You will be missed. Understandable and good reasons to stop, but your voice will be missed.


Peter said...

So I, like everyone else who has posted, am devastated by your decision - even though it is understandable. I know how hard it is to maintain a blog at the very high levels you achieved, and always felt blessed that you were willing to devote so much time to educating us (even when it was obviously a labor of love for you).

My one consolation is that you indicate that you will continue to address policy issues in your full-time job. The lawsuits against Google are our best hope that at least the courts (if not the legislature) will create a copyright system that ensures a balance between public and private interests. Only Google has the resources to make a difference. So while I will greatly miss your non-Google persona on this blog, in the end I guess I would prefer to have you fight the fight where it is more likely to make a difference. But please don't hesitate to reconsider your decision!

Anonymous said...

I will miss your insight but understand your decision.

I would encourage you to reconsider leaving up your prior posts. Those posts are really an invaluable resource for copyright law geeks.

Kind regards,
Tamera Bennett

Robert Highley said...

I was a student of Professor Patry's at Georgetown Law. Consequently, reading his blog postings was doubly pleasurable for me: I could benefit from his wit and wisdom on current issues in copyright law, while recalling fond memories of his informative and fun classes on copyright law from a decade and a half ago.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog and carrying the copyright ball (and chain). I share your frustration (except I'm in the patent area which is undergoing similar damage).

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Patry.
I'm an Israeli attorney reading your blog and getting informed for quite some time now.
Thank you for the enormous effort and your dedication. A great place to get updated.
May your life only get better.
It is a loss for us all.

Anonymous said...

I can't add much to the many others who have expressed disappointment about your decision and understanding of it.

It would be wonderful if your past posts remained available, presumably with comments closed. I know I have linked to it many times, usually prefaced by something like: "Bill Patry says everything worth saying on the subject here..." But if that's not possible I will just say many thanks for all your insights over these last few years. We will miss them.

Bill McGeveran

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry that my one and only visit to this website to date results in a "never satisfied" post. But of course, being sorry isn't stopping me.

I'm asking: Is there a way of transitioning the mantle and spirit of this type of discussion forum to another captain so that the spirit of trying to work on this issue from this type of forum can continue? For example, handing the reigns and forwarding to somebody from EFF or somebody else willing to push the ball? Somebody with at least enough of the cachet to be able to navigate through the noise that someone with your credibility was able to do?

Or am I that dumb to not know about a myriad of alternatives that already exist - this being the 'net' and all that?

Thank you for my little corner of questions...

-Nathan Syfrig

Unknown said...

Thank you for keeping this blog for so long, I have enjoyed reading. And reading through the comments has been an insight too - your last comment giving a link to the decision suggests to me you can't keep away though ;-)

I understand your viewpoint on copyright, and am sadly in agreement. I hope things will change, perhaps with the likes of yourself and Lawrence Lessig, they will one day...

Anonymous said...

Hey can't you leave the archives up? Maybe just close the comments?

Unknown said...

I too am sad to see your blog go. It has been very helpful to me. I look forward to reading your contributions in other media.

Dean C. Rowan said...

Shocking news, this, a complete surprise. I'm sad, but like all of the others here, very grateful for the time and care you've taken. This copyright blog has always been about much more than copyright, and it has taught me a great deal about a variety of areas.

Your two reasons for closing down are not entirely independent: your unwillingness to tell it like it is is itself an exercise in self-honesty. Thanks again for the good work.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I only recently came across your blog, and regret that I never had a chance to read your thoughts on the subject. I can however, understand your reasons for moving on and wish you luck in whatever you decide to do next with your free time.

Anonymous said...

This is a great loss to the entire copyright community. The state of copyright law is indeed very sad, and the end of your fine blog makes things sadder still. Thanks for all your efforts.

My name is Phil. said...

Your voice will be missed. Thank you for everything you've done.

raybeckerman said...

Can a nice, rational, good old time Second Circuit Decision tempt you to change your mind?

William Patry said...

Ray, I have to admit, it had me chomping at the bit. On the MAI v. Peak stuff, Praise the Lord. They could have done a bit more, like point out that the definition of fixation was put in to deal with the copyrightability of TV broadcasts, and that the term "copy" has nothing to do with infringement but physical copies, but minor points. If only we had this before music publishers started to hustle everyone for buffering licenses.

The CoStar volitional conduct discussion is great, and the "who performs" discussion is perhaps the most surprising, but in a welcome way. When I went to the oral argument, this is the piece I was least confident would come out the way it did, but Judge Walker was all over everything, and like the old Exxon commercials, he had the tiger by the tail. Bravo 2d circuit.

CodeWarrior said...

Thanks for the time you shared with us and your great insight for 800 posts. I have posts in the thousands on my blog, and I know the time and dedication it takes to keep a blog going. Hang in there and keep active Bill. God Bless You!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have posted here anonymously in the past for the very reason you are taking down your blog -- to avoid my posts being associated with my clients or my employer. So I entirely understand that concern.

However, I am deeply saddened by the loss of this valuable resource to the copyright bar, and for the state of the law that has you throwing in the towel. I don't think you're a Cassandra, but rather a voice of reason and overall clarity in an area of the law that has been often turned upsidedown and backwards by litigants who don't see the big picture in the way that you do. I have personally made arguments in cases based upon items I have read in your blog, and am sad to see it go.

I hope you will reconsider -- or at least reconsider taking down the archives -- though I respect your decision.

Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik

Anonymous said...

This is awful. I am going to miss the hell out of this blog and the reasons for which you are ending it make me sick.

Farewell to reason.

Anonymous said...

"if you worry about what others think of you, you will be living their version of your life and not yours."

Famous last words… (lack of coherence?)

William Patry said...

Dear anon, thanks for your remarks. I don't think there is a lack of coherence in the remarks you quote; my concern was with you I was reacting, not how others reacted to me.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading all of your blogs. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Quote from article :


Several times I seriously thought about closing p2pnet down, but in phone calls and emails, he encouraged me to stay online saying, in so many words, we need dissent now more than ever, even if it’s painful on the dissenters, and even if it means suffering the trolls and the people who believe freedom of speech is something to be strictly controlled, not enjoyed as a basic right.

Lately, I’ve been been wondering if it isn’t time fo me to pack it in. But I can’t forget Bill Evans and what he stood for while he was alive —- freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

If we don’t constantly challenge the status quo and the Powers That Used To Be, we’re lost.

Let’s hope Patry changes his mind.

Jon Newton - p2pnet

Anonymous said...

I wish to thank you for your many informative posts and cordial debate on various topics. They proved invaluable when discussing things such as whether or not the US accepts the rule of the shorter term on Wikimedia Commons. I hope that we were not a bother.

Anonymous said...

so long buddy, thanks for the ride

Anonymous said...

Thanks for advancing the conversation in such productive ways. I'm a person who's worked in the music business for a long time. Sometimes the discussion was a little over my head. But it made me think and discuss with others and your ideas have spread far beyond this blog, far beyond those in your profession. The discussion here has changed how I view intellectual property,it's uses and ownership. It has challenged the status quo and corporate domination. Thank you William Patry for sharing yourself with us for so long. We appreciate it!

kevix said...

Wow! I come home and wind my way through blogs about this that and the other and then I check the legal ones to learn about what twists and turns are afoot in our wacky legal system. Yours has been a great way to learn about copyright and about the various viewpoints that people take on issue. I have loved reading it and will sorely miss it in the future. I supposed the issues that stopped your blog are similar to other (nutjob comments, misquoting, mis-attribution, job conflict). Not having an the archive of your blog will be sad as it would be a valuable resource. Thanks for your contributions to copyright and enlightening the public. Hopefully there will be an improvement in the legal scene that will warrant your return.

Ellis Vener said...

"On top of this there are the crazies, whom it is impossible to reason with, who do not have a life of their own and so insist on ruining the lives of others, and preferably as many as possible. I asked myself last week after having to deal with the craziest of the crazies yet, "why subject yourself to this?" I could come up with no reason why I should: My grandfather chose to be a psychiatrist, but I chose a different professional path, one that doesn't obligate me to put up with such nonsense."

Well said Mr. Paltry and I am sorry to see these cyberthugs silence another voice of reason.

Unknown said...

Sir, (with respect)

It is with much sadness to see you close down. I am a photographer and you have taught me much. You were able to explain the issues that other only headlined.

As others have asked, please leave the site up so we can use it a reference.

I hope you will occasionally add a little, if nothing more than to say hi.

Ron M

Anonymous said...

I read the Cablevision decision on the LIRR ride home tonight, and I had to visit the Patry blog when I got home because I knew there would be a meaningful and informed commentary on the decision. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to see that you were forced to shut it down. Completely understandable given the circumstances.

Nevertheless, a great loss for the rest of us, including young attorneys such as myself who have been able to benefit from your knowledgeable postings.

Anonymous said...

The Patry Blog will be missed, and Clancco thanks you Bill. All best, and see you around.

-Clancco staff and interns

Anonymous said...

Dear Copyright Master,

I am so sad to read your post "end of the blog" although I understand and respect your decision.

However, except closing down your blog, are there any other things you can do that have the same effet of shutting it down? How about I initiate a signatures collecting activity, say to collect 100,000 signatures around the world to call you back to this blog?

Your decision is really personal but the loss belongs to the public. I know that the world is disappointing and let down a copyright master like you, but I do wish with all the support from us, you could lead us forward.

Please tell us, under what circumstances, you would come back and continue to share your insightful views with us?

Perhaps we cannot change the world, but we can possibly change part of it. Your effort is by no means triffle. I do wish you to be positive. Look at so many comments on your post, you know how influential you are. Why yield to those against you at the cost of those supporting you? That's cruel for us.

Sorry for so much nonsense. All in all, I wish to have a way to continue share your insights, ideas and comments if you are determined to shut this blog down.

Last but not the least, I wish you all the best, healthy and happy in the future no matter what you do! Your health and happiness is also the benefit of us, who are kind of your fans.

Do inform us when you figure out suah a way.

поп said...

Bill, you have good blog.

Anonymous said...

where are the older posts? Could you please leave them in the archive?

Anonymous said...

Total bummer. Every time I'd read your blog I'd always regret not going to law school; choosing, instead, to go straight into programming full time.

I started reading here about a year ago, and Geist's blog about the same time. After spending cumulative weeks and weeks reading the opinions you both presented (past and current) I can say that without you both I wouldn't be starting at GW in a month.

Your blog will be missed, for sure.

Thanks again.

Simon Bradshaw said...

Like many others I am saddened to see the loss of your blog. It was of the few voices of reason in a debate (if one can even dignify it as such) characterised by ever more polarised extremists attacking strawman caricatures of their opponents' positions.

I can only add my voice to those asking you to find some way of making the blog archives available for the ongoing benefit of those of use who believe that there is a sensible middle path through the copyright debate.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to think of a good reason for you to change your mind, and I can't offer any better one than what's been said here already. You might consider this, though: as long as you keep blogging, you're an active participant in defining for the public what it is that you believe. Once you stop, others will be left to retrieve bits and pieces of your work from the recesses of the Internet, devoid of context or updating. In other words, you've built something here that's worth protecting, and you should be the guy to do that.

Still, I feel guilty asking you to go back to the grind. The solo blogging thing is exhausting, and I've long admired your energy for it. I've admired your equanimity, too, in the face of blowback from both sides. The thing I hate most about this whole Interwebs thing is that it encourages people to disagree abusively, cloaked comfortably in distant anonymity.

As one of those people who referred to you as "Google's chief copyright counsel" from time to time, I apologize for blurring the line between your blog and your day job. I don't think you can escape such references, unfortunately. I also think you solved that problem, to the extent it could be solved, with the disclaimer you had on your blog.

But again, I can't press you to change your mind without feeling selfish. I've learned a lot about copyright law from your blog over the past couple of years. Thanks for all that you've "made available," even though I'll really miss what more you might have written about that particular phrase.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see you leave based on the bad opinions of others.

I refuse to re-code my site so that it works with IE. I certainly could get more viewers, but I refuse (on principal) to have to hack something to work with IE...

I hope Google did not pressure you in any way, and I would be surprised if they did--a nice press release from Google could have solved this issue in a way that would let you continue to write you blog...

...something the copyright office staff need to read...

Dennis D. McDonald said...

You'll be missed. Here's my own commentary:

Dennis McDonald

Anonymous said...

Goodbye, Mr. Patry. I enjoyed your blog although I hadn't commented or participated. I wish you well in your future pursuits!

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog through one of the publications that cited you with Google credentials. I always saw that as a kind of qualification, rather an indication that this blog would be a Google mouthpiece - but of course, anyone whose read as much as an article here knows that a qualification wasn't necessary: your posts are always well researched, well thought-out, personal, insightful, and provoking. They challenged us to think not just about copyright law, but about the nature of property as a whole, and the nature of the law as a whole, and brought some level of understanding of a topic that might otherwise be seen as voodoo.

Geoff said...

Hi, I never read the blog before and found out about it through slashdot, but I take from what I skimmed (you hate the current state of copyright) that you should definitely hook up with Ray Beckerman (aka NewYorkCountyLawyer on slashdot) of

He's fighting the good fight against copyright too! :)

Anonymous said...

It was great run. You've got a mind, so you might change it again and start a new blog. Hope so.

Keep your stick on the ice.

Anonymous said...

As with all good things, the world tends to get in the way.
Smile, be happy, and enjoy the Google!

Anonymous said...


all your readers owe you thanks but those of us who live within the ups and downs of copyright law and policy owe you a particular debt.

Yours is a private practice voice in the copyright policy dialogue and I'm greatly saddened by this loss to the IP community. As lawyers we owe a contribution to the development of law and the profession. The best we can do individually is what you have done -- to continue to intellectually engage key issues and communicate our experience for the benefit of others. To the extent that they can, private practice counsel undertake this commitment while living the day-to-day reality of applying abstract principles and developments to situations with actual and immediate consequences to companies and people.

Fred Schauer said in lecture that the process of thinking like a lawyer requires us to actually adopt contrary points of view: to understand and evaluate them, it's necessary to try them on like coats and shoes and walk around living in them for a while, trying to genuinely experience what that means. It's unfortunate that many in the public fail to recognize that a lawyer's intellectual detachment from agenda and ability to engage in debate about the direction of the law is critical to serving clients and the public well. We lawyers get it. For us you are an excellent role model. Your blog stood out among the other quality efforts in copyright scholarship precisely because it represented a private practice experience rather than the more commonly available views of academics, judicial institutions and journalists.

We need more private practice lawyers in this dialogue, not less. Please come back! If not, please reconsider making the archives available. I understand and appreciate the personal and professional reasons for your decision, but I keenly feel the impact of decisions like yours on our ability as a legal community to maintain a high level of dialogue about copyright law and policy in public, where it deserves to be.

The loss of your blog is also a personal loss of a resource to me in my practice. Your point of view has intellectually engaged me as a copyright lawyer. You've persuaded me, and where you have not persuaded me, you have provided me with a contrary point of view to try on, to help frame the issues so I can come to my professional decisions. You've informed me about key developments and you have shaped my thinking about copyright in general. You've helped make me a better attorney. I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's been great to have your boots on the ground.

Carol Shepherd
Arborlaw PLC

Arun Sannuti said...

Thank you for this blog. I have learned more about copyright from this blog than I have in multiple classes about copyright.

I agree about the current depressing state of copyright in the US and in the world. Hopefully, the pendulum will start swinging the other way soon.

I hope in the future to be able to learn from you again.

Unknown said...

As one of the many silent but nonetheless deeply appreciative fans of your blog, I deeply regret your departure from this stage.

As a fledgling Canadian copyright lawyer, I have learned an immeasurable amount from your blog and your texts, and have reviewed even your most technical "made in the USA" posts with great interest, as they display a passion for how even picayune legislative details are imbued with historical and linguistic significance that help us to understand the whole. I have also appreciated your love for the copyright law of other jurisdictions, with each entry building the case that no one jurisdiction has cornered the market on knowledge or wisdom.

Contrary to your fears, I suspect that the vast majority of your readers consider your views to be sincerely held, not least because you have always framed them as a dialogue with others deeply interested in copyright as an instrument promoting the flowering of culture (rather than as an evergreening overgrowth to burden the creative works of future generations). Anyone with an ounce of integrity should recognize the same.

I hope you will soon understand that the importance of your blog in the eyes of your beholders is a cause for optimism for the future of copyright. You have been a Rilke to young lawyers such as myself, and a Virgil to those who follow from interest. Your blog has been a place for (mostly) collegial disagreement and discovery, a gathering place that will be deeply missed.

Thank you for your considerable efforts and the best of luck to you in your new endeavours.

Anonymous said...

maybe you could change your blog-author name to 'Pilliam Watry' for an archived version... and do shut down the comments, despite all of the extraordinary, smart people who have weighed in over time. you are right. had you had any interest in becoming a mental health professional, you would have done so.

i shall miss your blot. you really should consider archiving it in some form -- an archived version likely exists in the wayback machine anyway. nothing electronic ever seems to die. might as well at least *fake* that you have some control.


dbf73 said...

Thank you for the wonderful discussion and resource you've provided. It will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

Good on yer Bill, you have done sterling work and I for one think you should be applauded.
Very best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I came late to this field, and your blog showed me how reason and common sense could be applied to this strangely distorted subject. I'm sorry that you have stopped, especially for the reasons you cite - it's such a shame. Good luck, and if you do find a way to share your insight with the rest of us then I for one will sign up. S.

Jonas said...

I, too, am extremely sorry to see you end your blog. It was a bright light in my mornings, and I felt a bright light in the at times murky world of copyright law.

I learned a great deal from what you have had to say, and wish that I, a pseudonymous reader, could somehow convince your to change your mind.

For the record, I always referred to the blog as the "Patry" copyright blog.

Anonymous said...

The issue you have been dealing with is one of many issues being dsealt with by people working for or big corporations - I think you should restart the blog because we need people like you to help set the rules going forward,

Karl Fogel said...

Darn it. Well, it was a great blog, and I hope you will find a way to keep your voice in copyright debates (which badly need sane, informed people who have the ability to question their own assumptions).

Cheryl Milone said...

Mr. Patry, To provide a basis for you to change your mind and your readership to assist in the event you resurrect your blog:

Anonymity didn't work, abandon the anonymous commentators instead of the blog. Require participants to take personal responsibility for their insights. The valuable ones will continue. Or, if you want to maintain your commitment to anonymous postings, enlist the open source community to create new monitors particular to your empirical history and distribute them among your peers. In this way, you can foster the crucial public discourse of blogs for valuable contributors.

And to your readers: I respectfully suggest self-regulating your community, making a commitment to a higher level of discourse and montoring of members. A web site is an excellent example of that type of community. Otherwise, valuable copyright attorneys who as here make valuable contributions may find no way to avoid diatribe but for abandoning discourse.

I hope this may assist you and your readers.

Cheryl Milone
Founder, Article One Partners

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am sad you are ending your blog. I just found it the other day and was looking forward to visiting the site regularly. Good luck with your continuing endeavors.

Anonymous said...

I was a loyal reader, and I will miss the intellegent commentary. Unfortunately, I can find no compelling argument to counter your decision - and I am concerned that other bloggers (on other subjects) will be forced to do as you do. Open, robust and well-founded debate is a necessity of democracy, and we are all the poorer for the absence of your voice.

And I was so looking forward to your discussion of the Cablevision decision - to me, it looks like Paramount (although that wasn't copyright): a potential game changer, with interesting (in the sense of the Chinese curse) impact on a declining business model (ad-supported TV).

All the best in the future, and I look forward to your book.

Anonymous said...


The copyright lawyer in me wants to respond with a trenchant comment about the enormous loss it will be to the copyright legal community to be deprived of your amazing insights on the law.

But the Californian in me won out when it came to reacting to your closing the blog:


More time to scout kicks I guess. Enjoy friend. Thanks for the brilliance.

Tim Oey said...

I am dismayed but understand your situation and desire to stop blogging. It is most unfortunate to have articulate free speech limited by such circumstances. I hope you are able to find a constructive way to continue to talk about difficult issues.

I do wish that you had left your previous posts around -- they seem to have been deleted (although some are still available via Nonetheless, thank you for what you have done and said.

In the case of my own blog (, I hope that it will serve as a permanent historical record of what I have thought and said for those in the future who may be interested. I hope that I am not forced by future circumstances to delete any of it.

Tim Oey

William Patry said...

Tim, I always regarded the posts as ephemera. I appreciate now as I never did before that others didn't. I am working on it.

raybeckerman said...


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see you go. I hope you'll accept my apology for leaving out a proper disclaimer when describing your blog.

That apology was also published a little more publicly here:

Also, thank you for what you have done! I've learned plenty about copyright law from reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Yours is one of very few blogs on any topic that I (have) read with the fulfilled expectation that I will find topics of interest, well written, and often leading to new fields of thought/policy/politics.

Your archive has been a delight of miscellany to dip into when needing a break.

Yair Bar-On said...

I think you can be very proud reading the comments here, it seems like people really enjoyed reading what you wrote.
I'm sure that your mom (aleha ha-shalom) would have been proud to see that. I think that Jewish moms would love their kids to learn but even more that that would love their kids to teach... and to see how much audience you have here, is a reason to be proud of what you do...
Good luck in everything you do and will do in the future.
Yair, Israel.

Anonymous said...

To echo many of the comments here, thank you for your efforts in creating and maintaining this blog. It was an essential part of my legal blog reading and I am happy to say I learnt a lot from following you.

As others have also expressed, please reinstate the archives as this is too valuable a resource to have disappear. (Although I guess there is always the Wayback Machine, it is better to be able to read it here.) Perhaps disabling comments and having a nice big disclaimer about how this represents your personal views only and not those of your current or past employers would satisfy your first reason for stopping?

Also, even though it may have seen like it sometimes, you aren't in this fight alone. Hopefully you will have realised this from the comments but there are many of us around the world who agree that something needs to be done about the current situation of copyright and are fighting the good fight along side you.

Most of all, please don't lose hope. To borrow a line from a recent popular movie, the night is darkest just before the dawn!


Matt Agnello said...

I know I am deep down in the comments list, but when I started working on my documentary based on Lessig's "Free Culture," your blog was one of the first I turned to for information. It was always a quality source. And I agree, it did become depressing by the end, and in a way I agree with your decision to end it. But please consider reposting the archives -- and turning off comments. People will always misuse information, but removing access means no one can even attempt to use it correctly. As a person interesting in the history of copyright law, I'm so glad for all the work that you've done, and it would be a shame to lose it all.

Piotor said...

Thank you for your time and efforts.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Japanese reader for more than two years. Your blog has been a good resource of timely information of copyright law. I learned many things from you. I hope to become a copyright lawyer like you!
Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

As a musician and an engineer working in the digital media industry I have developed an interest in copyright law mainly to try and make up my mind on the subject. There is so much rhetoric in the debate of copyright that it is difficult to determine what is the truth and what purposefully deceptive. I appreciated reading your blog because it provided an honest and in depth discussion of an enormously complicated topic. Thank you for enhancing my understanding of the subject.

Gordon Firemark said...

it's a shame that a knowledgeable and sane voice has been silenced by crazies, lazies and kooks.

Anonymous said...

I want to add my best wishes to the others. I've very much enjoyed your gentle introduction to copyright issues and analysis. I'll miss your updates. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Patry,

I ask that you reconsider. Please return to blogging, if not now, then whenever you can see your way clear to do so. Your voice is an experienced, learned and wise one that certainly improves the blogosphere, which is one of the current homes of the marketplace of ideas.

As to lazy people and jerks, they have always been around and always will be. While there may be additional things you can do to differentiate your personal blog and Google (e.g., rename it to "Patry's Personal Copyright Blog*" *Not the official position of Google Inc.), as long as Google is satisfied, and no one has filed suit claiming that one of your blog entries is behind a nefarious plot to bolster the share price of Google (the key phrase being "filed suit"), then you have done what you need to do. As the old saying goes, illegitimi non carborundum.

As for copyright law's current state, it is precisely because copyright law has become so valuable and important to large segments of industry that it has been twisted to respond to those special interests, and it is precisely because of this circumstance that your voice is needed as a counterpoint to the voices of the special interests.

So, I hope this is a respite, and not good-bye. Please return and please reinstate your archive.

In any event, please accept my thanks and my best wishes.

TJ McIntyre said...

This blog has been one of the very best resources for copyright lawyers and you have our thanks for all the material you've put up so far. I'm sorry to hear that you won't be posting any more, but I'm delighted to hear that your archives will be put back up.

Anonymous said...

You'll be missed...but I'm not taking you off my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

I am very saddened to see your blog come to an end but your reasons for ending it are really good. You've inspired a hell of a lot of people. I always looked forward to your comments, learned a good deal, and was inspired even more.

You are to copyright what Frank Zappa was to good music - extremely rare, enlightened, profound and irreplaceable.

Thank you for all you did.


E. Michael Harrington

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the others. Thanks for the blog and for the interesting suggestions.
Goodbye and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I can completely sympathize with both your view to copyright as well as your second reason to close it.

You decided it's too depressive to run this blog, maybe because you are a happy and productive person and you feel this blog no longer yields enough benefit for the emotional effort. I hope that you can direct your positive energy into new means which are far, far more effective to reach the goals. You are in a great position to think about and find out which direction this is.

Steve M. said...

Your blog was one of the few sites I would visit nearly every morning. I'm very sorry to see it end. Thanks for sharing your insights and for all of your efforts over the years.

Anonymous said...

I wish that I had come across your blog sooner; it seems that I am one of many who will miss a clear and reasoned voice.

I hope that you do find some way to continue to share your insights and views on copyright in the future. From the many comments that proceeds mine, it's clear that many people found considerable value in your words here.

pablopalazzi said...

This is a pity!

Unknown said...

Sad if understandable news.

andrewlogie said...

Sad news not only because this was one of the best copyright blogs around in terms of free current awareness, but also that it was one of a handful of blogs which was refreshingly well reasoned and centrist, in an internet otherwise full of extremes.

James W. Pharo said...

Piling on...

I've been mostly a lurker, and have done quite a bit of that.

This has been a hugely valuable resource for me, a practitioner in the lowly field of advertising. I've turned to this resource a million times to check my own judgment, keep up with the news, etc.

As for the good Professor's second reason, I could not concur more. As an advisor to those making high-profile :30 TV ads, I can testify that the drift of copyright AND trademark law has proven an increasingly significant barrier to making ads that have cultural relevance.

I also see this trend is part of a larger movement in our society as a whole, in which the rules of the game are re-made constantly in order to benefit those that need help least. From business to politics, the arts to law, the powerful in our society are using their power to, well, increase their power.

There is of course a great counter-weight, as always. This blog has been a part of that counter-weight, and I'll be sorry to see it go. I will continue to hope that it (or something like it) will pop back up, soon.

Anonymous said...

Bill: It feels like a funeral!

The real loss here is that when the courts go against you, the only place left to fight is on the internet using the weapon of free speech. Thanks for the ride... Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thanks so much for writing. I've been following since the beginning and I've learned quite a lot from you.

Claude said...

You've been an inspiration for so many people (not just Canadians) striving for a more balanced (and sensible) approach to copyrights that it's very, very sad to read that this might well be your last post.

Please remember that "information wants to be free" and keeping it under locks for the profit of a handful of greedy corporate tyrants can't be considered sustainable, especially if -we- keep on pressuring their evil plan to horribly distort plain, common sense.

Thank you very much for your contribution to IP matters and enjoy your "post-blog" times.

Anonymous said...

you will be missed

and don't give up


Anonymous said...

I am sorry to see you go. Enjoyed your blog and more importantly, your point of view. I'll be smoking a cigar to your departure and will welcome you back when you are ready to write again.

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