Summary of How to Fix Copyright

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  • Controversial
  • Comprehensive
  • Innovative


This in-depth examination of copyright law deals with a topical, but often little-understood, commercial issue in an authoritative way. William Patry, Google’s senior counsel on copyrights, plumbs his experience to provide comprehensive information on this complex subject in a clear, logical fashion. This is not to say that everyone would agree with all of his conclusions – it’s a controversial subject. Patry, also the author of the eight-volume set Patry on Copyright, details why current copyright laws fail not only creators but also society as a whole, all those whose interests copyright is supposed to advance and protect. Patry deals with countless requests each month from copyright owners who want to remove their content from Google’s search returns, so he is deeply involved in this issue in a way that could have helped shape his point of view. He advocates using copyright to be sure creators get paid, but not turning to it for tight restriction of other parties’ use of their work. getAbstract recommends this well-sourced work on current copyright law while noting that Patry’s book is also unusual because it does not include a copyright notice. Now, that’s a man who practices what he preaches.

About the Author

William Patry, Google’s senior counsel on copyrights, wrote Patry on Copyright, an eight-volume guide to copyright law.



Copyright: Frequently Misconstrued

Misconceptions about copyright, and the laws governing it, abound: Many people believe that it exists to enrich authors, artists and other content creators; that it encourages creativity; that it underpins culture and market competitiveness; and that it is essential to the “knowledge economy.” None of these ideas is true. Copyright protections came about in the 18th century, when control of content depended on an “artificial scarcity.” This scarcity arose due to then-primitive technologies for making and distributing artistic material, the lack of “gatekeepers” to exert power over content and “limitations on unauthorized copying.” Copyright law, promoted as a way to enhance monopoly value, is meaningless in a high-tech economy of “digital abundance,” where anyone can duplicate creative content at virtually no cost.

Advanced technology, as well as quickly evolving market dynamics, now work in direct opposition to copyright law. Unsurprisingly, corporate gatekeepers – that is, publishers, record companies, distributors and other parties who own or control most copyrights – fight to preserve a beneficial status quo. They see copyright...

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