Books : reviews

William Patry.
How to Fix Copyright.
OUP. 2012

The once-staid world of copyright law has become a religious battleground—one that pits extremists who dismiss the entire system against those who argue for ever-stronger laws.

To help bridge this divide, William Patry offers a simple solution: abandon the faith-based approach and instead create effective copyright laws fit for their purpose. To pass effective laws, legislators must be political economists, empirically investigating the real-world consequences of how proposed laws will affect the production and distribution of works of authorship, as well as the laws' impact on access to those works, on innovation, and on prices. Patry, whose previous book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, explored how language has come to corrupt the thought about copyright, recommends just-in-time, practical fixes to our laws so they can encourage the creation of new works, increase learning, and enhance access to information. How to Fix Copyright offers solid, evidence-based guidance that will reshape our understanding of what the real copyright problems are—and how to navigate the complex dilemmas surrounding authorship and rights in our digital age.

Among the topics covered are why we don't have effective copyright laws, whether incentives and deterrence work, abandoning our obsession with exclusive rights in favor of ensuring that authors get paid, figuring out the proper length of copyright and the role of formalities, and encouraging socially useful but unauthorized uses. Patry examines these issues from a global perspective, making the book invaluable to policy makers around the world.