Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars

October 16, 2009Duke Law News

Oct. 12, 2009 — William Patry, Google’s senior copyright counsel and the author of Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, will deliver Duke Law School’s eighth annual Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property Law on Oct. 21.

The free, public address will begin at 12:15 p.m. in Room 3041 at Duke Law School, located at the corner of Science Drive and Towerview Road on Duke’s West Campus. Parking is available at the Bryan Center. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis and a reception will follow the lecture.

The title of Patry’s lecture, "Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: A Reply to Jack Valenti," references both Patry’s latest book and an earlier Frey Lecture. Delivering the third annual Frey address in 2003, the late Jack Valenti, then president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, argued that strong intellectual property rights reflect a "moral imperative." Violating copyright, he said, is simply theft.

In contrast, Patry argues that our current copyright system is a bloated, punitive legal regime that has strayed far from its modest, but important roots. Patry portrays copyright as a utilitarian government program — not a property or moral right. As a government program, copyright must be regulated and held accountable to ensure it is serving its public purpose — effectively encouraging the creation of new works and learning.

Prior to joining Google, Patry served as professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, copyright counsel to the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, policy planning advisor to the Register of Copyrights, and an attorney in private practice. He is the author of the treatises Patry on Copyright (Thomson West 2009 ed.) and Patry on Fair Use (Thomson West 2009 ed.).

"Bill Patry's academic copyright treatises are extremely influential," says Duke Law Professor James Boyle, "and his new book promises to be one of the most provocative interventions in the national debate about copyright policy. But at the same time his work for Google gives him an extraordinary practical perspective on the law in action. We are delighted he agreed to give this lecture."

The Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property was established by Duke Law alumnus Kip Frey ’85 and his wife, Meredith, to increase discussion about emerging issues in the areas of intellectual property, cyberspace, and science and technology law. Previous Frey lecturers have included Professors Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, Pamela Samuelson, and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

The eighth annual Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property Law will be webcast live and available on Ustream.

For more information, contact Frances Presma at (919) 613-7248.
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