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Friday, December 4, 2009

Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: EFF Condemns Patry For "Assembling the Rhetorical Siege Engines of the Copyright Wars...."
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In my last post on William Patry's worthless book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, ("Copyright Wars"), I documented two simple points:

  • The rhetoric and metaphors in Copyright Wars are indefensible. Childish sanctimony led Mr. Patry to viciously condemn war or murder metaphors in copyright discourse--in a book about copyright discourse that aimed barrages of war metaphors at copyright owners ceaselessly accused of trying to "kill off" or "strangle" the Internet and innovation.
  • A particularly indefensible part of Copyright Wars is its juvenile, mad-dog tirade about the Stalinist, Fascist, chastity-belt-on-someone-else's-wife DMCA.
Today, I discovered an unexpected source of support for these views: a short book review of Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars authored by Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF").

Here is what EFF had to say about Copyright Wars' shrieking tirade about the DMCA: "If you're looking for a basic primer on digital copyright, or the DMCA, or DRM, this isn't the book for you...." That seems a bit understated: If you are looking for an advanced--or just non-childish--primer on digital copyright, or the DMCA, or DRM, then Copyright Wars still isn't the book for you.

But the gratifying sentences in the EFF review are those that criticize the rhetoric of Copyright Wars, the self-parody that so piously denounced anyone who has ever used harsh rhetoric and metaphors when discussing copyrights and the Internet:

There are times when Patry's frustration with copyright lobbyists shows through. In those moments, it might be fairly said that he's an energetic participant in assembling the rhetorical siege engines of the copyright wars, rather than a dispassionate neutral observer.
It is nice to know that even EFF agrees that Mr. Patry became an "energetic participant in assembling the rhetorical siege engines of the copyright wars" by writing a denunciation of harsh rhetoric riddled with war-and-murder metaphors that analogize copyright enforcement to Robespierre's Terrorism, Mao's Cultural Revolution, Stalin's centrally planned Terror-Famine, and Mussolini's Blackshirt Fascism--while sanctimoniously denouncing those who would stoop to "name-calling."

Nevertheless, I do like the "frustration-with-copyright-lobbyists" excuse for Mr. Patry's 250-page self-parody: It recalls the scene in Forrest Gump when the deranged SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) leader explains why he hit Jenny: "It's just this war and that lying [expletive] Johnson[/Jack Valenti]."

That is one of many reasons why I consider Mr. Patry's book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars to represent the simultaneous apogee and nadir of the "thought" of the Free Culture Movement.

posted by Thomas Sydnor @ 5:17 PM | Books & Book Reviews , Copyright , Cyber-Security , Economics , Googlephobia , IP , Innovation , Internet , What We're Reading

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