Copyright maven Bill Patry has publicly announced the release of his new multi-volume copyright treatise, along with the introduction of a blog to support it: The Patry Treatise Blog. Congratulations to Bill, and to us beneficiaries in the copyright community.
There is but one sad (and ironic) note: The text of the work can be obtained solely by purchasing a hard copy of same from Thomson/West. That’s good for Bill (I hope), and for Thomson/West, and indirectly for authors and still more indirectly for consumers everywhere. For those of us without law firm budgets, however, it puts us in a bit of an (understandable, and entirely traditional) price-related bind. I hope that my law library buys a copy, because I’m certainly not going to find one under my tree come next Christmas. (Right now, the set appears not to be available on CD-ROM or by online subscription.) The irony, of course, is that Bill Patry recently became Google’s chief copyright counsel. Wouldn’t it be nice, as the Beach Boys might say, to have the treatise included in Google Book Search?
Update: Bill Patry notes below in the Comments that the work will be available shortly via Westlaw, at a price that (I infer, and very plausibly) grossly understates the time value of Bill’s labor. That’s great for me and others who have access to Westlaw, especially those of us who have access that’s paid for by others, and I would never suggest (and didn’t above) that Bill or anyone else should undertake this kind of effort merely out of the goodness of their heart.
A question that Bill poses — “Dosen’t it say something that in fact no one else has taken the time to undertake such a project?” — raises a slightly different issue, which (as Frank points out in Comment #1) is the hegemony of Nimmer on Copyright. My mind wanders (as it often does) to claims that Microsoft’s monopoly in the OS market is and was insuperable on account of network effects and, going further, that regulating Microsoft in the name of antitrust law was required in order to prevent MS from “leveraging” that monopoly into adjacent markets. We now know (and Larry Lessig has acknowledged) that regulators underestimated the ability of noncommercial enterprises to develop platforms that compete with the Windows OS. So — again, without detracting from the time, labor, or accomplishment represented by the Patry Treatise, or critiquing the particulars of the economic logic that Bill offers — I wonder whether it is economics, alone, that explains the absence of a competitor to Nimmer (or Goldstein, or Boorstyn). Hegemony may be cultural and social as well as economic. Is it possible that an “open” (perhaps wiki-fied) treatise lies within us as copyright scholars, waiting to emerge? Or does hegemony (to coin a phrase) love company?