Content owners using ‘moral panics’ to change copyright law

One of the top copyright lawyers in the United States takes content owners to the woodshed in his new book, Ars Technica reports, saying that "the Copyright Wars are a fight against our own children — and it is a fight that says everything about the adults and very little about the children." A copyright lawyer for 27 years, William Patry is currently senior copyright counsel for Google Inc. In his new book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, he writes: "Corporate copyright owners live in fear, especially fear of their own consumers. Those consumers are young, tech savvy, and have wrested control over corporations’ physical product from them, an unthinkable act 10 years ago. The result is a classical moral panic against youth." Later, he writes that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is "the 21st-century equivalent of letting copyright owners put a chastity belt on someone else’s wife." Whenever copyright holders have felt threatened over the past century, they have tended to stir up "moral panics," usually directed at the young, Patry says. To Patry, this is little more than fear mongering, the creation of "folk devils" like the "evil file-swapper" or the "dirty pirate" who are stealing American jobs. "Folk devils are a tool to accomplish social, political, or commercial objectives, and there is no better way to gain society’s acceptance of such control than through the manufacture of fear," he writes, "which explains the copyright industries’ regular use of it."

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