Rethinking the law treatise - Patry leads a revolution

Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at January 16, 2007 11:00 AM

Bill Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google and former Copyright Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, has done some major rethinking.  And by major, I mean, um....major.

Bill just completed a massive, seven year solo effort to craft the ultimate treatise on copyright law.  He sent me an e-mail last week announcing the availability of the treatise, and described it as "close to 6,000 pages" in "single space, printed form."

Six thousand pages?  Solo effort?  IStock_000000805832SmallYep...just ask Bill:  "I did 100% of the research and writing, never using assistants of any kind. "  Holy cats.

Surely Patry on Copyright will prove valuable simply because of its extensive treatment of all things copyright.  But the actual printed treatise is just the beginning.  You see, Bill didn't just sit down for the last seven years and dutifully document current copyright law.  Nope...he didn't stop with that conventional thinking.  He took it a bit farther and did a bit of rethinking.

And the copyright world stands to benefit tremendously from his effort.

How so?  Consider this:  Bill's working to back the treatise with a few web resources that, I think, will prove to be the real value in the deal.  First, he's launching the Patry Treatise Blog (uh oh, he's got the bug!) that promises to make the treatise interactive. The idea here, according to Bill, is to break out of the one-way nature of the traditional treatise and open the work up to the community....really turn it into a living, breathing document that reflects multiple viewpoints and sources on various points of law.  So, go ahead, tell Bill about the typo you found...or, better yet, tell him about "things you think should have been discussed but weren’t, or were discussed in far too brief or dismissive a way."

Books backed by websites aren't new, of course.  But the idea of a treatise backed by an interactive community resource?  That's some major rethinking that, I think, could prove quite powerful.

Bill doesn't expect to stop there, though.  He's also hopeful that a website containing the complete legislative history of the 1976 Act can be launched and integrated into the treatise and blog.  Can you imagine the interactive community plugged into a web-based, easily-navigated version of the legislative history behind the major copyright act?  Now that's powerful.

Keep an eye on this project.  I think Bill's onto something big.

Patry on Copyright is available from Thomson/West.  If you're in the market for a comprehensive copyright work, Bill's treatise - thanks to his rethinking - promises to deliver the most bang for the buck. 


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