What Patry Has to Do With ERISA

Geez, I hope it isn’t something I said. Some of you may remember that a little while back, in a post discussing why I blog predominately on ERISA and insurance issues but only occasionally on intellectual property issues, I mentioned that there were a lot of terrific intellectual property blogs already out there, mentioning in particular William Patry’s copyright blog. Mr. Patry responded by quitting blogging.

I don’t really think I had anything to do with that, because he gave his primary reason for stopping, and it is one that is telling. He explained that:

my final reason for closing the blog [is] my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries. I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others. But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage. Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better. Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners.

What is interesting about this is I think that anyone who works on copyright or other intellectual property cases and who looks at things with clear eyes -rather than on the old mantra of where you stand depends on where you sit - knows there is some deep truth to what he is saying, and it is interesting in and of itself for that reason. But it becomes even more interesting when you tie it back in to this blog, and my prior discussions of my skepticism about the patenting of ERISA strategies, which, much like Patry’s comments about copyright, seems to me -as I discussed here- to serve only to lock down for one party the opportunity to pursue a specific business/ERISA related strategy, without any accompanying benefits to the public as a whole, such as encouraging innovation in the field, etc. Maybe I am just ERISA-centric, and I see everything as circling back to that topic, but that’s what I thought of when I read Patry’s post resigning from the blogosphere.