Techdirt Reading List: No Law: Intellectual Property In The Image Of An Absolute First Amendment
from the the-first-amendment-matters dept
We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.
With copyright reform a big topic again these days, we’ve been talking about some worthwhile books to read in thinking about the topic. The last couple weeks we wrote about some important books by Bill Patry in thinking about how to reform copyright, and this week I’m going to recommend No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment by David Lange and H. Jefferson Powell. I had actually just mentioned this book a few weeks ago in discussing copyright’s free speech problem, and I’ll recommend it again. I’m not sure why the book never seemed to get that much attention, even in copyright circles, because it’s really worth reading.
It is not, necessarily, a book about copyright reform, per se. The authors admit that it’s more of an intellectual exercise. I should also warn you that the book can be a bit of a dense read at times, but I found it extremely worthwhile. The first half basically explains how copyright and the First Amendment clearly are in strong conflict, and has a rather detailed discussion of how the Supreme Court clearly got things wrong in the infamous Eldred case. The second half of the book then focuses on a possible solution — that doesn’t involve dumping copyright altogether. Instead, they’re suggesting something more akin to the way defamation law often works, in which the speech is not removed, since that could violate the First Amendment, but you may need to pay for it. In effect, it would be about creating a compulsory licensing system. I’m not sure I agree with this approach for a variety of reasons, but the book is detailed, thorough and thought provoking.