Willing Impartiality, William Patry Disengages · Wednesday August 06, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch
Why has Professor William Patry discontinued his blog?
One possibility (as he alludes to) is an inability to escape the implication that he expresses Google’s views on copyright, or at least biases his views in Google’s favour.
Therefore, I deduce that William has said to himself something like this: “Sorry me, I know I’ve done everything possible to dissociate my blog and opinions from Google’s interests, but this still isn’t preventing significant opinion from understanding otherwise, and so I must ask myself to discontinue my blog”.
Even this could only be a problem if there were powerful maximalist forces tempted to insinuate that Patry’s blog evinced bias from being in Google’s employ, and irrespective of the truth, the plausibility of that being a popular perception and association couldn’t help but implicate bias in Patry’s legal opinions, and thus affect his practice for which a perception of impartiality is a prerequisite.
I suppose that if he’s also seen to entertain copyright abolitionists this exacerbates any perception of bias, whether he considers abolitionists crazy or not.
I’d suggest that whilst it may be professionally critical to evince impartiality (beyond its mere achievement), if this is at the cost of understanding it cannot help but compromise one’s integrity. You cannot improve your judgement of the world (since law evolves from the people), or anyone else’s judgement, if you retreat from engagement with it, the people that comprise it.
So, what would I say? “Come on Bill, get your blog back up, and start publishing my comments again!” And inevitably, some people will suspect I’m biased in this. ;-)