Beyond the Diamond: Exploring the Creative Side of MLB Players

Post publish date: March 26, 2024

With all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams scheduled to play on March 28, which is opening day, the 2024 season will be upon us before we know it. The imminent start of the new season got me thinking about how we envision MLB players, and how our minds usually conjure up images of the pop in the catcher’s mitt from a blazing fastball, the scoreboard explosion after a game-winning home run, and the crowd’s roar after an outfielder makes a gravity defying catch. But what you may not know is that numerous MLB stars have also successfully embarked upon successful “second act” careers in the arts after they hang up their cleats. From actors and singers to artists and writers, some former players now captivate audiences off the field, engaging a new legion of fans as these elite athletes become members of the creative community. So as the 2024 MLB season gets underway later this month, check out some of the star players who made it big off the field as talented creators.

Songwriter and Producer Barry Zito

For more than a decade (15 seasons to be exact), Barry Zito played Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. As his career took off, he became known as one of the best pitchers in the MLB, with his claim to fame being his devastating curveball. After playing his final game in 2015, Zito turned to music, which he referred to as his “first love.” According to Zito, “Ever since my late 20s, the dream was to write and produce pop music in Los Angeles after retiring from sports.” Instead, Zito ultimately landed in Music City, aka Nashville, and began work as a country-folk songwriter and producer. In 2017, his No Secrets EP rose to No. 28 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. In summing up his second act in Nashville, Zito says, “Music isn’t just something I do… music is who I am.”

Fine Artist Micah Johnson

Since he was a kid, Micah Johnson knew he wanted to grow up to become a pro baseball player. In 2012, the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the ninth round out of Indiana University, helping make his childhood dream come true. He went on to play second baseman for the White Sox, Dodgers, and Braves. And as his ball career progressed, Johnson was just getting warmed up. In 2016, a new passion took shape—that of becoming an artist. As Johnson started to receive encouragement from teammates, family members, and friends who embraced his artwork, he gained the confidence needed to continue honing his talent. Much of his artistry has centered around “empowering young African American kids to see what is possible and dream without limitations,” which became the ongoing inspiration for his work. His success in pro ball and the creative world continued simultaneously until he retired from playing in 2018. In 2020, Johnson began releasing a series of pieces, one of which, Aku—“an animated confident black astronaut character”—went viral and became the first NFT optioned to become a feature film. Today, Johnson continues to broaden his artistic skills as he looks back at how it all started, saying “Sharing your art is a vulnerable experience. So, when I got encouragement [from others], that’s all I needed.”

Rapper and Broadcaster Deion Sanders

It’s nearly impossible for sports fans to not know who Deion Sanders is. Sanders, who is known as “Prime Time,” played at the highest levels in the NFL and MLB—simultaneously—demonstrating his formidable talent in both sports. He is the only athlete who played in both the Super Bowl and the World Series. In fact, during the  1989 season, Sanders hit a home run in the MLB and scored a touchdown in the NFL during the same week, becoming the only player ever to ever accomplish such a feat. Sanders played for a number of teams in the MLB for nine seasons beginning in 1989, finding immediate success in baseball just as he had done in football. In 1994, while Sanders was still playing pro ball, hip-hop was dominating the music charts. As musicians like Outkast and Notorious B.I.G. launched their early albums, Sanders debuted a rap song and video titled Must Be the Money, along with countless other singles and an album titled Prime Time that reached the No. 70 spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts. Retiring from baseball in 2001, Sanders went on to become a sports broadcaster for a number of shows before becoming a high-profile college football coach at the University of Colorado-Boulder. So, although he’s not currently broadcasting game scores or making music, there’s no telling when Sanders will be back in the studio again and working away on some new tracks.

Sports Broadcaster and Singer Steven Brault

Former pitcher Steven Brault began his baseball career when he was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round of the 2013 draft. He was subsequently traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and debuted with them in 2016. After going back and forth from the Majors and the minors, he retired in late 2023 and began a new role in sports broadcasting with SportsNet Pittsburgh. In this new capacity, he will soon start to report on pre- and post-game coverage during the regular MLB 2024 season. As his broadcasting career gets underway this spring, Brault is spending time learning, researching, networking, and preparing for this new opportunity. In commenting about his new gig, Brault noted, “I know I’m on the other side [of baseball] now… I want to make sure that I’m not taking any liberties with that kind of trust.” But broadcasting is not Brault’s only talent off the field. Along the way, in 2020, he released a 12-song musical album titled A Pitch at Broadway, which features famous Broadway musical tunes from Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and more. He also performed the national anthem at numerous Pirates games. As one reporter recently noted, “The dude’s got pipes.” In an announcement about his retirement at the end of 2023, Brault stated, “Playing Major League Baseball was everything I could have imagined and so much more… I may be retiring from playing, but I plan to continue in this game for life. Baseball is my passion, and I plan on sharing that passion with the world [through broadcasting].”

Portrait Painter Curt Flood

Curt Flood played baseball for 15 seasons for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Senators, beginning in 1956. Flood wasn’t just a remarkable All-Star talent—he also paved the way for free agency in baseball when he defied the MLB’s reserve clause, asserting that owners and managers should not be able to dictate the teams he and others played for. In a 1969 letter to then-Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Flood demanded to be declared a free agent. After years of negotiations and lawsuits, MLB players ultimately got free agency and other professional sports followed suit. Flood’s determined stance made him one of the most influential baseball players of all time, resulting in a critical change that continues to benefit pro athletes today. But his story doesn’t end there. In addition to his MLB career and his advocacy for free agency, Flood was also a masterful artist, spending his off seasons and his post-MLB days as a successful portrait painter. In fact, Flood’s portrait of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was presented to Reverend King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and later hung in the White House. Flood once famously said, “Baseball and painting make a good balance. Baseball is virile. It’s rough and tough. Painting is sensitive; quiet. It’s an outlet to overcome tension.”

Authors Abound

A number of colorful former MLB players have written books that have resonated with broad audiences as a result of their compelling storytelling, candid “behind the scenes” insights, and unique perspectives on the world of baseball. Whether the motivation behind becoming a storyteller was to preserve a legacy or to simply transition to a new career, a multitude of former pro ball players have written best-sellers in the genre of sports literature, including such favorites as “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton and “The Bronx Zoo” by Sparky Lyle. “Ball Four” is a memoir about Jim Bouton’s vast experiences in the world of Major League Baseball and is widely known for providing a backstage view into the world of pro ball. As a former pitcher, Bouton used the book as a platform to candidly discuss his experiences playing for the New York Yankees and other teams. Published in 1970, the book was deemed controversial at the time for covering topics such as drug use among players, management conflicts, and more. It is now considered a classic and its praised as one of the best sports books written. “The Bronx Zoo” by Sparky Lyle, which was published in 1979, details the 1978 season of the New York Yankees, focusing on the team’s “colorful personalities” and its tumultuous journey to winning the World Series. Lyle, a former Yankees pitcher, shares his firsthand account of his team’s ups and downs, delivering a book that is revealing, entertaining, and written from a true insider’s perspective. These are just two examples, there are many other former MLB players-turned authors.

Stepping Away from the Field of Dreams

Let’s face it, being an MLB player is not an easy job, with players expected to execute game-winning plays on the baseball field by their droves of dedicated fans, fellow players, and coaches. However, as evidenced by those athletes who have a talent for hitting balls out of the park and scoring big creatively off the field, there are numerous MLB players (past and present) who have been—and who continue to be—successfully pursuing creative careers and demonstrating a passion for the arts during their second acts.

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Generative AI, Copyrighted Works, and the Quest for Ethical Training Practices

Post publish date: December 14, 2023

The legal and ethical concerns surrounding generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems being trained on copyrighted works are currently under scrutiny, with the U.S. Copyright Office conducting an Artificial Intelligence Study to address such practices. The study aims to provide insights that will assist the Copyright Office and other stakeholders in better comprehending the extent to which AI systems may be infringing protected works. Simultaneously, both a White House Executive Order and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are also actively exploring the potential adverse effects of AI on copyright owners and their interests, along with numerous Congressional officials holding hearings, forums, and meetings.

Hundreds of creative and copyright community members—large and small, individuals and organizations, and spanning all disciplines of creativity—have shared their perspectives in their comments submitted to the Copyright Office’s study on the use of copyrighted works to train AI systems. From concerns about loss of control over their creative works to issues related to loss of revenue, these submissions reflect the opinions of the creative and copyright community. Below are just a few of the comments received by the Office from creative stakeholders.

Association of American Publishers (AAP): Believes Congress and the Copyright Office should monitor the training of generative AI systems. AAP, an organization that represents many of the largest book, journal, and education publishers across the United States, expressed concern for its members, stating in its initial AI Study comments that “The wholesale reproduction of copyrighted works for purposes of training and developing AI systems is infringement,” that “the unlicensed ingestion of copyrighted materials for training does not qualify as fair use,” and “any framework intended to promote AI development must not diminish the copyrights of the authors and publishers whose works are essential to a free, flourishing, and well-informed society.”

American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA): Believes in human created content and the essential nature of copyright. AIPLA, an organization that represents both users and owners of intellectual property, stated in its comments that, “We are compelled to note, as a fundamental value statement, that we believe human-generated creative works are irreplaceably possessed of inherent value. Art, music, dance, and storytelling are cultural universals found in all human societies throughout history. These expressive endeavors are foundational elements of human culture, [which] provide the medium for the inheritance of culture, and the shared exploration of the human condition.”

American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA): Assert that AI technology must be implemented in a manner that respects copyright law. ASMP and NANPA, which work to protect and promote the interests of professional photographers and all visual creators, assert that, “most significantly, the need for artificial intelligence technology [must] be implemented in a manner that respects the basic principles of our copyright laws.”

American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP): Concerned that the unchecked use of AI threatens to undermine the purpose of copyright laws. ASCAP, a performing rights organization (PRO) that collectively licenses the non-dramatic public performance rights of its members’ musical compositions on a non-exclusive basis to music users that publicly perform music in virtually every communications media, asserts that,While generative AI has the potential to enhance human creative efforts, the unchecked use of this technology threatens to undermine the very purpose of the copyright laws by supplanting, rather than supporting human creative work…the AI industry must be held responsible under all applicable laws—including existing copyright laws and state and federal legal frameworks—to ensure that it does not unfairly and illegally exploit the work of human artists, writers, and other creators.”

Authors Guild: Calls the training of AI systems using copyrighted works “self-evidently unfair.” The Authors Guild is a national non-profit association of more than 14k professional, published writers of all genres. In its comments to the Copyright Office’s AI Study, the Guild asks (and then answers) the question of why AI large language model (LLM) developers rely on pirated copies of eBooks. The Authors Guild asserts that it’s “Because the only places to get a trove of eBook texts without permission from the copyright owners (or licensing Google’s Google Books collection) are from pirate websites. The developers understood that they needed large numbers of books, but they did not want to pay to license them.” The comments go on to assert that “This practice must be brought to an end…Not only is it self-evidently unfair, but if unrestrained, will put many human writers out of work and devalue our literature and culture.”

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC): Asserts that “AI development must be paired with an appreciation of and respect for creators and copyright.” CCC, an organization that has more than 40 years of experience in copyright and information management solutions, noted in its AI Study comments that, “…AI systems have incredible potential to support our society and economy in ways both familiar and yet unknown. To fulfil this potential, AI development must be paired with an appreciation of and respect for creators and copyright. Copyright is an engine of innovation, a key part of economic activity, and incentivizes the creation of foundational materials upon which AI is often built. Support for copyright is crucial to our culture, science, jobs, and the advancement of AI itself.”

Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA): Wants to ensure that AI models respect copyright and that content is lawfully obtained. DMLA, which represents the interests of entities that primarily license still and motion images to publishers, the media, advertisers, designers, and others, asserts that “[it] supports the potential and opportunity that generative AI models offer but wants to ensure that the models respect copyright, that training content is lawfully obtained, that there is transparency in the content that is used to train the models, including that records are maintained and accessible in order to identify content that is used in training, and that the creative community continues to receive benefit if their works are used in the creation of generative.”

Directors Guild of America (DGA): Believes in the need to safeguard the creative vision of directors. DGA, which represents the interests of more than 19,000 directors and members of the directorial teams who create feature films, television programs, commercials, documentaries, news, and other motion picture productions, noted in its AI Study comments that, “It is essential for policymakers and the courts to strike a balance… by developing meaningful and enforceable guardrails to prevent technological advancements from undermining intellectual properties, job opportunities, and artistic integrity…The technological boundaries of [generative] AI are virtually limitless, emphasizing the need to safeguard the integrity and the singular creative vision of a director.”

Entertainment Software Association (ESA): Supports the use of AI and copyright laws and protections. ESA, which represents the video game industry, is no stranger to the use of AI in gaming. As noted in ESA’s comments,“Artificial intelligence technology has been deployed in games for over two decades as useful tools for a variety of purposes, such as background and terrain generation, processing or analysis of data within a game, or quality control.”

However, ESA further noted that “Copyright protection is vital to the innovative AI technologies incorporated into video games,” and it urged the Copyright Office to “make legal and policy recommendations to Congress that will incentivize creativity [and] encourage copyright registration,” along with the advancement of generative AI technology.

Getty Images: Supports “responsibly developed and properly licensed AI models.” Getty Images, a visual content creator with more than 800k global customers, and the co-developer of Generative AI by Getty Images (which is trained exclusively on Getty Images content and data), submitted comments to the Copyright Office’s AI Study in support of “responsibly developed and licensed AI models.” However, Getty’s comments also go on to note that “There are significant risks to consumers, creators, and the public interest when developers of AI Systems and AI Models exploit copyrighted content without permission from the relevant copyright holders.”

Vince Gilligan: Asserts that AI companies are currently “hawking guessing machines.” Vince Gilligan is the creator of the hit TV series “Breaking Bad.” In his comments to the Copyright Office’s AI Study, Gilligan states, I find the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ to be problematic. To me, it’s false advertising. It implies that the current state of the art is a technology that can independently think and create—when in fact it can’t and doesn’t. Someday, true generative artificial intelligence may come to exist. But right now, what companies such as OpenAI, Google and Meta are hawking are only elaborate guessing machines…I’ll admit, it’s an impressive trick. But it’s not creation. It’s not storytelling…Meanwhile, the large language models these companies use to work their magic are made up of hundreds of millions of pages of novels, textbooks, screenplays, magazine articles, social media posts, limericks, clipped recipes, you-name-it. I’m sure every word of ‘Breaking Bad’ has been jammed in there somewhere. Only, I don’t remember giving anyone the okay to do that.”

Graphic Artists Guild: Says it is “critical that copyright remain true to its purpose: to incentivize creators by assigning to them the exclusive rights to their works.” The Graphic Artists Guild, a trade association representing the interests of illustrators, designers, web developers, animators, and other visual artists that rely on licensing, notes in its AI Study comments that, “The major concerns [for our members] are the use of visual artists’ copyrighted images, without consent or compensation, in [AI] training datasets; competition from the vast quantities of visual content created by AI image generators; the generation of visual works, which resemble their original works in the outputs; and the ability of users to [copy] a visual artist’s unique style. To protect the livelihoods of professional graphic artists, it is critical that copyright remain true to its purpose: to incentivize creators by assigning to them the exclusive rights to their works. Policies around generative AI must consider first and foremost the interests of the human creators, without whom this technology would not exist.”

Motion Picture Association (MPA): Believes the U.S. Copyright Office has “an important role to play in ensuring a careful and considered approach to AI and copyright. The leading global advocate of the film, television, and streaming industry, believes that the Copyright Office will play a pivotal role in what unfolds regarding copyright and AI, noting that “MPA’s overarching view, based on the current state, is that while AI technologies raise a host of novel questions, those questions implicate well-established copyright law doctrines and principles. At present, there is no reason to conclude that these existing doctrines and principles will be inadequate to provide courts and the Copyright Office with the tools they need to answer AI-related questions as and when they arise. The Copyright Office has an important role to play in ensuring a careful and considered approach to AI and copyright.”

National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA): Urges U.S. Copyright Office to “err on the side of protecting human creators.” NMPA, the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriting partners, urged “proactive protections for creators” by noting that, “[T]he development of the generative AI marketplace is marked by breathtaking speed, size, and complexity. Hindsight may well prove that there is no hyperbole in saying that generative AI is the greatest risk to the human creative class that has ever existed…Even more alarming is that we do not know how long the window is to act before it is too late. We therefore implore the [U.S. Copyright] Office to support proactive protections for human creators and, where there is uncertainty, to err on the side of protecting human creators.”

News/Media Alliance: Finds pervasive unauthorized use of publisher content to power generative AI technologies. The News/Media Alliance, which represents more than 2,200 diverse U.S. news and magazine publishers—recently published a white paper and a technical analysis, along with submitting comments to the Copyright Office on the use of publisher content to power generative artificial intelligence technologies. Per its comments, the News/Media Alliance asserted that, “Together, the [study comments, white paper, and technical analysis] document the pervasive, unauthorized use of publisher content by AI developers, the impact this may have on the sustainability and availability of high-quality original content, and the legal implications of such use.” Based on its white paper and research, the News/Media Alliance requested that the Copyright Office publicly clarify that use of publishers’ content for commercial generative AI training and development is likely to compete with—and harm—publisher businesses, “which is disfavored as a fair use.”

Professional Photographers of America (PPA): Believes there must be accountability surrounding photos used to train AI systems. With nearly 35k members, PPA is one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations that serves professional photographers. In PPA’s comments to the U.S. Copyright Office, it stated, “Our knowledge, understanding, and view of our natural world will diminish as creators are no longer incentivized to create…Our wonder for the world will be replaced with the wonder for whether anything we see is real or just more AI. In this almost certain eventuality, all of humanity loses. To the extent that AI systems generate images that are substantially similar to the creative work of photographers, there must be accountability. They cannot be allowed to steal photographers’ work and then compete with those photographers using that same work.”

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM): They are not seeing AI implemented responsibly or ethically. RIAA and A2IM represent individual music makers and music organizations. In filing their comments together for the Copyright Office’s study, the organizations noted, “AI can be enormously beneficial when it is implemented in a responsible, respectful, and ethical manner. Like every new technology, AI will undoubtedly push creative boundaries and help shape recording artists’ visions and expand their commercial reach. We embrace AI’s potential as a tool to support human creativity, provided that it is not used to supplant human creativity. As exciting as AI is, … we are not seeing it implemented in a responsible, respectful, and ethical manner. In particular, the unauthorized ingestion of our members’ copyrighted works for purposes of training generative AI systems amounts to copyright infringement on a massive scale and causes significant economic harm to our members and their sound recording artists.” 

SAG-AFTRA: Concerned unauthorized AI use will discourage future human creativity and expression. SAG-AFTRA, the nation’s largest labor union representing working media artists with more than 160,000 members that include actors, recording artists, broadcasters, and many others, noted in their comments that, “The number of AI technologies and the quality of AI-generated content has increased exponentially in a very short time. Unchecked, we are rapidly barreling toward a future where creators will have to compete with unauthorized versions of themselves or their works. This is already starting to happen in the creative fields; it is unfair, and it will discourage future human creativity and expression.”

What will happen next? 

The initiatives that will follow the Copyright Office’s AI Study remain unknown, and a similar degree of ambiguity surrounds the ongoing efforts of Congress, the White House, and various government agencies that are striving to navigate the intersection of AI and copyright issues. However, one consistent theme emerges from the comments submitted to the Office’s AI Study by members of the creative community. Across the board, there is a collective assertion that more ethical and transparent training practices must be employed by AI companies. This includes obtaining permissions from—and providing compensation to—the rightful owners of the content used.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Slam Dunk Creators: NBA Players Who Excel on and Off the Court

Post publish date: September 26, 2023

National Basketball Association (aka NBA) stars are often known primarily for their skills on the court. But numerous players are also accomplished creators—known for their music, production skills, writing, acting, and much more. Whether it’s during the off-season or following their retirement from shooting hoops, learn more about the players who exhibit their artistic prowess by acting on the silver screen, dropping beats and albums, assembling the talent and resources to produce a movie or TV show, writing books, and much more!

LeBron James (actor and producer)

LeBron James is often affectionately known as “King James” or “Bron” by his scores of fans, especially during his lengthy tenure as a star NBA power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His decision to leave Cleveland in 2010 is considered one of the most memorable moments in NBA history. After seven seasons with the Cavaliers, James joined the Miami Heat in free agency, forming what was called a “super team” with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both of whom became star players—and creators—in their own right. His tremendous athletic talent on the court enabled him to etch his name in history as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But ball-playing isn’t the only talent in LeBron James’ story.

LeBron James’ Creative Career

Today, James still plays pro ball while making a name for himself in the entertainment industry. He has scored roles in movies like Trainwreck and the 2021 Space Jam sequel, demonstrating his charisma and talent as an actor; and he further expanded his role in the world of entertainment by founding SpringHill Entertainment, a production company that has produced TV shows such as Survivor’s Remorse, The Shop, and numerous others.

Chris Bosh (musician and author)

Referred to as the “Renaissance Man of the NBA,” Chris Bosh is a talented athlete who has excelled both on and off the court. During his pro-ball career, Bosh was an NBA Hall of Famer, eleven-time All-Star, two-time NBA champ, Olympic gold medalist, and the league’s Global Ambassador.

Although Bosh’s ball playing was cut short by a health condition in 2019, his career didn’t end when he stepped away from the court. Instead, after reflecting on all he had learned from “a long list of basketball legends,” including role models like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, Bosh realized that some of his most important lessons weren’t necessarily basketball-related. Instead, they were about the “inner game of success”—including having “the right attitude, right commitment, and right flow,” both on and off the court.

Chris Bosh’s Creative Career

Upon taking stock of his life, career, and lessons learned, Bosh authored a book titled Letters to a Young Athlete, which “offers a proven path for taming your inner voice and making it your ally.” In addition to basketball and writing, Bosh is also a skilled musician with a passion for playing multiple instruments, showcasing both his tremendous talent and his hard work ethic through the songs he’s produced. In 2020, Bosh formed (and now runs) his own label, Daddy Jack Records, which he named after his grandfather.

Rick Fox (actor)

Born as Ulrich Alexander Fox, most fans know him as Rick Fox, a former NBA and college hoops athlete-turned-actor who originally hails from Canada. Fox played for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, also playing college ball for the North Carolina Tar Heels. During his years playing for the Celtics, Fox became the first rookie starter to play on opening night since Larry Bird played in 1979. He also made the 1992 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging eight points per game. Fox then became the team’s starting small forward during the 1995-96 season, routinely achieving double-figure scoring. He recorded career highs of 15.4 points and 2.2 steals per game, earning him an overall career record of fifth in the NBA league.

Rick Fox’s Creative Career

Following basketball, Fox began an acting career in 2005 when he was a guest star on the television series Kevin Hill. In 2006, he played the role of Fabrizio in the film Mini’s First Time while also appearing in five episodes as villain Daunte in the CW drama series One Tree Hill. In 2007, Fox was a guest star during the second season of Ugly Betty, where he met his former wife, Vanessa Williams. Additional acting credits include roles in OzHe Got GameThe GameThe Big Bang TheoryMeet the Browns, Sharknado, and the list goes on.

Dwyane Wade (actor, producer, host)

Dwyane Wade spent the majority of his 16-year pro basketball career playing for the Miami Heat. During this time, Wade won three NBA championships, was a 13-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time member of the All-NBA Team, and a three-time member of the All-Defensive Team. Wade was also Miami’s all-time leader in points, games, assists, steals, and shots made and taken. So, it’s no surprise that he is largely regarded as one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wade led the U.S. men’s basketball team, known as the “Redeem Team,” and helped them capture the Gold Medal. In 2010, Wade was selected as the NBA All-Star Game MVP. He briefly left Miami to play for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers between 2016–2018 before returning to Miami to finish his playing career and retire in 2019. In October 2021, he was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Then, in 2023, it was announced that Wade would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dwyane Wade’s Creative Career

Following an incredible career on the court, Wade successfully transitioned into acting, filmmaking, and production through his company, 59th & Prairie Entertainment. His production credits include the critically acclaimed documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected and the sports documentary series Legacy. His commitment to social issues and his advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community have also earned him widespread recognition. In addition, Wade is known for contributing his creative talents to the movies Fearless, Ride Along 2, and countless other acting and producing roles. In 2023, he began hosting The Cube, the American adaptation of a British game show.

Damian Lillard (rapper)

Damian Lillard is currently a standout point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers. He began his basketball career by playing college ball for the Weber State Wildcats and earning third-team All-American honors in 2012. After being selected by Portland during the 2012 draft, Lillard was unanimously voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Due to his consistency in making successful shots during clutch moments, Lillard’s teammates nicknamed him “Dame Time.” And if all of these accolades aren’t enough, Lillard is the only player in Trail Blazer history to earn seven NBA All-Stars and seven All-NBA Team selections. In October 2021, Lillard was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Damian Lillard’s Creative Career

But there’s still more to know about Lillard beyond basketball. Namely, he’s also a well-respected rapper who goes by the Dame D.O.L.L.A. His first album, The Letter O, charted on the Billboard 200 after being released in 2016; and Big D.O.L.L.A., released in 2019, placed on the Indie charts. In 2021, he released another album, titled Different on Levels the Lord Allowed. His music often touches on personal experiences, his basketball career, and social issues, and can be heard in his songs like Home Team and  Baggage Claim. Among NBA players, Lillard is considered unique in his ability to excel in two different fields simultaneously: pro basketball and rapping. His talent and work ethic have made him a respected figure in both the sports and music worlds.

Talent Knows No Boundaries

These NBA players are proof that talent knows no boundaries, nor does one have to choose between being an athlete or a creator. Instead, they all have dazzled both on and off the court, with many excelling in multiple creative fields. They are producers, actors, musicians, writers, and advocates who continue to leave their mark by representing the NBA while pursuing their creative passions. And as we cheer for their basketball and athletic achievements, let’s also celebrate their contributions to the world of creativity.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

The Hidden Talents Within – NFL Players Who Are Also Successful Creators

NFL Post publish date: October 18, 2022

Throughout the NFL season, I’ve been wondering more lately what hobbies or creative outlets professional NLF players pursue when they are off the field. Are any of them a part of the creative community? This line of thinking was the beginning of some quick online searches (followed by many longer ones), which ultimately revealed that there are countless talented NFL players invested in creative careers that they began before, after, and sometimes during, their peak playing years.

These “NFL creators” may not have considered their artistic talents as their “day jobs” to pay the bills during their early football careers. However, many of them are skilled at their crafts and want to share their inspiring talents with all who will appreciate them. In fact, it’s fair to say that an untold number of National Football League (NFL) players express themselves off the field by painting, dancing, taking photos, making music, and much more. These players may have a tough, gritty, physical job on the field, but they have also scored big in the world of creativity. If you find this hard to believe, read on to learn about a few of the NFL players who have worked their magic far from the gridiron.

Artist Ernie Barnes

Born in 1938 in Durham, North Carolina, during the South’s Jim Crow era, as a young Black student, Ernie Barnes attended segregated schools throughout his early academic career. Upon graduating from high school, Barnes received an unprecedented 26 athletic college scholarships. But segregation prevented him from attending Duke University and the University of North Carolina, both of which were located near his home. Instead, he attended the all-Black North Carolina College at Durham. At North Carolina College, he played both tackle and center on a full athletic scholarship while majoring in art and honing his creative prowess. Following his college years, in December 1959, Barnes was drafted in the tenth round by the then-World Champion Baltimore Colts. He had originally been selected in the eighth round by the (former) Washington Redskins, which retracted their pick after discovering Barnes was Black. Needless to say, Barnes faced challenges finding a place on the NFL roster and moved teams often. Still, he successfully played for the Titans of New York, LA Chargers, Denver Broncos, and many other NFL teams during his football career.

Barnes, who passed away in 2009, is remembered as a talented and dedicated NFL player who overcame many challenges to play pro football, the sport he loved. However, despite the fact that some say he was overlooked as a significant artist, he is remembered for his prolific contributions to the art world, especially his paintings depicting Black life and culture. Some of his most significant artistic achievements include creating album covers for Marvin Gaye, being commissioned to do a painting for Kanye West, and being named as the official artist of the 1984 Olympics. In recent years, his work was featured at the California African American Museum, in an exhibit titled Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective from May 8 to September 8, 2019.

Country Songwriter and Singer Mike Reid

Born in 1947 and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, many who followed Mike Reid’s football career said he was born to be an accomplished NFL player. After a successful college ball career at Penn State where he was a defensive lineman (not to mention a serious pianist), he had a five-year run playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. When his Bengals career ended in 1974, Reid didn’t look for another NFL team, nor did he ever look back. Instead, beginning in 1975, Reid immersed himself into making country music. Moving to Nashville in the early 1980’s, he signed with Ronnie Milsap’s publishing firm. Although he didn’t initially perform live himself, Reid worked diligently behind the scenes with prominent country artists, including Milsap, co-writing songs such as “Stranger in My House,” which earned him a Grammy in 1984 for Best Country Song. Then, in 1985, Milsap’s recording of Reid’s “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” became the number one hit on the country charts and scored the number eight position on the adult contemporary charts, becoming the most-played country song of the year as well as ASCAP’s Country Song of the Year in 1986.

Reid eventually began a solo recording and singing career, releasing two studio albums for Columbia Records, and charted seven singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks (now known as Hot Country Songs Chart) as a singer, including his number one hit “Walk on Faith,” which was co-written with Allen Shamblin and released in November 1990 as the first single from his album Turning for Home. The song became a number one country hit in February 1991. In 2005, in honor of his incredible songwriting success and dedication to country music, Reid was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Photographer Tyler (Ty) Schmitt

Ty Schmitt is a self-taught, California-based photographer and artist who specializes in landscape and storm photography. But Ty’s very first passion was football. In 2008, he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks after four successful seasons playing for San Diego State University as a long snapper. He was also the first NFL player drafted solely to play the position of long snapper. However, in August of 2008, not long after he began his NFL career, he was placed on the season-ending injury-reserve list due to a severe back injury and was released by the Seahawks in 2009.

It was a tough break for Ty, who became committed to finding his true path in life, and turned to a hypnotherapist for assistance, which helped him find his passion for landscape photography. Despite having no experience or training, Ty’s passionate pursuit of photography evolved into a full-time, successful career. According to Ty, “I got a chance to look deep down inside, and for some reason, landscape photography jumped out…and so I said, ‘I have to do this. I don’t care if everyone thinks I’m crazy—this is a calling.'” The only camera that Schmitt owned when he caught the photography bug was an iPhone. So, he bought a used DSLR camera from his aunt and watched endless YouTube videos to learn how to master it, while also garnering tips on becoming a seasoned photographer.

And as they say, the rest is history, as Schmitt is now a sought-after photographer whose breathtaking work has been featured by Disney+, National Geographic, and Fast Company, among others.

Dancer Kyler Gordon

Although it may not be widely known, there are a number of NFL players who have taken up ballet and other forms of dance to further develop their football skills. Why? It’s a combination of balance and precise footwork that draws players of all shapes and sizes to study ballet since these skills translate so well to the football field. Kyler Gordon started his football career in high school and then played at the University of Washington, where he became a full-time starter in 2021. On January 5, 2022, Gordon entered the 2022 NFL Draft and was a 2022 Chicago Bears first draft pick. 

But long before his football or NFL success, Gordon studied dance at the urging of his mother. According to Gordon, “My mom actually got me into (dance) at a young age…It was the first competitive thing I ever did…I went to nationals. Did all that. The lyrical, ballet, hip hop.” Gordon now credits his mom and his dance background for providing him with the work ethic, discipline, and coordination he needs to succeed in football.

According to Bears’ scout Francis St. Paul, Gordon’s dance background is evident when watching him play on video. “You see it in his balance…You see it in his change of direction. He ran a 6.67 three-cone, and the most impressive part about it, he was stumbling and pulled out of that stumble to finish,” St. Paul notes.

NFL Players Choir 

In case you didn’t already know, there actually is a group called the NFL Players Choir, which was founded in 2008 and which first performed at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, Arizona. The choir has been performing for more than a decade and consists of both current and former pro football players, including Tully Banta-Cain, Willie Yarbary, Bryan Scott, Bryant McKinnie, Isaiah McKenzie, Stephen Pierce, Leonard Weaver, Jamon Brown, Cameron Lamark Newton, Prince Amukamara, and Jamon Brown; and the only requirement to join is to be a current or former NFL player.

For years, the group performed at the annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration alongside talented musicians such as Donnie McClurkin, Melvin Crispell III, Erica Campbell, and Hezekiah Walker. In 2020, the choir performed virtually for Share the Light, an event supporting the American Cancer Society. Then in June of 2022, the choir took the stage on the TV show America’s Got Talent (AGT) for season 17. Unfortunately, it got sacked while performing on AGT, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, and the group will continue to sing at numerous upcoming events. In 2019, the group’s choir director Myron Butler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he liked “the idea of football meeting faith through [the choir’s] performances.” And according to Super Bowl Gospel Celebration founder Melanie Few-Harrison, “We have some accomplished musicians [in the choir] with great voices, who have been with us from the beginning. It seems that the players who can sing know other players who can sing, and it happens from there.”

Producer, Writer, and Commercial Actor Peyton Manning    

Peyton Manning was born on March 24, 1976, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and attended the University of Tennessee where he played football and won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards as he prepared for victory in the 1997 SEC Championship. After college, Manning had an incredible 18-season career as the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2011 and played for the Denver Broncos from 2012-15. He also won two Super Bowls, beat all of the current 32 NFL franchises, and played in 14 Pro Bowls.

Football triumphs aside, Manning is now an uber successful producer, writer, and commercial actor. In fact, in 2020, Manning was ranked as the Number One commercial actor on a long list of “gridiron greats” by Muse by Cleo, a news site that covers creativity in advertising.

When it comes to being a commercial actor, Manning’s colleagues have called him a “legit chameleon and borderline method actor.” Some of his most famous commercial spots include a  classic commercial for Sprint, one that demonstrates “his unmatched dialogue timing with his‘ ”rocket arm” line; and a Mastercard spot titled Cut that meat! It’s been said by many who have worked with Manning that he can “carry a commercial and elevate the entire ethos of a brand without even appearing…he’s Marlon Brando meets Will Ferrell meets [Robert] De Niro meets Meryl Streep meets Morgan Freeman meets (literally) Ron Burgundy.” Beyond this list of endless successes, Manning is also set to co-host the upcoming Country Music Awards (CMAs) with Luke Bryan on November 9, 2022; and his popular NFL broadcast was spoofed in a hilarious Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit during the opening show on October 1, 2022, when SNL host Miles Teller portrayed Peyton Manning and SNL actor Andrew Dismukes portrayed his brother Eli Manning.

Let’s face it, as most of us know, being a pro NFL football player is not an easy job, with executing winning moves on the football field expected of players by their legions of dedicated fans, fellow team members, and coaches. However, as evidenced by those athletes who have a talent for making touchdowns and passes on the field and scoring big creatively off the field, there are scores of NFL players (both past and present) who have been—and who continue to be–successfully pursuing creative careers and sharing their tremendous talents with the world.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Tribute Blog in Memory of Former Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters

Post publish date: October 6, 2022

The Copyright Alliance, along with countless members of the copyright community, warmly remembers former Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, who passed away on September 29 at the age of 83. During her storied career, former Register Peters led the U.S. Copyright Office for 16 years—from 1994 to 2010—and dedicated 40-plus years of her career to copyright policy and leadership. She was a distinguished attorney who was broadly respected around the world, as well as a leading expert on U.S. and international copyright law. During her tenure at the Copyright Office, former Register Peters was instrumental in many important initiatives, including helping to implement the 1976 Copyright Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which serve as cornerstones of today’s copyright law. She was a true leader of the copyright community, and over the years, she touched many lives, both personally and professionally.

For anyone who would like to make a donation, a memorial fund has been established in her name at the Intellectual Property Program at George Washington University Law School; and you can read former Register Peters’ obituary.

Below are testimonials from members of the copyright community, both individuals and organizations, who collectively mourn former Register Peters’ passing and celebrate her life and legacy.

*To read longer quotes, please click on the URLs attached to individual and organization names (where included).

Individual Testimonials

Marybeth will be greatly missed. She leaves an enormous legacy in the copyright community. I was so fortunate to have known her and to have had the opportunity to learn from her and laugh with her.  We at CCC join with those who knew Marybeth in celebrating all that she shared with us as a friend, a mentor, a teacher, and a leader.

— Tracey Armstrong, President & CEO, Copyright Clearance Center

Marybeth Peters led the U.S. Copyright Office and the copyright world through the transition to the digital age, playing a leading role in formulating domestic and international copyright policy and legislation to address digital issues and leading the transition from a paper-based copyright registration system to an online process. It was the greatest privilege and honor of my professional life to work for and with Marybeth for 13 years. Her knowledge of copyright law was unparalleled, her ability to navigate the legislative landscape was masterful, her empathy was palpable, and her sense of humor, in good times and bad, was uplifting. Going into the office every day to work with Marybeth was not a job; it was fun! I am proud to have been able to call her a mentor, a colleague, and a dear friend.

 – David Carson, Copyright Claims Board Member and former U.S. Copyright Office General Counsel and Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs

Marybeth was that rare person who was able to hold a position of significant responsibility that comes with a good dose of politics and carry off the enterprise with both seriousness of purpose and a sense of humor. To hear her unmistakable, high-pitched laugh across a crowded room of IP lawyers somehow reassured everyone that no issue was so dire it couldn’t be worked out. She had a razor-sharp understanding of the law and politics of copyright, and how to navigate the two, but used her knowledge to inspire rather than intimidate. She was tremendously encouraging to aspiring attorneys in her field, especially women. It is no exaggeration to say Marybeth changed the course of my life by suggesting that I apply for a job in the Copyright Office. I am forever in her debt.  

Jacqueline C. Charlesworth, Principal, Charlesworth Law

Marybeth was an undisputed giant of the copyright community. Her influence on copyright law, in the U.S. and around the world, will be felt for many years to come. But we will also remember her as a devoted member and friend of the Copyright Society, a mainstay of our national meetings, whose annual address, The View from the Copyright Office, was both enormously informative and reliably entertaining. She was a wise and dedicated mentor, an inspiring role model, and a personal friend to many of us. We will miss her and cherish her memory forever.

— Casey Chisick, President of the Copyright Society

We are deeply saddened to hear of Register Peters passing. She was a champion of the copyright system, and deeply admired for her keen intellect, and caring and gregarious demeanor.  Marybeth will be greatly missed by the entire creative community.

Vince Garlock, Executive Director, American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) 

Marybeth Peters spent a professional life committed to promoting and protecting copyright so that her country could enjoy the fruits of its creativity and intellectual labors. Marybeth was a wonderfully multi-faceted woman. To the copyright community, she was a figurehead, an éminence grise and a walking encyclopedia of copyright law. To Congress, she was an honest, skilled, and unapologetic advocate of copyrights. To her colleagues at the US Copyright Office, she was trusted leader. To me – she was a cherished mentor.  How lucky am I to have been graced by her intellect, good humor, and generous spirit.

— Marla Grossman, Partner, American Continental Group

Marybeth Peters contributed as much as anyone to modern day copyright law. Her commitment to crafting meaningful reforms has had a lasting impact and will continue to shape how creators work is valued and protected. We owe her a debt of gratitude for her efforts to safeguard the ideas of songwriters and beyond, and while she will be missed, her legacy will continue.

— David Israelite, President and CEO, National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)

As I pause to consider what to say in my tribute to Marybeth, I realize that whatever I put down on paper will fall well short of how important she was to the copyright and creative communities and how she left an indelible impression on so many copyright attorneys and creators. Everyone Marybeth encountered could not help but fall in love with her. She was friend to everyone in the copyright world, regardless of what position they may have taken on the copyright issues of the day—which is a rarity these days. She was a mentor to so many young attorneys—attorneys who have now grown up and are taking what they learned from Marybeth and paying it forward to a new group of young attorneys—forever cementing Marybeth’s legacy in the copyright history books. I consider myself extremely fortunate and honored to have worked for and alongside Marybeth for so many years and to experience and be the beneficiary of her wit, wisdom, tutelage, friendship, and of course, her trademark belly laugh. Her life story is a testament to what someone can accomplish through hard work, perseverance, and kindness to others. It is fairly common knowledge that she worked her way up from the lowest rungs of the Copyright Office to eventually become the Register of Copyrights. But what may not be so well known are all the biases and prejudices she experienced as a young, single divorcee. I myself was not aware of the obstacles she faced until many years ago when we were sitting together at an event and she started telling me about a few of these challenges. To me, she was amazing before I knew all this. But, after that night, I realized that Marybeth was a true luminary in every way possible.

Keith Kupferschmid, CEO, Copyright Alliance

From the time I first met Marybeth upon my joining the Copyright Office General Counsel staff in 1977, I knew that she was a very special person. Throughout her long and storied career, Marybeth was the Office’s Swiss-Army Knife. I marveled at the depth of her knowledge, skills, leadership, and her ability to tackle new challenges in her many roles at the Copyright Office during a period of significant technological change. Marybeth made so many contributions to the creators and the copyright Community, from being a member of the General Counsel’s Office, as Chief of the Information and Reference Division, as Chief of the Examining Division, as one of the original Policy Planning Advisors to the Register, and finally as Register of Copyrights. I also was very fortunate and honored to work with Marybeth as we co-taught “Copyright Problems of the Media” at the Catholic University School of Law, and “Copyright Law” (along with David Ladd and Lewis Flacks) at the University of Miami School of Law during the ‘80s. Marybeth was made to be [the] Register of Copyrights and had many of the same wonderful qualities of former Register of Copyrights Barbara Ringer. Marybeth’s accomplishments were many, but what I will remember most was her sense of friendship, humor, humility, collegiality, even-handedness, mentorship, and dedication. While Marybeth’s passing in very sad, we can all celebrate her magnificent life and career.

— David Leibowitz, Managing Partner, CH Potomac 

One of the first people I met when I began working in the field was Marybeth. How lucky I was!  Marybeth was not only full of the knowledge and expertise one would expect from the Register of Copyrights, but was supremely kind, helpful and encouraging.  Her long tenure at the Copyright Office gave her unparalleled institutional knowledge which allowed her to steer the Office with confidence, having a clear vision of what the Office could be and seeing what challenges it had yet to overcome.  But above all, I will remember Marybeth’s laugh.  People say smiles light up the room, but Marybeth’s laugh had the wattage of a thousand smiles.  It was deep and full and conveyed how pleased she was to be among friends.  I will miss her, and her laugh, greatly.  My sincere condolences to her family. 

Pippa Loengard, Director, Kernochan Center for Law, Media & the Arts and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School

I became the Register of Copyrights in 1985, and I had the good fortune to inherit an extraordinary team of senior advisors that my predecessor David Ladd had assembled—Marybeth Peters, Lewis Flacks, and Chris Meyer. As my Policy Planning Advisors, they helped me set U.S. Copyright Office priorities and explained those priorities to the copyright community. Marybeth knew everybody. She had the longest tenure in the Office and the widest experience. She was our ambassador to the Copyright Society. She had been a backdoor advisor to Chairman Kastenmeier during the revision process and, after enactment, she embarked on a nationwide lecture tour to explain the provisions of the ’76 Act to the public at large. That detailed knowledge of the law made her an indispensable resource, both within the Office and to the copyright bar. She served as a panelist and keynoter on countless occasions, and her lively persona and solid legal analysis made her our most popular and sought-after speaker. Marybeth was an accomplished musician, and she considered pursuing a career in music at Julliard in New York. Her aunt was on the faculty [there] and gave her niece some candid advice. ‘You are very good,’ she said, ‘but you are not exceptional.’ So, Marybeth went to law school at George Washington University, while working as a Copyright Office examiner in the music division. It is a measure of her legal acumen and her high energy level that she graduated from GW with high honors despite having a demanding full-time job. Julliard’s loss was our gain, and Marybeth made her indelible mark, not as a performer, but in the law. She was always very generous with her time. After I retired and she became Register, she served as a guest lecturer in my advanced copyright seminar at GW Law School on several occasions. She always made copyright law and policy come alive for the students and made them all want to become copyright lawyers and help [creators] protect their rights…It’s hard to believe that her radiant smile and her whoop of a laugh are no longer with us. She was larger than life, and I am grateful that I had the pleasure of working with her for all those years. Thank you, Marybeth, and may you rest in peace.

Ralph Oman, former Register of Copyrights, U.S. Copyright Office

Marybeth was a giant in the field of copyright law and both inspiring and imposing at the helm of the Copyright Office. She was endlessly interested in meeting new people, especially creative people, and had a way of drawing practitioners, including me, into periods of government service. Her achievements—as a distinguished legal expert, public official, and chief executive officer—are unique and significant, and they will serve authors and the global public for generations to come. Likewise, she will long be remembered for her kindness, humility, and joyful sense of humor. I was privileged to work for her twice and honored to call her a close friend.

Maria A. Pallante, CEO, AAP, and former Register of Copyrights

No one who knew Marybeth will ever forget her.  She combined an unparalleled depth and breadth of copyright expertise with warmth and empathy, and an openness devoid of ego.  She devoted her professional life to the Copyright Office, forged long-lasting bonds here, and steered us through often tumultuous times with steady grace.  It is deeply touching but not surprising that so many people from around the world have reached out to share their sorrow at her loss.  I am only one of those whose careers she inspired and shaped, and I will always be grateful.

Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office  

At the time of her retirement from the Copyright Office in December 2010, several of us wrote tributes to Marybeth Peters to express our appreciation for her 45 years of public service and to detail her career, her accomplishments and her remarkable talents. The tributes were published in the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA. Here is my tribute from 2010. It encapsulates Marybeth’s life, career, personality, and friendships, and illustrates why so many of us feel so profoundly sad by her passing. We have lost not only an articulate advocate for authors and creators, but a really good friend, with a warm smile and an unforgettable laugh.

Eric Schwartz, Partner, MSK LLP, in a Copyright Society Journal Article

We’re saddened today to learn of the passing of my colleague and mentor Marybeth Peters, the 11th United States Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office. Register Peters was an unparalleled expert on copyright law and policy, and a true giant in the copyright community as a friend, scholar and mentor to many. Part of Marybeth’s lasting legacy will always be her work to implement the 1976 Copyright Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which are both fundamental parts of modern U.S. copyright law. She was also an inspiring leader and educator, instrumental in developing numerous copyright-focused legal groups and teaching copyright law at several law schools around the country. Our thoughts are with her family and the larger copyright legal community during this time.

Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel, Motion Picture Association and former Register of Copyrights

Marybeth was herself an engine for/of free expression. A brave champion of creators who didn’t disguise her dreams and wouldn’t allow others to darken her skies. She had a unique way of turning what seemed like irrational optimism & exuberance into accepted reality. It was my great fortune to call her my friend for over 30 years. I already miss her and hope to continue her legacy by challenging ignorance and believing in the power of speaking truth without regard to the perceived odds.

— Neil Turkewitz, Arts Advocate

Marybeth Peters was the Register of Copyrights for much of my career as a copyright lawyer. She is one of the reasons that I love copyright law. As Register, not only was she a walking encyclopedia of all things copyright she was one of the most welcoming, approachable, and generous people you could meet. She was passionate about copyright and the Office, and truly tried to make the registration process work for as many creators as possible. I worked with her on improving registration practices for photographers, as well as on creating registration strategies for stock photography catalogs and online databases. She was always so generous with her time and knowledge. Each year, I looked forward to the “Views of the Copyright Office,” a Copyright Office update she gave to Copyright Society members at the annual meeting, as well as to the ABA IP Section Copyright Division. She always had a smile on her face and a good sense of humor, even when holding up an example of a completely disintegrated and charred application recovered during the “Anthrax” period, when all applications (only paper forms then) had to be sent offsite for radiation! I will miss her smile, her amazing red hair, and her friendship. I am grateful for all the years she graciously served as Register.

Nancy Wolff, Partner at Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP

Marybeth Peters was a true pioneer—as a lawyer, as an Intellectual Property thought leader and as a public servant. Unlike many who purport to serve the public, she never lost sight of who she worked for or why her work mattered to so many. With charm, integrity and a razor wit, Marybeth consistently executed her duties with conviction and courage—two qualities much needed but seldom found today. She will be missed by those who were blessed to know and work with her. But her smile, laugh, example and legacy will provide us comfort along with the knowledge there are millions around the world who still benefit from her life’s work.

— David Whitney, Former Intellectual Property Enforcement Counsel, Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives
Photo Credit: Isabella Hyun

Statements by Organizations

The publishing community is deeply saddened by the loss of former Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, who devoted more than four decades to domestic and international copyright law, led the U.S. Copyright Office for a remarkable 16 years, advised numerous Members of Congress on legal and policy questions, including treaty implementation, and encouraged countless copyright careers across government and the private sector. During her long tenure, Ms. Peters helped to implement both the 1976 Copyright Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which together constitute the foundation of our present-day copyright system.  She championed numerous, additional improvements—both statutory and regulatory—through rigorous studies and testimony. We send our sincere condolences to Marybeth’s extended family, friends, and everyone who admired her.

— Association of American Publishers (AAP)

All of us at ASCAP are mourning Marybeth Peters today. As the Register of Copyrights from 1994-2010, Marybeth helped to implement critical copyright laws impacting music creators. Her support of the music community will continue to be felt for decades. Rest well, Marybeth.


For reasons too numerous to count, Marybeth will be sorely missed and will long be remembered as a true leader and champion for the copyright world. There’s no doubt that her legacy will live on to inspire those who follow on her path. 

Copyright Alliance  

With great sadness, we mourn the passing of Marybeth Peters. Marybeth leaves a remarkable legacy. Her vast knowledge of copyright law, and the diverse communities it serves, was the foundation for her leadership as Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office from 1994-2010.  CCC was enormously honored to have Marybeth serve on our Board of Directors upon her retirement from public service.

Copyright Clearance Center

The Copyright Society is deeply saddened by the passing of former United States Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, who died yesterday after a long illness. Ms. Peters, who led the U.S. Copyright Office from 1994 through 2010, will be remembered for immeasurable contributions to U.S. copyright law. In a distinguished career that spanned more than four decades, she helped implement both the 1976 Copyright Act, which still forms the backbone of U.S. copyright law, and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was instrumental to responding to the challenges of new technologies. She was known around the world for her expertise in both domestic and international copyright law and championed many important initiatives to streamline and modernize U.S. Copyright Office practice.

— Copyright Society

C-IP2 is saddened by the death of former Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters—an accomplished and inspiring copyright lawyer who led the U.S. Copyright Office from 1994-2010. Register Peters began her love affair with copyright on Valentine’s Day of 1966 with her appointment as a music examiner in the former Music Section of the Examining Division. She held numerous positions at all levels in the Copyright Office, ultimately culminating with her role as Register. Register Peters’ contributions to the law are enshrined in the Copyright Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the numerous regulations implementing them. Her wise counsel will live on in untold hours of advice rendered to Members of Congress, various administration officials, and the many authors, practitioners and scholars who make their careers in the copyright world.


Marybeth Peters’ diligence and vision helped intellectual property owners and licensees navigate through a time of change as the internet came of age. Her early recognition of and contributions to needed reforms for music licensing in the digital age were critical to laying the groundwork for Congress’ eventual passage of the Music Modernization Act and the economic comeback story of the music industry. To Marybeth’s family, friends, and those who worked with her, we share our condolences while recognizing her immense legacy of support for an efficient, fair, and modern copyright system.

Digital Media Association

The ESA offers condolences to family and friends of former United States Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, who died yesterday after a long illness. The entertainment & video game industries will be forever impacted by her leadership and expertise.

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 

[Former Register Peters] was a gifted public servant, whose work to find consensus helped diverse stakeholders find common ground…Here’s a video of her appearance at our 2007 conference.

Future of Music Coalition 

Marybeth Peters was respected across the United States and around the world for her encyclopedic knowledge of copyright law. As the leader of the Copyright Office, her dedication to the fundamental role of copyright as a driver of creativity and economic growth helped contribute to a copyright system that supports industries which add more than $1.3 trillion to the American economy every year. Her loss is deeply felt throughout the American creative sectors.

Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC)

We mourn the loss of former Register of Copyright Marybeth Peters. Her dedication to the Copyright Office and copyright law was inspiring, and her legacy will live on for generations to come.

— Kernochan Center

Former Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters was a brilliant and wonderful person who dedicated her life to protecting creators. We mourn her passing and are grateful for all she did for artists and everyone who supports them.


The Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), Music Creators North America (MCNA), and the Congressionally chartered National Music Council of the United States (NMC) join the world music community in mourning the passing of our friend and colleague, Mary Beth Peters. Her stalwart leadership of the US Copyright Office, as well as her consistent, demonstrated concern for the rights of music creators in the US and around the world, were deeply appreciated by all.  More than even that, her sense of humor and warmth made her a pleasure to work with.  She helped set the tone for an era during which cooperation among the members of the copyright bar was at a high point, and her friendly style of stewardship is and will always be dearly missed.

— SGA, MCNA, and NMC

On September 29, 2022, the copyright community lost a friend, advocate, and scholar when Marybeth Peters passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 83. Having served the Copyright Office for more than four decades in numerous capacities, including as the Office’s head, she was a global authority on copyright law and a well-known and well-loved presence in the world of copyright. Her passing marks the loss of an influential force in the development of copyright law and an unparalleled source of expertise. Throughout her long tenure as the Register of Copyrights, Peters was sought after by Congress, as well as by scholars and copyright industries, for her vision and analysis.

U.S. Copyright Office

News and Blog Coverage

The Importance of Copyright for Young Creators and Innovators: World IP Day 2022

BMI Post publish date: April 26, 2022

One morning last week, I was waiting for the cappuccino I’d ordered at Starbucks, half asleep and half thinking about all I had to accomplish that day regarding our World IP Day 2022 (WIPD) panel. Then, a song started playing that’s one of my recent favorites, “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, who happens to be an uber talented singer and songwriter and is considered a “young creator” as she is just 20 years old. In an instant, hearing this electro-pop, indie song put me in a much lighter mood and set the tone for the rest of the day. It also reminded me of just how inspiring a favorite song, a great movie, an intriguing book, or colorful piece of art can be when we least expect it (and perhaps when we most need it).

This week, we celebrate creators across all genres of creativity who keep us feeling inspired through the works they share with us every single day. In particular we are celebrating budding young painters, singers, software coders, writers, vloggers, actors, and other creators, as this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) focuses on IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future for its 2022 WIPD theme.

The theme that WIPO selected, IP and Youth, is both forward-looking and forward-reaching, as it celebrates young creators, artists, and innovators, while also underscoring the importance of keeping their current and future works safe through intellectual property protections such as copyright. Intellectual property law, including copyright law, emboldens young creators to explore and expand their imagination and creativity by offering them the tools and guidance to contribute positively to society and culture.

Why Learning About Copyright Is Important for Young Creators

From books and movies to videogames and songs to photos and much more—copyright law applies to any creative work of the human mind or imagination, even a child’s original finger painting! So, having an understanding of what copyright law is and does will help to arm young minds with the knowledge of their rights as a creator and their responsibility to fellow artists to use someone else’s works with permission when necessary. With this knowledge, young creators have the confidence to not only create and express themselves with confidence but also how to best reach audiences while fostering their ability to develop additional creative works. For example, a young creator might create a work to license to others that would help her gather resources for the next creative project. Or a child or young adult who understands the concept of the fair use exception under copyright, will also understand which parts of copyrighted works can be used without express permission from a copyright holder when—for example—they are writing a report or pursuing a creative project.

A strong knowledge of copyright law also makes young creators good stewards of the arts and shapes the approach they will take regarding the creations they come across in both the digital and non-digital worlds. An informed and educated group of young creators means that they will understand how to protect their own works as well as how to respect the rights of fellow creators. This scenario results in a vibrant and productive creative environment that copyright law is meant to foster.

And although copyright law may seem complicated at first, young creators will eventually find that it’s not that daunting, especially when there are numerous resources that can help, including those listed below.

Resources That Help Young Creators Learn About Copyright

  • Copyright for Kids (U.S. Copyright Office) — This site is hosted by the Copyright Office, which is the government office that handles registrations for creator works. It encourages kids to try their hand at making something creative that is eligible for copyright protection.
  • How to Teach Copyright and Fair Use to Students (Edutopia) — According to Edutopia, “When you model proper use of online images and text, students can learn how to protect themselves, and respect the work of others.”
  • Copyright and Fair Use for Students ( — As noted by, “It’s important to understand how copyright law affects [someone] as it’s a serious business.”
  • Copyright and Creativity (C&C) — C&C materials aim to provide “accessible and practical information about copyright – [including] its protections, its limitations, and its role in encouraging creativity.”

Advice from the Experts to Young Creators

This year, to celebrate World IP Day on April 26, the Copyright Alliance facilitated a panel discussion with some amazing young creators and creator advocates titled Copyright and Youth: Creating a Better Future, which young creators can view here. During the discussion, the panel discussed topics such as how bright, curious, and talented young minds are transformed into tomorrow’s musicians, artists, writers, actors, photographers, video game designers, and many other types of creators and innovators; how to provide real world examples and education for students to model and learn from as they become career-minded creative professionals themselves; how young creators and innovatorslearn about protecting their works through copyright and other forms of IP; and much more.

During the event, panelists shared their advice for young creators and for those who teach youth about copyright on what young creators and their supporters should keep in mind. Check out what the panelists had to say below:

Learning how to navigate copyright is something that [as a creator] you’ll need to do, as it’s an important skill in your toolkit… [and when teaching kids about copyright], keep it positive. Talk about what copyright is for and what it does to support creators. And keep it practical [by talking about] how kids can legally access and use content, and why it’s important to do things the right way.

David Sohn, Copyright and Creativity

[When learning about something like copyright], lean into it, instead of away from it. Figure things out, ask questions, and know there are resources to help you.

Addie Clark, fine artist and recent college graduate

[Young artists and creators should] know your value, know your worth; and you do this through education and through a good community base. You’ll learn how to use copyright and how to protect your works.

Janet Hicks, Artist Rights Society

[As a young creator], you are not alone in navigating [how to protect your works]. We can feel like we are doing it alone, doing it solo, but there are so many resources out there to help you.

Kim Tignor, Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice

[Young creators] are our legacy, our future, and we want [them] to hone their knowledge at a young age. Find partners and work with school systems to educate yourself about IP and copyright.

Kick Lee, Cincinnati Music Accelerator

Wise Words from the Register of Copyrights

In celebrating World IP Day with creators across the country and across the world, the lead representative of the U.S. Copyright Office, Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter, shared a video message in which she states that, “This year’s [WIPO World IP Day theme], IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future, is an inspired choice. In creating their own works of authorship, young people are emerging as thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs, and leading the way to cultural and scientific progress.”

If there is any question as to why today’s youth should be both educated about their rights under intellectual property law and celebrated for their works, Register Perlmutter sums it up perfectly. It’s because they are the hope, the innovators, the creators, and the leaders of the future. And the sooner they understand how to be good stewards of the arts, protecting their own works and respecting the works of others, the better and more innovative, educated, and diverse our society’s culture will be through the works that they contribute.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

The Magic of Sports Captured Through Photography

Professional Camera man taking a picture of a sporting event Post publish date: July 22, 2021

After an unforgettable year of delays, setbacks, and emotional upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top athletes from across the globe will soon compete in what is officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad from July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

This summer, as photos are finally captured of everything from the Olympic opening ceremony to the medal presentations—and all of the incredible athletic feats in between—sports photographers will share a series of special once-in-a-lifetime moments for all the world to see. These shots will be savored more than ever since most would-be spectators will not be admitted to the games in-person due to COVID precautions. And even photographers who have been vaccinated are facing formidable restrictions due to the risks of coronavirus, not to mention they will be risking their own health and safety to capture unforgettable moments.

So, if you’re like me, and planning to stream some of the hundreds of events, games, and matches across nearly 40 different sports this summer, it will be more important than ever when photographers capture exceptional feats—many of which we just won’t have enough time to watch ourselves. And the fact that they will do so through their very own lenses makes the images even more special.

The History of Sports Photography

As I started to think about the photos that we will see this summer—online, on TV, on our phones, in magazines and blogs, and beyond—I started to wonder about the history (and connection points) between sports and photography. For example, when and how did sports photography originate?

As I began to research, I learned that between 1835 and 1860, a new era came into existence: “the era of the Calotype, the first negative-positive process.” The Calotype, also called Talbotype, [is the] early photographic technique invented by William Henry Fox Talbot of Great Britain in the 1830s.” During this period, “The exposure time was long. The positive prints were produced using silver salts and kitchen salt!” But a new period was forged, which began the days of “modern silver halide photography.” Regarding this technique, “a sheet of paper coated with silver chloride was exposed to light in a camera obscura; those areas hit by light became dark in tone, yielding a negative image.”

Following the mid-1800s, photo technology and human know-how continued to progress into the early 1900s. According to a Widewalls article, “Starting off through photojournalism and evolving into a proper art form, [the beginning of] sports photography relied on the advancement of the photographic medium and its equipment to immortalize the tendencies that have been a part of human history since Old Greece.” Just as athletes were originally imaged early on in “mesmerizing sculptures” by artists, “photographers did so in their sports pictures,” starting in the early 20th century.

Not surprisingly, during the mid 19th and 20th centuries, interest in shots of athletes in action began to grow exponentially, just as cameras and imaging technology began to make incredible advancements. In the early to mid-20th century, the public began to look for images of athletic activities and poses, popular athletes, and groups of athletes to appear in newspapers and magazines. Then, in the 1930s, camera shutter speeds improved. And by the mid-1950s, Sports Activities Illustrated (today known simply as Sports Illustrated) came into existence. It was the first magazine dedicated exclusively to recording and celebrating sports and athletes, and it became a phenomenon that continues to flourish today.

During the decades that followed, as photos from the “early years” of sports photography moved from magazines to galleries, museums, private collections, and beyond, sports photography was literally born. Fans clamored for keepsake images of their favorite athletes in poses that exemplified them cracking a baseball while hitting a homerun, dunking the winning basketball shot, or dashing across the finish line to win a hard-fought race.

Sports Photography Today

Today, major sports and the photographs that capture athletes performing at the top of their game are worth their weight in gold. Why? Probably because they represent so many things all at once, including excellence, discipline, normalcy, and maybe even unity across global boundaries.

And the athletes who will be photographed while competing in this summer’s Olympics are no exception, which is why we tip our hats and profusely thank all of the incredible photographers who will be capturing the shots that we can’t wait to see unfold.

At the Copyright Alliance, members such as the American Photographic Artists (APA), the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), and the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) are professional organizations that help to protect, educate and advocate on behalf of a wealth of photographers, so be sure to check them out. And if you are an independent photographer or other type of creator, we also invite you to become a Creator Member of the Copyright Alliance at no charge, and you’ll automatically receive a number of benefits exclusive only to our members.

Copyright Academy Creator Webinar Series Launched on February 8

Copyright Academy Webinar Series Post publish date: February 9, 2021

It’s an exciting time to be a Copyright Alliance Creator Member. Why, you might ask? For starters, we’re continuing to develop numerous benefits that provide creators with helpful information about copyright and copyright-related issues to support growing their careers, monetizing their works for the public to enjoy, and protect their copyrighted creations. With these goals in mind, the Copyright Alliance is pleased to launch an on-demand webinar series where we discuss various copyright topics with experts in the field to help creators navigate and better understand copyright law, called the Copyright Academy.

The Copyright Academy webinars will feature 15–20 minute video conversations between Copyright Alliance policy team members and copyright experts in a number of fields on topics of interest to creators and make them available exclusively to Copyright Alliance Creator Members — if you aren’t already a Creator Member, you can join here today for free. We will release a new Copyright Academy video on a monthly basis throughout 2021 (please note that the schedule is subject to change).

The 2021 Copyright Academy webinars planned to date include:

  • Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid speaks with Bart Herbison, Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), about the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).
  • Copyright Alliance VP of Policy & Copyright Counsel Kevin Madigan talks with Sandra Aistars, Clinical Professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University and lead of the law school’s Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program, about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Use and Misuse of Copyrighted Works Online.
  • Copyright Alliance VP of Policy & Copyright Counsel Terrica Carrington discusses the differences between Published v. Unpublished Works with Nancy Wolff, Partner at Legal Advisory Board Member Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP.
  • Keith Kupferschmid and Roy Kaufman, Managing Director for Business Development, Copyright Clearance Center, talk about Creative Commons and Open Access.
  • Kevin Madigan and Loren Mulraine, Entertainment, IP and Business Attorney, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, discuss Digital Sampling.
  • Terrica Carrington and Eric Schwartz, Partner, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, discuss Copyright Termination.
  • Kevin Madigan and Pippa Loengard, Deputy Director, Kernochan Center for Law, Media & the Arts and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, speak about Differences Between Copyright, Trademark and Patents.
  • Keith Kupferschmid and Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director, The Authors Guild, discuss Fair Use.
  • Kevin Madigan and Eleanor Lackman, Partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, talk about Works Made for Hire.
  • Keith Kupferschmid and Tom Maddrey, American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) General Counsel, discuss the Use of Photos on Social Media.
  • Keith and Tom Maddrey return to speak about Copyright Registration.

For information on other Creator Member benefits, or to join the Copyright Alliance as Creator Member for free, visit our Get Involved webpage. And if you are already a creator member, you can log in to our private creator member site to begin watching the first video.

Creator Community Rallies to Support the Public During COVID-19 Challenges

creators standing together Post publish date: May 28, 2020

If you look up the word “community” in the dictionary, you’ll find it defined as a group of people who reside in a certain locale, share a government or religion, or perhaps have other characteristics in common such as a shared history or culture. In addition to the traditional definition of the word, members of a community quite often support one another, especially during challenging times like those currently faced due to COVID-19.

In mid-March, when the Coronavirus pandemic first made news across the world, it felt daunting. Most people tried to make sense of what was going on, as well as look for ways to remain safe. As the world struggled to digest the magnitude of the pandemic, as well as to hold onto some sort of normalcy, numerous communities rallied to sustain their members. Some communities also looked for ways to offer support more broadly to anyone in need.

One such instance involves the immediate contributions that members of the creative community demonstrated when they assembled a broad swath of resources to share with everyone who could benefit from them. From education materials to COVID-19 resources, from free streams and concerts to professional guidance and language learning, to so much more, the creative community rallied to provide a breadth of offerings to help make everyday lives just a bit easier.

Recently, the Copyright Alliance created a compilation of resources offered by the creator community. In addition, below are just a few examples of the caliber and variety of what’s available to you on our resources page, all thanks to the creator community:

For anyone who misses attending concerts, check out this list from NPR that includes virtual performances you can attend from home. Whether you’re a fan of the Metropolitan Opera, the Dave Matthews Band, or something in between, NPR’s list has you covered by sharing a list of performances held via live audio and video streams from around the world.

There are also numerous studios releasing new movies online due to theatre closures, including Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Hulu and others. Check out the steady stream of movies available now (and see what’s coming soon) by clicking here and here.

If you’re looking to help your kids improve their language skills, Audible is offering students a vast repertoire of titles across eight different languages, all for free, on desktops, laptops, phones and tablets while schools across the U.S. remain closed.

With most schools continuing to remain closed and educators still adjusting to virtual teaching, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) curated a list of offerings from a variety of trusted educational publishers and content providers, including K12, Highlights, Blackboard and more.

While the Grammy Museum’s physical location is closed during COVID-19, it’s releasing free educational content and lesson plans on its digital platforms, including courses on Electronic Music Production, Video Production and much more.

For parents of young children who want to ensure their kids continue to feel safe during these uncertain times, Sesame Street is sharing content that can spark learning while also offering comfort to kids. Here are some new Caring for Each Other activities for parents and kids to check out this week. You can also learn more here. Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is offering a YouTube playlist of “resources and inspiration” so photographers can make the most of the time they spend social distancing by learning new creative and professional skills.

The resources highlighted in this post are just a fraction of what’s being offered today by the creator community. Be sure to check out our comprehensive resource page (and check back often for new resources that are being added regularly).

With the future still uncertain, and with the knowledge that it could be awhile before things truly go back to a state of normalcy, it’s great to have such a strong and unified community – the creative community – ready and willing to step up to the plate when times are challenging. We thank them not only for the resources provided to help make life easier and more “normal,” but also for the giving spirit in which they have shared them.

Internet Archive’s “Emergency Library”: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Post publish date: April 23, 2020

The old saying that “life is unpredictable” is certainly an understatement these days, with COVID-19 forcing the world to face the biggest global pandemic that any of us have experienced in our lifetime. From worrying about the health of family and friends, to working from home while social distancing, to wearing face masks and gloves when venturing outside, it’s an experience most of us won’t soon forget.

One of the things I will remember most vividly about this uncertain time is the fact that so many people have come to the aid of complete strangers. No one was forced to help out, but so many people have been (and continue to be) there for those in need. For starters, health care workers and first responders have given of themselves in ways that can never be repaid. Grocery store and pharmacy employees continue to do their jobs despite the inherent risks they face. Delivery drivers are dropping off packages and take-out meals at our doorsteps on a daily basis. It’s hard to find words that will ever adequately describe the sacrifices these people, and so many others, are making every day for the sake of their fellow men and women. And then there are the artists who, despite being hit incredibly hard from a financial perspective by the pandemic, continue to write, paint, photograph, sing, hold free concerts and online exhibits, and make our lives all the richer with each new creation they contribute – especially during a challenging period like the one we are living in today. If there is a silver lining to this unprecedented situation, it’s all of the people who are giving of themselves and not expecting anything in return.

Unfortunately, though, there is a flip side. Despite the many unsung heroes helping to remind us of the good in the world, there are also those who are trying to manipulate others in order to achieve their own gain. And by doing so, they are taking advantage of people who can least afford to be made more vulnerable. One such instance of questionable behavior involves an organization called the Internet Archive, founded and led by multimillionaire Brewster Kahle. Around the time that COVID-19 began making news in late March, the Internet Archive launched a service that it calls the “National Emergency Library.”

When first announced, initial media reports lauded this initiative as a means of supporting the public during the pandemic – a way to offer everyone more books to read at no cost. That was what everyone thought before taking a closer look at the initiative. So, what was really going on? Under the guise of helping the public, the Internet Archive announced that it would unilaterally grant itself “emergency powers” to allow readers to “borrow” any e-book from its collection of more than 1.4 million titles without any restrictions on how many people can simultaneously borrow them at one time. (More information about the Internet Archive’s policies can be found here.)

What makes the Internet Archive’s actions even more egregious is that its “emergency powers” are an extension of its equally questionable “controlled digital lending” program that started in 2011, in which the Internet Archive, without authority, began digitizing out-of-print books – ones that are still protected by copyright – and making them into e-books.

As noted by Neil Turkewitz in an April 14 blog post about these efforts, “A few weeks ago… Brewster Kahle and the folks at the Internet Archive decided to take it upon themselves to fill what they saw as a void in the operation of public libraries as a result of COVID-19, and relaxed the rules of their already controversial ‘library’ through which they distributed books without the permission of the authors or publishers thereof. Put aside for a moment the fact that in so doing, they were seeking to fulfill a long-held ambition to make information free to the world—an ambition recited in Kahle’s original post on the subject. As such, it wasn’t really a response to COVID-19, it was a response to the opportunity afforded by the pandemic and their calculated guess that it was an opportune moment in which affected authors would be unlikely to object.”

In a nutshell, the Internet Archive and Kahle are fulfilling their long-held mission to make works available online for free regardless of who they hurt by doing so. And who exactly is being hurt by sharing copyrighted books for free? The countless authors who barely make ends meet during non-crisis times due to the modest incomes that most of them earn. In fact, most authors were earning a mean income of $20,300 from their writing prior to all of the economic upheaval that occurred due to COVID-19. So, it’s no surprise that Kahle and the Internet Archive’s efforts are financially devastating for authors trying to make a living from their work.

In a recent statement, the Authors Guild wrote, “[Internet Archive] is using a global crisis to advance a copyright ideology that violates current federal law and hurts most authors. It has misrepresented the nature and legality of the project through a deceptive publicity campaign.” And in a statement by Association of American Publishers CEO Maria Pallante, she noted, “We are stunned by the Internet Archive’s aggressive, unlawful, and opportunistic attack on the rights of authors and publishers in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

According to published author and Authors Guild president Doug Preston in his recent New York Times op-Ed, “The National Emergency Library harms authors by depriving them of income at a time when they can least afford it. It deprives bookstores of desperately needed sales. It hurts real libraries, most of which are still operating legitimate e-lending programs and need patrons now more than ever. It undermines the entire publishing ecosystem and all those who depend on it, from publicists and book designers to editors and agents.”

As noted by Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid in a recent post, “At a time when authors, like many others, are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table, Kahle and the Internet Archive, are throwing bricks through their windows and looting their houses. [Kahle’s] altruistic assertions should be viewed skeptically. In a blog announcing the initiative, Kahle states, ‘This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: The Library at everyone’s fingertips.’ In his enthusiasm, he can’t help but admit that [the Emergency Library] is really a vehicle to accomplish a long-held goal.”

As someone who admires and appreciates the work that artists, writers, authors, musicians, designers, photographers, and so many more contribute to enrich our daily lives, it’s beyond comprehension that an organization like Internet Archive, led by Kahle, can portray itself as doing good during one of the toughest times most people will ever face. Sadly, when most of us reflect back on what occurred during the COVID-19 crisis, in addition to remembering all the acts of kindness, heroism and good deeds that made life so much better for so many, we’ll also remember those – like Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive – who used the pandemic as a thinly-veiled attempt to push forward their own agenda instead of truly helping during an extraordinary time of need.