I have been at the Copyright Alliance for just over six years now. At this time each year, I’ve taken a step back and made note of various aspects of my work at the Copyright Alliance that I am most thankful for from the past year. In the spirit of this Thanksgiving copyright tradition, I am once again sharing the ten things I most appreciate from 2021; and, to spice things up a bit, I have also included five things that I am not so thankful for, with the hope that they will improve during 2022.
The things I’m thankful for this holiday season include:
- Personally, 2021 has easily been the most difficult year of my life—one filled with more life-altering challenges than I’d care to recount. Put simply, I could not have survived the year without the tremendous support of the intelligent, hardworking, dedicated, and passionate Copyright Alliance staff who haven’t missed a beat while my attention was diverted to other things. Through thick and thin, the Copyright Alliance staff continues to diligently advocate policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright and that protect the rights of creators and innovators. I also want to take a moment to highlight and express my gratitude for the incredible contributions of Jodi Esposito and Anjelica Davis, both of whom left the Copyright Alliance after many years of working tirelessly on behalf of creators and the creative community;
- Representatives of our organizational members of the Copyright Alliance, who like the Copyright Alliance team, were incredible understanding and compassionate to me and throughout the year. Although they may disagree with one another from time to time, at the end of the day, they understand and appreciate the mission of the Copyright Alliance and the importance of strong and effective copyright protection, and typically put aside any differences in order to make decisions on controversial and/or complex copyright issues that are in the best interest of the copyright and creator communities;
- The millions of creators whose interests the Copyright Alliance seeks to protect, and who, like many others continue to be devastated by the pandemic. Despite having to deal with people who don’t always respect their valuable contributions, a law that does not always adequately protect them, and new challenges presented by the pandemic that has cancelled their concerts and shows, film and television productions, book tours and speaking engagements, wedding and photography shoots, art exhibitions, and other events, these creators continue to work their tails off to create and disseminate new copyrighted works for the world to enjoy;
- Register Perlmutter and the other leaders and staff at the U.S. Copyright Office, for understanding and promoting the importance of copyright to our culture, economy, and international trade, and for continuing to consider new ways to improve the copyright system and help the copyright community. I would also like to take a moment to thank the very talented people who left the office this year for their thoughtful and knowledgeable approach to various difficult copyright issues that have arisen over the many years they were at the Office—especially Regan Smith (who served as the General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights at the Copyright Office since May 2018); and Catie Rowland (who had been with the Office since 2010 and served as Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Public Information and Education (PIE) since April 2018);
- Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Intellectual Property Subcommittee, who for his almost five decades in the Senate continually supported legislation to improve our copyright system and to help copyright owners big and small protect their works against theft.
- Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Intellectual Property Subcommittee, and Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and their staff for their continued support on numerous issues important to the copyright community;
- The members of our new Diversity and Inclusion Committee for working with us to develop initiatives aimed at increasing an understanding of and participation from underrepresented communities in the copyright sector industries and professions;
- The many creators, attorneys, copyright advocates and others who took the time to write creator spotlight blogs, speak at our events, draft op-eds, and record educational videos for our new Copyright Academy;
- The Copyright Alliance Legal and Academic Advisory Boards, for their dedication and support of Copyright Alliance members through sharing their experience and advice, as well as for their assistance in filing a consistent stream of amicus briefs on behalf of copyright and creativity;
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLAs) located throughout the country, for continuing to support creativity and innovation by providing pro-bono legal services and educational workshops to individual creators;
- Television, books, music, magazines, photos, movies, software, video games, art, newspapers, and so many other creative works that continue to help us deal with the pandemic and that will continue to be there for us when the pandemic finally ends; and…
- A copyright law that protects these works and incentivizes their creation and dissemination so that people like you and I can enjoy them.
And several things I’m not thankful for:
- Pirates and piracy;
- Music platforms which, despite their huge success, refuse to compensate creators fairly for their hard work and creativity;
- The ALI Copyright Restatement reporters for constantly ignoring and paying short shrift to any comment from advisors and liaisons that doesn’t match their particular distorted views of copyright even when these comments are supported by case law, legislative history, and the Copyright Act itself.
- The pandemic’s impact on copyright. But for the pandemic, at least one copyright case—Google v. Oracle—would have likely been decided very differently. As we know, when the pandemic struck, the U.S. Supreme Court, like many other courts, postponed its hearing schedule. As a result, oral arguments in Google v. Oracle were postponed and by the time the case was heard and decided, Justice Ginsburg—long a stalwart on copyright issues—had passed away. The decision in this case would most certainly have been different if the oral arguments were able to proceed as initially scheduled and Justice Ginsburg had input into the decision.
- The pandemic’s lasting impact on the creative community. Like many other professions, individuals and businesses that work in the creative industries have been hit hard by the pandemic. Most creators were struggling to make ends meet long before the pandemic. But the financial challenges that it posed have made things exponentially worse, wreaking havoc on the careers and precarious finances of the members of America’s creative community. The cancellation of concerts and shows, film and television productions, book tours and speaking engagements, weddings and photography shoots, art exhibitions, and other events means hundreds of thousands of creators, and other workers who make their living in the creative industries, have found themselves out of work during the pandemic or otherwise struggling to make ends meet.
As we look forward to 2022, I know that we at the Copyright Alliance will continue working diligently to help ensure that the copyright works created by individual creators are protected against theft and that creators get a fair break, that their livelihoods are protected, and that they earn a fair wage for the work that they produce.