This week we would like you to meet Jesse Harbison, Director of Legal Services, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville.
Explain what your organization does and tell us about your role.
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that leverages and unites the unique resources of the arts and business communities to create a thriving, sustainable creative culture in Nashville. One way that ABC works to achieve its mission is through its Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts (VLPA) program. Through the VLPA, ABC provides pro bono legal services to low-income artists and arts nonprofits.
What is your (and your organization’s) interest in copyright law? How does your organization and its constituents rely on copyright law to support their livelihoods?
Because the VLPA’s client base consists of artists and arts nonprofits, much of our work involves helping clients with copyright-related issues. Many of our clients – including writers, visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians – make a living through their creative endeavors; therefore, copyright protection is integral to their livelihoods. Additionally, the VLPA staff make it a priority to stay up-to-date about new trends and cases related to copyright law; without a grasp on these laws, we would be unable to effectively and efficiently handle our case load.
If there was one thing that you wished the public understood about copyright, what would it be?
One of the VLPA’s main goals is not only to help our clients with copyright-related disputes or questions, but to educate our clients about copyright laws so they can make informed decisions. We provide educational materials to clients; for example, we drafted a fifteen-page “Copyright Basics ” primer that clients can refer to for information about copyright ownership, registration, and infringement. ABC also offers many educational programs on a diverse range of topics, many of which cover copyright issues. For example, some of ABC’s upcoming educational seminars include “Fundamentals of Legal & Business Issues for Filmmakers ” and “Legal Issues for Artists. ” Both of those programs will include information about copyright-related issues. The VLPA believes that knowledge is power! Although lawyers and legal aid organizations like the VLPA can help people sort through the quirks of copyright law, it is important that artists and creative entrepreneurs have a general understanding of their rights to prevent them from getting taken advantage of. For this reason, education is the VLPA’s biggest copyright-related issue.
If there was one aspect of copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?
If the VLPA staff could change one thing about copyright law, it would be to add a requirement to update these laws every five years. Technology continues to evolve, directly affecting copyright laws. Technology trends, such as embedding and framing, are prevalent in today’s society and copyright laws don’t reflect that. If we update laws as technology advances, the law would prevent artists from suffering from court-made tests that don’t necessarily align with congressional intent, such as the Server Test. Not only would this prevent circuit splits on issues not directly addressed in the Copyright Act, but it would prevent companies from using that to their advantage.
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