Five Questions with Sue Greenberg, Executive Director of St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA)

Sue Greenberg

This week we would like you to meet Executive Director of St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) Sue Greenberg.

1. Explain what your organization does and tell us about your role.

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) supports our region’s creative community by providing free legal and accounting assistance, and a wide variety of affordable educational programs, to creators. I’m the longtime executive director.

2. What is your (and your organization’s) interest in copyright law? How does your organization and/or its constituents rely on copyright law to support their livelihoods?

Because copyright allows artists to reap the economic benefits of their creative endeavors and to control how, when and whether their works are used, i’s central to our work. We often refer copyright matters to our volunteer attorneys because the cases typically focus on protecting creators’ rights. Discussion of copyright basics is a key component of our college outreach program, now made more accessible with a new publication featuring fun illustrations. Our annual copyright clinic is among our most popular offerings, and we’re pleased to continue our partnership with the Copyright Alliance by presenting a free workshop in celebration of World IP Week at the end of April.

3. If there was one thing that you wished the public understood about copyright, what would it be?

Unfortunately, many people (including some artists) believe that copyright protects ideas. There also are way too many myths and misconceptions surrounding fair use.

4. What is your organization’s biggest copyright-related challenge?

We wish more clients would seek legal advice earlier in the creative process. For example, a composer spent several years writing an opera and preparing the orchestrations only to discover that he couldn’t get the rights to the underlying work. It was heartbreaking.

5. If there was one aspect of copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?

As a legal service provider serving low- and middle-income artists, nonprofit cultural organizations and small creative businesses, we’d like to see a copyright small claims system that would allow creators to pursue remedies while avoiding the cost, complexity and burden imposed by federal court litigation.

Learn more about our World IP Day Events here.

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!

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