Call for Nominations: L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award in Support of Users’ Rights

In 2002, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) established the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award to honor particular individuals or groups who “embody the spirit of the U.S. Copyright law as voiced by the framers of our constitution: ‘to advance the knowledge of science and useful arts’ (U.S. Constitution, art 1, sec 8).

Ray Patterson was a foremost legal thinker, writer and champion of users’ rights. He was a pioneer who exposed the restrictive nature of new interpretations and unnecessary expansions of contemporary copyright law. For librarians, Patterson was a key legal figure who articulated how corporate interests have hijacked the purpose of copyright – to advance learning and the dissemination of knowledge.  Through numerous books, articles, and briefs, Patterson highlighted and justified the importance of the public domain and fair use.

Patterson is also recognized for advising U.S. Rep. Bob Kastenmaier during the drafting of the Copyright Law of 1976, a law that took over twenty years to craft and ultimately included the both Section 107, fair use exception and Section 108, reproductions for libraries. Kastenmaier said that Patterson’s contributions to American copyright law were profound and he brought “fairness, balance and understanding the copyright law.”

In recognition of his life accomplishments and contributions, the American Library Association calls for nominations to the award established in Patterson’s name. Appropriate nominees for the Patterson Award are persons or groups who through their lifetime have made enduring significant and consistent contributions in the areas of academia, law, politics, public policy, libraries or library education to the pursuit of copyright principles as outlined below.

The fundamental tenets established by Congress when crafting U.S. Copyright law:

  • The creation of new knowledge and the arts is encouraged;
  • The creation and dissemination of knowledge is the purpose of copyright;
  • Congress is granted the power to encourage creation of new works, but only via a very specific method, by granting authors and inventors exclusive rights;
  • The exclusive rights granted should be for a limited time;
  • Authors and inventors can benefit financially from copyright but this is a side effect of encouraging the dissemination of knowledge, the direct intent of copyright; and
  • The rights of authors and inventors are granted by Congress and are not intrinsic or natural.

Please send letters of nomination outlining a candidate’s qualifications for this award to Carrie Russell, Director, Program on Public Access to Information, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, 1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, First Floor, Washington, DC 20009, or to crussell@alawash.org. Nominations will be accepted through April 1, 2020, and reviewed by a jury of ALA members.