Today, the American Library Association announced the news that Georgia Harper is the 2014 recipient of the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award: In Support of Users’ Rights. Harper is the Scholarly Communications Advisor for the University of Texas at Austin Libraries, where she focuses on issues of digital access and previously, Senior Attorney and manager of the Intellectual Property Section of the Office of General Counsel for the University of Texas System.
Harper may be best known for her ground-breaking Copyright Crash Course, one of the first comprehensive web sites devoted to copyright, higher education, and libraries, launched in 1996. With its iconic coffee cup logo, the Crash Course has influenced thousands of faculty, staff, librarians, and students and their understanding of the copyright law.
“This free resource was cutting edge in the way it brought meaningful, relevant, information about copyright to people at a time when copyright was increasingly a part of one’s day to day life. The Copyright Crash Course was a quiet revolution in populist, self-help education in an area of law that is subtle and complex—a basic understanding of copyright could not remain the realm of experts alone given the way it touches people personally and intimately,” said Melissa Levine, lead copyright officer at the University of Michigan.
Harper has worked with the American Library Association (ALA) on numerous projects over the years including Fair Use and Electronic Reserves document developed after the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was enacted in 2002. In the many years since, this document has stood the test of time and remains a key resource for access librarians.
In addition to her mentorship to many librarians, Harper has conducted numerous copyright workshops and seminars across the country. Harper was named a fellow of the National Association of College and University Attorneys in 2001, and in 2010 received the inaugural Georgia Harper Copyright Literacy Award from the Center for Intellectual Property at University of Maryland, University College.
Harper graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Education and a J.D. degree. She also holds an M.S.I.S with a focus on digital libraries from the University of Texas at Austin’s Information School.
The Patterson Copyright Award recognizes contributions of an individual or group that pursues and supports the Constitutional purpose of the U.S. copyright law, fair use and the public domain. The award is named after L. Ray Patterson, a key legal figure who explained and justified the importance of the public domain and fair use. He helped articulate that copyright law was negatively shifting from its original purpose and overly favoring rights of copyright holders, his book, The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users’ Rights is the definitive book on the constitutional underpinnings of copyright and the critical importance of the public domain.
Sponsored by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the OITP Copyright Education Subcommittee, the Patterson award is a crystal trophy.