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2012 Patterson Copyright Award Winner Announced

Winston Tabb, Dean of Libraries and Museums at Johns Hopkins University is the 2012 recipient of the American Library Association’s L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award: In Support of Users’ Rights. Mr. Tabb was appointed to the National Board of the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) by President Obama in 2010. He serves as the Chair of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institution’s (IFLA) Standing Committee on Copyright and Legal Matters (CLM) and advocates for library users across the world at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

A worthy recipient of the Patterson Award, Mr. Tabb’s decades long support for balanced copyright law, advancement of library and user copyright exceptions worldwide, and commitment to an international copyright law to support the information needs of people with print disabilities are no less than remarkable. Janice Pilch, Copyright and Licensing Librarian at Rutgers University agreed that “in seeking to influence the direction of copyright law he has made a profound impact on the views of policy makers and has earned the respect of members of all stakeholder groups in the intellectual property system.”

“Under his vision and thanks to his courage to engage in difficult tasks, IFLA has been able to propose a new international legal paradigm of copyright norm setting,” said Luis Villarroel, Director de Investigacion, Corporación Innovarte of Chile.  “Such a paradigm recognizes libraries as rights holders of freedoms within the copyright system. Mr. Tabb’s discourse and capacity of articulating diverse opinions, has been critical to define and gain support for an international exceptions and limitations agenda, including the proposal for a treaty for libraries and archives copyright exceptions, among civil society and governments,” Villarroel said.

Rima Kupryte, Director of Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL) added that by “holding a beacon for what’s best in U.S. copyright law, Winston’s support helps eIFL to provide a counter-balance for libraries and their users in developing and transition countries.”

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 Advisory Committee, the Patterson Award is a crystal trophy. The award will be presented at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim.

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Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell is the director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Washington Office. Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books, and other public policy issues. She has an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MA in media arts from the University of Arizona.


  1. John E. Miller John E. Miller

    From the above article:

    “Under his vision and thanks to his courage to engage in difficult tasks, IFLA has been able to propose a new international legal paradigm of copyright norm setting,”

    I note use of the word ‘propose’. From the screenplay for Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’: “If it doesn’t gel, it isn’t aspic.”

  2. […] Chair of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and recipient of the 2012 L. Ray Patterson Copyright in Support of Users Rights) stated to WIPO in reference to […]

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