L. Ray Patterson: A Tribute

Lolly Gasaway

L. Ray Patterson is quite simply the dean of American copyright law. He has inspired generations of copyright law professors, law students and librarians with his brilliant understanding and explanation of copyright history and its relevance to today's concerns. Professor Patterson is and has remained a true leader of the opposition to copyright term extension, to increased rights for publishers and to the weakening of the public domain. His 1992 book The Nature of Copyright is the best history of copyright ever written, and the lessons he draws from that history have served us well.

Although I had been familiar with his writings for many years, I will never forget my first meeting with Ray Patterson. We were both invited to a meeting hosted by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Research Libraries and were invited to a small dinner the first night. I am afraid that we were not very good company for anyone else as we argued and debated every important copyright issue over the three-hour dinner; no one else could get a word in edgewise!

I am honored to count Ray among my friends and mentors. Since that initial meeting, we have shared drafts of articles, worked on amicus briefs together and generally fought the good fight together on behalf of the users of copyrighted works. Professor Patterson is unfailingly kind and helpful to younger scholars and generous with his time. One of the things I love best about Ray is that he appears to be a courtly, southern gentleman (which he is); but at the same time, those looks mask the fact that he is the most radical of copyright scholars. Publishers and producers quake when they know that Patterson is appearing on a program!

When my telephone rings and the voice at the other end exclaims in a lovely southern accent, "Hellllllllooooo Miss Lolly!" I know it is Ray Patterson on the line and that we will be discussing another copyright issue or that he will be recruiting me to work with him on another project. I have yet to say no to such a call from him.

I can think of no one more appropriate for whom to name this prestigious award. Congratulations, Professor Patterson. Thank you for your support of librarians and library users over the years. Your example is one that many of us attempt to emulate.

Lolly Gasaway, Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law

An article from the forum, On the Shoulders of Giants: Tributes to L. Ray Patterson
Published October 2002 at info-commons.org. Copyright © Lolly Gasaway

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