L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award

About the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award 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.

Administered by:

Winner image

Award and Frequency

Winners receive a crystal trophy.
This award is given out on an annual basis.


ALA seeks nominations for the Patterson Copyright Award of those who have made significant and consistent contributions to the pursuit of balanced copyright principles while working in the area of information policy, law, libraries or library education.
The Patterson Copyright Award honors deserving individuals 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). Nominees for the Patterson Award are persons who follow and draw attention to the fundamental tenets established by Congress when crafting the U.S. Copyright law:
    * The creation of new knowledge and the arts are 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, and not the direct intent of copyright; and
    * The rights of authors and inventors are granted by Congress and are not intrinsic or natural.

Application Instructions

Please email letters of nomination outlining a candidate’s qualifications for this award to Carrie Russell at crussell@alawash.org, or mail them to:

Carrie Russell
Director, Program on Public Access to Information and Copyright Specialist
ALA Washington Office
1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, First Floor
Washington, D.C. 20009

Contact Information

If you need more information, feel free to contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: library@ala.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.