ALA announces 2009 winner of L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award

Contact: Jenni Terry

ALA Washington Office

(202) 628-8410


For Immediate Release,

March 31, 2009

University of Michigan General Counsel dubbed a champion of fair use

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and its Copyright Advisory Subcommittee have named Jack Bernard, assistant general counsel and policy analyst at the University of Michigan, this year’s winner of the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award.

The annual 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. Fair use is a key exception of the copyright law that allows for the use of a copyright without prior authorization and helps to promote learning, new creativity, scholarship and criticism.

Chair of the OITP Copyright Advisory Subcommittee Patrick Newell said the committee’s primary objective is to help librarians understand the copyright law and the importance of fair use as an essential exception in the law that ensures balance between the rights of users of information and the interests of rights holders.

“Jack Bernard demonstrates true support for balanced copyright law by helping librarians understand and assert fair use,” Newell said. “He is a model for others and a deserving winner of the L. Ray Patterson Award.”

 Bernard has been a pioneer in the open access movement and is shepherding the University of Michigan’s efforts to incorporate a fair use analysis into its open course initiatives. A passionate and popular professor in the School of Information, Bernard teaches Intellectual Property and Information Law. As the university’s lead counsel, he negotiated terms in the Google Book Settlement that would ensure that persons with print disabilities have full access to the Google book database, greatly expanding access to academic resources for the reading impaired.

Dr. George Kerscher, Ph.D., who founded the Computerized Books for the Blind and Print Disabled and is secretary of the DAISY Consortium, said Bernard has demonstrated a commitment to equal access to information for the blind and visually impaired for many years.

“Jack Bernard understands the importance of developing a solution that would be beneficial to people who are blind and print disabled,” Kerscher said. “With his insight the world is a better place for everybody, but especially for those of us who cannot read print because of a disability.”

An award reception honoring Bernard will be held at ALA’s Annual Conference in July. Additional information on the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award is on the ALA Web site.