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is Clinical Professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, leading the law school’s Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program. She also serves as Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research and Policy at the law school’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP).
Jenna Close is a freelance commercial photographer and owner of a small business that licenses still images and videos to both domestic and international clients. She and her partner work 60-80 hours a week booking work, shooting, billing, accounting, marketing, and continuing to develop and maintain their skills. Jenna’s images are widely infringed online. She’s found exact reproductions of her work on competitors’ websites, on websites falsely advertising that the photographs are free to use, and she’s even come across instances where companies have photoshopped their own products into her images. Despite the brazen misuse of her images that she frequently encounters, Jenna does not generally pursue claims against her infringers because it is too expensive and time consuming to do so. It’s just not worth the cost—even though she registers at least some of her images for copyright protection, and so would be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees with respect to those images in case of a court victory. Unfortunately, Jenna’s story is not unique. For countless individual artists and small businesses, combating the unauthorized use of their creative works online is a source of enduring frustration. The frequency and ease with which photographs, sound recordings, videos, and other works of authorship are shared on the Internet leaves those without significant time and resources little recourse when they encounter infringement. But now, after years of advocacy by creators like Jenna, new legislation promises long-overdue support for these marginalized groups in the ongoing fight against overwhelming infringement in the digital age.
As the Library of Congress ushers in a new era with a new Librarian, the time is ripe to ensure that the Copyright Office has the accountability and authority to best serve all of its stakeholders—most of all the American public. The nomination of Dr. Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress provides us with the opportunity to clarify the importance of the roles both the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office play in creating, cataloging, and administering the systems that preserve and promote our nation’s culture, by ensuring that the two talented leaders have a close partnership and a direct working relationship, with appropriately defined authority and responsibility for their respective areas of expertise.
Today, copyright drives innovation in the creative industries and in other industries as well, providing tremendous economic benefits to our economy. The outputs of the creative industries serve as the inputs that spur the creation of many innovative goods and services. Authors collaborate with technology partners not only to distribute their works, but often to create them. Sometimes storytelling itself leads to scientific discoveries and technological innovation. More and more frequently, the presumed distinction between creators and innovators is vanishing as individuals and firms simultaneously generate creative works and innovative technology.