Photo Attorney

Apr 9, 2009

In Memoriam - Barbara Ringer

Barbara Ringer, 83, principal architect of the 1976 Copyright Act, Register of Copyrights from 1973-1980, and Acting Register from 1993-1994, died today in Lexington, VA.

In 1995, Ms. Ringer was given the "Library of Congress' Distinguished Service Award" for her lifetime contributions to the field of copyright, both nationally and intentionally, and for her contributions to the Library of Congress over a period of 40 years. In addition to her positions held (noted above), she was instrumental in the establishment of the Rome Convention of 1961, an international treaty for the protection of performers, broadcasters, and record producers, and the 1971 revisions of the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention. Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Ringer was known for her brilliance as a drafter of legislation, her authorship of works on copyright, and her ability to harmonize divergent points of view. The Copyright Office has prepared a remembrance of Ms. Ringer.

Ms. Ringer called the 1976 Copyright Act, "a balanced compromise that comes down on the authors' and creators' side in almost every instance." The Act certainly has helped photographers. William Patry, while paying homage to Waldo Moore, said of Moore, Abraham Kaminstein, and Ms. Ringer:

Those who are not familiar with this era or who have come to copyright in the post-DMCA world, will find it difficult to fully appreciate the greatness of these figures. Their knowledge, institutional memory, commitment to copyright as a balancing of proprietary rights and the public interest, love of the arts, and devoted public service were taken for granted, although they shouldn't have been.

We all benefit from Ms. Ringer's leadership and she will be missed. Contributions in Ms. Ringer's memory may be made to Bath Animal Foundation, PO Box 716, Warm Springs, VA 24445.