Advancing Inclusion in Copyright and Register Barbara Ringer’s Legacy

Advancing Inclusion in Copyright & Register Barbara Ringer's Legacy. Join us online at 5 pm ET on November 19 as we examine the importance of inclusion in copyright and the legacy of Barbara Ringer, first female United States Register of Copyrights. Hosted by the United States Copyright Office, Georgetown Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic, and the Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy.

November 19, 2020 5:00 p.m. eastern time

Networking reception to follow

Join the U.S. Copyright Office, Georgetown Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic, and Georgetown Institute for Law and Policy as we examine the importance of creating space and opportunities in copyright and developing more diverse and inclusive legal systems for the benefit of all. This event extends and builds on the legacy of Barbara Ringer, a lead architect of the Copyright Act of 1976 and the first woman to serve as U.S. Register of Copyrights, who invested in building broader representation during her tenure.

During the event, we will host a discussion with leading scholars on the relationship between intellectual property and critical race and feminist theory.

  • Deidré A. Keller, dean and professor of law, Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University College of Law
  • Madhavi Sunder, professor of law, Georgetown Law Center
  • Victoria Phillips, director, Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, American University Washington College of Law

Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office Shira Perlmutter will provide opening remarks.

Amanda Levendowski, associate professor of law at Georgetown Law and director of the Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic, will provide a brief overview of Ringer’s impact on copyright.

Current and former U.S. Copyright Office Ringer Fellows will host break-out networking sessions that will follow the approximately one hour event.

Barbara Ringer earned her law degree from Columbia University and joined the Office in 1949 as an examiner. She moved through the ranks to lead the Examining Division and then become Assistant Register of Copyrights in 1966. Then, after initially being passed up for the job in favor of a less-qualified man, she successfully sued the Library and was named Register of Copyrights on November 19, 1973. Through much of her time in the Office, she worked as the principal architect of the 1976 Copyright Act, which was the first major revision to copyright law since 1909. Once President Ford signed the Copyright Act into law, Ringer led the effort to implement the sweeping changes.

In addition to her brilliant copyright law career, Ringer was a champion for women’s rights in the workplace. The use of both male and female pronouns in the text of the Copyright Act was done at Ringer’s insistence. Colleagues remembered Ringer as an advocate for part-time work schedules, women’s programs, and a childcare center.

Ringer also was a champion for racial equality. Ringer’s lawsuit claimed she was passed up for the Register’s position based on sex and racial discrimination. She fought against discriminatory practices, publicly advocating for the rights of African Americans in the Copyright Office.

Session 1 - Welcome

Introductory remarks provided by:


  • Frances Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization
  • Maria Strong, Acting Register, U.S. Copyright Office
  • Andrei Iancu, Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Session 2 - The Relationship between AI and Copyright

This discussion is an introductory look at what AI is and why copyright is implicated. Explaining these issues is an expert in AI technology, who discusses the technological issues, and the U.S. Copyright Office’s Director of Registration Policy and Practice, who explains the copyright legal foundation for AI issues.


Session 3 - AI and the Administration of International Copyright Systems

Countries throughout the world are looking at AI and how different laws should handle questions such as copyrightability and using AI to help administer copyright systems. This panel discusses the international copyright dimensions of the rise of AI.


Session 4 - AI and the Visual Arts

Creators are already experimenting with AI to create new visual works, including paintings and more.


Session 5 - AI and Creating a World of Other Works

Creators are using AI to develop a wide variety of works beyond music and visual works. AI also is implicated in the creation and distribution of works such as video games, books, news articles, and more.


Session 6 - AI and Creating Music

Music is a dynamic field and authors use AI in interesting ways to develop new works and explore new market possibilities.


Session 7 - Bias and Artificial Intelligence

Works created by AI depend on what creators choose to include as source material. As a result of the selection process and building algorithms, AI can often reflect intentional and unintentional bias. Acknowledging this issue and learning how it happens can help make AI-created works more representative of our culture


Session 8 - AI and the Consumer Marketplace

Companies have recognized that AI can itself be a product. In recent years, there has been a wave of development in this sector, including products like driverless cars. Find out how many AI-centered products are already out there, what is on the horizon, and how is copyright involved.


Session 9 - Digital Avatars in Audiovisual Works

How is the motion picture industry using AI, and how does that impact performers? This session reviews how AI is being used, including advantages and challenges.