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Copyright and Me

On the right side of the screen, a young woman in her room, curtains drawn, participates in a Zoom call. She is facing forward and smiling. Left side of the screen reads, "Explore Your Creativity!" The following is a guest post by Aditi Sreenivas, who served as a Virtual Student Federal Service intern from October 2021 through May 2022. She will be attending UCLA full time starting this fall.

When I was five, my mom’s gentle push nudged me onto a stage as I began to look at the possibilities of showing my creative talents to the world and inspiring someone or impacting their life. No five-year-old worries about intellectual property protection, but as I grew older and my academic interests gravitated toward law, politics, and government, I learned how my academic and artistic interests are intertwined. I made up my mind that I was going to become an intellectual property lawyer and preserve the creative process for generations to come.

Taking this into account, I co-founded a nonprofit organization, Pass the Mic, which publishes digital albums of community auditory art submissions centered on social justice issues. As the creative director, I began to explore the publishing side of music and art while still longing to gain more knowledge on the legal aspects of the entertainment industry.

Knowing that it wouldn’t just happen overnight, I took my first steps toward pursuing my career dreams. I became a community engagement intern for the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. Here, I learned that there is so much that relates art to the law and that the field of copyright law is filled with interesting intricacies that I had not explored before, whether it be in the field of music, dance, photography, or even cooking.

A YouTube playlist of the Copyright Office's Learning Engine video displayed on a cell phone screen.

The Copyright Office’s Learning Engine videos are a great way to learn about copyright.

For one, I was surprised by the number of resources the Copyright Office has available for artists and all creators. I began to create outreach lists and messaging for Copyright Office’s events and resources, such as the What Photographers Should Know about Copyright and What Writers Should Know about Copyright web pages and the Food and Copyright event, although I had never known of the diligent work put into engaging creators with the law and demystifying legal terminologies. As I engaged with the resources offered by the Copyright Office, especially the Learning Engine videos, I quickly found myself better versed in how I could create art without worrying about the integrity of it, and I understood that my work and the work of my nonprofit’s artists were protected. I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited to partake in the 2022 World Intellectual Property Day event, Engage Your Creativity: Copyright and IP for Young Professionals, as a guest speaker. I spoke of my experiences as a young artist and my interactions with copyright. It was the culmination of what I’ve learned throughout my internship.

Avidly reading about entertainment lawsuits in entertainment magazines, I had previously assumed that copyright law was limited to dealing with the infringement of creative works. While this is an aspect of it, I learned of that there are many intricacies in what copyright protects, such as the musical composition and sound recording components of songs being separate works protected by copyright. Copyright affects the lives of artists and entertainment companies alike, and this system allows the creative process to continue and for us to enjoy these creative works. I, as an artist and a publisher, appreciate the regulations that are in place, because they keep the process of publishing work simple and fair.

Looking back, I have realized the importance of copyright law not only in my life as an artist and future entertainment lawyer but in the whole world. Regardless of whether or not I am an artist, art surrounds me and fills the world with colors of creativity, individuality, and expression. Copyright law preserves this, and by exploring the multiple facets of intellectual property, I am able to better appreciate and advocate for the creativity of future generations.

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