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A Day in the Life of the Copyright Modernization Office

The following is a guest post by Frances Carden, technical writer in the Copyright Modernization Office.

Frances Carden and CMO coworkers

Frances Carden and CMO coworkers

I joined the Copyright Modernization Office (CMO) straight from a background in federal consulting. I honestly hadn’t planned to change jobs, but was drawn in by CMO’s posted job description requesting a technical writer namely because a) I’m a huge bookworm, b) I’m a wanna-be author, and c) the job description described an all-encompassing modernization effort that promised new opportunity, challenge, and the chance to pour all those creative juices into a large-scale effort that would affect the very things I loved (i.e., all sorts of creative works). While I spent my first week getting progressively more lost in the Madison building, I also learned a bit more about this enigmatic overhaul with its bright eyed-excitement and technological tinge.

CMO staff

CMO staff

In 2017, shortly before I saw that life-changing job posting, the CMO was born out of the Modified Provisional IT Modernization Plan, a comprehensive document that discussed the current legacy platforms and the often manual processes that go into ingestion of copyrightable materials and support of copyright laws. Creativity is at an all-time high, but as we all know, old-tech just can’t keep up. The Modified IT Plan proposed a massive “spring cleaning,” where we keep the good, shuffle out the bad, and welcome in the freshness of change and future-focused forward momentum. The CMO, then, is a facilitating agent that oversees this spring clean and helps make the project easier and more seamless for everyone involved. It’s an exciting time to be a newbie.

So, what do I do daily? As you can imagine, any sort of change, especially for a system and institution this complex, requires documentation: what are we proposing to do, how are we going to do it, what are the procedures we follow, how can we sustain it, how do we tell staff members and the public about it, and how do we keep up with an ever-accelerating world? Any sort of building requires a blueprint so that brand-new people can jump into the situation and instantly understand where the beams go and how the foundation sustains the structure. It puts me right at the heart and soul of the change, where all the dynamic components, ideas, expectations, and projections for the future come together—project charters, the determination and dissemination of general best practices, and (my favorite) glitzy presentations and big events.

I’m currently working with the Virtual Card Catalog, data management plan, recordation modernization implementation, and copyright registration modernization. Along the way, I’m planning new ways of communicating. The latest about CMO can be found on our webpage, which will be updated as our main projects ramp up. Further communications vehicles, including a dashboard that breaks down current project progress and gives insight into real-time progress on central CMO activities, are in the works.

I can’t honestly say that over these last months I’ve gotten any better at navigating the labyrinth that is the Madison building, but watching the pieces of a large-scale project come together into a cohesive whole has been fun and inspiring. And, to mix metaphors terribly, I’m excited to watch these ideas coalesce into a living, breathing organization and be a part of this transformation from chrysalis to full-fledged butterfly.

Copyright Law and New Technologies: A Long and Complex Relationship

The following is a guest post by Brad Greenberg, counsel in the U.S. Copyright Office, Office of Policy and International Affairs. Copyright law and new technologies have a long history, arguably dating back to the Gutenberg Press in the 15th century—more than 200 years before passage of the matriarch of copyright statutes, Britain’s Statute of […]