Thursday, June 27, 2024 News

Brandon Butler Moves to Helm of Re:Create to Advocate for Balanced Copyright

Lawyer, librarian, and copyright expert Brandon Butler has been named executive director of Re:Create. The diverse coalition of organizations, which includes SPARC, has been working for nearly a decade to promote copyright policies that best serve the public interest.

“The vision of Re:Create is to protect and enhance a fair vision of copyright law,” he said. “Copyright is a system that is meant to serve all of us.”

A man in a light blue button-up shirt stands in front of a brick building on a sunny day, with trees and a grassy area in the background.Butler comes to the position from the University of Virginia Library where he served as director of intellectual property and licensing. Prior to UVA, he was director of public policy at the Association of Research Libraries. 

Leading Re:Create is an opportunity to inform policymakers and the general public about copyright and fair use at a critical time, Butler said. The emergence of generative AI has triggered panic among some that it will destroy certain sectors of the economy or change the way creativity works. We need to reckon with this new technology, he said, and figure out how to respond. 

“The questions that copyright law has wrestled with for 150 years are right back in front of us – and are more salient now than they’ve been at any other time in my life,” Butler said. “What are the boundaries between technology and creativity? Between the rights of the people who create a work and the rights of all of us who need to use that work to learn and teach and study?”

With his background, Butler said he hopes to be useful talking about copyright in an approachable way that counters some of the misinformation currently swirling in policy circles. He anticipates playing defense with proposed legislation to regulate tech companies and expand author protections. 

“We’ve swung into a moment of deep pessimism,” Butler said. “The challenge we face is helping people understand, even if you don’t trust technology companies, the laws that protect them also protect everybody. “

Parts of the copyright law specifically intended to protect fair use will likely be the focus of Re:Create’s work in the coming years, he said.

“It is so important that all of us have the ability to interact with culture, to reuse it, to shape it, to talk about it, to study it,” Butler said, “and that we don’t have to ask permission, or be afraid that when we publish our work will get censored or fined or sued.” 

Butler said there is synergy between the work of Re:Create and the activities of SPARC in advancing open access. “Within our broad coalition, SPARC members are among the most compelling examples of why balanced copyright is so important,” he said. Butler said he will be looking to highlight SPARC’s work to ensure open access and public access to federally funded information in his new role at Re:Create.

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