Throughout North America, the widespread use of the photocopier, beginning
in 1960, enabled people to reproduce whole books without having to pay a cent
to the creator of the book.
The Internet has the same potential. It allows people to reproduce original
work without acknowledging or paying the creator.
Copyright coordinators are essential in informing people what they can
and can not freely reproduce. They get the rights to reproduce when it has
been determined that they are allowed to use that work.
The Copyright Clearance Center is in charge of securing permission for
photocopying and digital use, mostly for electronic course content, of the
material owned by copyright holders.
People will learn that it is necessary to pay for the copyright license
to use digital material, says Cindy Goldrick. She works for an organization
that deals with copyright infringements.
Copyright coordinators go by many different names. Often, they are referred
to as permissions coordinators, document control officers or copyright management
officers. The work they do is sometimes bundled into the job description of
a librarian or paralegal.
They work in all kinds of environments, from libraries to law offices and
from record companies to book publishers.
It is through their work that you can read a collection of short stories
assembled in an anthology. They are the ones responsible for getting in touch
with the owners of certain copyrighted material and asking them for permission
to use that material.
They also gather copyright permissions so that university professors can
assemble course packages.
"Our work can be like a fireman's job," says Shari Townsend. She is a permissions
coordinator. "When the bell rings, you have to be ready to go at all times.
When a fire flares up, you have to put it out quickly."
An average workday for Townsend is about 10 hours. There is always a chance
that she will have to work a few minutes overtime. That's because people are
prone to call her in a fit of worry when they realize at the last second they
will need copyright permission to use a certain article for a presentation.
The job requires manual dexterity. But it would be possible for a person
with disabilities to do the work, says copyright coordinator Dan Donnelly.
The only disability that has the potential to limit the success of a copyright
coordinator is blindness.