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Name and title: Kay Murray, assistant director and general counsel Age: 42 Author advocate: The not-for-profit, New York-based Authors Guild was established in 1912 and is the largest and oldest association of published authors in the nation. The trade group has 8,000 author-members, with an additional 500 members-at-large, including literary agents, lawyers and editors. The guild dispenses advice and legal services germane to the writing profession, and has gotten involved in areas including the First Amendment and censorship, copyright disputes, authors’ domain names, royalties controversies and electronic publishing. Murray noted that “most of our members can’t afford their own lawyers,” and the guild neither represents them in court nor negotiates on their behalf with publishers. Instead, its focus is on educating authors to protect their rights, compensation and interests. It helps to resolve author-publisher disputes, seeks fair standards in contracts and protects authors’ rights of free expression. The guild carries out its mission with 12 full-time employees. Captain America: A Murray career highlight was the drafting of an amicus brief, “pretty much by myself,” in support of comic book writer/artist Joe Simon in a 2002 copyright case, Marvel Comics v. Simon, 310 F.3d 280 (2d Cir. 2002). Citing the 1976 Copyright Act, Simon sought to terminate a grant of copyright for his character Captain America, but a loophole in the law existed for works “made for hire.” “We were able [to show], and the 2d Circuit ruled,” Murray said, “that Simon signed the work-for-hire agreement after he created the works. If the court had ruled the other way, it would have decimated the right of creators to terminate a transfer of their copyrights.” Murray also filed an amicus curiae brief in a case revolving around political humorist Al Franken’s book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and Fox News’ futile attempt to squelch it on trademark grounds in a motion for preliminary injunction. Fox News Network LLC v. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., No. 03 Civ. 6162 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2003). She described this as “typical of the activity that the guild engages in,” but said it was exceptional in that the author and publisher had such clear-cut First Amendment protection. Anti-censorship crusader: Murray, a regular contributor to the guild’s “Censorship Watch” feature, reported that censorship incidents involving book publishers and the press have increased, adding “by and large, our membership overwhelmingly disfavors the Patriot Act” and has grave concerns over the FBI’s desire to probe personal reading habits. The guild is fighting regulations authored by the Office of Foreign Assets Control that allegedly “strait-jacketed” publishers attempting to produce works of authors from “enemy nations.” Calling it “an outrageous reading of the Trading With the Enemies Act,” Murray also claimed First Amendment violations. Recently, a group of publishers sued the government on those grounds. The case is still pending in New York, but the government has already rewritten the offending language and lifted the restrictions on publishing-related activity. The Authors Guild has a voluntary committee that mobilizes local anti-censorship activities in communities affected by book banning. “This is by far the most effective way of doing it. Having lawyers coming in from New York is not,” Murray said. Electronic v. print: The sometimes adversarial relationship between electronic and print media is “the subtext of much of my activity at the Authors Guild” and a big concern to a lot of members. The guild is “attempting to get some redress” for thousands of freelance writers and is an associational plaintiff in a class action brought by them. In re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation, MDL No. 1379 (S.D.N.Y.). It claims copyright infringement by the writers’ own publishers, which relicensed their freelance work, without remuneration, to electronic databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw. Murray is hopeful of an imminent settlement of the case, in court-ordered mediation since 2001. She also keeps a close eye on peer-to-peer file sharing and seeks a balance between copyright protection and freedom of expression. “Our members can’t create if they can’t get paid for it, and they can’t get paid for it if there isn’t strong copyright protection.” Legal team: Murray is responsible for providing legal services to guild members and supervises all legal matters in which the organization is involved. She is also executive director of the Authors Guild Foundation, a tax-exempt support group that educates the public about publishing, copyright, free speech and “the importance of writing in a free society.” She examines at least one IP license a day, including book publishing contracts, option or purchase agreements for movies or periodical contracts. Two attorneys support the GC in her duties, and she reports to President Nick Taylor and Executive Director Paul Aiken. Nine-tenths of the legal agenda is attended to in-house. For major cases she has turned to Philadelphia’s Kohn, Swift & Graf, with Michael Boni as lead lawyer, and New York’s Hoguet Newman & Regal, with Fred Newman as counsel. For tax-exempt issues related to the foundation, Murray works with Sarah Paul of the New York office of Holland & Knight. The guild lacks a lobbyist on retainer in Washington, but does exploit its many contacts there. It focuses on grassroots efforts to keep its members informed and able to communicate with local politicians if necessary. Murray is in charge of “getting the word out” and formulating strategies to grapple with the range of publishing issues. She works in tandem with the Association of American Publishers “when our interests are aligned,” and with other creators’ and IP organizations. Route to the top: Cincinnati-born Murray graduated from Xavier University in her hometown (1985) and achieved her law degree in 1988 from Northwestern University School of Law. She launched her career with a four-year stint as a commercial litigator at New York’s Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance), divided by two years spent at New York litigation boutique Kornstein Veisz & Wexler. In 1994, the Authors Guild beckoned, and she joined as a staff attorney. She became assistant director in 1997 and, two years later, was promoted to her present position. Last book and movie: The Radetzky March, by Joseph Roth, and Closer. Needless to say, Murray is a voracious reader.

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