The Illustrated Story of Copyright
© 2000 by Edward Samuels

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. . . or, How To Write a

Book on Copyright



When I started this book, I assumed that I would write it the same way I’ve written law review articles. I’d do some research, and then hunker down in my office to create my work in a fairly solitary endeavor, occasionally calling for help from my library liaison or my research assistant. I would send the manuscript to various publishers the same way I send articles out to law reviews, and one of them would agree to publish it.


            But that’s not the way it works. People started asking questions like, “Exactly who is the intended audience?” or “A book on law? That’s a hard sell.” They only wanted to see the two-page synopsis. “Does it matter whether the book is well written or not?” I’d ask, and people would shrug and say, “It’s all in the concept.”


            So, how do you write and publish a book on copyright for a general audience? First, you have to teach at a law school (like New York Law School) that supports scholarship, and that funds your research and expenses with summer research grants. (Thank you, Dean Harry Wellington, Associate Dean Ellen Ryerson, and everyone else.) You have to have creative and diligent research assistants over several years. (Mine were Gila Garber during the research and early writing, Roy Evans during the bulk of the writing, and Susan Harper during the elaborate permissions phase.) You need a library director (in my case, Joyce Saltamalachia) and a professional library liaison (Grace Lee) who get what you need, and sometimes even anticipate your needs, and eager audiovisual magician (Bob Ward), someone to shepherd all the permission checks through the administrative process (Barbara Barnes), and a diligent assistant who [viii] happily gets the work done when you need it (Joan Argento). You need faculty colleagues who are sometimes critical, but more often supportive even when they don’t have to be. (I have too many helpful colleagues to list them all here, but if you look at the list of faculty at the Web site,, just about all of them listed there are the supportive ones.) And you need adjunct professors and lawyers in your field who are willing to read portions of your work and give you meaningful feedback (like Paul Adler, Herbert Jacoby, and Kenneth Norwick, adjuncts at New York Law School; and Eleanor Appelwhaite, Richard Dannay, and Roy Mersky).


            Now here comes the crucial part. You must have the good fortune to have once had a student in your evening class who retired as vice-president of a major publishing company, and after law school went on to practice copyright at one of the major copyright firms in the country and to teach publishing law as an adjunct at your law school. Get him or her to take you under their wing, in the belief that this book really ought to see the light of day. (My benefactor was Martin Levin.) He’ll introduce you to a literary agency that is actually run by copyright lawyers who, when you submit your proposal, ask for the sample chapters you offered, and then ask for more, and then ask to read the whole book before agreeing to represent you. (The agency is McIntosh & Otis, Inc., and the lawyer/agents are Eugene Winick and Sam Pinkus.) Then the agents will find the best publisher, combining the personal support of an editor who takes good care of his authors (Thomas Dunne) and the business of a major publishing house (St. Martin’s Press). The editor’s assistant (Emily Hopkins—thank you) will chart your book through the vagaries of publication, and a sharp copy editor (Ann Adelman) will improve it.


            Getting all of the permissions to use the materials in your book will itself be a full-time job. You had better arrange for a special “half-sabbatical” (a full year teaching half a normal load, and serving on only half the regular number of committees) to clear the time to accomplish the task. While getting all the permissions is a monumental chore, you’ll meet (at least over the phone or through mail or e-mail) some of the most interesting people in the world. Because many of them work in copyright-related businesses, they’ll be very interested in your project. And many of them­, such as the attorneys and plaintiffs in lawsuits, will be able to give you a unique insight into their cases in particular and the [ix] vagaries of the law in general. There are too many to name them all here, but I particularly valued my conversations with cartoonists Dan O’Neill, Bion Smalley, and Fred Laswell (check out his Web site at [now]); photographers Howard Altman, Jon Brenneis, Johan Elbers, John Duke Kisch, Art Rogers, and Felice Frankel (check out her Web site at [now ], or track down a copy of her book with George Whitesides, On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science, 1997); and photographer’s representative David Vena. Thanks also to Clarence Thorne, with whom I went on several interesting photographic expeditions, and Anita Costello, who created two of the illustrations for this book.


            The individuals who administer the various museums, photographic collections, and corporate archives are a special breed of patient collaborators. I cannot name them all, but I particularly valued the assistance of Nancy Adams, Heather Ahlstrom, Whitney Bagnall, Ronald Brashear, Lydia Cisaruk, Vicki Cwiok, Richard Gelbke, Steven Lubar, Ron Mandelbaum, William Massa, Ann Neal, Allen Reuben, Kelly Souder, Kathleen Stocking, Douglas Tarr, Nicole Wells, Justin White, and Ed Whitley.


            And to the following people at various corporations and law firms who helped me with various requests for material, thank you. This is not a complete list, and I apologize to any who are left out: Teri Bishop, Jim Cooper, Michelle Evans, Colleen Floyd, Edward Goodman, Tom Harlin, Bernard Helfat, Christopher Holme, Josh Kastorf, Sheila Keady, Peter Nolan, Del Smith Penny, Marybeth Peters, Janet Peterson, Richard Petrocelli, Jell Pollack, Barbara Rich, Alexander Rogers, Jerry Rosenthal, Scholle Sawyer, Bob Shapiro, Jamie Silverberg, Judith Singer, and all the folks at Wolf/Westside Camera.


            Thanks also to Ebay ( for allowing me to find many items I couldn’t even have imagined finding otherwise—and particularly to the ebay sellers who sold me some of the items picture din the book: bill, billysgirl2, blue-devil,, ihousemom,, and walrus 9.


            And first, now, and always, to my family for their insights and inspirations: thank you, Marcia, Richard, and Claire.


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Permission, Limitations, and Format