About Paul Fak­ler and Title 17

I am an intel­lec­tual prop­erty lawyer, work­ing in New York City.  My prac­tice focuses on copy­right lit­i­ga­tion and coun­sel­ing, although I am also expe­ri­enced in trade­mark, trade secret, right of pub­lic­ity and other related areas of law.  I have done sig­nif­i­cant work for clients in the enter­tain­ment, pub­lish­ing, media, soft­ware and Inter­net industries.

I am a part­ner at Arent Fox LLP (you can view my firm bio here), and also a for­mer chair of the New York State Bar Asso­ci­a­tion Intel­lec­tual Prop­erty Law Sec­tion.  My writ­ings on this blog, how­ever, are my own and do not rep­re­sent the views of Arent Fox or the New York State Bar Asso­ci­a­tion.  Need­less to say, the writ­ings of oth­ers posted to this blog also do not rep­re­sent the views of Arent Fox or NYSBA, and may not rep­re­sent my views, either.

I hope that this blog, Title 17, will in some small way fur­ther the analy­sis, under­stand­ing and (if any­one ever reads it and finds it inter­est­ing enough to par­tic­i­pate) dis­cus­sion of copy­right law, an area of law that I find per­son­ally fas­ci­nat­ing and in which I am for­tu­nate enough to prac­tice.  I also hope to be able to bring other of my inter­ests and expe­ri­ences to the blog.  I have a some­what eclec­tic back­ground of expe­ri­ence prior to my life as a lawyer, all of which informs my views of, and approaches to, the law.

I began learn­ing com­puter pro­gram­ming on an Apple II com­puter at around the age of 13, start­ing with BASIC and then For­tran, COBOL, Pas­cal and var­i­ous other lan­guages that nowa­days are con­sid­ered the equiv­a­lent of speak­ing in Ara­maic.  I am also a musi­cian, ini­tially play­ing the cello and then switch­ing (much to my par­ents’ dis­may) to gui­tar.  Although I ini­tially chose elec­tri­cal and com­puter engi­neer­ing over music when I when to col­lege, I soon changed my major to phi­los­o­phy.  I quickly spe­cial­ized in the phi­los­o­phy of lan­guage and writ­ing, and in par­tic­u­lar the con­ti­nen­tal, post-structuralist and post-modern schools of crit­i­cal the­ory.  I entered a grad­u­ate pro­gram for a short time, switch­ing to the Eng­lish depart­ment at Uni­ver­sity of Florida (but con­tin­u­ing with my study of crit­i­cal the­ory) and teach­ing a fresh­man course in writ­ing and film crit­i­cism.  Dur­ing my late under­grad­u­ate and early grad­u­ate years, I began research­ing the role of elec­tronic forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, from “old” tech­nolo­gies such as film, radio and tele­vi­sion to the then-emerging tech­nolo­gies of e-mail and the web, on human cognition.

I left the grad­u­ate pro­gram after com­ing to the real­iza­tion that a career path as an Eng­lish pro­fes­sor would be almost impos­si­ble given the aca­d­e­mic job mar­ket at that time, and shortly there­after had the oppor­tu­nity to com­bine a num­ber of my past inter­ests while work­ing in the mul­ti­me­dia soft­ware devel­op­ment indus­try.  The com­pany I worked for cre­ated inter­ac­tive mul­ti­me­dia train­ing pro­grams for var­i­ous high-liability indus­tries, includ­ing law enforce­ment and haz­ardous waste dis­posal.  When that startup com­pany folded, I spent some time doing free­lance mul­ti­me­dia soft­ware devel­op­ment and sys­tems inte­gra­tion before chang­ing course once again and going to law school at George­town Uni­ver­sity Law Center.

From the very begin­ning, copy­right law was my pri­mary inter­est in the law because all of my prior inter­ests and expe­ri­ence, includ­ing music, film, com­puter soft­ware and the Inter­net, seemed to con­verge in this area of the law.  I have also come to find that copy­right is one of the most meta­phys­i­cal areas of the law.  All those years read­ing Hei­deg­ger, Deleuze and Der­rida would not be in vain!

Of course, hav­ing an inter­est in copy­right law does not guar­an­tee gain­ful employ­ment in that area.  It was my good for­tune that very early in my career I was an asso­ciate at the same time that Bill Patry left acad­e­mia and returned to pri­vate prac­tice at the New York office of a major inter­na­tional law firm.  Bill Patry, for those who do not know him, is in my view the great­est liv­ing copy­right lawyer and the author of the best and most com­pre­hen­sive copy­right law trea­tise on the mar­ket.  With his years work­ing in Con­gress, for the Copy­right Office, as a pro­fes­sor and in pri­vate prac­tice, Bill has the most exhaus­tive and com­plete knowl­edge of copy­right law that I have ever encoun­tered.  I was lucky enough to spend sev­eral years as Bill’s lead asso­ciate on all of his mat­ters.  Dur­ing this time, we lit­i­gated some of the most inter­est­ing and high-profile copy­right cases of the time.

Work­ing with Bill was not only incred­i­bly fun, but was like a souped-up grad­u­ate course in copy­right law.  In 2006, how­ever, Bill decided to take a posi­tion as Google’s Senior Copy­right Coun­sel and I con­tin­ued on in pri­vate prac­tice.  I have con­tin­ued to work exten­sively in copy­right law and related areas.

I hope to be able to share the fun and excite­ment of copy­right law through this blog, and learn more in the process.  With any luck, over time I will be able to fos­ter healthy dis­cus­sion and debate over some of the many thorny issues pre­sented.  The name of this blog, Title 17: The S(c)ite for Copy­right Law, is meant to sig­nal my inten­tion and hope that the blog will even­tu­ally become both a place and a source in the elec­tronic world for such learn­ing and discussion.


















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