April 20, 2018

Kyle Courtney | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents

Kyle Courtney


Copyright Advisor and Program Manager, Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard Library, Cambridge, MA
MSLIS, Simmons College, Boston, 2006
Courtney defines himself as “a library lawyer. Or a lawyer librarian. It depends on the day of the week.”

@KyleKCourtney; kylecourtney.com; blogs.law.harvard.edu/copyrightosc; fairuseweek.tumblr.com

Photo by Bob Stefko

Copyright Champion

Kyle Courtney is infectiously enthusiastic—about copyright law, MOOCs, open access, Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) (“we are a nimble, technologically awesome library unit”), and especially his Copyright First Responders (CFRs), a cohort of 14 volunteer librarians assembled to serve as the first line of defense for the ever-growing number of copyright questions fielded by Harvard libraries. CFRs spent spring and summer 2014 attending Courtney’s Copyright Immersion Program, learning about copyright fundamentals, fair use, public domain, open access, and more.

“Copyright and intellectual property concepts in libraries are often dry topics,” says CFR Liza Vick, “but Kyle enlivened them with his signature enthusiasm and humor. He has a special ability to distill complex concepts in a memorable fashion, yet he doesn’t do them a disservice by oversimplifying.” Some CFRs are now doing their own training for students interested in learning more about copyright.

OSC project manager Emily Kilcer says, “This grassroots, distributed program empowers librarians. Rather than centralizing information and support in his role as the university’s copyright advisor, Kyle has chosen, instead, to share his knowledge and engage the library as a whole to build a vital, engaged copyright service community.”

Courtney believes copyright issues will define libraries over the next decade and that librarians are in an ideal position to help people use and access the wealth of information they maintain. “If that defines my career,” he says, “then I’m happy. If I can make some changes, and I can help libraries take advantage of the rights that we have under congressional law, then I’ve done a good thing.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.