Marybeth Peters, who served as the U.S. Register of Copyrights from 1994 to 2010, died on September 29. She was 83.
Peters spent her career working in the copyright field, and was considered a leading expert on both international and domestic copyright issues. Prior to her appointment as Register of Copyrights, Peters held a variety of positions in the copyright office. During her time there, Peters played a key role in adapting copyright to the digital age, including helping to implement both the 1976 Copyright Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The controversial Google Book Search lawsuit also took place during her tenure, and Peters was critical of the proposed settlement, arguing that it was at odds with the law. The settlement was eventually rejected by Judge Denny Chin.
Following her retirement in 2010, Peters joined the board of the Copyright Clearance Center from 2011 to 2017 and practiced with the law firm of Oblon, Spivak from 2011 to 2015 and then Muncy, Geissler, Olds & Lowe from 2016 to 2017. She was succeeded as Register of Copyrights by Maria Pallante, currently president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers.
“Marybeth was a giant in the field of copyright law and both inspiring and imposing at the helm of the Copyright Office,” Pallante said in a statement. “She was endlessly interested in meeting new people, especially musical people, and had a way of drawing practitioners, including me, into periods of government service. Her achievements—as a distinguished legal expert, public official, and chief executive officer—are unique and significant, and they will serve authors and the global public for generations to come. We send our sincere condolences to Marybeth’s extended family, friends, and everyone who admired her.”