Introducing Amy Dygert

Author: K. Matthew Dames

It is comical at this point — shortly after her one year anniversary as our Copyright and Information Policy Adviser — to say that an introduction to Amy V. Dygert is overdue. I could wax poetic about her qualifications (four – four – degrees at SU), or talk about the grand plans I have in mentoring her to serve as future director of the University’s Copyright and Information Policy Office.

I could even make reference to Amy’s understated, yet razor sharp wit – which is dry, intelligent and effective – and how this sense of humor can help dull the sting of telling someone that no, copying an entire textbook and placing it on Blackboard actually does not qualify as a fair use “for purposes such as teaching … scholarship, or research.”

But to do justice to what Amy has brought to the Libraries since she began in August 2013, I must share my original vision for this office, explain how institutional needs required me to diverge from that original direction, and describe why I think Amy is the best person to fulfill not only my original vision for the Office, but eventually her own vision moving forward.

My career as a Syracuse University employee began in 2008, when Dean Emeritus Suzanne E. Thorin appointed me as the university’s first Copyright and Information Policy Adviser. There were many early challenges, the first of which was determining the proper title. The first functional title I had was “copyright officer,” which sounded too prosecutorial; the general counsel also thought that title sounded like it had too much institutional authority.

Dean Thorin and I settled on the current title for two reasons. First, we wanted to emphasize the consulting, training, teaching, and tutoring functions inherent in “adviser.” Second, we realized soon after I began that the “information policy” function in my job would be more important than the copyright function.

The sagacity of this title soon became evident when I began what ultimately became a 4-year process of writing and getting published SU’s first university-wide policy on the use of copyrighted works in teaching and instruction. That policy, codified in the booklet Using Copyrighted Works in Teaching: A Guide for Syracuse University Faculty, has been recommended by the Copyright Clearance Center, the United States’ primary collective rights organization for corporate and academic users of copyrighted materials. In addition, several other United States colleges and universities have adopted all or part of the copyright policy for their institutions.

Drafting, codifying, and publishing policy is an exhausting, engrossing process that necessarily requires bargaining, concession, trade, and compromise. Doing such work within and on behalf of an academic research institution exacerbates those requirements tenfold. While I am satisfied with the work we have completed, accomplishing this objective required me to drastically alter my original vision for the Office.

For example, my original vision involved developing and disseminating a comprehensive, multimedia copyright education program for information professionals. It also included doing a lot more public speaking and writing (especially on this long dormant blog), all in the name of helping scholars navigate the intricacies and inanities of the world’s most prevalent form of intellectual property.

Enter Amy.

Amy’s expertise as a former litigator and a current teacher provides this Office and the University a deft balance of skills. In her year with us, Amy has adapted well to balancing the detachment that is necessary to manage existing and emerging policy work with the engagement that is necessary for interacting constructively with students, faculty, and Libraries’ staff.

While I remain involved in coordinating the Office’s vision and direction, Amy already has proven she is capable of managing the Office’s workload and daily affairs. It is my hope and expectation that she will fulfill my original vision for the University’s Copyright and Information Policy Office, and at some point, move the Office in a direction she feels is appropriate.

Belatedly, please join me in welcoming Amy Dygert as Syracuse University’s newest Copyright and Information Policy Adviser.

K. Matthew Dames is Interim Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, as well as the founding Director of the Copyright and Information Policy Office, at Syracuse University.

About Amy V. Dygert: Amy V. Dygert, Esq. is the Copyright and Information Policy Adviser at Syracuse University Libraries, succeeding K. Matthew Dames in August 2013. Amy is a four-time graduate of Syracuse University, having earned three masters degrees from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Education, and a juris doctor degree from the College of Law. She earned her B.A. in Journalism from the State University of New York at Oswego.

Before joining the Libraries, Ms. Dygert worked in private practice as a litigation attorney handling First Amendment, Internet, and media law claims, as well as serious injury and wrongful death claims. Ms. Dygert is admitted to practice before state and federal courts in New York, and teaches communications law at the Newhouse School.