Connecting with Bill Sobel

The Internet has turned a lot of honest people into thieves. People who wouldn't dream of walking out of a retail store without paying for a pack of gum have no remorse about stealing online content. Pictures. Blog posts. Funny videos. 

And that's turned copyright issues from "an obscure corner of the law" to "the subject of conversation at picnics and parties," said Christopher Kenneally, director of Business Development at the Danvers, Mass.–based Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), a global licensing and content solutions organization.

Despite what many of us think in this age of incessant sharing, people who create “original works of authorship" — literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works ­— actually have rights. Under copyright laws in the US and other countries, you need permission from the copyright holder to reproduce, distribute, display or perform these works.

So much for making that great aerial picture of a tropical sunset you stumbled upon the background for your Facebook page.

Spreading the Word


Kenneally knows a thing or two about copyright. He's an award-winning journalist and author of Massachusetts 101, a book about the 101 most important events in the history of Massachusetts.  He's reported on education, business, travel, culture and technology for publications like the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and The Independent of London, serves on the Steering Committee of the National Writers Union (NWU) Boston Local and is a member of PEN New England and the Authors Guild. 

At CCC, he's responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of authors of all backgrounds, from academics to freelancers. Among other activities, he is host and moderator for an ongoing series of writing conferences called, “Beyond the Book,” which have traveled to Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. The programs are frequently broadcast nationally on C-SPAN’s Book-TV and in Canada on BookTelevision. 

What should we know about copyright? Let's find out. 

Sobel: How did you end up at Copyright Clearance Center? 

Kenneally: I joined CCC in 2001 after being a long time contributor to a number of blue chip publications, in addition to my work at PBS and NPR. I found this an opportunity to give back to my community of colleagues in the news media and book publishing. Among other things, CCC has a mission to promote the value of all copyrighted works and to encourage respect for intellectual property. As a copyright-holder myself, I could identify with that!

Sobel: Tell us about Beyond the Book, the free podcast and educational program of the not-for-profit Copyright Clearance Center.