The Patterson Copyright Award in Support of User's Rights is not an annual award, but one given as merited to "an individual or group that pursues and supports the Constitutional purpose of the U. S. Copyright Law, fair use and the public domain." Patterson considered copyright law to be "a law of user's rights," that fair use of copyrighted information is a right rather than "an excused infringement." There have been six winners since the award was established. The 2010 winner is Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Patterson was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1929, and attended Mercer University for his undergraduate degree. He earned a Master's degree in English from Northwestern University, then taught at Middle Georgia College before joining the Army during the Korean War, where he worked as a Russian translator.
After the war, Patterson earned a law degree from Mercer University, and taught law there while earning his S.J.D. (Doctorate of Judicial Science) from Harvard University. He then spent the 1960s teaching law at Vanderbilt University and acting as an assistant U. S. Attorney. In 1968, he published Copyright in Historical Perspective, a text that remains in print today.
In 1973, Patterson become dean of the Emory School of Law in Atlanta, stepping down from that position in 1980. In 1987, he accepted the position of Pope Brock Chair at University of Georgia Law School. Patterson published The Nature of Copyright: A Law of User's Rights with co-author Stanley Lindberg, editor of the Georgia Review, in 1991. Though he wrote or co-authored over 20 books in his career, these two books were among the most admired for their approach to copyright law.
Patterson taught at UGA until his death from lung cancer in November, 2003. He was 74 years old.
- L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award website.
- An interview with L. Ray Patterson on the ALA website.
- Intellectual Freedom Manual by the American Library Association in the Reference collection.
- CyberRights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age by Mike Godwin in the general collection.
- Carmack's Guide to Copyright and Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers, and Researchers by Susan DeBartolo Carmack in the general collection.
- Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity by Lawrence Lessig in the general collection.
- The Public Domain: How to Find and Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art and More by Stephen Fishman in the general collection.
- Telling It All: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech by Harold W. Fuson in the general collection.
- Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment by Floyd Abrams in the general collection.
- The First Amendment Project, a documentary by Chris Hegedus in the DVD collection.
- The Red and Black Archives website.