Michael R. Klipper

Copyright Legislation

Throughout his legal career, Mr. Klipper has represented clients before Congress and federal agencies on copyright legislative issues. His interest in copyright legislation traces back to his work as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he became immersed in the first wholesale revision of the U.S. copyright law in 67 years. Since his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, Mr. Klipper has been involved in many of the myriad efforts to amend the 1976 Copyright Act both as counsel to two leading trade associations—the Motion Picture Association of America and the Association of American Publishers—and in private practice. Among the legislative issues he has worked on are creation of a small claims copyright court, scope of criminal penalties for copyright infringement, copyright renewal, response to the Supreme Court’s Betamax decision, the implementation of the Berne Copyright Convention, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, pre-emption of contracts under Sec. 301 of the copyright law, fair use of unpublished works, orphan works, licensing of music performance rights by TV stations, the scope of the work-made-for-hire provisions, moral rights, state immunity from money damages in copyright cases, visual artist rights, and restoring copyright status to certain public domain foreign works. Currently, Mr. Klipper represents the American Society of Media Photographers with respect to the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing review of the 1976 Copyright Act.

Working With Coalitions

Mr. Klipper has extensive experience in building and managing legislative coalitions.

He led a coalition of copyright owners that pushed successfully for passage of the Copyright Remedies Clarification Act (CRCA), which allows copyright owners to sue for money damages when their works are infringed by state entities. He also successfully represented copyright owners (e.g., movie producers and book and magazine publishers) in a battle over the role of moral rights under U.S. copyright law. He later served as counsel to a coalition that pursued the enactment of a federal law designed to provide much-needed legal protection to fact-based databases. Mr. Klipper also represented a coalition of copyright interests, seeking a legislative response to judicial rulings that cast serious doubt on the constitutionality of the CRCA.

More recently, Mr. Klipper organized an ad hoc coalition of vendors and users of background checks. The goal of this group was to deflect governmental efforts designed to curtail vendor access to criminal history information and to discourage users from relying on background checks. A major purpose of this group was to educate policymakers, the public and the media about the important role that criminal background checks play in promoting public safety.

Constitutional Law Issues

Since his days as a lawyer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Klipper has been immersed in constitutional law matters. While on the Hill, he was deeply involved in consideration of numerous federal laws, most prominently the landmark 1982 Voting Rights Act. After entering private practice, he helped devise the constitutional arguments undergirding proposed legislation he championed on behalf of the aforementioned sovereign immunity and database protection clients. He has also co-authored briefs amicus curiae in response to constitutional challenges to various provisions of the Copyright Act—Eldred v, Ashcroft (constitutionality of 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act) and Golan v. Holder (constitutionality of copyright restoration provisions). Previously, he co-authored friend of court briefs supporting the constitutionality of the CRCA, as well as federal laws abrogating sovereign immunity in patent and trademark cases.

Representative Issues

Senate Judiciary Committee

Served as point person for Senator Mathias on:
  • The 1982 Voting Rights (Pub. L. No. 97-205, Voting Rights Amendments Act of 1982);
  • Mathias amendment to the 1976 Copyright Act to provide a compulsory license for the nascent public broadcasting industry (Section 118, Copyright Revision Act of 1976);
  • Law that requires diplomats in the United States to carry automobile insurance to ensure that injured Americans are not left uncompensated (Pub. L. No. 95-393, The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978);
  • Legislation that restricts law enforcement searches of newsrooms or journalists’ homes. (Pub. L. No. 96-440, the Privacy Protection Act of 1980);
  • Law governing the assault, kidnapping and assassination of members of the Cabinet, Congress and Supreme Court (1982, Pub. L. 97-285); and
  • The first federal child pornography statute (Pub. L. 95-225, the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1977).


  • Represents Minor League Baseball and American Society of Media Photographers with respect to ongoing congressional review of the copyright law.
  • Organized and represented aforementioned sovereign immunity, database and moral rights copyright-oriented coalitions.
  • Coordinated efforts of book publishers with regard to the only successful effort to amend the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act pertaining to the fair use of unpublished works.
  • Worked with ad hoc coalition of motion picture producers and other copyright owners, that successfully pushed for passage of the Berne Convention Implementation Act—enabling U.S. to join strongest international copyright agreement. (Pub. L. No 100-568.)
  • AAP’s point person with respect to copyright provisions of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. (Pub. L. 103–465.)
  • Together with MPAA members and music interests, blocked legislation that would have adversely affected the manner in which copyrighted music is licensed to TV stations.
  • Organized a coalition of vendors and users of checks to defend against challenges to use of criminal histories in employment and tenant screening.
  • Represented major provider of background checks and National Association of Professional Background Screeners on various regulatory and legislative issues.
  • Advised multinational publisher on various copyright, constitutional law and public records issues.
  • Represented satellite carrier before Congress, the Copyright Office, and a copyright royalty panel on matters regarding delivery of local television broadcast signals to local audiences.
  • Represented leading trade association composed of magazine publishers on various copyright and first amendment issues.

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Copyright 2015 The Law Office of Michael R. Klipper, PLLC.