Copyright Officer to Retire after 21 Years at Mason

Posted: June 14, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

University Copyright Officer Rosemary Chase will retire this month after 21 years at Mason. A farewell party in her honor will be held on Wednesday, June 20, at 2 p.m. in the Johnson Center Library Instruction Room, Room 228.

Chase was interviewed about her current job and her experiences at Mason.

Rosemary Chase
Rosemary Chase will retire this month

What She Does: In a way, she is the intellectual property police. Based in University Libraries, she replies to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices received for alleged illegal file sharing activity on the Mason network. She also conducts regular informational workshops on intellectual property and fair use, to comply with DMCA.

First Job at Mason: Artist in Print Services. She established the sign shop that used to be in the basement of Fenwick Library. “I designed flyers and postcards, too, but it was mostly a lot of sign work, including interior signs for the buildings.” That was before the Physical Plant got its own machine for making signs.

Her Life before Mason: “I was a stay-at-home mom. I had been the wife of an Air Force pilot for 20 years,” she says. Aside from teaching ballet lessons off and on for 15 years, taking a job at Mason was her first foray into the world of work.

On Being at the Right Place at the Right Time: Chase is not a librarian, although most people who hold positions similar to hers at other universities are. She calls them “MLS–JDs” because they have backgrounds that combine degree work in library science and law. How Chase came to be the copyright guru was somewhat of a fluke. In the late 1980s, Chase was a supervisor in Print Services. “My boss, Susann Eldredge, was following the court case between New York University and the Association of American Publishers, one of the first to involve copyright issues and universities. She told me to stay on top of it.”

And she did. The NYU case was settled out of court, but a few years following that, Kinko’s was sued for copyright infringement. By this time, Chase had a good grip on the issues involved and was one of a handful of people throughout the country beginning to talk about copyright, making Mason a thought leader on what came to be a very important issue.

Strangest Thing that Has Happened on the Job: Computers. It was while working at Mason in the late 1980s that she first came in contact with the digital age, as did many workers on campus. Despite her technical struggles, Chase eventually grew fond of computers. “I still wasn’t very good with them, but I instigated the purchase of our first home computer for the kids.”

What You Might Not Know about Her: She is moving to Texas to be closer to family. In her retirement, she plans to continue with her art — she does pastel portraits of people and pets. “Stay tuned for my web site.”

What She Likes Best about Her Job: “The people. I have gotten to know so many people all over the campus. And Mason has been very good to me.” She also loves teaching copyright workshops and making presentations at Mason and other universities. “People from all over the country call me with [copyright] questions.”

Greatest Accomplishment to Date: She says her greatest accomplishment is still her three kids, who are now adults leading inspiring lives. “I am very proud of them.” Professionally, “I was also very proud when I had my first article published,” she says. Chase has gone on to publish several articles.

Once a Patriot, Always a Patriot: Chase holds two degrees from Mason: a BA in art history and an MAIS (Interdisciplinary Studies) in which she designed a program to meet her interests in art history, architecture and film. Her thesis: “Integrating aesthetics into plot: music and architecture in two American films of ancient Rome.”

Most Prized Possession: “I collect tigers and always have some kind of ‘tiger’ with me. One of my favorite pieces is a print of tiger eyes. It was given to me when I presented at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Their mascot is a tiger, and they gave all the presenters these prints as gifts.” Chase’s personal tiger hangs in her office and keeps her on the straight and narrow. “Whenever I look up, he’s there staring down at me. It’s almost like he’s telling me to ‘buck up.’”

What She Does for Fun: “I love playing bridge and reading. I also love movies and walking in the woods.” She and her husband are restoring an antique wooden boat. “It is all done in mahogany on the inside.”

What People Say about Her:

“The faculty, staff and students have benefited immensely from Rosemary’s knowledge, guidance and assistance on all matters relating to copyright and fair use. She has been an enabler (figuring out ways for copyrighted works to be used lawfully for educational purposes) and at the same time, she protected the university from liability due to inadvertent (or willful) copyright infringement. Rosemary approached her role as a teacher and sought solutions to copyright obstacles so that teaching, learning and research at Mason were carried on smoothly. She became a national leader in a specialization that is becoming even more essential in the accelerating digital information environment. She will be difficult to replace.”

—John Zenelis, university librarian and associate vice president of Information Technology

“I have known Rosemary for several years, and she is a great friend and mentor. Rosemary has taught me everything that I know about copyright. We were honored to have such an authority on copyright here at Mason. She will be missed.”

—Susan Murphy, course materials administrator, Print Services

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