I want to pay homage to a friend who died slightly over two years ago, Waldo Moore. Born in Mississippi during the Depression, he moved eventually to Washington D.C., a town President Kennedy once described as a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm. He graduated from the George Washington Law School in 1949. Here is a link to an obituary notice from GW that provides a few details and a picture. In 1951 he joined the Copyright Office, where he stayed for 35 years, a not unusual period of time. I don't know what his initial positions were, but he eventually served as Chief of the Reference Division, Assistant Register of Copyrights for Registration, retiring as an Associate Register in 1986. In 1961 he became the Assistant Chief of the Examining Division, taking Barbara Ringer's position when she moved up to Chief. I came to the Office shortly after Waldo retired, but knew him before then and visited with him on those occasions when he came to the Office. I deeply regret not having joined the Office earlier in order to have learned more from him.
And there was an amazing amount one could learn from Waldo. The 35 years he served in the Office were momentous ones, under such legendary Registers as Abraham Kaminstein and Barbara Ringer. Those who are not familiar with this era or who have come to copyright in the post-DMCA world, will find it difficult to fully appreciate the greatness of these figures. Their knowledge, institutional memory, commitment to copyright as a balancing of proprietary rights and the public interest, love of the arts, and devoted public service were taken for granted, although they shouldn't have been. Waldo was one of the Office's repository of history; not only did he live through great historical periods, he was steeped in the eras that came before him. One felt, through him, even a remote connection to the first Register, Thorvald Solberg who served 33 years, from 1897 to 1930. Waldo was extremely generous with his time and knowledge, and unfailing courteous. He never lost his Southern gentlemanly ways (or dress). I adored him.
Bejamin Kaplan, in living nine decades has seen alot too, but while his principal publication on copyright is still cited, the story behind the title does not seem to be remarked on often, although Lloyd Weinrib did, thankfully, in a comment on the book's recent republication: "In 1966, when Benjamin Kaplan delivered the Carpentier lectures at Columbia University under the title 'An Unhurried View of Copyright,' there was time not to be in a hurry." We don't seem to have that luxury today, to take the time to teach or to learn ourselves in a quiet way, the way that people like Waldo Moore personified. May his memory serve as a blessing and as an inspiration for us to take that time, for ourselves and for others.