Washington D.C., partner Mike Remington was interviewed by Copyright Alliance as part of an introductory series on members of the Alliance’s Legal Advisory Board, which Mike has served on since August 2011.
Over the course of this year, Copyright Alliance (a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing artists, creators, and innovators across the spectrum of copyright disciplines) will interview each advisory board member on their thoughts about ideas and expression. Copyright Alliance Board members include BMI, ASCAP, NBCUniversal, Reed Elsevier, the Recording Academy, TimeWarner and Viacom.
Mike described his law practice as three-fold: copyright law with some associated trademark, rights of publicity and privacy work; governmental affairs work in the areas of intellectual property law and civil justice reform; and a healthy dose of pro bono charitable and educational work.
He said he knew he wanted to focus on IP law in 1982, when he was named chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice by Chairman Bob Kastenmeier, who he described as one of the great IP legislators of all time. Mike said his work there was the introduction to IP law and over the course of 10 years he developed experience in the intersection of law and technological change. “My desire to focus on IP law was somewhat akin to a juvenile growing into an adult,” he said, “it took years to reach maturation.”
When asked about the most unusual case he had handled, Mike relayed his creative approach when working for the federal judicial branch in overcoming an obstacle in the adoption of an orphan girl with special needs from one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages in India. A state social worker refused to clear the issuance of a visa with federal immigration authorities, fearing that the child would become a ward of the State of Wisconsin. Mike and his wife had already adopted two orphans from Mother Teresa, so he was considered an ideal candidate for the job. Mike took a public relations strategy, ensuring the problem was quietly mentioned in a meeting with the editorial boards of the Milwaukee newspapers when Mother Teresa was slated to receive the Pere Marquette Discovery Award in Milwaukee. The little girl was issued a visa not long after.
Discussing his creative passions, Mike hinted at his own aptitude in the visual arts, including photography, drawing and painting. If he had to excel at one creative field, however, it would be between oil painting and writing.
When asked what he liked best about his practice, he said “working at the vortex of law and technology” as well as promoting the progress of science and the useful arts, his admirable IP colleagues and the joy of teaching law students about IP law and the legislative process. Mike also mentioned that as an IP lawyer, he wished that more people especially those from the younger generations, understood that copyrighted works emerge from the spark of human intellect. “Creative works that reflect American culture – be they music, movies, visual works, computer software, or architecture – spring forth from authors and benefit the public in the form of entertainment, knowledge, and expression,” he said.
Lastly, Mike explained the reasoning behind his involvement with the Copyright Alliance Legal Advisory Board. He said he was raised under the tutelage of a law professor father who taught him that “law practitioners should not be deterred from pursuing, beyond their representations, charitable and political endeavors to improve the administration of justice. Participation on advisory boards permits lawyers to work together on a breadth of issues on which they would not ordinarily work.”