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Alumni Q&A with Regan Smith

We are so proud of what our Loeb alumni have accomplished since they left the firm, and we hope that Loeb Reconnected will help you get to know your fellow alumni on a deeper level. To that end, we are excited to introduce our Loeb Alumni Q&A series, which will present a different Loeb alumnus/alumna in each newsletter.

First up is Regan Smith, who is currently the General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights for the United States Copyright Office. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2006 and beginning her legal career in a traditional IP practice, she joined Loeb to practice in the Advanced Media and Technology (AMT) department from September 2010 to October 2014.

Catch us up! Where have you been since Loeb?

I left Loeb in 2014 and have worked at the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, DC, since that time. I started as an Assistant General Counsel and, since 2018, have been General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights. My office has a pretty large portfolio. We advise the Department of Justice (DOJ) on copyright matters affecting the United States, which has included 10 briefs filed before the Supreme Court in my time here. We also conduct the agency’s regulatory work, which has included over 40 rulemakings, spanning everything from updates to registration practices to the Section 1201 rulemaking on determining exemptions to the anti-circumvention provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As part of the legislative branch, we also conduct public policy studies and advise Congress on potential revisions to the copyright law, alongside the policy and international affairs group. Finally, my office consults with the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) and reviews the CRB’s rate-setting and distribution determinations concerning statutory copyright licenses for the Register of Copyrights.

In recent years, the Music Modernization Act has been a large focus. Following our assistance in the legislative process, the Copyright Office was given a number of implementation tasks by statute. We have finished onboarding the provision focused on pre-1972 sound recordings, and are currently conducting a number of rulemakings related to the mechanical licensing collective that will operate a blanket statutory license for uses of songs on internet streaming services. We are also conducting a policy study regarding best practices to reduce the incidence of unattributable royalties under the blanket license, and conducting education and outreach activities with musicians and publishers since this is a relatively dense area of law.

Is there anything you learned at Loeb that you’ve taken with you to your current role or any of the other roles you’ve had?

At Loeb, I was a member of the AMT department and focused my practice on IP litigation and transactional work, including copyright, trademark, advertising, marketing and related technology issues. The group serviced a diverse clientele—including traditional entertainment companies, consumer products companies, and technology companies and startups, of varying sizes.

In Washington, DC, copyright policy discourse can sometimes be quite polarizing and take on an “us versus them” dynamic. My experience at Loeb helped me develop a business-oriented perspective regarding how companies can realistically work through these types of legal issues, and how they may have interests both as IP owners and as users of works. This perspective has been useful at times in my current role at the Copyright Office.

Can you share a specific Loeb memory that you are fond of? It can be a person, a place, an occurrence, etc.

I remember that the whole office always made an effort to attend the holiday party. That can be unusual in private practice. It showed everyone’s commitment to fostering a collegial environment, which the firm benefited from during busy and stressful times.

What did you like most about working at Loeb?

Working at Loeb, I enjoyed the frequent and informal discussions and exchanges between lawyers, as well as with staff. There was a nice camaraderie. I also enjoyed the ties that Loeb’s Chicago office had with the local IP community. The events that I attended helped build relationships with other practitioners in Chicago, which helped broaden my views of the larger IP marketplace.

What does being a part of Loeb Reconnected, Loeb’s alumni community, mean to you?

I enjoy seeing what my former colleagues are up to, whether they are in private practice or industry, work for the government, or have left law entirely. Loeb Reconnected is a good way to stay connected with Loeb lawyers, past and present. I look forward to expanding my network by being a part of this alumni community.