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April 13, 2012

Librarian of Congress Names New Chief Copyright Royalty Judge

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced his selection of Suzanne M. Barnett as the new chief copyright royalty judge and head of the Copyright Royalty Board.

Barnett is a superior court judge of King County in Seattle, Washington. She was first elected to the court in 1996. Barnett officially begins in her new role May 20 and succeeds Chief Copyright Royalty Judge James Sledge.

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Judge Barnett to this important position," Billington said. "The Board plays a key role in helping ensure that many of the practical applications of our nation’s copyright laws are working for all parties. Judge Barnett’s 16 years of experience presiding over a wide variety of trials make her highly qualified to be chief copyright royalty judge. I also extend my gratitude for the dedicated public service of outgoing Chief Judge James Sledge, who has served ably during his six-year term."

The copyright royalty judges are charged by statute with facilitating efficiency of transactions required by law between copyright holders and distributors (www.loc.gov/crb). The judges conduct proceedings between parties when the parties are unable to reach agreement on royalty terms, and facilitate distribution of royalties in concert with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Barnett joins William Roberts and Stanley Wisniewski on the Copyright Royalty Board. The Copyright Act provides that the chief copyright royalty judge "shall have at least five years of experience in adjudications, arbitrations, or court trials." The chief is selected by the Librarian in consultation with the Register of Copyrights.

As a judge in a court of general jurisdiction, Barnett hears cases of all types and presides over both jury and non-jury trials. Barnett has served on all the King County calendars - civil, criminal, family, and juvenile - and at all three superior court locations. The superior court also acts in an appellate capacity under the state’s administrative procedures act.

Before taking the bench, Judge Barnett practiced law for 16 years. Her private practice career began at Lane Powell in Seattle. She was recruited by the Houston office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges where she worked for three years. Upon her return to Seattle, Judge Barnett co-founded a law firm, Barnett MacLean, and continued with that firm until her election to the bench.

Judge Barnett received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1971 and her law degree from Washington and Lee University in 1981. She was on the editorial board of the Washington and Lee Law Review.

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PR 12-081
04/13/12
ISSN 0731-3527

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