For years, Ms. Ringer devoted much of her time to drafting a new, comprehensive copyright act and educating members of Congress about why it was needed. Foreseeing the rise of the Internet, she inserted provisions into the law to protect authors from the unauthorized reproduction of their work, even by means not yet devised.
“The basic human rights of individual authors throughout the world,” she warned in a 1975 speech, “are being sacrificed more and more on the altar of . . . the technological revolution.”
Ms. Ringer spent 21 years drafting the legislation and lobbying Congress before the Copyright Act of 1976 was finally passed. She wrote most of the bill herself.
“It brought an essentially 19th-century law up to date with the late 20th century and 21st century,” said Arthur Levine, a copyright lawyer who worked with Ms. Ringer at the Library of Congress. “I dont believe there would have been a Copyright Act if there hadnt been a Barbara Ringer.”