Copyrighting Obama

Kristine Boylan helped protect an amateur photographer's college pics of the president 

Published in 2010 Minnesota Rising Stars magazine

By Suzy Frisch on January 1, 2010


When amateur photographer Lisa Jack decided to publish her portraits of Barack Obama as a college student, attorney Kristine Boylan helped her protect the pictures and negotiate publication and licensing rights to Time and other media. 

As an intellectual property attorney, Boylan does this type of work all the time, including trademark enforcement for True Value Hardware and other corporations. But this time the stakes were way higher. Obama had just been elected president, his popularity was soaring, and there were few photos of him as a collegian. 

“It was a big deal. They are black-and-white pictures of him goofing around on campus,” says Boylan, adding that Jack is an Augsburg College professor who attended Occidental College with Obama. “We did some copyrights and licenses, and she’s been able to protect her rights and share the photos with the world.” 

Boylan devotes much of her practice to protecting clients’ intellectual property rights and enforcing their copyrights, trademarks and licensing agreements. A partner at Merchant & Gould in Minneapolis, Boylan actually got her start in law many years ago.

As an 8-year-old she was the official courier, librarian and garbage-can emptier at the small Willmar law firm of her father, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan. She perfected her ability to take on other lawyers while appearing weekly before the firm’s gruff senior partner to defend her performance and $1 salary.

Boylan knows how to fight the good fight whether her clients are Fortune 500 companies, small businesses or individuals. She also puts that assertiveness to work as a mentee with the Federal Criminal Justice Act panel, handling cases when the public defender has a conflict of interest. An avid golfer, Boylan has captured several awards in local charity golf events.

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