Richard Crosby De Wolf
|Acting Register of Copyrights|
January 1, 1944 – February 1, 1945
|Preceded by||Clement Lincoln Bouvé|
|Succeeded by||Sam Bass Warner|
Des Moines, Iowa
|Died||March 8, 1947
St. Augustine, Florida
|Alma mater||George Washington University Law School|
|Service/branch||United States Marines|
Richard Crosby De Wolf (1875–1947) was acting Register of Copyrights from 1944–1945 and one of the first United States copyright law scholars to suggest a completely disjunctive reading of the Copyright Clause.
De Wolf was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1875. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years before joining the U.S. Marines in 1899 and fighting in the Spanish–American War. He first started working for the United States Copyright Office in 1907. In 1913 he received his L.L.B. from George Washington University Law School, eventually leaving the Copyright Office in 1918 to practice law privately.
De Wolf worked for the Copyright Office on and off for the next several decades until being appointed acting Register of Copyrights on January 1, 1945 to replace Clement Lincoln Bouvé. He served in that capacity until February 1, 1945, when Sam Bass Warner was appointed the fourth Register of Copyrights. De Wolf died on March 8, 1947 and is buried in St. Augustine, Florida.
De Wolf is also noted as one of the earliest scholars to suggest a completely disjunctive reading of the Copyright Clause. The Clause, which gives Congress the power to grant both copyrights and patents, states
"The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
De Wolf wrote in his book "An Outline of Copyright Law" that one could resolve this statement disjunctively, illustrating the separate grants of authority for copyrights and patents, so that it states "(1) The progress of science is to be promoted by securing to authors the right to their writings; and (2) the progress of useful arts is to be promoted by securing to inventors the right to their discoveries." The Supreme Court endorsed this view in 1966 in Graham v. John Deere Co., citing "An Outline of Copyright Law."
- "Biography of Richard Crosby De Wolf, Acting Register 1944–1945" (PDF). United States Copyright Office.
- An Outline of Copyright Law by Richard Crosby De Wolf at Google Books.
Clement Lincoln Bouvé
|Acting Register of Copyrights
Sam Bass Warner