by Katina Strauch, Editor, Against the Grain, and Founder, Charleston Conference
Many of you remember Bill Hannay fondly from his years of presenting in the Long Arm of the Law panel at the annual Charleston Conference. We tragically lost Bill in 2020, and the Charleston Conference would like to remember him with a smile, as he would have wanted. We’ve created a playlist of each of his presentations as a memorial to him and his wonderful contributions over the years.
Bill was a partner at Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago, IL, who specialized in federal and state antitrust law, intellectual property law, and other trade regulation laws, and was the author or editor of nine books on antitrust and intellectual property law, including “The Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Unfair Competition,” published by Thomson Reuter’s West Publishing. He presented on legal cases and topics affecting the world of libraries and publishing, and he did so with an ineffable sense of humor and verbal charm. His signature move was to write hilarious original lyrics to a showtune or other familiar piece of music that tied in with his presentation topic, earning him the nickname “The Singing Lawyer” amongst conference attendees.
It was 1990 when Katina got a tip about a great lawyer to speak at the Charleston Conference. I had no idea what was in store for the conference and ATG long term. Besides writing cases of note and short pieces on legal happenings in the library & publishing world, Bill was quick to research whatever ATG asked him about.
Bill connected with Ann Okerson and became a regular speaker at the annual Long Arm of the Law panel on the last day of every annual Chas. Conference. Bill also contributed regular articles for ATG’s Legally Speaking column as well as separate sessions during the Conference. He spoke about everything — the market power of publishers, fair use and unpublished material, the right to be forgotten, MOOCs, the copyright on literary works in electronic databases and much more!
I could go on and on. The thing that was so very special about Bill was his sense of humor among rather dry subjects. Bill was a playwright, poet, and singer! You can hear him singing in many of these legal episodes. His creativity knew no bounds! Besides several plays that he leaves behind, his wife Donna, his two daughters and son are also entertainers. We all miss him horribly! There is so much going on now that would benefit from his amazingly serious and yet humorous points of view!
Bill spoke about the OCLC/Skyriver/III lawsuit (2010) and it’s too bad that he isn’t around to comment on the current OCLC/Clarivate dustup. So we have begun The Hannay Way to preserve many of his writings and humorous essays. When the life of someone who was so very alive ends, we can preserve what little bit remains for posterity. We hope you enjoy this compilation in memoriam to Bill Hannay, “The Singing Lawyer!”