Student follows new ‘adventure’ in cop...

Student follows new ‘adventure’ in copyright law for children’s author

MTSU junior Heather McFadyen is the recipient of MTSU’s inaugural Chitwood Award for Excellence for her plan to allow beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary to reclaim ownership of her legendary book “Ramona Quimby, Age 8.”

Heather McFadyen

Heather McFadyen

The award will be presented in a special 4 p.m. ceremony Thursday, Oct. 30, in MTSU’s Bragg Mass Communication Building. It recognizes the best “Recapture Project of 2014” proposed by a Department of Recording Industry student in a copyright law class taught by MTSU associate professor Deborah Wagnon.

The Recapture Project is tied to U.S. Copyright Act (Section 203), which allows creators of copyrights to terminate the rights of their publishers and reclaim ownership of their songs or books. Participation in this cutting-edge project is required of each student studying copyright law with Wagnon.

Wagnon, who also is an entertainment business attorney, said she will be contacting Cleary’s representatives to present McFadyen’s proposal.

“The students achieve a working knowledge in an area that is challenging and relevant to current issues of importance in the entertainment industry,” Wagnon said. “They research and execute the ‘recapture’ of the copyright(s) to significant works of their targeted creators, whether songwriters or literary authors.

Ramona Quimby cover web“Each student must also design a proposed plan for the current exploitation of the recaptured work(s) that is worthy of presentation to their recording artist/songwriter or literary author, providing information needed to get valued works back after 35 years.”

A selection committee voted unanimously for McFadyen, a New Orleans native, for her proposed recapture of Cleary’s book, which was published in 1981.

“Ms. Cleary is a revered author who has dedicated her long career to inspiring children through her many published works,” Wagnon said. “This project was a highly creative and thoughtful master plan for how to secure the book’s copyright for its original author and how to bring this great work to a new generation with innovative and exciting new ideas proposed by Heather.”

McFadyen said she selected Cleary’s work for her project because Cleary’s character Ramona Quimby has inspired her to always follow an adventure.

“Today, as I had an opportunity to use the works of Beverly Cleary in my studies, I had no idea that yet again, she’d be taking me on another adventure,” McFadyen said.

“The recapture project not only gave me the chance to continue Ms. Cleary’s mission to help children, but also sparked a new path that I hadn’t imagined. In doing this project, I discovered a passion for law. I’m thankful for the excitement and push the Chitwood Award of Excellence has given me, and I look forward to my latest adventure: law school.”

David "Ritt" Chitwood

David “Ritt” Chitwood

The Chitwood Award of Excellence was created to honor MTSU recording industry major David “Ritt” Chitwood, 28, who was struck and killed by a dump truck in a January 2014 traffic accident near campus.

Organizers said Chitwood, a Nolensville, Tennessee, resident, served as an inspiration for faculty and students alike because of his optimism and eagerness to learn after surviving a near-fatal 2006 car wreck.

Deborah Wagnon

Deborah Wagnon

His motto was “keep on keeping on,” Wagnon said, “so it is appropriate that this recapture project, which requires tenacity and attention to detail, was created in his honor.”

“Heather’s project was particularly impressive as she had obviously taken great care in her research, in addition to giving a strong presentation of how she would propose taking this great book back to the marketplace once the copyright was secured by Ms. Cleary,” the professor added.

“I began developing the Recapture Project in 2011 for my Copyright Law classes. It requires research and legal detail on the one hand, and creativity and entrepreneurial thinking on the other. Heather demonstrates both in her project and is most deserving of the award.”

Copyright law is a required course in MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and is one of the university’s signature departments.

The Department of Recording Industry is the only one of its kind in the nation to be housed in a college of mass communication and offers a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in music business, audio production and commercial songwriting, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in recording arts and technologies.

For more information about the Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, visit

— Gina E. Fann (