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Mitch Glazier is in the lobbying trenches. It’s not the kind of battle where he has a chart on the wall detailing vote counts. It’s not about a vote at all. And if Glazier gets his way, it’ll never come to one. As senior vice president for government relations at the Recording Industry Association of America, Glazier is charged with defending copyright laws amid an explosion of technology that makes it easier than ever to break those laws — and a cultural shift that makes it more acceptable. “There’s no need to get the government involved if the marketplace works things out,” says Glazier, who cut his political teeth as assistant counsel and then chief counsel for the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts and intellectual property. Nevertheless, the RIAA — already locked in a pitched court battle over Napster Inc.’s online music file-sharing service — is bracing for a Hill fight. Like a lot of high-stakes litigation, the Napster battle has crept into the realm of Congress. Hearings this spring by the Senate Judiciary panel offered an early glimpse of this incursion. The problems with Napster, though, are just the beginning. Copyright — indeed, all intellectual property — is fast coming to the lobbying forefront. It’s top on the policy agenda of outfits like The Walt Disney Company, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Biotechnology Industry Association, to name just a few players. “We do not want to have happen to the movie industry what has happened to the music industry,” says Jack Valenti of the MPAA, which is spearheading the Copyright Assembly, a group of companies that want to ensure copyright protection. “We don’t want to be reactive.” Even groups with no obvious copyright interests have chimed in. “There is a sense on the Hill that this mess is ending up on their laps,” says Nancie Marzulla, president of Defenders of Property Rights. “In my mind, property rights today is intellectual property.” For now, however, the RIAA is front and center — if for no other reason than because there is not yet a Napster counterpart for movies or books. With its members’ most valuable assets on the line, the RIAA has crafted a message that stresses conservative, property-rights values. Those values can be seen in some of its recent lobbyist hires, including former senator Robert Dole, R-Kansas, of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand and former Republican governor of Montana Marc Racicot, who joined the D.C. office of Houston’s Bracewell & Patterson in February. Also in its lobbying stable are the Raben Group, whose principal, Robert Raben, was a chief lobbyist at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration; Patton Boggs’s Stephanie Peters and Jonathan Yarowsky, both former Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee; the lobbying firm of Podesta Mattoon; and the law firm Williams & Jensen. On the other side, Napster is eager to take its case to Congress because, some say, it believes it can use the political arena to gain leverage in its negotiations with the record labels. In January, Napster snapped up one of the most sought-after Hill staffers, Manus Cooney, to be its top in-house lobbyist. Cooney, who was chief counsel and staff director for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s, R-Utah, Judiciary Committee, has put together a team that includes Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman’s Gary Slaiman, who once served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, monopolies and business rights; the public affairs firm TSD Inc., whose president, Mark Steitz, is a former communications chairman for the Democratic National Committee; and most recently Hunter Biden, son of Senate Judiciary member Joseph Biden, D-Del.; as well as Timmons and Co. Napster has also been capitalizing on its user base, promoting a “grass-tops” demonstration that coincided with the Judiciary hearings. “There are millions of people who vote who love Napster,” observes James Carmichael, an IP lawyer in the D.C. office of L.A.’s Lyon & Lyon who isn’t involved in the case. “It doesn’t make it okay, but it provides political backlash.” Cooney says the RIAA litigation is forcing onto Congress the questions: “What do we have copyright laws for? Why aren’t consumers’ needs being met?” Such questions aren’t what the RIAA wants to hear. “We think Napster should be looking to the marketplace and not to Congress,” says Glazier. “We’re getting blamed for not competing in a marketplace when there’s an illegitimate player out there.” But others are concerned that the value of the technology will get lost in the copyright debate. Says Cindy Cohn, legal director of the pro-Napster Electronic Frontier Foundation: “The recording industry wants complete control. Everybody who sells anything has to change with the times.”

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