Napster Hires Judiciary Committee Official for Legislative Battles

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Digital music file sharing service Napster Inc. announced yesterday the hiring of the Senate Judiciary Committee chief counsel and staff director, Manus Cooney.


Cooney currently serves as chief policy adviser to committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and will begin serving as Napster's vice president for corporate and policy development in January.


He will represent Napster before Congress and will be in charge of guiding the company through a storm of legislative policy issues as they pertain to the company, its users and artists.


Cooney is experienced with the issues surrounding intellectual property litigation, having worked on issues dealing with the American Inventors Protection Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act during his Judiciary Committee tenure.


"We are getting the best of the best with Mr. Cooney," Napster chief operating officer Milton Olin said. "His experience with the dynamics of our issues is unparalleled. The fit is perfect."


Cooney said he looks forward to the new challenge, "where I can help advance the interest of music listeners and artists."


It has been a year since the Recording Industry Association of America, the member organization of major U.S.-based record labels, brought charges of mass copyright infringement against Napster. Since then, the association has publicly bashed the service, which continues to grow and now boasts more than 44 million users.


Last month, BeCG, a newly formed subsidiary of industry giant Bertelsmann AG, announced it would help Napster fund the deployment of a membership-fee-based service. Bertelsmann AG claimed it would drop its portion of the RIAA lawsuit once a membership-fee model is introduced. Bertelsmann also said it would encourage other RIAA member companies to follow its lead.


Napster is in the process of appealing a July court decision that ordered it to shut down pending a trial into the RIAA's copyright infringement charges.
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