New copyright alliance on Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON -- A unique new organization made up of ingredients from the commerce, arts and university communities is hoping to convince Congress and the public that copyrights aren't the legal equivalent of a Rodney Dangerfield punch line: lacking respect.

The members of the Copyright Alliance hope their organization, which is set to be unveiled today at a ceremony in the Reserve Officers Building on Capitol Hill, hope they can convince increasingly skeptical members of the general public and policymakers that copyrights are something special that deserve protection.

"Intellectual property is under attack," folk singer-songwriter Tom Paxton said. "A lot of people think about it. They think, 'Well, it's just music and not worth protecting.' To us, it's a living. We make this the same way a cabinetmaker makes a chest."

Paxton; Grammy-winning Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier; guitarist extraordinaire Steve Cropper, a member of Booker T and the MGs as well as an A&R executive, engineer, producer and songwriter; Steve Siwek, of Economics Inc.; and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Tim O'Brien hope their presence at the organization's formal announcement will help impress upon policymakers, in particular, and the public what copyrights mean to America.

Patrick Ross, executive director of the organization, said that the group helps fill a gap that was left when former MPAA chief Jack Valenti died.

Valenti ran a similar group known as the Copyright Alliance that went into eclipse after his death last month.

"That was a creature of Jack Valenti," he said. "With this, we hope to preserve that broad group."

The alliance comprises 29 member organizations ranging from AFTRA to the Walt Disney Co. While Ross conceded that sometimes the individual members might be in conflict with one another, an umbrella group will help fill a void.

"If you look at the list of members, you'll see that there will be times when they will disagree," he said. "They can speak for themselves, but they all can agree on the general principle that copyrights need protection."

Members of the Alliance are AFTRA, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, American Society of Media Photographers, Association of American Publishers, Broadcast Music Inc., Business Software Alliance, CBS Corp., DGA, Disney, Entertainment Software Assn., Magazine Publishers of America, Major League Baseball, Microsoft, MPAA, National Association of Broadcasters, NCAA, National Music Publishers' Assn., NBA Properties Inc., NBC Universal, News Corp., Newspaper Association of America, Professional Photographers of America, Recording Artists' Coalition, RIAA, Software & Information Industry Assn., Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner, Viacom and Vin Di Bona Prods.