This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

File-Swapping Meets the Revolving Door
Dec 08 2000 12:00 AM PST

Napster hires a lobbyist and loses its chief software developer.


While Napster waits for an appeals-court judge to decide whether to shut down its service, the company still manages to generate buzz. Yesterday Napster announced that it has recruited Manus Cooney, the chief counsel to the Orrin Hatch's Senate Judiciary Committee, to be its Washington lobbyist. Cooney will join the company in January.

Both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post covered the story in news wrap-ups. The Journal's unsigned Technology Briefs feature noted that among Napster's current challenges is the recent departure of Jordan Ritter. The 22-year-old was Napster's principal software developer. The Post's Judy Sarasohn and Dan Morgan wrote of the nervousness that Cooney's appointment has generated in "some copyright-rich music and movie industries" because these companies foresee a battle in the new Congress over intellectual property rights.

CNET ran a Reuters story but used more of the copy than other outlets did. In CNET's last paragraph we learn that Cooney's service with the Judiciary Committee stretches back 12 years.

The Los Angeles Times' P.J. Huffstutter talked to sources in the RIAA, though she didn't name any of them. He characterized Cooney as "uniquely positioned to find common ground" between Napster and the RIAA because of his "close ties" with RIAA officials. Huffstutter was the only reporter to spotlight a critical limitation on Cooney's future lobbying efforts: RIAA officials pointed out that federal laws prohibit Cooney from directly lobbying Hatch's Judiciary Committee for one year. But something else may trouble Napster more today: competition from Liquid Audio, which is picking at the corpse of Napster's former file-sharing rival Scour. - Keith Dawson

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