Rosen to Leave RIAA

Chairman and CEO had been with organization for seventeen years

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Hilary Rosen, the chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, will leave the organization at the end of 2003. Rosen had worked for the RIAA -- the trade group that represents the sound recording creators, manufacturers and distributors -- for seventeen years and served as the organization's CEO since 1998.

"This has been the most exciting job I can imagine," Rosen said. "During my tenure here, the recording industry has undergone dramatic challenges, and it is well positioned for future success. I have been extremely proud to be a part of this industry transition."

In a statement, Rosen expressed a desire to spend more time with her children as a motivating factor in her decision to resign. "This has been an extremely difficult decision," she said, "but I know it is the right one for my family."

In addition to its long-running task of awarding gold, platinum and now diamond certifications to top-selling albums, the RIAA had recently drawn more attention for taking a hard-line stance against music piracy, first through the duplication and reselling of CDs by bootleggers, and also through new, unmonitored digital frontiers that allowed online song trading. The highest-profile skirmish came nearly three years ago, when the RIAA and Rosen helped lead a charge against Napster, an online song-swapping software maker.

Though some saw Napster as a victim, in a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone, Rosen said that illegitimate purveyors of Internet music only undermined the business of those who respected the copyrights of labels and artists. "If services are permitted to exist that aren't legitimate -- that have to compete with the services that are -- how does a new business develop?" she said. "And it's not just about record companies or artists. It's how do the innovators like a Listen.com or an MTVi or an eMusic or an MP3.com -- how do those guys survive?"

Rosen said, in her statement, that the RIAA will continue the fight against music piracy on the Net throughout her last year. "This is a critical time and I have much to do in the coming months," she said. "We continue to face unprecedented levels of online piracy as well as a changing market in physical piracy here and abroad."

The RIAA's relationship with the major labels didn't always sit well with recording artists, however. Last March, Rosen and Don Henley, who represented the Recording Artists Coalition, took sides against each other in the debate over artists attempts to shorten the length of personal service contracts between musicians and record labels.

The RIAA's board will turn its attention toward finding a replacement, a process that might take months. RIAA President Cary Sherman will continue to serve in his current capacity.