Henley to Visit Senate - Rolling Stone
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Henley to Visit Senate

Digital music debate heads to Capitol Hill

Don Henley, Ted Nugent, Napster CEO Hank Barry, MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson and Recording Industry Association of America president and CEO Hilary Rosen are among the entertainment industry figures who are included on a tentative witness list for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow tagged “Online Entertainment: Coming Soon to a Digital Device Near You.”

The 10 a.m. hearing was called by Senate Judiciary chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to allow artists, labels and Web technology spokespeople speak on the current disputes and problems that plague their interaction.

Last February, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California upheld a preliminary injunction against Napster, Hatch issued a statement suggesting that the Judiciary Committee hold the hearing to discuss “the decision’s possible implications and to get an update on developments in the online music market.” In a dispute that seems to have two clear cut sides, Hatch, a musician himself, is using the hearing to inform his dual sympathies.

“I believe that artists must be compensated for their creativity. And I believe that Napster, as it currently operates, threatens that principle,” Hatch wrote. But the finality of the injunction troubles the Senator. “I am particularly troubled because if the popular Napster service, which has a relationship with one of the major record companies, Bertelsmann, is shut down, and no licensed online services exist to fill this consumer demand, I fear that this consumer demand will be filled by Napster clones, particularly ones like Gnutella and Freenet, which have no central server, and no central business office with which to negotiate a marketplace licensing agreement. Such a development would further undermine the position of copyright law online and the position of artists in the new digital world that the Internet is developing.”

Henley will attend representing the Recording Artists Coalition, of which he is a co-founder. The coalition along with Artists Against Piracy, a group headed by musician Noah Stone, who will appear in the Senate on behalf of musicians.

Ken Berry of EMI, Mike Farrace of Tower Records, Sally Greenberg of Consumer’s Union, Gerry Kearby of Liquid Audio, Ed Murphy of National Music Publisher’s Association, Richard Parsons of AOL Time Warner and Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America are also scheduled to speak.

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