Robert Fisher ’79 spent two days lobbying on Capital Hill for musicians rights! In this post, he will talk about day two on the hill!


We started the day with breakfast at the Laision Hotel and an issues briefing with Neil Portman and Daryl P. Freidman. Then, special guest Congressman Jerry Nadler informed us of a few interesting facts: “…the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t provide full compensation for sound recordings on the radio. Moreover, even though other countries provide for this sound recording right, the failure of the U.S. to do the same means that our singers and musicians cannot take advantage of it abroad. This costs our economy millions of dollars a year, unnecessarily.”


Everyone takes Taxis over to Capital Hill starting at the Rayburn House Office Buildings with our assigned Congressional Guide.


Next we had breakout meetings with our Senators and Congressmen at the Capital. We walked for what seemed to be miles and miles in underground passages and halls to make all the meeting deadlines with our Capital Congressional guide leading the way.

First stop was Congressman Howard Berman representing the Sherman Oaks district of the greater Los Angeles area. We had given him an award the night before for champion musicians performance rights support. Then we travelled the halls to Representative Henry Waxman’s office and had a discussion with his aide, Patricia Delgado, who was very outspoken about our quest to educate musicians about piracy issues and that their music can be taken from any media platform they are using without proper compensation. The millions of artists that are sharing their music are considered the new music industry and not the major labels. We need to become more business savvy in order to protect our own property. The social media artists are the new canary in the coal mine and we are being watched carefully on how we manage the business of our own art over the Internet. Think about how legislation should be worded and presented to both houses so that the lawmakers can pass a fair compensation package. You, as an artist, can create the new business model for the future. Please help us with bringing your ideas to the table.

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Our last official breakout meeting was with Barbara Boxer. She was in the House of Representatives arguing over the Violence Against Women Act when she broke out to visit us in the Capital Lobby. Barbara was very direct by focusing on the answer to our quest for successful legislation. She said (paraphrased)…”This is what you need to do. You need to have several champion artists out in front creating momentum concerning the performance rights issues. Then we will have wind under our sails to pass legislation that will benefit all artists. Senator Feinstein and myself are already committed. Just bring us your new proposals and we will pass it into law. It’s up to you, my dear friends. Join together and make history. You are the new business model for your own future! This is a bipartisan issue that both parties are in favor of.”


Leaving the Capital Lobby and heading towards a new reception room that has our lunch ready, I seem to be the only person to notice Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pass us while talking to a friend. I nodded as I passed her and she had the nicest smile. Well, I guess I’ll soon look forward to being a familiar face roaming the halls of the Capital and the White House. Saying hello to everyone. I’ll one day say…”Good morning, Mr. President, did you get my email?” I truly just want to get things done, at least as a Lobbyist at the beginning. What an honor it is to serve in the same hallways as our founding fathers.

Our group is finally all together for a lunch break as we prepare to be taken by luxury bus to the West Wing of the White House. What an extraordinary day is has been so far.


After we had been delivered to the Old Executive Building we noticed several machine gun wielding Secret Service agents that were there to protect the White House. We went through the final security check point before we entered the gateway to the West Wing of the White House, The Old Executive building. We were in…and we were headed to the West Wing briefing room. We’re here in America’s most beautiful home. We felt so welcomed and appreciated by the staff. The White House gifted us with the Obama’s administration top advisers representing the United States.

We had a total of five speakers including The White House moderator and Neil Portnow. The keynote speaker was White House advisor Victoria Espinal, who is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

These are some of the highlights of Victoria’s inspiring comments:

“Throughout our history, we’ve produced countless groundbreaking innovations, from Henry Ford’s assembly line to’s Internet sales model, from Edison’s light bulb to Bell Labs’ transistor, from General Electric’s jet engines to Google’s Internet tools. Intellectual property is a key driver of our economy. The report found that IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30% of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to the IP-intensive industries. These are jobs that pay well. The average weekly wage in the IP-intensive industries overall is 42% higher by 2010 and its 73% for patent industry jobs and 77% for copyright industry jobs. It doesn’t stop there:  the entire U.S. economy relies on some form of intellectual property, because virtually every industry either produces intellectual property or uses it. We have taken important steps forward in our effort to protect American innovation and create an economy that’s built to last.”

Summary of Performance Rights Issues:

-Broadcasters make billions off of musical commercials while creators of the music do not get paid.

-New digital media does not compensate for creators works.

-Other countries collect performance rights but American artists don’t get a penny from overseas.

-Copyright jobs keeping track of millions of unpaid royalties creates new jobs for the economy.

-Online Piracy issues need to be resolved.

-Creators of music should be fairly compensated.

More interesting facts that came from Victoria Espinal, who is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the Obama Administration.

The online music industry internationally grew about 27% to $4.2 billions in 2009, with digital platforms now totaling about 27% of recorded music sales. Single track downloads globally rose 10% to 1.5 billion units. But that promise is undercut by piracy, with the IFPI estimating that there were more than 40 billion files illegally file-shared in 2008, a piracy rate of 95%. The percent of the U.S. Internet population participating in illegal file trading reached 19% in 2007, with P2P music sharing continuing to grow among teens. More than one-fourth of U.S children ages 9 to 14 that year were found to share infringing files on a popular P2P site.

Online piracy has joined physical counterfeiting as a daunting economic challenge to all copyright industries and to the U.S. economy. According to a study conducted for the Institute for Policy Innovation, piracy costs the U.S. economy $58 billion annually in total output, including revenue and related measures of gross economic performance. A conservative estimate of 2005 data from four major U.S. copyright industries – motion pictures, sound recordings, business software, and entertainment software/video games – demonstrate at least $25.6 billion in lost revenue. This results in federal, state and local governments forfeiting at least $2.6 billion in tax revenues annually, with $1.8 billion of that total lost personal income taxes and $0.8 billion lost corporate income and production taxes.

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