NBC U Adds Copyright Counsels


To counter the growing threat of illegal file swapping and other forms of Internet content theft, NBC Universal has added two copyright specialists to its Washington government-relations team. David Green and Alec French each will have the title of senior counsel.

"NBCU is fully committed to utilizing the power of new digital technologies to allow consumers to access content in new ways when and how they want it," said Rick Cotton, general counsel of NBC Universal. "But these new business models will never thrive if digital piracy continues at its current pace."

The "right" in copyright should probably be spelled with a "w" given that NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright has made protecting them a priority for the company.

He wrote in a commentary in B&C last fall that "the economic costs of intellectual property theft are staggering— $250 billion a year. That's more than the combined global revenues of the nation's top 25 media companies." In all, Wright says, $1.25 trillion in GDP (gross domestic product) and 11 million American jobs could be threatened.

Green will coordinate with other GE companies and reach out to the IT, consumer electronics, Internet service providers and consumer groups to develop consensus on IP policy and content protection. Green starts April 25.

At the Justice Department he was a leading developer of its IP protection strategy. When he left the DOJ in 2003, he was principal deputy chief in the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Since 2003, Green has been vice president and counsel for technology and new media for the Motion Picture Association of America  

French, who started last week, lobbies for NBCU's content protection policies at all branches of the federal government. 

He has served since 2000 as Democratic counsel on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. There he handled copyright, patent and trademark issues as well as Internet privacy and security.

From 1997 to 2000, French was a lobbyist for the Interactive Digital Software Association, which represents the entertainment software industry.

The move to beef up the staff comes as the courts mull two cases--the Grokster decision on internet file sharing liability and the FCC's "broadcast flag" content security regime--that could help define the rights of copyright holders and fair-users in the digital age.