Revolving Door: US Copyright General Counsel Joins Music Industry

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Continuing the revolving door tradition between the United States government intellectual property and trade officials and the industries they represent, David Carson, general counsel of the US Copyright Office, will join the top international music industry association in September. Carson will assume a role of influencing policymakers in drafting legislation to protect and promote copyright. His is latest in a series of moves blurring US industry and government lines, and extending to the UN.

Carson will become the head of global legal policy at IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the London-based international association of the recording industry.

Carson will join IFPI on 24 September, according to an IFPI release. He will report chief executive Frances Moore and will “help coordinate the organisation’s outreach to policymakers worldwide,” IFPI said.

“At IFPI, Carson will coordinate the recorded music industry’s legal policy strategy worldwide, working with governments, lawmakers, other industries and international organisations on a wide variety of copyright issues, including the need to achieve robust legislation to help tackle online piracy and establish a sustainable digital music market,” it said.

Carson, a frequent participant in negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization, has served as general counsel at the Copyright Office since 1997, with a term as associate register for policy and international affairs in 2007-2008.

“He has been involved on behalf of the United States government in virtually every significant copyright law and policy matter in the past 15 years,” IFPI said.

Carson came to the Copyright Office from a career in private practice in film industry centre Beverly Hills, California, and New York. He graduated from Harvard Law School and Stanford University, as well as international studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Carson is only the latest in a series of moves involving US officials with deep ties to the copyright industry.

Earlier this year, Shira Perlmutter left the top global legal policy post at IFPI to become the lead official for international affairs at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Perlmutter filled the post at USPTO after Albert Tramposch returned to the private sector at the American Intellectual Property Law Association in Washington, DC.

(see IP-Watch coverage here and here.)

Examples of US industry-policymaker ties also extend to WIPO. This summer, Michele Woods was named director of the Copyright Law Division for the Culture and Creative Industries Sector for the next two years. Woods came from the US Copyright Office, and before that was an industry lawyer representing clients such as major league sports.

Other WIPO officials from the United States have come from strong industry backgrounds as well. On the patent side, the top WIPO official for patents and global issues, James Pooley, was a long-time industry lawyer.

And in the newest twist, WIPO this year has brought on a top lawyer from US-based Intellectual Ventures, Matthew Rainey, to oversee the new innovation division. Intellectual Ventures is a multi-billion dollar non-practicising entity, sometimes referred to as a patent troll, which is expert at buying up IP and defending it.

William New may be reached at

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