Copyright alliance

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.


Copyright Alliance

The Copyright Alliance[1] is a 501(c)(4) front group created and operated by associates of former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma) and his lobbying firm, The Nickles Group, LLC. Formed in 2007,[1] the Copyright Alliance claims to represent a broad cross-section of copyright stakeholders, with an emphasis on the interests of creative individuals such as photographers, visual artists, songwriters and performers; however, the makeup of its board,[2] the corporate backgrounds and political connections of its founders and staff members, and its advocacy track record reveal that its true purpose is to promote the interests of prominent telecom and entertainment corporations. Strong evidence revealing the Copyright Alliance to be a front group for Nickles is found in the form-990 tax returns and financial reports to the Department of Labor filed by member organizations which show that dues and contributions are being sent directly to the Nickles Group LLC offices at 601 13th Street NW, Suite 250 North, Washington, D.C. 20005. [3]

The Mission of the Copyright Alliance

The Copyright Alliance's mission has been to advocate for legislative proposals such as S.978 Commercial Felony Streaming Act, H.R. 3261 Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and international trade agreements such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [4] and the TransPacific Partnership (TPP)[5] in its publicity campaigns and through lobbying done by the Nickles Group, LLC in Washington, D.C. Lobbying reports [6] list Cindi Tripodi, a founding partner of the Nickles Group, as the Copyright Alliance's lobbyist; she was also listed as a key staff member of the Alliance up until September 2012. The Alliance's mission is laid bare by the fact that while simultaneously lobbying for the Copyright Alliance, Cindi also lobbied for: AT&T, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), Comcast, Intellectual Ventures LLC, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).[7] These corporations have favored legislation and regulatory changes that would protect or extend their already considerable competitive advantages, while actually harming the creative individuals the Copyright Alliance claims to represent. For example, Comcast sought for, and successfully received permission to acquire NBC-Universal, and has actively pursued reductions in net neutrality regulation; AT&T attempted to acquire T-Mobile, a deal that was harshly criticized by the FCC as harmful to jobs, the market, and the consumer.[8] Intellectual Ventures is one of the largest and most destructive corporate patent trolls that are increasingly having a crippling effect on technical and economic innovation.[9] Cindi Tripodi and another Alliance staff member, Diana Walters, both came to the Nickles Group and Copyright Alliance from Public Strategies, Inc. of Austin Texas, known for its astroturfing activities.


Founders and Staff Members, 2007-2012

The Copyright Alliance website received a makeover in September 2012, and most of the following staff members, notably those with connections to Sen. Nickles and the Nickles Group, are no longer listed. See archived pages of the Copyright Alliance website for bios and additional information.[10]

  • Patrick Ross, Executive Director, 2007-2011.[10] Prior to the Copyright Alliance, he was a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a libertarian think tank backed by major telecom and entertainment corporations. The PFF was involved in Newt Gingrich's violations of house ethics rules in the 1990's. [11]
  • Sandra Aistars, Executive Director, 2011-present.[12] Immediately prior to the Alliance, Sandra was V.P. and assistant general counsel for intellectual property at Time Warner. She served as an advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative while at Time Warner, and a FOIA request in 2009 by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), revealed that she was directly involved in the USTR's work on the ACTA treaty during this period. [13]
  • Jeff Murray, Deputy Director of Congressional Relations, 2007-2010.[10] His bio stated that he was also concurrently the Deputy Director of Congressional Relations for The Nickles Group, LLC. He has since left Nickles to join another lobbying firm, the C2 Group, [14]which appears to be hosting Center Forward, a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy group funneling dark money to blue-dog democrats and other corporate interest-friendly political candidates.[15]
  • Gayle Osterberg, Director of Communications, 2007-2012.[10] Former V.P. of corporate communications at MPAA; director of communications for Senate committees chaired by Senators Don Nickles and Judd Gregg, (R-NH); communications officer and spokesperson for Sen. Nickles. Gayle is currently the Director of Communications for the Library of Congress, named in January of 2012.[16]
  • Cindi Tripodi, Director of Congressional Relations, 2007-2012.[10] She is a founding partner of the Nickles Group, LLC, where she's currently a very active lobbyist. Prior to Nickles, Cindi was a managing director at Public Strategies, Inc., and Vice President of Congressional Affairs at MPAA.
  • Diana Walters, Special Assistant 2007-2012.[10] Copyright Alliance Form-990 tax returns listed her as treasurer, 2007-2009. Her bio stated that she was also the operations manager of the Nickles Group, and that before coming to the Nickles Group and Copyright Alliance, she'd been a senior level executive assistant at Public Strategies, Inc.
  • Lucinda Dugger, Director of Outreach and Field Initiatives 2007-2013.[10] She appears to be the principal author at the website artistsagainstdigitaltheft.org, which advocates for severe copyright restrictions on the internet, in parallel with the Copyright Alliance's positions.
  • Stephanie Badger, Research Associate, 2007-2010.[10] Stephanie is currently a lobbyist at the Nickles Group, LLC, where her bio[17] states that she was instrumental in the creation of the Copyright Alliance.

Copyright Alliance Board Members (March 2013)[18]

  • ASCAP
  • AIMP
  • BMI
  • MPAA
  • NBC UNIVERSAL
  • REED ELSEVIER
  • THE RECORDING ACADEMY
  • TIME WARNER
  • VIACOM

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Anne Broache, "Backers of Stronger Copyright Laws Form Lobbying Group," c|net: May 17, 2007.
  2. Copyright Alliance Memberswww.copyrightalliance.org
  3. United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor Management Standards, "Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report. Graphic Artists Guild Inc. file 513-583, fiscal year 2011" schedule 16, p. 20.
  4. Erik Kain, "If You Thought SOPA Was Bad, Just Wait Until You Meet ACTA", Forbes 23 January 23, 2012.
  5. Rashmi Rangnath, "What Actually is the TPP?" Public Knowledge, February 07, 2012
  6. "Nickles Group Firm Profile: Report Images, 2012," OpenSecrets.org.
  7. "Tripodi, Cynthia Merifield Lobbyist Profile: Summary, 2012," OpenSecrets.org.
  8. Kim Hart, "FCC releases damning report on AT&T-T-Mobile deal," Politico, November 29, 2011. web, accessed March 25, 2013.
  9. Mark Gibbs,"A Patent Troll Wants to Charge You for E-Mailing Your Scans!" Forbes, January 05, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 www.copyrightalliance.org/Our Staff; archived February 14, 2008,archive.org.
  11. Roger Parloff, "Newt Gingrich and His Sleazy Ways: A History Lesson," CNN Money, December 05, 2011.
  12. Copyright Alliance Team,www.copyrightalliance.org
  13. Nate Anderson, "Secret ACTA treaty can’t be shown to public, just 42 lawyers", ars technica, October 15, 2009.
  14. http://www.thec2group.com/meet-the-group/jefferies_murray/ www.thec2group.com
  15. Lee Fang,"Ex-Blue Dogs, Defeated by Secret Money, Mount Their Own K Street Front," TheNation.com, September 13, 2012
  16. "Gayle Osterberg Named Director of Communications," News from the Library of Congress January 12, 2012.
  17. "Who We Are / Stephanie Badger," Nickles Group, LLC.
  18. Copyright Alliance Memberswww.copyrightalliance.org


External resources

External articles