Robinson denies conflict of interest

by Jon Newton, 11/12/03

RIAA lawyer Barry Robinson says there's no connection between his work as a Penn State U trustee and legal counsel for the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), and that he wasn't involved in the deal in which Napster has been nominated as the university's online music service.

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Robinson, who joined the Board of Trustees in 1989, is RIAA senior counsel for corporate affairs and deals with "day-to-day" legal matters including trademark violations, Bridget Smith and Jen Winberry write in the Digital Collegian Online here, going on:

"Robinson said he was notified of the agreement, which provides Napster's premium service to Penn State students for no cost, 36 hours before it was officially announced Thursday in Anaheim, Calif, and 'I or any other trustee ... want to make sure the [university's] broadband capacity is used legally,' he said."

But, "Some students said they question Robinson's membership in the groups, Smith and Winberry say, quoting international politics and public relations senior Elisha Marshall as saying, "I found the connection interesting because he is on the board and all of a sudden this agreement comes through. "The agreement benefits the RIAA as well as Penn State."

RIAA spokeswoman Amanda Collins said the RIAA isn't involved in individual licensing agreements and had no say in the university's agreement with Napster, the report states, adding:

"The RIAA was informed of the deal after it was made," said Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon. "Barry Robinson is one of 32 board members. His knowledge of the issues surrounding this national problem have been a good resource for us, but it is not related to his having 1/32 of the power of the board.

"Napster representatives also said the RIAA had no input in the agreement.

" 'The RIAA represents the label and the music industry, and they are quite happy with the deal we have made,' said Seth Oster, a Napster spokesman."


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


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