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October 27, 2008

MEDIA CONTACTS: Frank Pietrucha
(202) 543-6750; cell: (202) 253-7376
Michelle Sherrard
(202) 994-1423; 


WASHINGTON  - Songwriters' and composers' interests took center stage at the Library of Congress today to inform Capitol Hill staff and the policy community why strong champions of creators' rights are needed in the Digital Age.  A panel of academics, government officials, composers, and music industry representatives gathered for a Washington summit organized by The George Washington University Law School's Intellectual Property Law Program and Creative and Innovative Economy Center. 

"Intellectual property is one of the driving forces of the economy, especially now with the financial troubles on Wall Street," noted Ralph Oman, a Creative and Innovative Economy Center fellow who teaches copyright law at The George Washington University Law School and previously served as U.S. Register of Copyrights from 1985-1993.  "Performing rights organizations work.  They are the most transparent and most trustworthy solution to create value for and protect the rights of songwriters, composers, and their small businesses by collecting money around the world when their songs are performed. These organizations are a key part of the machinery."

"Let us consider the massive and disproportionally positive influx of income the export of our intellectual property has on our nation's balance of trade, not only in song, but also in film and theatrical products," said program panelist Maury Yeston, Ph.D, a multiple Tony award-winning Broadway composer and former director of undergraduate music studies at Yale University.  "As someone who is currently in production with a $90 million American film musical, I know the strength and extension of copyright protection is in the national interest, even more critical during economic times like these," said Dr. Yeston.  The film version of Yeston's musical NINE currently is in production and will star Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day Lewis, Fergie, and Penelope Cruz.

The meeting at the Library of Congress was the second in "The Creative Industries in Transition: New Directions for the Digital Era" series and showcases academic research papers that are supported by The George Washington University Law School and sponsored by Broadcast Music, Inc.  BMI is an American performing rights organization representing more than 375,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers with a catalog of more than 6.5 million musical works.
The George Washington University Law School Intellectual Property Law Program has been a leader in intellectual property education and research for over a century.  It offers education for J.D., L.L.M, and S.J.D. students in Washington, D.C., and Munich, Germany, and presents programs and symposia around the world.

The George Washington University Law School's Creative and Innovative Economy Center believes creativity and innovation are critical tools in fighting poverty globally, eradicating disease, and improving the quality of human life through technology and the arts.  The center conducts research and organizes educational programs that demonstrate how creativity and innovation drive global economic and cultural development and contributes to breakthroughs in healthcare.

A copy of Ralph Oman's paper on this topic and full information about the symposia series can be accessed at

For more information about the Creative and Innovative Economy Center,
For more news about The George Washington University, visit the GW News Center at

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