Bumper Crop

Music Industry Wiser After Surviving Digital Wave

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Shira Perlmutter L'83 was planning on a singing career after she graduated from college, but later decided life needed more structure. Where better to get structure than law school? Today she is the executive vice president and director of global legal policy for IFPI, a London-based trade association that represents the recording industry worldwide, with some 1,400 members in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 45 countries.

"I never thought I would end up doing this; I never knew there were jobs like this when I was in law school," Perlmutter says. Before joining IFPI five years ago to lead its global mission of promoting recorded music, safeguarding the rights of record producers and expanding the commercial uses of recorded music, Perlmutter held several leading roles in the intellectual property arena, including head of IP for Time Warner, consulting with the World Intellectual Property Organization, and leading the Office of Policy and International Affairs in the U.S. Copyright Office.

"The music industry was the first to be hit by the digital tsunami," she recalls. "It took a little time to see what's happening, adjust to it and put together new business models. Today, our industry is licensing like mad to get as many distribution options out there as we can, to see which will take off and be successful."

H er advice to the book publishing industry: "There's no one simple answer. You must provide new offerings for consumers to enjoy content online and at same time make sure that laws are enforced so there are reasons for people to pay for content. Finally, it helps to educate the public about what copyright is and why we have it.
"Put those three pieces together, and we can have a healthy copyright environment," she says.