Hilary Rosen to Step Down

By | January 23, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Hilary Rosen, who led the music industry’s fight against online piracy, turning an obscure trade group into a major player in the debate over copyright protection, said Wednesday she will quit as chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Rosen, who will resign by year-end after 17 years with the RIAA, led the group recently in victorious copyright infringement battles against Napster and Aimster and this week’s judgment against Verizon Communications to stem piracy on the Internet.

But despite the wins on the legal front, the music industry finds itself entrenched in one of its most tumultuous periods, burdened by declining CD sales as free file-swapping services remain as popular as ever, attracting music fans by the millions.

Rosen, 44, who was named CEO in 1998, and named one of the most powerful woman in Hollywood by trade paper Hollywood Reporter, said she was resigning to spend more time with her family. She and her partner, Elizabeth Birch, have twin 4-year-olds.

Her resignation comes on the heels of two other big executive resignations in recent weeks. Last week, Jay Boberg, president of Vivendi Universal’s MCA Records, quit just days after Sony Music chief Thomas Mottola stepped down to be replaced by industry outsider Andrew Lack, an NBC executive.

“This has been the most exciting job I can imagine,” Rosen said in a statement. “But, I have young children and I want to devote more of my time to them. This has been an extremely difficult decision but I know it is the right one for my family,” she said.

Cary Sherman, president of RIAA, will remain in his current position and will work with Rosen on a search committee to find a successor to head the group, which represents the music industry’s major labels like Bertelsmann AG’s BMG, EMI Group Plc, AOL Time Warner Inc., Vivendi Universal and Sony Corp..


Many industry insiders expressed regret but were not surprised, noting that Rosen handled one of the toughest jobs imaginable with aplomb and dignity, even when she was in the firing line of privacy and free-speech advocates, recording artists and millions of Napster users who considered her the symbol of greedy corporate America.

In the past year, recording artists like Courtney Love, the Dixie Chicks and LeAnn Rhimes, had also taken on the major music trade group, balking at what they referred to shady industry accounting practices.

“The pressure was probably over the top. It was coming from all quarters, member companies, artists, technology companies,” said Jay Cooper, an entertainment attorney who represents artists such as Sheryl Crow. “She’s a very bright, extraordinarily able woman. I’ve been opposite her on many issues and I have found her to be very smart.”

One industry executive said Rosen had been searching for a replacement for some time and it was likely that any successor would be an outsider with strong political connections.

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