When Congress passed a sweeping reform of copyright law in 1998, Jonathan Potters fledgling lobbying group, the Digital Media Association, was 3 days old and represented only seven new media companies. So its not surprising that the new law, known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has many provisions unfavorable to Internet media companies.
Now, however, DiMA has more than 70 members, including Amazon.com, America Online, RealNetworks and Yahoo!. And Potter hopes to prove his growing power with the next round of Internet media legislation.
"We will be active participants at the table," he says.
Until then, Potter is proud of simply achieving a presence on Capitol Hill without spending a lot of money. Members of Congress routinely ask DiMA about the concerns and interests of its members, Potter says.
Since music is still the primary form of Internet media, DiMAs main adversary has been the powerful Recording Industry Association of America. DiMA routinely battles the RIAA over how copyright law should apply to new media companies and new technology. An ongoing issue, for instance, is whether media companies streaming copyrighted content should pay a reproduction royalty for making a buffer copy of the stream.
DiMA is also battling the RIAA on behalf of its members for a fairer approach toward licensing music to new media companies. "The absence of fair nondiscriminatory licensing and the overabundance of litigation have suppressed consumer-friendly, high-value media services," Potter says.
Potter has a long history with copyright law and technology policy. Before joining DiMA, he was an intellectual property attorney for technology companies and a consultant to many members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.