Hilary Rosen, music piracy fighter, steps down. The RIAA president, the chief lobbyist for the labels, helped bring down Napster

By Gary Susman
January 23, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Does this mean file-swappers can breathe a sigh of relief? Hilary Rosen, the head of the Recording Industry Association of America, announced Wednesday her intention to step down at the end of the year. Rosen, who has been chairman and CEO of the RIAA since 1998, has been the music industry’s chief lobbyist on issues like piracy, artists’ contracts, and risqué lyrics.

Rosen cited a desire to spend more time with her family — she and partner Elizabeth Birch have 4-year-old twins — as the reason for ending her 17-year rise through the RIAA. ”I think she just got tired of it. Look, she’s caught between the big egos that run the companies and the big egos on Capitol Hill,” one industry executive told the Hollywood Reporter.

If she’s tired now, it may be because she was tireless in putting the RIAA’s muscle behind the legal battles against Internet file-swapping services (particularly Napster, which the RIAA helped shut down) and in lobbying legislators against efforts by recording artists like Courtney Love and Don Henley to change laws governing what they saw as unduly burdensome record contracts. In doing so, she raised the profile of the RIAA (and earned herself a frequent place on Entertainment Weekly’s annual Power List of the 101 most powerful people in entertainment, rising to No. 65 last year). It’s not clear who will replace her, but the RIAA is showing no sign of relaxing its guard. Just this week, it won a legal victory over Verizon in a case that may set a precedent requiring Internet service providers to divulge the names of customers who download unauthorized MP3s.