How’s this for “Change”? President-elect Barack Obama named four former Clinton administration officials to leadership posts in the Justice Department Wednesday, among them Tom Perrelli–favored counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America. Perrelli, Obama’s choice for associate attorney general, currently co-chairs law firm Jenner & Block’s entertainment and new media practice. And in that capacity he has represented the RIAA in a number of file-sharing cases. From his official biography: “Mr. Perrelli regularly represents the recording industry in cutting-edge intellectual property, technology, and anti-piracy litigation. He has represented the recording industry in a host of cases arising under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), as well as in copyright infringement and digital piracy litigation. He has also represented the record industry and recording artists in a series of copyright royalty proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board.”
Now, Perrelli’s CV is impressive. He was counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. But his cozy relationship with the RIAA makes his appointment a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. And the entertainment industry’s $7,669,442 in contributions to the Obama campaign certainly doesn’t help matters.
Writes News.com’s Declan McCullagh: “During [Perrelli's] confirmation hearing, it will be instructive to see if senators ask whether his zealous anti-file sharing advocacy can make him an objective civil servant–especially when these same politicians want the Justice Department to sue peer-to-peer pirates at taxpayer’s expense. (Then again, if that proposal becomes law, Perrelli’s surely the right man for the job.) It will also be instructive to see if this week’s news prompts some of the RIAA’s longtime adversaries to moderate their enthusiasm for Obama’s technology policies.”