Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jim D'Addario Visits Washington, DC

As many of you know, I have been very active in combating the growing number of counterfeit products being sold worldwide and also protecting composers’, musicians’, authors’ and screen writers’ intellectual property.

Over the last 20 years, we have noticed a steady increase in the quantity of counterfeit guitar strings available globally. Initially, the quality of the packaging alone was so poor that it was easy to spot a fake set. Then over time, as more and more U.S. companies off-shored their manufacturing to emerging markets like China, the quality of Chinese-sourced packaging improved to the point where it is now difficult for even D’Addario product specialists to tell a real package from a fake package. Unfortunately, while great attention is paid to the packaging quality, the product inside has not improved very much.

The problem is not unique to D’Addario strings; every major string brand is being counterfeited. Copying a product, marking it with the proper country of origin and marketing it under a different brand name is fair trade. Counterfeiting someone’s packaging exactly, using their registered trademarks and marking the product “Printed and Made in U.S.A.” when it is made in China is criminal activity.

The problem is not unique to the music accessory business. Some of you my age might remember the lyric from The Band’s ‘Life is a Carnival’, “Hey buddy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap, here on the street? I’ve six on each arm and two around my feet.” We all thought it was humorous to buy a fake Rolex for $25 back then. What was good for a chuckle 35 years ago is not a laughing matter anymore.

Recent survey results compiled in an International Trade Commission survey just released ( shows that 2.1 million jobs in America are being lost to counterfeit trade. Almost every single industry is involved; and counterfeit products in industries such as pharmaceuticals and semiconductors, for instance, pose very serious public safety concerns.
Enter NAMM.

Towards the end of 2010, NAMM, on behalf of the many NAMM members being affected, took a keen interest in advocating for reform on this issue. At the NAMM Show in January of this year, NAMM hosted a well-attended Music and Sound Intellectual Property Task Force Meeting, attracting over 100 NAMM, PAMI (ProAudio) and InfoComm members.

In mid-May, NAMM organized a Washington DC ‘Fly In’ advocacy trip where over 50 NAMM members, including myself, teamed up to visit congressmen and senators to advocate on two very important issues: music education and intellectual property protection. The trip was a huge success.

Personally, my lobbying team had 14 meetings scheduled on May 11. We had to split up to cover them all. We had the pleasure of meeting with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Scott Brown and Congressmen Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Peter King and Ted Poe, just to mention a few. Overall, there was strong bi-partisan support for more intellectual property protection and music education.

The trip ended on Wednesday night with a NAMM-hosted reception in the Capitol building, with special guests Tony Bennett, pianist, singer/song-writer Gavin DeGraw, and Bernie Williams.

The highlight of the trip for me was getting to sit next to New York Yankees World Series Champion Bernie Williams at the congressional reception. Bernie is a fine guitarist and an incredible human being. He put three days aside to attend our NAMM meetings and visits on Capitol Hill.

If you have concerns about the effects of reduced music education funding and rampant intellectual property theft affecting our economy and the future of our nation, please take the time to write to your representatives. It’s easy to locate their websites where you can drop them an email. If enough of us speak up, they will listen.
Jim D'Addario

P.S. – Check out some photos from the WDC trip. . . .

Jim D’Addario with Tony Bennett and Congressman Steve Israel. Steve represents the district where D’Addario’s NY headquarters is located and has been a tremendous advocate on our behalf.

Jim D’Addario with Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett with Congressman Steve Israel and Congressman Tim Bishop

Jim D’Addario with Bernie Williams and Joe Lamond, President & CEO of NAMM

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