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Jay Rosenthal

Partner - washington, dc


A self-proclaimed music junky, Jay Rosenthal lives and breathes the industry he serves. Jay’s mother was a singer during the 1940s and 1950s crooner era, so music was undoubtedly in his blood from the beginning. Driven by his roots and following in his mother’s footsteps, Jay decided to pursue a career in music -- jamming to blues and jazz piano. In his early days of concert promotion at American University, Jay realized the impact law had on performing, recording, and publishing music. Combining his passion for music and his desire to empower the authors that created it, Jay shifted gears and began his journey as a music lawyer. When he landed his first job out of law school as a copyright examiner at the United States Copyright Office (USCO), he came with a unique skill in being able to actually read sheet music -- the very items he had to examine.

Jay marveled at the significant role the USCO played in protecting authorship, particularly when reviewing and registering a memorable piece titled “Jesus And My Dog.” At that moment, he realized that his passion for law and his passion for music intersected in a paradoxical way. He developed a philosophical view that the government should not be allowed to qualitatively determine “good” or “bad” art -- a concept that laid the foundation for his successful career. Jay continues to fight the “commodification of copyright” and empower his author-clients (actors, musicians, labels, and movie companies). From his work at the National Music Publishers’ Association to his efforts at the Recording Artists’ Coalition, Jay has leveraged his background as an artist to achieve milestones in the law.

While Jay gave up professionally performing and song writing a long time ago, you can still find him sitting at the piano at the end of a long day. It not only soothes his soul but serves as a constant reminder about importance of his work in championing the freedom of creation and the professional class of artists behind it.


Legal Expertise

Jay Rosenthal is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office and a member of the Entertainment & New Media Practice Group. He concentrates his practice in public policy, transactional, and litigation matters in all sectors of the entertainment industry, but with special emphasis on the music industry. Most recently, Mr. Rosenthal served as Senior Vice-President and General Counsel at the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). In that role, Mr. Rosenthal represented the interests of, and worked extensively with, almost all of the major and independent music publishers in the United States. Most significantly, and in addition to the standard responsibilities of, general counsels, Mr. Rosenthal worked extensively on developing and implementing the NMPA Late Fee and Modernization Programs; worked with stakeholders like the Recording Industry Association of American, and other domestic and international stakeholders and organizations, on national and international anti-piracy matters, and counseled NMPA on copyright policy and reform in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining NMPA, Mr. Rosenthal was a partner with the law firm of Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, and served as General Counsel to the Recording Artists' Coalition (RAC), which was founded by Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, and other prominent featured recording artists. Mr. Rosenthal has also represented, and in some instances continues to represent recording artists, songwriters, record companies, publishing companies, actors, and others in the entertainment industries. His present clients include actor/pro wrestler David Bautista, Thievery Corporation, Rare Essence, and ESL Music. In the past, he has represented artists like Salt N Pepa, Don Henley, Mya, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Comedian Robert Schimmel, and monument maker Robert Berks, on transactional, litigation and/or public policy matters.

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

  • Trustee of the Copyright Society of the United States
  • Advisory Board Member of the Songwriter Association of Washington
  • Founding Board Member of SoundExchange
  • Former Copyright Alliance Board Member
  • Former Copyright Examiner with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • Former Vice president of the Washington Area Music Association

Other Career Experience

  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Entertainment Law at Georgetown
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School



Events & Speaking Engagements


  • District of Columbia, 1985


Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1989

Antioch School of Law, J.D., 1984

Antioch Law Journal, Editor

American University, M.A., 1981

American University, B.A., 1979

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