Jay Rosenthal, a veteran music attorney, has died, it was announced on Saturday, November 2. Rosenthal was a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP and based in Washington D.C. He was 61, and although the cause of his death was not announced, his family is having donations made in his name to the American Cancer Society, as well as the Songwriters of North America organization.
Rosenthal also served as General Counsel for the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), whose president and CEO David Israelite wrote: “The music publishing and songwriting industry lost a true friend and champion today. Jay Rosenthal dedicated his professional life to fighting for the rights of creators. As [NMPA] General Counsel, Jay was instrumental in protecting the copyrights of all songwriters and publishers. As my friend, I have never met a man more kind, gentle and patient. Everyone loved Jay. He always had a smile and a positive outlook. He was a dedicated husband, father and law professor. We will miss him dearly.”
Rosenthal was a native of Reading, Pennsylvania whose mother was a professional singer in the 1940s and 1950s. An aspiring musician, Rosenthal went on to take a stab at concert promotion while attending American University. During his time at Antioch School of Law, he pivoted to entertainment law taking a job as a copyright examiner in the United States Copyright Office (USCO).
“Commodification of copyright” became a rallying cry for Rosenthal who went on to work at the NMPA and played a vital role in creating milestones changes in copyright law.
SONA (Songwriters of North America) cofounder Michelle Lewis said: “We are devastated to have lost one of our most dedicated yet unsung heroes. It is in his honor, thanks to an incredibly generous and gracious gesture by the Rosenthal family, that we have created The SONA Jay Rosenthal Songwriter Action Fund. Your contribution will help songwriters continue to fight for what Jay always fought for: for protection, for fairness, for a voice.”
A statement by the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) reads: “The AIMP mourns the loss of a true friend to independent songwriters and music publishers. Jay Rosenthal was more than an attorney to most of us. He passionately represented the causes for independents championing the way on major issues that deeply impacted the community. Jay was an important educator providing detailed knowledge at our Washington roundups and his experience and expertise to our executive board. He will be deeply missed by family, friends, and the community of songwriters and music publishers.”
Rosenthal is survived by his wife Rae and children Evan and Shira.
A memorial service will be held on Nov. 5 at Bnai Shalom in Olney, Maryland.