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HFA's Al Berman Dead At 86

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
Albert (Al) Berman, former president of the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), the leading U.S. mechanical rights organization, died on July 23 at age 86. He is remembered not only for his leadership of the organization in its formative years but also as an understated, honorable man with a wonderful sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of music.

Berman joined the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), then called the Music Publishers' Protective Association, in 1949 as Harry Fox's assistant. Fox was in charge of handling licensing transaction fees, a service which the association had provided since 1927. While working beside Fox, Berman saw the introduction of the long-playing record, radio, television, cassettes and eight-track. After Fox died in 1969, The Harry Fox Agency was officially incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the NMPA, and Berman took over as the head of the company.

His testimony before Congress was critical during the successful fight in the mid-1970s to change the statutory rate for mechanical licenses from two cents a song per copy, which had been in effect since 1909. During his tenure, the industry saw such major changes as the introduction of home recording, CDs, and music videos. He remained at the helm of HFA until 1984, after which he continued to consult for the company for several years.

"Al Berman was at the forefront of the fight for publishers' rights for almost 40 years," said Irwin Z. Robinson, chairman of the Board of Directors, NMPA. "He grew HFA from a backoffice function of the NMPA into an internationally-renown licensing organization. Our thoughts are with his wife, Dorothy, and the rest of his family during this difficult time."

Berman was a World War II veteran, and during his service, he wrote shows for U.S.O. Berman was also a past president of the Music and Performing Arts Lodge of B'nai B'rith. He owned a small publishing company, Aldor Music, which controls many of the songs by Teddy Randazzo and Victoria Pike, including "Rain in My Heart," which was performed and recorded by Frank Sinatra. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner