Michael D. Nilsson



Michael D. Nilsson is a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP. He advises and represents media and communications companies before the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office, foreign regulators, and international regulatory bodies. He also advises a range of innovative smaller organizations—especially nonprofits and startups—on commercial negotiations and a wide range of other legal issues.

Video Programming. Mr. Nilsson has particular expertise on legal issues associated with video programming.

  • He has represented the largest U.S. satellite television provider in connection with three renewals of copyright and communications legislation governing satellite television. In doing so, he negotiated successfully with the broadcast television industry and the largest copyright owners. He has twice provided expert testimony on behalf of this satellite provider before the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • He routinely represents pay-TV providers in negotiations for the rights to transmit video programming. He often advises these clients on the legal implications of proposed new distribution models.
  • He has represented clients before the FCC in many of the largest media mergers in recent years, as well as in the full range of rulemakings affecting the media sector.
  • He has represented foreign cable operators in multi-jurisdictional mergers and copyright disputes, and has represented pay-TV providers in anti-piracy matters before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the State Department, and the Department of Commerce.

Communications Licensing and Regulation. Mr. Nilsson advises satellite, cable, wireline, and wireless communications companies with respect to the licensing, deployment, and regulation of their services. He represents these companies in the full range of FCC rulemakings and ongoing compliance efforts.

Commercial Negotiations and Business Law Counseling for Nonprofits and Startups. Mr. Nilsson also advises and represents smaller organizations, especially nonprofits and startups, on a broad range of issues. For example, he has acted as longtime outside counsel to an arts education center; assisted a large international nonprofit in the negotiation of favorable licensing terms and advised on the composition of its Board of Directors; represented for-profit startups in commercial negotiations; and counseled a London-based consumer products start-up to launch its North American operations.

From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Nilsson served as Legislative Assistant and Counsel, and principal telecommunications and technology adviser, to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. He advised the Senator on issues such as broadband deployment, universal service, spectrum auctions, satellite mergers, Internet privacy, digital copyright, and homeland security.

Mr. Nilsson has co-chaired the Federal Communications Bar Association’s Intellectual Property, Legislation, and Video Programming and Distribution Committees.

Mr. Nilsson has engaged in a number of pro bono representations, including serving as outside counsel to the French Bulldog Rescue Network. He served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Sitar Arts Center, a nonprofit arts education center, where he also teaches saxophone.



Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., magna cum laude

University of California, Berkeley, B.A., with high honors



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