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Software trade groups merge

Some 500 members of the Information Industry Association vote unanimously in favor of merging with the Software Publishers Association.

Members of the Information Industry Association have voted unanimously to merge with the Software Publishers Association, with hopes that the added bulk will boost the groups' lobbying clout.

"We have created an organization that pulls together the larger business of the information technology world. It's the convergence of software, code, commerce, and capital, and it creates a powerhouse on the public policy front," said Sheri Robey-Lapan, vice president of VP programs and operations for the IIA.

With about 1,500 members together and virtually no overlap, the merged group will be called the Software & Information Industry Association, headed by SPA president Ken Wasch. Starting January 1, it will operate from SPA's current Washington, D.C., headquarters. IIA has been without a top executive since July.

SPA largely represents traditional desktop software companies such as Lotus Development, Adobe, and Microsoft, though it has been trying to draw in additional software vendors and content companies. IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Netscape Communications also are members.

The IIA represents primarily online content providers, many of them specialized in financial data, including the Nasdaq stock market, Reuters America, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, and Reed-Elsevier.

As reported by CNET in September, merger talks have been underway for several months between the two groups.

"SPA and IIA are consistently allied on virtually all public policy issues--intellectual property, privacy, encryption, taxation, and electronic commerce," Wasch wrote in a recent letter to SPA members.

Represent "code and content" industries
Wasch's vision for the merged organization is to create a single group to represent what he calls the "code and content" industries. He aims to include companies in education and consumer software, authoring tools, operating systems, vertical applications, financial data, Internet portals and content aggregators, and companies using the Net to deliver products.

In the last year, SPA has voiced concerns about Microsoft's practices and backed the Justice Department's (DOJ) antitrust suit, although Microsoft remains an active member.

SPA, which traditionally battled software piracy, has urged the government for easier export of products with strong encryption and for greater intellectual property protections. It also has urged industry self-regulation for Internet privacy and backed the three-year moratorium on new Internet taxes.

The combined organization would have annual revenues of more than $10 million and 50-plus professional staffers. Wasch has pledged to SPA members that dues would not increase.