Brian D. Litman

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This article was considered for deletion at Wikipedia on June 4 2017. This is a backup of Wikipedia:Brian_D._Litman. All of its AfDs can be found at Wikipedia:Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Brian_D._Litman, the first at Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Brian_D._Litman. Purge

Brian D. Litman
Born 9 May 1954
Kansas City, Missouri; United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Missouri School of Journalism at University of Missouri
Occupation Entrepreneur, Executive, Inventor
Known for MP3 Technology, Media Development in Russia, Founding Chairman of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Cable Committee, Release of KGB Archives on Lee Harvey Oswald
Notable work(s) System and method for advertisement sponsored content distribution (United States US6988277 B2 Patent Issued February 6, 2001)[1]

Brian D. Litman (born May 9, 1954) is an American media, entertainment and technology entrepreneur and inventor.[2][3]

In the seventies, Litman worked as a journalist,[4] radio producer/broadcaster [5] and record company executive.[6] By the eighties, Litman took an interest in the emergent cable and satellite television industries, working in both cable television (CATV) operations and satellite television network programming.[7] At the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, he was the founding chairman of the cable and satellite committee and also served on the Emmy Awards Committee.[8]

At the beginning of the nineties, Litman was living in Moscow, Russia serving as a business consultant to state-controlled media companies before and after the Collapse of the Soviet Union.[9] His mandate was to help major television, newspaper and magazine operations transform themselves from state-subsidy towards commercial self-sufficiency.

As an American engaged with politically sensitive media organizations under the direct control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Litman immediately appeared on the radar of Soviet intelligence - who considered him a potential intelligence operative working under non-official cover.[10]

Aware he was under surveillance, Litman, during the chaos following the 1991 August Coup and subsequent Soviet collapse, transformed himself from espionage target to business associate of his surveillants.[11]

In 1992, Litman negotiated a strategic relationship with the Soviet KGB and its successor - the Russian SVR.[12] He became the executive producer in a broad joint-venture with the global intelligence organization for the development of historical content concerning espionage and the Cold War for books, film, television and the lecture circuit.[13][14] In 1993, Litman shepherded the release of highly classified materials from KGB regarding the assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. The materials, revealed in a book Litman packaged, showed Oswald's disturbed and violent personality while living as a defector in the Soviet Union.[15]

He was also engaged with former Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov. Litman wrote a plan for the Russian leader for a business consultancy called the Ryzhkov Group.[16]

Litman is directly connected to two technological phenomena which have materially impacted the recorded music industry ... MP3 audio and Napster.[17]

In the latter 1990's and into the early 2000s Litman was a pioneer in the development and proliferation of digital media technologies such as MP3 music playback codec AMP.[18] He co-founded the firm Advanced Multimedia Products which created AMP – the first commercially viable MP3 player. AMP is licensed to and is the namesake of the popular MP3 player WinAMP (Windows + AMP).[19]

Litman subsequently co-founded and is chief executive of PlayMedia Systems, into which Advanced Multimedia Products was merged.[20] PlayMedia was notable for its deep involvement in the controversial Napster.[21] PlayMedia provided both Napster's MP3 playback technology and was also principal developer of its ".nap" format.[22] Other PlayMedia technologies are also deployed worldwide in numerous hotels, restaurants and retail shops for background music playback.[23]

Concurrent to running PlayMedia, Litman is active in the development of new media and information services.[2][24]

Early life

Litman was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His father, Marvin Litman, was a Kansas City advertising and public relations executive. His mother was Louise Litman who was engaged in animal welfare causes. Litman’s sole sibling, Steve Litman, is a concert impresario based in St. Louis, Missouri.[25]


Litman attended the University of Kansas, studying Radio, Television and Film from 1972 to 1974.[2]

In September 1974, Litman transferred to the University of Missouri's Missouri School of Journalism where he studied Advertising and Public Relations.[26] In 1974, Litman was elected President of the MU student chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).[no citations needed here]

He also nurtured his interests in radio broadcasting, announcing and audio production by hosting the nightly Jazz program at KU's NPR affiliate, KANU.[27] He similarly hosted the evening Jazz show at MU's NPR affiliate KBIA.

Litman was awarded a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1977.



Between 1971 and 1972 Litman worked for the Kansas City’s principal evening newspaper, the Kansas City Star as a concert reviewer for the Star’s ‘Arts & Entertainment’ section.[28]

Radio Broadcasting

While attending High School, from 1971 to 1972, Litman worked evenings producing music programs for Bonneville International's overseas radio operations.[5]

Concert Promotion

During the summer of 1971 Litman was an intern for Kansas City's principal concert promotion firm - Chris Fritz Productions.[no citations needed here] This experience assisted in his being elected to serve on the university's Concerts Committee while attending KU.[no citations needed here]

Recorded Music

In 1974, Litman, while still a student at MU, was recruited by CBS to represent their Columbia Records unit at the University.[29] Upon graduation, Litman was hired full-time by Columbia, beginning in recorded music sales and later moving into promotion.[30][31] Litman’s years in recorded music included the marketing of such artists as Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis and Billy Joel.[32]

Cable and Satellite Television

By 1981, Litman entered the emergent cable television industry and took a position at Time, Inc's. cable TV unit in Pittsburgh.[33] Within a year Litman was recruited by the new Group Westinghouse / American Broadcasting Companies (ABC) joint-venture Group W Satellite Communications to oversee network distribution in the northeastern U.S. In 1982, Litman joined the new joint-venture of the Hearst Corporation, ABC, RCA and Rockefeller Center Television called Hearst/ABC Video Enterprises.[34]

Operating first from New York City and later Los Angeles, his brief was network development for the entirety of the Western U.S. During this period Litman built a significant percentage of the subscriber base of what is today’s A&E Arts & Entertainment Network.[7] Much of this gain due to his signing the largest U.S. CATV operator, John Malone's Tele-Communications Inc.

Concurrently, Litman became active with Hollywood's Emmy Awards and the Television Academy (ATAS) where he was the founding chairman of the cable and satellite committee and also served on the Awards Committee.[35][36]

Litman also served on the Board of Directors of the California Cable Television Association from 1989 until 1990.[37]

Business in the Soviet Union and Russia

Litman spent four years as the senior West Coast executive of A&E. His brief included relations with international television distributors and political relations with the Hollywood TV production community.[35] In 1990 Litman created a consultancy to leverage his relationships in Hollywood with emergent global cable and satellite networks.[38] He formed Entertainment and Communications Holdings (ECHO) in October of that year.

In November, 1990, Litman was called by long-time television business associate Larry Namer, the co-founder of E!, to join him on an exploratory trip to Leningrad. Litman ultimately ended up in Moscow where he began to forge relationships within the Soviet media, political and ultimately -intelligence- establishments during the tumultuous perestroika era.[9]

Commercial Development of Soviet State Media


In March, 1991, Litman negotiated the first commercial agreement in the history of the Soviet newspaper of political record, Pravda.[39] The contract - to develop advertising and other revenue streams - was an undertaking not uncontroversial within apparatus of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[40] Some in the Soviet power elite viewed this as an untenable "capitalist commercialization" of the iconic daily founded by the first Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Ultimately, the agreement was signed off by the Politburo.[41]

Komsomolskaya Pravda

In the same year, Litman executed a similar agreement with youth-oriented Komsolmolskaya Pravda,[42] the largest circulation newspaper in the world. Litman also developed a business relationship with The Moscow News.[43]

Soviet Central Television | Gosteleradio

Litman also developed relations with Soviet Central Television (later Ostankino Teleradio). In 1991, Litman organized the first visit to the United States by a sitting chairman of Soviet Central Television, Yegor Yakovlev.[44] Litman introduced Yakovlev to Hollywood television studio chiefs and other media executives.[45]

Ex-Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov

Early in 1992, Litman was introduced to the recently departed Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikolai Ivanovich Ryzhkov, the head of government under Mikhail Gorbachev. During several meetings at Ryzhkov’s private dacha outside Moscow, Litman forged an agreement with the Soviet leader to develop the Ryzhkov Group - a business consultancy.[46]

Litman also agreed to represent to U.S. publishers Ryzhkov’s book, "A History of Betrayals" - a political memoir.[47]

Interactions with KGB

Surveillance by KGB

Litman's interactions with top Soviet media firms and senior political officials did not escape the attention of the all-seeing Committee for State Security (KGB) of the Soviet Union. KGB had been surveilling Litman beginning from his arrival in Leningrad in 1990. Litman was not unaware of this and attempted instead to turn KGB's attention into commercial advantage.

Proposal to KGB

In January 1992, one month after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Litman made a secret overture to an "editor" working at Komsomolskaya Pravda whom he knew to be KGB's on-site operative. Litman proposed that the officer arrange a meeting with the KGB leadership during which Litman would unveil a plan for KGB to work with him to develop "intellectual property" - for historical perspective … and economic gain.[48]

Invitation to KGB Headquarters

In February, 1992, Litman was invited to KGB headquarters at Lubyanka Square to make his pitch to a committee of intelligence Generals.

Litman proposed that KGB avail him of both classified files and access to the living KGB operatives involved to enable the creation of books, documentaries and feature films about the most intriguing operations in Cold War espionage. Litman posited to KGB that these commercial activities could improve understanding between the U.S. and the Russian Federation and furthermore, supplement the meager pensions of the veterans.[49]

Agreement with KGB

After considerable internal debate, in March, 1992, newly installed KGB (later SVR) chairman Yevgeny Primakov reluctantly sanctioned Litman's broad spectrum agreement - the first such agreement in the history of Soviet intelligence - to develop projects involving state secrets of the Cold War. The agreement received wide press coverage.[13][50]

In November 1993, Dan Rather of CBS News was executive producer for a segment on Litman's relationship with KGB. It aired in January 1994.[51]

KGB Archive Release on Kennedy Assassin

In 1992, Litman was introduced to KGB Col. Oleg Maximovich Nechiporenko, who was conducting research on Lee Harvey Oswald.[52][53] Nechiporenko had more than an academic interest in the JFK case. He stated that he had met Oswald.[54] During a trip Oswald made to Mexico City in September 1963, 2 months before the assassination, Oswald visited the Soviet Embassy where Nechiporenko was the senior counter-intelligence officer operating under consular cover.[55] Fellow KGB operatives Pavel Antonovich Yatskov and Valery Vladimirovich Kostikov were also stationed there under diplomatic cover. Litman also developed relationships with Yatskov and Kostikov but was closer with Kostikov - whom he wanted to write a memoir.[56] Kostikov hadg been referenced by Oswald as "Comrade Kostin".[57] Kostikov was known by CIA to be assigned to KGB's Department 13, the unit responsible for assassination and sabotage.[58][59] Kostikov figured prominently in many JFK conspiracy theories.[60] n 1993, Litman spent many evenings at the Kostikov home in the Kuzminki district of Moscow probing the former Soviet operative for book material. In spite of his efforts Litman failed to motivate Kostikov to complete his memoirs before his death.[56] The retired spies shared with Litman the key contents of the archives and - in particular - what happened at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City - before and after the assassination.[61] Litman quickly packaged a book deal, conceiving the title "Passport to Assassination".[62] The book, authored by Nechiporenko, was published September, 1993.[63] It contained ew evidence regarding the character and psychopathology of the accused assassin.[64] Litman also cooperated with or was referenced in books on the assassination by authors Norman Mailer, Dick Russell and Gerald Posner.[56][65]

Speaker at JFK Assassination Symposia

In 2013, the 50th Anniversary year of the assassination, Litman gave addresses at the two leading symposia on the event, Duquesne University's "Passing the Torch"[66] and the JFK Lancer/Dallas conference.[67] Litman stated that before he became privy to the details of KGB's interaction with Oswald, he strongly leaned towards conspiracy in the murder. To prepare for the Oswald/KGB book project with Nechiporenko, Litman immersed himself in Oswald's published history. Litman combined this with the de-classified KGB surveillance reports that Nechiporenko had secured concerning Oswald in Moscow and Minsk. He added the direct testimony of Yatskov and Kostikov detailing Oswald's conduct Mexico City. By the end of this process Litman concluded that Oswald was the lone gunman and there was no conspiracy.[68]

Relations with KGB Leadership

KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny | Cuban Missile Crisis | Removal of Khrushchev

Litman was introduced to former KGB Chairman, Vladimir Semichastny in 1992.[69] Semichastny ran the spy organization during some of the most tumultuous events of the Sixties, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, removal of Khrushchev and the JFK assassination. Litman interviewed Semichastny for television for a 1998 production.[70]

KGB Chairman Leonid Shebarshin | Controller of CIA's Aldrich Ames and FBI's Robert Hanssen

During 1992, Litman developed an unusual rapport with the recently resigned Chairman of KGB in the immediate aftermath of the August, 1991 Coup against Gorbachev, Lt. General Leonid V. Shebarshin. Shebarshin had served far longer as chief of KGB’s global foreign intelligence directorate (the First Chief Directorate Russian: Первое Главное управление (PGU)).[71]

Shebarshin had formidable resume in espionage. He had been the KGB Rezident (Chief) in Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis. He also reigned as the head of KGB's massive PGU during the deepest breaches of U.S. Intelligence in the late 1980s. These included the most damaging spies in recent history, ex-CIA officer Aldrich Ames and FBI Agent Robert Hanssen.[72][73]

During visits to Shebarshin’s secure residence in central Moscow, Litman discussed geopolitics and potential projects with the outspoken and deeply conservative former intelligence chief.[74] Litman has never publicly commented on the contents of those conversations.

From 1992 to 1993 Litman attempted to persuade Shebarshin to speak in Europe and America on a lecture tour, but the reclusive Shebarshin could not be lured out of Moscow.

In 1993, Shebarshin gave Litman a copy of his book "The Hand of Moscow" - a memoir of his years in Russian Intelligence available only in Russia. It was inscribed by the spymaster "To Mr. Brian D. Litman, From Russia With Love".[75]

KGB Deputy Deputy Chief of Foreign Intelligence Nikolai Leonov | KGB Liaison Between Nikita Khrushchev - Fidel Castro - Che Guevara

In 1992, Shebarshin introduced Litman to longtime colleague and KGB’s powerful number 2 in foreign intelligence, the similarly just-retired Nikolai Leonov. Once head of all KGB operations in the US and Latin America, Leonov had earlier been an operative in Mexico City at the same time Oswald appeared (September, 1963). Litman represented Leonov for some interviews in 1993.[76] But it was Leonov’s deep relationship with Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, which commanded Litman’s interest and much discussion as a guest at Leonov’s home. Just prior to Litman's 2013 speech at the 50th anniversary JFK Assassination forum at Duquesne University, Litman visited Leonov again for a private meeting.[77][78]

Hiatus from Russia

By 1994, winds of change began to blow cold for Litman in Moscow. Intelligence Chief Primakov, a hard-line conservative, changed his mind and decided that the commercialization of KGB secrets was no longer tenable. Primakov summarily ordered the cancellation Litman's agreement in 1994. Litman also wound-down his media development relationships. As became evident, his marketing communications activities were ahead of market demand. Western goods and services had not sufficiently penetrated to command the ad-spend that could justify Litman's expenditure of resources.

Litman returned to the U.S. to rejoin former A&E colleague and foundational MTV executive Andrew H. Orgel. Orgel was organizing a new venture at US West creating original digital content for next-generation distribution systems by the telcos.

Litman was later shaken by the brutal assassination of friend and fellow mid-westerner Paul Tatum in Moscow. Tatum had been head of Moscow's prominent Radisson Americom Business Centre.[79]


In 1994, the former AT&T Bell Operating Company US West recruited Litman to return to the U.S. in order to head distribution and entertainment business development for their newly formed IVE or Interactive Video Enterprises digital unit.[80] Litman’s brief was network distribution as well as development of strategic relationships with the motion picture, recorded music and publishing industries.

Digital Music Distribution Futures

IVE was a pre-"Internet explosion" digital media experiment for the Western-US Baby Bell. However, its grand vision for a new era of content interactivity proved elusive when concerning rational business economics. The cost of the technologies and infrastructure proved to be cripplingly expensive. US WEST/IVE closed in 1995[81] and Litman exited – inspired by what he foresaw.


During Litman's tenure at US West, he realized that the future of music distribution would be digital. It was an interest he pursued when, in 1997, he joined Geneva-based digital audio startup Audiosoft as VP for business development. Audiosoft had developed a prototype digital music distribution system four years before Apple, Inc. unveiled iTunes. However, owing to internal management conflicts and funding issues Litman departed in late 1997 – resolved to pursue his belief in the promise of digital audio.[18]

"AMP" and the Dawn of MP3 Music

Earliest Commercial MP3 Playback Technology

In late 1997, Litman established the partnership Advanced Multimedia Products with Croatian computer scientist Tomislav Uzelac to license the first commercial MP3 decoder – the "Audio MPEG Player" or "AMP".[82] Litman's role in the partnership was as managing director - encompassing all marketing, legal and business affairs.

AMP achieved early success as the licensor of the core MP3 technology employed in the massively-downloaded Windows music player WinAmp.[83]

PlayMedia Systems

Controlled Music Distribution

In January 1998, Litman and Uzelac decided to expand the scope of their research and development into digital audio. Adding Croatian informatics academic Mario Kovač and computer scientist Davor Runje they reformed AMP as PlayMedia Systems with Litman as CEO.

Litman's technology strategy was decidedly oriented towards proper compensation of creators of intellectual property.

His goal for PlayMedia was to elaborate a comprehensive B2C music distribution infrastructure consistent with the legal and business specifications of the established recorded music industry.[23]

Project Maestro

An initial strategic alliance with STMicro and France Telecom was formed and the two French tech leaders tested a PlayMedia/STMicro joint project called Project Maestro. Although tested in Paris, the project did not bear fruit. Instead, in December 2000 Litman engineered what became a significant relationship with the original Napster.[84]

Napster v2.0~v3.0

In 2000 PlayMedia began to provide the hugely popular Napster peer-to-peer music application with core MP3 technologies.[23][85] It later was tasked with developing the music industry-disrupting music service with a next-generation file format - ".nap".[22][86]

By spring, 2002 Napster 3.0 was effectively controlled by global media giant Bertelsmann.[87] PlayMedia was deeply engaged with Bertelsmann as the German multimedia firm viewed Napster as a future platform for distribution of many of its digital assets. PlayMedia technology was essential to the new Napster system and Litman expected Bertelsmann would ultimately acquire PlayMedia.[88] But Napster's sale out of bankruptcy to Bertelsmann failed due to a legal technicality.[89] Napster dissolved with enormous liabilities to its sub-contractors – including PlayMedia. Similar early digital music pioneers like Liquid Audio and AT&T's a2b actually collapsed.[90]

DMX, Mood Media and "Elevator Music"

As Apple achieved dominance in digital music downloads, Litman pivoted the wounded PlayMedia into specialized playback systems. Background music systems deployed by such firms as Mood Media/DMX (music) at such retailers, hotels and restaurants as McDonald's, H&M Stores and Hyatt Hotels use PlayMedia's "PlayCore" multi-channel playback system.[91]

PlayMedia today licenses these "on-premises technologies" as well as legacy ones such as AMP and AMPhibian. The MPFree music monetization system based on a Litman-conceived patent is in development.[92]

Television production

"The Secret KGB JFK Assassination Files"

In 1998, Litman was approached by David McKenzie, CEO of Associated Television International (ATI) to employ his relationships in Russia to produce the key Russian segment of a broadcast television documentary on the JFK Assassination.

For "The Secret KGB JFK Assassination Files", Litman secured and conducted interviews with ex-Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny, former KGB Washington Rezident Alexander Feklisov and other top ex-KGB officers to illuminate a Soviet perspective on the event.[93][94]

Qontinuum | General Alchemy | Writing

At present, Litman is believed to be developing new projects in the spheres of electronic publishing and smart contracts via Qontinuum Time+Space and General Alchemy. However, little is publicly known of these endeavors.

In 2013, during a presentation at a Dallas JFK Symposium, Litman stated that he was compiling a memoir on his relationship with KGB and several of its fabled veterans tentatively titled "The Spies Who Loved Me"[95]


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External links