Metallica, Napster CEO Square Off On Capitol Hill

On Tuesday, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Napster CEO Hank Barry presented their views on the highly charged subject of digital music copyrights before Senate judiciary committee chairman Orrin Hatch on Capitol Hill.

Ulrich used the forum to blast Napster, the music-swapping software company Metallica is currently suing, stating, "Napster highjacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission. Our catalog of music simply became available for free downloads on the Napster system.

"I do not have a problem with any artist voluntarily distributing his or her songs through any means that artist so chooses, but just like a carpenter who crafts a table gets to decide whether he wants to keep it, sell it, or give it away, shouldn't we have the same options?" he asked. "We should decide what happens to our music, not a company with no rights, no recordings, which has never

invested a penny in our music or anything to do with its creation. A choice has been taken away from us.

"With Napster, every song by every artist is available for download at no cost, and of course with no payment to the artist, the songwriter, or the copyright holder," Ulrich continued. "If you're not fortunate enough to own a computer, there is only one way to assemble a music collection the equivalent of a Napster user: theft." [RealVideo]

As the hearing got underway, Hatch downloaded music by Creed to show the ease of downloading tracks via the Web.

Napster CEO Barry stepped up to defend his company, saying that "Napster's success reflects that love of music," and arguing "Napster does not copy files. It does not provide the technology for copying files. Napster does not make MP3 files. It does not transfer files. Napster simply facilitates communication among people interested in music.... Napster is

helping, not hurting, the recording and music publishing industry and artists. A chorus of studies shows that Napster users buy more records as a result of using Napster, and that sampling music before buying is the most important reason people use Napster." CEO Michael Robertson and Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn also expressed the need to allow online music distribution technology to grow.

For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.