It may be too late, but even Metallica now agree: Napster good.
The metal icons and Dr. Dre, Napster's most implacable musician foes, have made peace with the file-sharing service, even as it enters one of its darkest hours.
The artists, who each sued Napster for copyright infringement last year, have settled their suits, and will consider making some of their material available on Napster's forthcoming, copyright-friendly subscription service, according to the company and the lawyer who represents both Dre and Metallica.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich praised Napster for "going legit."
"I think we've resolved this in a way that works for fans, recording artists and songwriters alike," Ulrich said in a statement. "Our beef hasn't been with the concept of sharing music; everyone knows that we've never objected to our fans trading tapes of our live concert performances."
The settlements come during a bleak period for Napster. The judge in the major labels' ongoing copyright-infringement suit against Napster ruled Wednesday that the company must continue its 10-day-old shutdown of all music downloads until it can prove that its technology for blocking copyrighted songs is 100 percent effective (see "Judge: Napster Must Stay Down Until Filters Are Perfected").
Napster CEO Hank Barry vowed in a statement released late Wednesday to appeal U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel's ruling, which he said violated the guidelines set by the U.S. Court of Appeals. That higher court ruled earlier this year that Napster was responsible for policing its system only within its technological limits.
Barry added that Napster is still committed to launching its subscription service before the end of the summer.
A Napster spokesperson said the timing of the Metallica/Dre announcement had nothing to do with Wednesday's ruling, and emphasized that the parties had been discussing settlement plans for some time.
Napster paid a cash settlement to both Dre and Metallica, the artists' lawyer, Howard King, said Thursday. He declined to provide details, except to say the amount was "not shocking."
"I work hard making music that's how I earn a living," Dr. Dre said in a statement. "Now that Napster's agreed to respect that, I don't have any beef with them."
Ulrich added, "The problem we had with Napster was that they never asked us or other artists if we wanted to participate in their business. We believe that this settlement will create the kind of enhanced protection for artists that we've been seeking from Napster. We await Napster's implementation of a new model which will allow artists to choose how their creative efforts are distributed."
Napster said in a statement the two artists had agreed to make "certain of [their] material available from time to time" on the company's subscription service.
King said Metallica will allow fans to trade bootleg concert recordings on Napster, as long as the company properly compensates the band. He said Metallica and Dre would have "good faith discussions" about releasing other music on Napster if and when it launches its subscription service.
Metallica sued Napster in April 2000, claiming the service's users had "the moral fiber of common looters." The next month, Ulrich visited Napster's San Mateo, California, headquarters to deliver the names of hundreds of thousands of people who traded Metallica songs and to demand that Napster cancel their accounts.
The band's aggressive moves against Napster sparked a backlash among some fans, and inspired a popular online cartoon that showed guitarist James Hetfield grunting, "Napster bad" (see "Metallica Anti-Napster Crusade Inspires Backlash").
(This story was updated at 7:50 p.m. ET Thursday, July 12, 2001.)
For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.