Metallica Deliver List Of MP3 Traders To Napster Headquarters

Drummer Lars Ulrich greeted by hecklers, supporters, journalists.

SAN MATEO, Calif.Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich walked through a crowd of hecklers and supporters Wednesday (May 3) at the office of MP3-trading company Napster Inc. and told reporters, "The true fans of Metallica are the ones who understand and respect what we're doing."

Ulrich was there to turn in the names of more than 300,000 alleged copyright infringers. Metallica contend that the Napster users on its list illegally traded Metallica songs online by using Napster's popular software.

At least three police officers and two nervous-looking security guards were on hand as Ulrich emerged from a black sport-utility vehicle and walked through a throng of more than 20 journalists, including national television news crews.

The delivery of 13 boxes containing 335,435 user IDs listed on 60,000 sheets of paper was spawned by a lawsuit the hard-rock veterans filed last month against Napster. The band, known for tracks such as "And Justice for All" (RealAudio excerpt), charges that Napster's namesake software enables copyright violations by allowing users to trade near-CD-quality music for free without the copyright owner's permission.

"Their response to our lawsuit was basically holding their hands up and saying, 'We have nothing specifically to do with this. We are [simply] providing a vehicle and a service for people,' " Ulrich told reporters gathered outside Napster's offices at the Union Bank of California Building.

"Napster intends to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and it takes those obligations seriously," Napster attorney Lawrence Pulgrum said in a statement released later in the afternoon.

"Napster will review the over 300,000 fan names that Metallica turned in as soon as possible," Pulgrum said. "If the claims are submitted properly, the company will take the appropriate actions to disable the users Metallica has identified. Of course, if the band would provide the names in computerized form, rather than in tens of thousands of pages of paper intended to create a photo op, that would expedite the process."

'Not About Metallica And Its Fans'

As defined by the act, Napster considers itself an Internet service provider, not a content provider, and therefore immune from copyright liability for material traded using its software — a point disputed in the Recording Industry Association of America's copyright lawsuit filed against Napster last year.

Napster promised to terminate the accounts of people illegally trading Metallica MP3s if the band identified them. Metallica used a tracking company called NetPD to compile the list over a three-day period beginning Friday.

"Understand that we are not going after any of the ... users that we saw personally [on the list]. We are merely providing Napster with the names so they can live up to their promise. ... We believe that Napster is trying to make this an issue between Metallica and our fans. This is not about Metallica and its fans — this is about Metallica and Napster."

"I'm a huge Metallica fan and therefore really sorry that they're going in this direction," Napster founder Shawn Fanning, 19, said in the company's statement. "If we got the opportunity to explain to the band why Napster exists and why fans enjoy Napster, perhaps we could bring all of this to a peaceful conclusion."

Metallica attorney Howard King, who accompanied Ulrich, also delivered a detailed list of the more than 1.4 million Metallica downloads tracked by NetPD over the three-day period.

Ulrich said the list showed that six versions of "I Disappear," the band's still-in-the-works contribution to the "Mission Impossible II" soundtrack, had leaked out and were available online. According to NetPD's numbers, 116,574 copies of "Nothing Else Matters" (RealAudio excerpt) were downloaded by 73,772 distinct users.

Ulrich emerged after about five minutes and described the meeting with company representatives as friendly.

Battle For Control

Meanwhile, protesters nearby implied that Metallica are being controlled by the music industry, holding a banner that read "RIAA = Master of Puppets." Metallica's 1986 Master of Puppets LP (RealAudio excerpt of title track) deals with losing individual control and is considered by many to be the band's best album.

Another group calling itself "" broke a collection of Metallica CDs by hand after police confiscated their sledgehammer.

"We want online music to be on our conditions," Ulrich said before turning over the documents. "We want to control it. ... The technology is advancing faster than the law."

"We have no issues with the Internet," Ulrich said later. "We look to the Internet for the future as a great way to get Metallica music to our fans, but this is a clear illegal thing. People should know that, and if they want to steal Metallica's music, instead of hiding behind their computers in their bedrooms and dorm rooms, then just go down to Tower Records and grab them off the shelves instead, and not be pussies about it."

Metallica fan Jason Combs-Edwards, 18, defended the band's stance. "If somebody creates some music, I don't think anybody else should have a right to give it away to anybody else without the group's consent," he said. "Whoever makes any kind of invention ... they're the ones who should be able to control what happens to it."

Metallica's lawsuit thrust them to the forefront of the debate about online music piracy. In its wake, rapper Dr. Dre filed a similar suit against Napster. Meanwhile, artists such as punk-rockers the Offspring and rapper Chuck D have come out in favor of the program, contending that it's a useful promotion tool.

Rap-metal act Limp Bizkit — whose cover of "Master of Puppets" was downloaded 1,316 times during the three days monitored by NetPD — recently signed Napster to sponsor their free summer tour with hip-hoppers Cypress Hill.

"To each their own," Ulrich said. "[That] Limp Bizkit aligned itself with Napster doesn't mean anything to me. Taking $2 million from Napster doesn't make [the tour] free. ... When we play free shows, we pay for them ourselves."

Ulrich agreed that online distribution of music is the way of the future but insisted that it should be the artists' choice to make material available.

"Certainly this is a great vehicle for a lot of smaller bands, and if they so choose — emphasis on 'If they so choose' — then they have all my support," Ulrich said. "Absolutely."

(This story was updated at 9:08 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 3, 2000, with additional reporting.)

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