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At Last And At Length: Lars Speaks 980

On May 4, we asked you to suggest questions for an interview with Metallica. It seemed for a while, though, like the interview that emmett had wrangled would never happen -- despite agreeing to speak with us, calls to his agents found that drummer (and frequent spokesman) Lars Ulrich was either "too busy" or "unavailable" for a long time, and we felt pretty much like the winner in a game of "hold the grenade." Yesterday, though, Lars came through for us: after I explained the nature of a Slashdot interview, and how the questions were gathered and chosen, as well as the fact that he was free to be as candid and discursive as he'd like, I spoke with him for more than an hour. Lars seemed impressed by the forum that Slashdot offered and called it "a nice setup" for an interview. You don't have to agree with his conclusions, or with the actions that the band has taken, but you ignore his words at your peril. So without further ado, here are your questions, and Lars, unfiltered.

1) Whose decision was it?
by fprintf

Was it your decision, your manager, your lawyers or record company that made the call to go after the Napster users?

Lars Ulrich: Obviously, it was our concern, 'our' meaning the four members of the band. The record company had nothing to do with it whatsoever. There has been no [support] from the record companies; they never instigated anything, so we took it upon ourselves, there was never really much in term of support. There's been the occasional pat on the back, the occasional call, but I would say that I'm quite, I'd say, more than surprised, I'm quite stunned at the lack of communication and input from the record company. Obviously, you know, with record companies we never really usually depend much on what they have to offer in terms of creative things, but I am stunned at the low volume of support from the record company, both publically and privately. That leaves the record company out if it.

The managers? I mean, obviously, Peter and Cliff, our two managers -- they're our closest advisors -- we have been, they've been advising us for 18 years now. Our managers are basically the fifth and the sixth members of the band. They're a total partnership. We view both of them as equal. And they're equally involved in this. And they of course helped strategize, and they filter things and so on, so obviously they're very involved. Our lawyers are obviously involved, but in a different way. I mean, they take -- the six of us strategize, the four of us [in the band] and the two managers, and then we tell the lawyers, obviously like with any situation, confer with the lawyers and give them direction, you know, what to do. The thing that surprises me a little bit about all this stuff is that people that know Metallica well -- and obviously, when you're dealing with something at this level, not everybody knows Metallica well -- but people that know Metallica well know how the inner structure of this thing works. And Metallica is a very very inward. very independent and actually I would say quite selfish unit, in the fact that we sit down and make our decision sort of proudly by ourselves, and work very, very closely with Peter and Cliff, our two managers. The record company's not involved in this, like I said, and the lawyers are more, sort of, they get directed and guided, and obviously we listen to their advice once in a while.

I think the question was who's idea was this. You have to understand one thing, that I am very personally -- when it comes to my relationship with the Internet and with my comptuer, the fact is that we don't spend a lot of time together. So you have to understand that I would never know what Napster was, unless somebody told me about it, you know what I mean? That's what you pay your managers for, you understand? (laughter)

I mean, I can just barely ... I know how to get onto AOL, and I will say that I have used AOL a couple of times to check some hockey scores. When we were in South America last May during the Stanley Cup playoffs. But other than that, it doesn't really amount to much. So you have to understand that I guess the question was 'Whose Idea Was it?' Well, obviously the information gets, comes to us ... now it's a different thing, but where did I first learn of Napster, I learned it from my managers two and a half, three months ago, but now it's a different story. I open ten papers, and just get bombarded with it. Like I said before, I actually find it kind of fascinating. It still hasn't changed my -- I mean I don't spend particularly more time on my computer or anything like that, but I think that this is a very very interesting topic, and forgetting about my role in it for a second, I think that it's just a fascinating topic, and I think it's one that's just so deep and on so many levels that I think -- you were asking before as if it's sort of a pain in the ass, and I'm actually quite enjoying it because I'm learning so much about it also.

2) Time well spent
by cwhicks

With other programs such as Gnutella, Freenet, etc. that are anonymous and are not controlled by a centralized company which you could sue, like Naptser, don't you think that you should be spending your time and money developing your own Internet solutions from which you can profit, rather than trying to push back the flow of technology which will only become more and more difficult to combat?

Lars: Well, I mean, obviously that's a valid question. But the bottom line is, whenever somebody -- whenever somebody, whenever we feel that somebody -- I don't want to sound too combative here, but you know, when somebody fucks with what we do, we go after them. You don't sit down and sort of try and sort of justify yourself, well, 'Maybe our time and energy would be better spent thinking about something a year or two from now.' We feel the story is pretty well documented about how this all sort of came about. We really felt that it was time for somebody, an artist, with a potential of a public platform, to get involved with this. What the RIAA has been doing has obviously been strong, but it has been sort of in a closed legal forum, and we really felt the issue here really is not just about Napster itself, it's also about the perception of what this whole thing means, it's about the perception of the Internet, it's about the perception of what my rights are on the Internet, it's about the perception of how people have become so comfortable with the computer as a tool that they feel they have a right to these things.

So Napster is, I would say that a month into this now, that Napster is really just one of the things that -- obviously there is a clear, specific legal battle going on with Napster, but I find that the other battle which I think is equally important, is the battle in the public forum, about a public debate, about a public dialogue, about presenting different points of view, about respecting different points of view, about everybody having a chance to go out there and say what they feel and so on. That is also important.

Now, are we aware of the Gnutellas and all these other things? Of course we are, but you can only take it one step at a time. And I believe, and the people that we talk to about this, we believe, that the minute some of these companies become active, when they basically come to a point that they become fully funcitonal, we believe that there will be technology and a way to go after them in the way they can invent this technology and make it untraceable. We believe that as quickly as they can make it untraceable we believe that you can find a way to fuck with it, and we have already heard about different ways of doing that. So I think it's clear that there is nothing that people can talk about for the future that becomes bulletproof. So it's sort of like -- the thing about this sort of mob mentality, what we call the 'Internet Extremists,' it's all kind of cute -- 'Yeah, we want to fuck with the system,' 'Yeah, we have a right to get everything for free.' But I believe that if you have the energy and the resources to chase 'em -- and that's one thing we have is a lot of energy and a lot of resources -- We believe that there will never be a point where they will be uncatchable, and we believe that obviously there will come a point, that we will, this is the question that was asked, where we will sit down and figure out what's right for us. Right now, you know, we know what is not right for us, which is Napster. And we know why it's not right for us, which is that we do not condone and want to be part of some kind of illegal trading of our masters through sources we have not authorized, it's that simple.

So of course there will be at some point -- we are not stupid, of course we realize the future of getting music from Metlalica to the people who are interested in Metallica's music is through the Internet. But the question is, on whose conditions, and obviously we want it to be on our conditions. We don't want these 3rd party services like Napster taken for granted, taken for granted that we want to be part of their system. That ultimately is what the biggest beef about this whole thing [is], is that Napster could have so easily avoided this whole thing. It's like, OK, 'It's January, my name is Napster, or I'm Sean, or whoever the CEO was at the time, we have this service, we would like to know if you are interested in being part of it.' If we'd said Yes, then there's no issue, if we'd said No, then this whole thing would have never -- it's really what this is about, it's what this whole thing ultimately comes down to, you know. We own and control these masters, we feel that we're the ones that have the right to decide where they get used. It's a little bit, what we have called the Book-of-the-Month scenario, which is this whole thing about, it sort of ends up being the reverse; we're the ones who look like assholes for chasing after what we feel, for getting off the service. It's a little bit like the book-of-the-month analogy, where you get a book sent to your mailbox once a month. And if you don't return it within 7 days, you have to pay for it. Do you know what I mean? Are we assholes for wanting to get off this service that I was never asked if I wanted to be part of in the first place?

3) Art vs Commodity
by HeghmoH

In several articles about your actions against Napster, you were quoted as saying something like (paraphrased): "Napster takes our music and treats it as a commodity, instead of as art."My question is, how is it that trading your music for free over the internet makes it a simple commodity, but selling it for far too much money through record companies and stores makes it somehow "art"?

Lars: Yeah. I mean, OK, 1st of all, let's start by making sure that I am not the one who decides that a Metallica CD should sell for 16 dollars. That's a whole other arguement, one that at some other time I'd be glad to partake in, OK? I'm a consumer just as much [as anyone else] ... just because somebody feels that that CD is too expensive doesn't give them a right to steal it, in the same way that if I go down to the car dealership and want to buy a new Suburban, and I feel that paying $47,000 for a new Suburban is too expensive, that doesn't give me the right to steal it, right? It's sort of like, you know what, fair enough, I can certainly respect and I would certainly somewhat agree with the fact that paying 16 bucks for a CD is probably, you know, pushing too much. But, it's the marketplace that dictates that, not me. And people who live in the United States live in a Western capitalist society, where most of these things become about marketplace and about fair competitionin the marketplace, and that's what ultimately dictates these prices. That does not soldify that my only other option is to steal is it. My other option is to not buy it.

It does happen in certain other instances. If there is a full-on consumer boycott of a product, whether it's toothpaste or Suburbans or CDs, sooner or later the people whose livelihood depends -- not the artists, but the companies who are selling these toothpaste or CDs or whatever, will take note. But the way to combat a $16 CD as being unfair is not to go out and steal it, that just bcomes sort of the anarchy, the mob rules. But the reason that I will say, of all these things that I've been quoted as saying in the last month on this, I would say that the quote that this person refers to is probably not one of my finer moments. What I was trying to say by that was ... there's one thing that people kind of keep forgetting, which is that Napster, they have this sort of innocent smirk in front of their face and they hold up their hand and they go 'We're not really pirates, we're not really doing anything illegal, we're just offering a service,' but what people have to remember, and obviously some of this has developed in the last month, is that Napster is a corporation, OK? They just got $15 million in funding from some of the major venture capitalists out here. They have all along, ultimately getting to the point where they could have a major IPO, which is the one option, or get basically bought out by an AOL type of company. So at some point there will be a major, major profit going on for the people who've invested in Napster. And that money is basically the same as profiting from stolen property.

Understand one thing: this is not about a lot of money right now, because the money that's being lost right now is really pocket change, ok? It's about the priciple of the thing and it's about what could happen if this kind of thing is allowed to exist and run as rampant and out of control for the next 5 years as it has been for the last 6 months. Then it can become a money issue. Right now it's not a money issue. I can guarantee you it's costing us tenfold to fight it in lawyer's fees, in lawyers' compensation, than it is for measly little pennies in royalties being lost, that's not what it's about. And also, we're fortunate enough that we sell so many records though the normal channels. Where it can affect people, where it is about money, is for the band that sells 600 copies of their CD, ok? If they all of a sudden go from selling 600 copies of their CD down to 50 copies, because the other 550 copies get downloaded for free, that's where it starts affecting real people with real money. And so I don't know if I've sort of been jumping around a lot, it's just that there's all these points of view that tie into it. So back to the question again, the 'commodity' really becomes about it being traded around illegally, and rather than the art that it is. OK, that wasn't the finest quote ever, but that was also the first quote, six weeks ago. And we've all come a long way since then, including us.

4) home taping vs. napster
by commodoresloat

Have you read the 1989 OTA Report ( on home taping, which concluded that so-called "bootlegging" was no threat to music industry profits, and that it in fact served as free advertising? It turned out that the users making tapes illegally were also both more likely to buy more music themselves and more likely to encourage other fans to do so. While obviously the technology has improved significantly since 1989, aren't we really dealing with the same issues?

Lars: Well, 1st of all, you have to remember that you're talking to somebody who advocates bootlegging, who has alwyas been pro-bootlegging. We have always let fans tape our shows, we've always had a thing for bootlegging live materials, for special appearances, for that type of stuff. Knock yourselves out, bootleg the fuck out of it, we don't give. We believe that there is a major, major difference between the old -- obviously one of the scenarios we hear a lot ... 'How is it different from home taping?' I guess is really the question. You know, home taping 10 or 15 years ago really was about, you had vinyl records, and you had the neighbor down the street with you know, his Iron Maiden records, that you wanted to make a tape of so you can play in your car. There is a difference, I think, let me think of a word here, I'm sorry, all of a sudden your mind goes blank (laughter), comparing that kind of home taping to basically going on the Internet and getting 1st generation, perfect digital copies of master recordings from all the world, is just not a fair comparison. We're talking about a network that includes millions and millions of people, and tens and tens of millions of songs that these millions of people have, they can trade. So the old 'home taping is killing music,' well, OK, so you borrow your neighbor's Iron Maiden record, blah blah blah, you know, some guy down at school. There is a long way from that to what's going on right now with perfect first-generation digital copies of music that's available to millions of poeple all over the world. We -- it's not so much once again, it's not so much -- look, our record sales have gone up in the last three weeks, OK? We obviously follow and monitor this. It's not so much about whether it hurts or whether it benefits.

What it ultimately comes down to, and this is really the simplest way of saying it, is 'Who controls it?' And I want the right to control what is mine. And if I decide to give -- I respect the next guy, who wants to put his music on Napster, but I want him to respect the fact that maybe I don't. It's that simple. It's really the point. This is what the whole point of this country is, you have the right to make your own choices in this country, and we were not given that right. People take for granted that our music should be out there and be traded. What if we don't advocate that? They shouldn't argue with that. Napster has the right to exist. I support Napster's right to exist, OK? But I want them to support my right to not be part of it.

And that's where it got, sort of like, wacky, because we believe that when they sat down -- this is another misconception in the last couple weeks, this whole thing about 'Metallica serves Napster with 300,000 names.' You have to remember, they asked for this, OK? That's a point that not a lot of people include. They asked. They said, "If you can give us the Names (ha ha), of people that are doing this (ha ha ha) and we'll take them off (ha ha ha)," like you can't. It was sort of like a dare. And then we hired somebody to basically -- and they could have gotten, you also have to reremember once again, , they [Napster] could have gotten that information themselves. So it became once again our burden, back to the book-of-the-month or the cd-of-the-month scenario. You know, I have to go out to my mailbox, I have to pick this fucking book up, I have to send it back where it come from so I don't get charged for it.

The burden is on me again, I have to sit there with these guys, the names of people trading our music. And you have to remember, the only thing that Napster really has, because legally they realize that it's very very thin, the only thing they have is sort of a public thing where they can pit Metallica fans against Metallica. That's the only thing, that's sort of their, that's their only strong thing, is trying to make us look like assholes in the eyes of the fans, and they're doing, I think they're doing a pretty good job of that. And it's sort of pathetic, because the fight is really obviously between Metallica and Napster. It's unfortunate that the fans become pawns in this, but understand a couple of things. The 300,000 names that were removed from Napster, ok, we believe, from who we've consulted, that Napster has the technology to block Metallica songs off its service, so it's not just about ... we go to them with a piece of information: 'This guy has traded among other things, Metallica songs.' So they take him off the service instead of just taking the Metallica songs off the service. Do you understand? Then this guy hates us, we become the assholes, and that's what they're trying to build their counter case on. And that's kind of a little bit sad I think, it's kind of pathetic that that's really the only shot they have, and obviously because they realize they don't have any shots legally. I don't think it's a fair comparison with 1989.

5) Is your speech free?
by Frank Sullivan

Are you free to answer any way you please in this interview? Or has your label requested that your responses to our questions be reviewed by their lawyers before being posted back to Slashdot? And if so, did you agree to this?

Lars: I think it should be pretty obvious to most people that I am really on my own here. What I know about it, most it comes from reading and educating myself on it. I feel I know a lot about this. Every day, I get all the press sent to my office, I spend the first 2 hours of the day reading, catching up to date with what's going on. Nobody tells me what to say, I don't have to check with anybody. That's sort of the thing we talked about 20 minutes ago, that is somebody who doesn't know Metallica very well, because somebody who knows Metallica konws that the 19 years we have been on our own, we have fought every battle on our own, we don't take anything from anybody. We take advice from our two managers, but ultimately we override them a lot. We are very, very -- about as independent as I believe it's possible to be in this business. But I should also say that we are, we're also, this is going to sound -- make sure you don't edit this! -- we're also, I know this is going to sound like we're full of ourselves, but I know we're also quite smart. And we treat the business side of what we do with respect, and we deal with it as a business so it doesn't interfere with the creative elements of what we do. We try and keep the creative things and the business things as two very separate entities, because my big fear is always that the creative side of what we do can never be influenced, or dictated, or polluted, by what happens in the business side of it. So we are very good at separating the two issues, and we treat the business with the respect that it deserves, because if you do not respect the business side of it, you can get fucked. This, the music world, is littered with the careers of people who did not pay enough attention to the business side of what they were doing and ended up getting majorly fucked.

6) Ignorance of the net?
by imac.usr

In the live chat, you admitted to not being very knowledgable about the Internet or about the technology behind Napster and MP3s. What kind of research on these subjects did you do prior to filing the lawsuit?

Lars: As I said, we were not very knowlegeable about it when we started. Research, research. I mean, we tried to get information from a bunch of different sources. We will always, when we feel we are ignorant about something, we always try to get enough information, we try not to make any decisions until we feel we have the full picture. So obviously, talking to people who knew about Napster, who knew how to operate it, who were dealing with it. People who know about it. We don't sit down and study a Napster operations manual or something, but sitting down and talking with people who understand it. There, you have to remember that Napster came pretty much out of nowhere. I mean, I think I first heard the word Napster probably in December or January, I remember somebody telling me about this "new thing that we're going to hear a lot about in a couple of months," and that guy was right. A lot of the people who advise me are very Internet savvy.

You have to understand one thing; I don't use the Internet a lot in my daily life, personally, because I choose to pick up the phone rather than send somebody an email. That's OK, that's my right, it's a little more comfortable. It doesn't mean I hate the Internet, it doesn't mean I despise the Internet. You know, I respect it, I understand that it plays a major role in a lot of people's lives. But I do also -- and this is one of the things that fascinates me about this whole thing -- I do also see things about the Internet being something that people I think taking for granted, that they're becoming so comfortable with it that the feel they have a right to any piece of information that comes to them through the Internet. The Internet is changing our perception about a lot of things, it's changing our perception about almost everthing around them in society.

And to me, it's just about treading kind of carefully and trying to sort of point a few things out that if you have downloaded music through your computer for the last little bit of time, understand one thing, that's been a privilege, not a right. That's been a privilege you've had; you don't have a right to download my music until I tell you, until the person who owns that music tells you that you can do it. Until then, it's been a privilege that's basically been the result of incompetence and lack of focus by the record labels, and that I don't think the record labels for the last couple of years have paid attention to this. I think that there's been a major, major wakeup call in the last couple of months. The hardest thing for all the major labels is it's very difficult for them to get together and work something out betwenn them. The hardest thing also about this is it becomes very hard to write laws and to generalize accross the board. Because to me this is about individual choices. So you can't sit there and say 'I think Napster doesn't have a right to exist,' because there are people who want to use a service like Napster, but at the same time you also can't sit there and say 'Everyone has to be part of a service like Napster,' because there are people who choose not to. It gets kind of complicated from a legal aspect, and that's where I think the record companies have really let this get to the point where it's at right now, by not being more on top of it, and I think somebody pointed out I think a very very valid thing the other day, that all the people, that are sitting right now, the Sean Fannings of the world, and the guy in Ireland, and all these Internet guys that are sitting there coming up with all these programs and all this stuff, you know what? The record companies should have hired those guys 5 years ago. That is the biggest single fuck-up that they did, was basically letting those guys get to the other side.

7) Skip the Record Company
by cwhicks

How much money do you get from the sale of each CD, and how much goes to the record company? Would you be interested in a system that allows you to circumvent the record company, sell your music for half the price you do now, and get quadruple the cut that Metallica gets on each sale? The internet has the potential to offer such a system.

Lars: Of course, of course. That's something that we have been anticipating for years. For years! I mean, five years ago we had that conversation. Of course, at some point we will get to a place that's close to that. I look at it this way. I believe that there are four -- oh shit! (Lars takes care of something in the background) -- I believe that there are sort of like four links in the food chain here. You've got the artist, you've got the record company, you've got the retailer, and then you've got the consumer. And everybody within the industry has been talking for years about, that ... different people have different opinions; some people think that the record company is going to go away, and others think the retailer is going to go away, and some people think that both are going to go away. What you have to remember is, it's only bands who are fortunate enough to be at the level that we're at that have the option of maybe circumventing the record companies and the retailer.

Because what really, essentially, is a record company? A record company is really essentially a bank, a bank that funds a bunch of money to make records, and videos and promotion, publicity appearances and so on, and they take that shot that one day the artist is going to be so successful that they're going to first of all get all their money back, second of all make a profit. So I'm not necessarily particularly pro-record company, but I do feel that the record companies, they've taken a big beating, because I think people are just very quick to jump on the record company, sort of the Chuck D's of the world -- "Record companies are greedy, it's about lawyers, it's about accountants."

That to me is a little too black and white, because you have to remember that statistically, for every one band that you hear about, for every one band that a record company helps make successful, they lose their fucking shirt on the nine other ones you never hear about, so it's -- that's a whole other conversation that I could talk about for hours and hours, the whole thing about the record companies. But record companies will never be completely extinct, for one reason and one reason only, that there will always be a need to develop younger artists, and record companies will always be able to play a big part of that, because this whole thing about "I'm a young band, I'm an upstart band, I'm going to put my music on Napster, and then I'm going to become successful?" Fantasy. The only way you you will become successful is by having a publicity and promotion campaign behind you that elevates what you're doing above what your competition is doing.

It's very very simple. One of the -- when we monitored Napster for 48 hours three weekends ago, we came up with the 1.4 million downloads of Metallica music, there was one, one downloading -- one! of an unsigned artist the whole time. You can sit there and talk about how this is great for up and coming artists or for unsigned bands, but a big counterargument that nobody gets is, me and you could form a band together, and we could like, make a demo and then we could put it up on Napster. Who is going to give a fuck? Nobody's going to care, because they don't know anything about what sets my and your band out from the gardener and the guy who cleans my pool's band. The record companies will never be extinct, because there will always be a need down at that level. Now where the record companies can become circumventable is when you're fortunate enough -- key word, fortunate enough, to be at our level, where you don't depend on the record company to front you a bunch of money, because you're fortunate enough to have a big pile of it yourself, and you don't necessarily need a record company to publicize, to promote you, because you're sort of kind already at that level. Yes, of course, the scenario that the gentleman asked in the question is very, very possible, and we've been looking at that for a long time. And when we are done with our record contract, I would say that something in that direction is somehwere between a real possibility and a certainty.

8) Question to Lars and the band
by acb

You mentioned that we need laws banning file-sharing software such as Napster. How far should these laws go? If in 10 years time, computer users labour under draconian restrictions on communications software under what is titled the Lars Ulrich Digital Copy Enforcement Act, to the effect that sharing music files (of any sort) without the digital signature of a major record label or copyright authority becomes grounds for loss of Internet access and/or legal sanctions, how will you feel about the fans and small-time bands whose attempts at networking are crippled by these restrictions?

Lars: Yeah, I would say that I have certainly through the course of this in the last month, absorbed what I've learned, and listened to other people and respected other people's opinons, and I have come to actually change my position from, I believe that if it's not Napster, then a type of service like Napster has the right to exist, on the condition that the only thing being traded through that service is music by people, artists and owners who have given that service permission. So that obviously changes the thrust of what he was saying.

I believe ultimately -- and this is sort of what I was talking about before -- that the hardest thing about this is to try and come up with a system where it becomes an individual's right to choose how he will want to partake in this sort of stuff through the Internet. That's the hardest thing because it becomes very difficult, it's very difficult to generalize, like I said before. It's not fair to sit there and say, 'Napster can't exist,' because there are people who would like to use it. And it's not fair to sit there and say 'It has to exist and you have to be part of it,' for the people who don't want to use it. That's where it gets really tricky. There are people who are far smarter than me on this, people that will ultimately ... I believe that five years from now, there will be systems in place where the artists and the owners of the intellectual property -- and remember, we're not just talking about music.

And that's one of the fascinating thing here, is that we're not just talking about music. Why is this a music issue right now? The reason it's a music issue right now is because, of major intellectual property, music is the one that is shortest in information right now, therefore it's the most easily transferrable where technology's sitting right now. We believe based on the people we hired that we're probably not more than a year away from where you can basically download Mission Impossible 2 the same day that it opens in the theatre, and basically watch it on a great computer with a great sound system and maybe even find a way to hook it up to a big monitor in your house or whatever. And when that happens, when the next Tom Clancy or whatever -- when the minute they become available, the minute you can download a 1200 page book five minuntes after it's released in a bookstore, you will find that other owners of intellectual properties, not just musicians, will come out there and [fight].

There's a lot of us on the inside who are sort of dealing with this right now, who are like 'You know what? it would be great if you could download fucking movies right now," because you know what? Hollywood would come out fucking swinging. The may be now, but it's still early. If you look at a baseball analogy, I'd say with music we're probably, I'd say we're in the maybe 5th or 6th inning as far as where we are, how far it can go, you know what I mean? I think with movies we're possibly still in the 1st or 2nd inning. I think there will be a major awakening in Hollywood in the next 6 months, and it's not just about music. This is about intellectual property, this is about the perception of intellectual property. Who owns intellectual property, how has the computer changed the majority of people's perception of intellectual property in the last 6 months? And how will intellectual property be reachable to the people out there who are on the receiving end of intellectual property ten years from now? You know, those are the major things that really need to be worked on.

But one of the main things that needs to be worked on for the next year, I think, one of the great things I think, is the public debate about it. People sit there and feel that they have the right to this, and then when they start getting mroe information about this, a lot of people have a tendency to start realizing some of the points we're trying to make, they start seeing things from a little bit of a different point of view, and ultimately that's a great accomplishment. I believe that a lot of people that are saying a lot of nasty things about some of the stuff right now are doing it out of sort of like a passionate ignorance. And I find that most of the people I talk to at a number of different levels, whether intellectual or a little more layman's, or media, or fans, or Newsweek ... whatever, that people start getting it, at least to the point that they say "We respect your right to not want to be part of this, if you respect" -- which we clearly do -- "our right to be part of this."

9) Just something to think about...
by GrnHrnt

I'm a huge Metallica fan. Lars is the reason I'm a drummer today. But something in an interview with James from "Behind the music" (I think) when he was talking about how he started to like the Misfits, when Cliff gave him a tape and they played it in the van all summer long, made me curious. Have any of you (Metallica) ever copied a tape, record, 8-track, CD, etc. from a friend? This is an infringement of copyright isn't it? I don't mean to make you seem evil, but is it simply the scale of Napster/mp3's that is of concern?

Lars: Yeah, I mean I think we answered that before. Of course we have, ok? And of course it's a valid point. The bottom line is the size of it. The size of it and the quality of it. When we go in, and check Napster out, we come up with 1.4 million copyright infringements in 48 hours, this is a different thing than trading cassette tapes with your buddy at school. I mean, 48 hours! So it's the quality, the quality and the scale.

Thanks go out to Sue Tropio and Gayle Fein of QPrime for their help in arranging this interview.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lars Speaks - PLACEHOLDER, please leave at 1600 :)

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shit, an all out effort to ignore Metallica and look what happens. Isn't that right dave.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Either whoever interviewed Lars decided to be "creative" with the resulting answers, or Lars needs some hyperactivity meds.
    Anyone from /. care to comment? Seriously - I can't follow half of the answers Lars supposedly gave... and I've seen the guy talk in person - one of the more concise/clearly-spoken people I've met.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, it sounds like they wanted (want) to work with it but were never asked. There's a slight difference.
  • Well, Lars and the other Metallica guys were upset about the criticism they got over their "too slick" answers in the famous Yahoo! chat interview they did. And Yahoo! got heat for the slickness, too.

    Now Slashdot gets criticized for running a verbatim transcript of a phone interview that, like it or not, makes it clear (by its roughness) that Lars was speaking for himself and wasn't sitting on a legal or PR puppetmaster's knee.

    If accurate interview transcripts are now considered unethical journalism -- especially when the interview subject has agreed to have his or her answers transcribed and published verbatim -- than we need to rethink the concept of ethical journalism.

    I'm sorry, but I will continue to believe that accuracy is the essence of good journalism, and I will continue to detest articles that are rewritten press releases, interviews that are laundered to make their subjects sound better than they do in person, and all the other tricks that make news (and newsmakers) look "slick" at the expense of truth.

    But don't worry. I'm not young, and all the guys my age will be dead or retired in a decade or two.
    The spinmeisters who come after us will do what you want; make everything look all fresh and pretty, because they'll want all subscribers to the one remaining TV/Internet/Print news source (after all the mergers) to be happy, happy, happy with Hereditary President George Bush IV* (who will never make a mistake during an interview, as far you will be allowed to know).

    I sure as hell hope I die before this happens!

    - Robin

    * no partisan insinuation meant; it could just as easily be Hereditary President Gore. Or, since the two families have children of about the same age, perhaps it will be the GoreBush dynasty running things, with Rupert Steven Murdoch-Case III as press secretary. Either way, I'm sure all the news will be much better-organized than it is now, and all the reporters will have good teeth, blow-dried hair, and will wear makeup whenever you see them, as will everyone they are allowed to interview :)

  • It's enlightening to hear that he seems to understand the technology. It's also unfortunate to see that he doesn't understand the impact, and would rather try to fight what is way bigger than him rather than try and work with it.

    His and the bands loss, unfortunately, in the end.

  • From what I can tell, Napster's service is being abused in relation to Metalica. I mean, 1.4 *MILLION* hits. Chump change for the record company and artists, yeah, but to people having to manage the bandwidth?

    I can see Lars main point: If it was a small amount, yeah, it'll generate enough buzz to get the high-quality CD out. But 1.4 *MILLION* in 48 hours?!?

    Another non-functioning site was "" The purpose of that site was not known. -- MSNBC 10-26-1999 on MS crack

  • Lars:
    "What you have to remember is, it's only bands who are fortunate enough to be at the level that we're at that have the option of maybe circumventing the record companies and the retailer."

    Hi Lars! Good to hear from you. Now, look at _this_: [] Go there- and just for the sake of argument, pick up "Dragons" (a pretty innovative electronic album I did- you ought to appreciate the time signatures, nothing is 4/4. Plus the sound is fully professional)

    Got it? Good. Lars, I just circumvented the record companies and the retailer- all without stepping on _your_ rights one bit. How's that grab you?

    I'll be more specific- hope you guys get to read this, you're clearly sharp enough to understand what I'm telling you. Lars, the contract is an experienced musician's wet dream- try comparing it to, say,'s contract! You continue to own your music, and in fact you own the mechanicals. You get to back out and LOSES license rights if you do, save only what they need to sell or use any existing materials (and they print to order, so there wouldn't be much of that). Here's a big one that you'd know about and not so many other people would be hip to- the contract is subject to revision ONLY with the consent of both parties (I see you nodding your head, you'd know about contracts that are unilaterally changeable without consent of the artist- part of the 'being fucked' you mentioned).

    But that's only part of it: Lars, I have a fan running around evangelising my music (especially that "Dragons" album) like crazy. I've put up some posters, and got hit with an unexpected 'rip fee' that caused them to cost about 30$: this is chicken feed. I've sold some CDs, and lots of people have downloaded my music. The equipment is my hobby and avocation- it's like a guitar player collecting guitars.

    Lars, I've already broken even, in a very real sense. How long did it take you guys to recoup your advances when you were first signed? You're one of the few acts that ever manage to do that, and it's because the record companies are still stuck in the mindset where you drag people into billion-dollar studios and put the result through billion-dollar mastering houses, or you don't even do anything. With that mindset, it's no wonder most artists don't recoup their advances.

    Well- I grew up (I'm 31) at the end of the era where mastering records was the realm of big rich companies. I saw the rise of home recording (shitty though it was- woohoo for cassette 4-tracks! ;) ) and getting 1000 records pressed for 999$. And I watched as CDs were invented, initially so crappy, as digital recording became so widespread and the bloom went off the rose and people started trying to do better than the initial cruddy 'perfect sound forever' ripoff, and now it's 2000.

    Let me tell you what I have at home, now. I'm still making payments on a 20-bit, 48Khz ADAT- eight-track recorder. It doesn't record on 50$ rolls of impossible-to-find reel-to-reel tape: it records on S-VHS cassettes that only run about $10 for 40 minutes of recording. I have plans for getting a CD-R burner- and borrow one when I need it badly enough. Blanks are a couple bucks absolute max. I print cheap art out on an inkjet printer- but to get serious, the local copy shop has a Color Laser Copier. Damn thing prints better than most glossy magazines, totally colorfast, and at just a dollar a copy plus a 14$ rip fee for when I bring them a disk with the CMYK separations on it, to use the copier as my own personal imagesetter...

    Are you beginning to get the picture, Lars? This is all about your remark about circumventing the record companies and the retailer. The fact is, you and I are both old enough to remember when you couldn't produce anything but CRAP out of your home- xeroxed covers from paste-up artwork, having dual-cassette decks going 24/7, all that rot and the result always reeked of 'demo'.

    But those days are GONE now. Yes, most musicians still don't have the expertise or resources or experience to put together a total package that rivals what the record companies (expensively) manage to put together. But dude- some of us do, and there will be more and more.

    That leaves only distribution- and that's the easy part, there are a million 'e-businesses' dying to get anywhere _near_ the markup routinely charged by the music biz.

    The fact is, Lars, everybody gets to circumvent the record companies and retailers now, and you don't even have to accept a loss in quality- DIY, or hire your own people who're good enough, and you're rolling. Copy shops are outputting printed paper as good or better than major label pressing houses. Project studios are kicking the asses of big mastering houses and 128-track monster studios (not hard- when the output media is only 16/44K). It didn't used to be that way as we both know, but now things are very different.

    Good luck on getting free of your own record company entanglements- I own my masters, dunno if you guys own yours, and that could be a ball and chain for you. One thing that is very clear from hearing you out, is this: the record companies are _using_ you, man. They are letting you take all the heat for doing what _they_ want done, and they're not helping you, even. They should at least take responsibility for the fact that you're doing _their_ work. At least the old adage "no such thing as bad publicity" is still true! But you don't owe them any respect- I, like many people, expected that all this was driven by the record companies. Imagine my surprise to discover that, yes, they love seeing this happening, yes it's for their benefit, but they are letting a lot of people ruin you guys' reputation and they're not even SUPPORTING you? That's disgusting.

    That changes things, for me. I have no gripe with you guys. My complaint is with the labels- my action is to MAKE MUSIC and put it out there without using them in the slightest way. Reading that the labels are letting you fight this whole fight on your own- it disgusts me. You're paying for the lawyers and stuff out of your own pockets? The labels are the primary beneficiaries, they've made God knows how much off you over the years, and they won't even cover the cost of a damn lawyer to protect _their_ interests? That's disgusting! You're being fucked- start making plans for what you're going to do when they no longer own your ass, that's all I can say.

    Hope you like my tunes- feel free to make copies for your friends :)

  • So, at least in the near future, it does not seem that the Net can make the life of small bands or authors much better. Even more annoying, there remains the question of how to fund the content producers.

    Some people contend that artists could live on money raised in gigs. I do not know the economics of a band such as Metallica, but I bet that gig tours are not that interesting financially (some tours of famous bands have actually lost money). Furthermore, not every artist can afford to spend most of his life on the road (yes, they can have a life, children etc...).

    I think a very interesting point that a lot of people are overlooking here is, who says the music industry has some innate right to exist? Who says that it has to be possible to become a millionaire by playing in a rock band?

    Evolution and natural selection don't cause individual organisms to adapt to their environment. The primary tool of evolution is extinction.

    Industries arise, thrive, and eventually die. Some of them take thousands of years, some far less long.

    The music industry as we know it has existed for just about sixty years. Sixty years!

    What happened before that? Did we not have music before that? Of course we did. We just didn't have millionaire musicians. We had millionaires, of course, but they did that in other ways.

    This is how the free market works. Sometimes, in a profitable industry, the bottom drops out, and you can no longer make money doing it. (Try making money selling web browsers today, for example. Or gas lamps.) The people who are in that dying industry will fight as hard as they can to stave off the inevitable, because it's in their best interest to do so. But that doesn't mean that they have some fundamental right to the continuance of the status quo. Just because it has been that way doesn't mean it will always be that way, or that it's somehow a natural right for it to have ever been that way.

    That said, I think this was a great interview, and I'm really glad Lars agreed to it. I understand their point of view a lot better now.

    (However, Slashdot folks -- SPELL CHECK! It would have caught the zillion typos you made when transcribing Lars's words.)

  • If things continue this way, the company that invents and creates the replicator would be sued to oblivion before its potential could be fully realized.

    Nah, the schematics would be posted all over the net, and we'd all be running around in t-shirts with the schematics printed on them.

  • I've been a Metallica fan for the last dozen or so years. I was really pretty ticked off when they sued Napster, because I felt they were missing the target. I wasn't one of those people who was wanting to burn all my Metallica cds and t-shirts and whatnot, but I was annoyed. After reading this interview though, I can see why Lars is upset and why they felt they needed to do something right away, even if don't think it was the right thing.

    Now, I think Napster does bear some responsibility here. They operate and profit from the service they provide. They told Metallica what they would have to do (i.e. give them a list of names) in order for Napster to comply with their wishes. I think Lars is right that Napster didn't really think they'd do it, and now that they did, it's being used as a PR club against Metallica. I think it's pretty obvious that the users who were banned were committing copyright infringement, simply because they were allowing anyone to copy their mp3s without any verification of whether that person owns the right to that music.

    I think the heart of the matter is that Metallica does have the right to enforce its copyrights, which is what they seem to be doing here. Unfortunately, the way Napster is set up, anyone who allows others to download copyrighted music (that they don't hold the copyright to) from their drives is potentially committing copyright infringement. Now not everyone is actually infringing, because I'm sure that in many of the cases, both the host user and the client user own a copy of the music. Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish unless you can identify the people and verify that they own the right to a copy of the music. Since that is probably not feasible, we have a problem.

    How do artists protect their copyrights without bankrupting themselves with consultant and lawyer fees, while at the same time not interfering with legitimate copying? This is something that needs a solution before the government and the RIAA get together and come up with their own solution, which I can guarantee we won't like.

  • The record industry doesn't seem to do all that much to sell the bands except to get them played on the radio and tv. If a band gets a decent amount of radio play, and mtv play, they get popular. Now, the record companies can fund the making of albums and videos, which is why Lars is saying that they're like banks, and that they, or some similar entity, will always be necessary in some capacity. I haven't found fault with his statement yet, so I think he's right about that. Someone has to front the money for the expensive stuff, and whoever it is is going to expect a return on that investment. You can't do it through ordinary banks because that just isn't something that they will fund. Record companies play an active role in the process, and they know the business, which is why they are willing to fund these artists. I'd really like to see an alternative to this situation. is a good start, and it would be nice if radio stations would work with companies like that, but they don't front money to the bands for videos and studio time, and if they did, they'd probably want the control, and a return on it just like the record companies.

  • Credit card numbers may not even be necessary. Most software companies don't require them and they still manage to make a nice profit.

  • You could be right. At least partially. But remember that not all performers actually perform live. Many make their music electronically and each song takes quite a long time to assemble. This sort of performance cannot be performed live. I'm sure people can think of other similar cases. We need to be fair to all types of artists. I would hope that in the absence of traditional copyright laws, people would continue to support the artists they like so that those artists have the means to continue to do what they love and keep providing us with what we want. I think this is a lot more likely to happen in the internet age when most or all of the middlemen are cut out. Music and other art ends up costing a lot less, therefore we can all buy more of it and support more artists work.

    It seems like a win-win situation. I can only hope it works out that way. It's hard to be optimistic about it though. People often think only short-term and take the cheap way out. This is often enforced by our corporate culture where quarterly profits are everything, damn the environment, workers rights, etc.

  • Lars sez that that it's all bout control. He's right. The MPAA, the RIAA, the SPAA all exist for one purpose: to give corporations and commercial entities absolute control over culture, usually with copyright being used as the bludgeon.

    Here's the deal, tho...copyright law was not devised to give an absolute monopoly to those who create and distribute intellectual property. It was designed to take that monopoly -away-.

    The Statute of Anne, enacted by British Parliment in 1710, marks not only the beginning of copyright law, but the fabled "Age of Reason". The Statute of Anne broke the absolute publishing monopolies granted to the Stationers, with the express intent to facilitate learning and a free exchange of ideas. Authors were granted rights to their own works, and given control of them for a period of 30 years, after which the rights would pass into the public domain. Considering the information infrastructure in 1710, this enabled philosophy, mathematics, history, science and other scholarly works to spread like wildfire through the intellectual community, ushering in the modern age.

    The US constituition has a provision for copyright lifted whole from British copyright law, with the same stated purpose: to encourage the dissemination of ideas and knowledge. Over the past century, the freedoms of US citizens in regards to the public domain have been whittled away to nearly nothing by corporate special interest, returning us to a situation similar to England's Stationers prior to the statute of Anne, with important cultural and educational works .

    Here's the deal: culture is participatory. People share books, movies, music, photos, magazine articles, what have you. The free flow of information and ideas is instinctual. Does lars think all of his drum work, all of the guitar riffs created by his band members, even the style of his entire band, was created in a vacuum? What if the old blues men went to court to assert "control" of how their work was being used?

    I have as much sympathy for lars and their record label as I do for buggywhip manufacturers. Civilization has has taken back the ground lost to copyright and reinstated the public domain by fait accomplii. It's -possible- to "fuck with" new technologies that share culture and the free flow of ideas with guaranteed anonymity, and it's something totalitarian regimes like China and Singapore are working very, very hard on. Does Metallica feel so comfortable in the company of tyrants?

    SoupIsGood Food
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    That has got to be one of the most intelligent points ever made. You're absolutely right, that there has to be a way to resolve this, in EVERYONE's interest, rather than to deliberately have one faction trample over another.

    IMHO, this is exactly what Lars was saying. He doesn't want conflict, but would rather have equal rights to everyone else.

    IMHO, anyone who puts their own wants above others needs or rights deserves a visit from the Phantom Flan Flinger. (Tiswas, anyone?)

  • Errrmmmm ... I know you guys aren't professional journalists, but Roblimo has been in the business long enough to know that leaving in all of somebody's "You know"'s and "OK"'s in an attempt to make them look like a moron isn't good ethics.

    I doubt it was to make the guy look like a moron. They said it was difficult to get hold of anyone, the interview seems to have been conducted over the phone, and you know what the alternative to a verbatim account is; clean it up, send the final version back for approval, and then post it....

    Maybe they didn't want to wait another 6 months to post the interview. :-) Anyway, I suspect they asked "you mind if we just run exactly what you said" and he agreed....



    • It's like, OK, 'It's January, my name is Napster, or I'm Sean, or whoever the CEO was at the time, we have this service, we would like to know if you are interested in being part of it.'

    I think they're missing the point of Napster a bit. Napster was created with the valid purpose of providing a way for users to share MP3s of thier choice, not provide an outlet for certain bands' music to be traded.

    While Metallica still has valid reasons to be pissed at Napster, I don't think they really understand how the service is intended to work. Napster is great in concept, but perhaps they do need to do thier best to filter songs from bands that request it. Granted, that can never be done perfectly, but it should be available.

    On a side note, I wonder how Metallica determined that the 1.4 million donwloads of Metallica songs were _actually_ copyright violations. I mean, I downloaded Metallica songs during that period, but not any that I didn't already own on CD. Thus, none of my downloads were violations: I just didn't want to spend the time ripping them myself. How can anyone know how many real violations are occuring??


  • I *am* against copyright, but not against rewarding public goods, even if it means violating some rights. Copyright does some good by encouraging the creation of information, but it also does some harm by reducing the number of people who can access information, and the ways they can access it. They also do harm by restricting the creation of derivative works, and thus resulting in needless duplication of works (the GPL has this same problem, or at least fails to solve it). In my opinion, the harm outweighs the good often enough that another system could be much better overall.

    Copyright does not limit who can access information; it limits who can distribute said information. There's a big difference. The whole point of copyright is that it only applies to published works, published meaning accessible. You can't copyright something that no one can view publicly. I know this because I just went through the copyright procedures for our web site, and our lawyers wouldn't let us include anything that was a) a derivative work and b) code that wasn't visible (eg. code that generated code, SSIs, etc.). Copyright is only viewed as limiting when people can't access it the way they want, but copyrighted information is always accessible. It has to be, or it can't be copyrighted.

    And while we're at it, there's two different types of rights. There's rights which are deemed 'inalienable' in that they exist because of existence. These include life, speech, individual liberty, decision, and several others. Then there are rights which exist because of laws. These include the right to vote (yes, voting is right for those countries that assign it), copyright (which is a right given to someone to distribute works), right to bear arms, right to privacy, etc. Just because you don't think the law shouldn't make it a right doesn't mean that it's not. Anarchists may not believe in laws, but that doesn't mean that they still don't live under them. You cannot walk into a court of law for a copyright violation and say to the judge, "Artists don't have that right!". The judge will look at you, laugh, slap you with a fine and tell you you have a law-given right to appeal. Then you can exercise your God-given right to decide whether or not to exercise that right.

    So, to sum it up, who should we listen to about rights? You, who wants to plant your garden and then make a much-failed copyright example out of it, or the law, under which the rest of our social organization lives and functions? I'll listen the law .. not to a IP thief.
  • As an example, let's say that someone posts the full text of an entire collection of novels on Usenet. The author of those novels finds the owner of the account who is responsible for posting them and, instead of targetting Usenet and seeking to 'shut it down', takes action against the individual responsible for the distcint criminal act.

    I thought Lars addressed this very well. USENET is different because it's a decentralized organization. USENET is just a network, a tool that people use for the transfer of this information and no one really controls it. Napster is different. People at Napster have setup this service which they are making money off of that facilitates the distribution of this stolen material. To take Lars' Suburban example, it's as if someone setup a shop where people could take their stolen cars and give them to other people, sort of a market. If it's a free market and people are doing this there, they go after the people selling, but if it's a specially setup market owned by someone who lets this happen right under their noses and who is fully aware this is happening, they'll go after that owner. Basically, the Napster folks are making money off facilitating a large amount of provably illegal activity.

    Napster is not just a provider or tool here, but an actual facilitator, and that's where Lars his making his distinction. Personally, I think it'sp pretty valid.
  • Thats means there were...counting on fingers and toes... 28000 copyrighted songs to every song by an unsigned artist.

    All songs, including those by unsigned artists, are copyrighted as soon as they are fixed onto a physical medium. Even songs without explicit copyright notices or on which such a notice has been intentionally omitted are copyrighted under the international Berne Convention, in effect in most countries including the United States.

  • Seeing as I'm too lazy to reply to every comment that I've seen here, I'm just going to put them all in one post.

    There seems to be a lot of comments about Lars' poor grammar and what not. Did it not occur to some of you people that this was a transcribed audio interview (but don't try getting a copy and posting it on napster). If you do a word for word transcription of most people it sounds like that.

    I think Lars makes a really good point where he talks about the scale of the whole thing. 1.4 million in a weekend, I can believe that stat (some of the other ones I question). That would be somewhere around 100000 albums. Sure not everyone would buy one, but some people would.

    An interesting point which he alluded to, but didn't finish is something about emerging bands. Sure it provides an excellent way to get songs to the masses. But what happens once they are signed and people continue to trade all their songs on Napster or Gnutella or FreeNet? What then? Being signed once, they are now a commercial bust with no hope of becoming a commercial success. Which, despite what your saying and cursing under your breath right now, is what it's all about.

    I think that Lars/Metallic and other bands would be much more open to a system where it was done on a permission level for bands and songs. It's quite clear that Lars has no problem with people trading bootlegs so they would probably allow those on such a service, but I don't imagine he want's people trading ReReLoad or whatever the next album is, two days after it comes out.

    It's clear that Metallica has done their research on this issue, and Lars' shows that (after all who would openly admit to using AOL), so we should give them some credit for that. All of you people that think the record company put them up to this should go back to reading your conspiracy books and try to figure out who killed JFK.

  • "rights" may not be the most sensible way to think of what you can do with a CD, given how difficult it is to define these things reasonably. A more sensible way to think of it is in terms of ethics and honesty; in terms of morality rather than legality. If you tape a friend's CD, or rip it to MP3s, that in itself doesn't hurt the performer; though you are morally obliged to buy a copy if you intend to make a habit of listening to it. If you own a CD, lending it to a friend is OK, but putting it online for millions of strangers to download for free is obviously quite wrong.
  • Actually, that's not quite true. One could certainly sue websites hosting (or even linking to) Gnutella, as the MPAA have done with DeCSS. Whether they'd win or not is another question, though if they stand a decent chance, the lawsuit itself can serve as an intimidation tool.
  • Do you try to stop the specification from being spread, or do you attack the myriad clients that pop up?

    Well, most war3z p1mpz aren't going to code their own clients from scratch just to trade the latest Britney album, so if the same personnel whose job it is to search for pirate sites and take them down add Gnutella clients to their list of targets, that will keep Gnutella from having too much of an effect. Network effects are both its strength and weakness, and the fewer people are using the system, the less powerful it is.

    And if you start filtering by packets, what's to stop someone from releasing a trivial change to the packet format that makes it untraceable again?

    ...and breaking all existing clients. Such defensive mutation will fragment the Gnutella network to the point where there are many small, mutually incompatible networks, which sort of defeats the purpose.

    An example: why didn't Microsoft rewrite the Windows API every year or so to lock out competitors? Not because they're nice guys, but because they couldn't.
  • So, what is it with this? Whence the instinctive assumption that people who aren't "into" computers can't possibly understand their implications? Can non-drummers appreciate good music?

    Thanks! nicely put. I think because math, csci, and programming in general are such rigid disciplines, people less knowledgable of them are at a great disadvantage. A writer might find my grammer and writing style crappalicious, but it's pretty hard to prove it.

    In fact, most people who don't know how to use computers are about as smart as the people who do know how to use computers.

    Yeah, and I've never understood why there is a perception that they're not. It might go back to the fact that it's hard to prove it. But people who are gifted at art or whatever are no less intelligent as a whole--just misguided:)

  • Excerpts from the Napster debate on Charlie Rose have been posted [], but the whole interview is 20 minutes long. It's available (as a video or transcript) from 1-800-ALL-NEWS (1-800-255-6397).

    The cameras do record Chuck D's bemused look while Lars is trying to explain technical issues (like how MP3s are perfect digital reproductions of the original masters).

  • This mob rule mentality that has been adopted by many here is complete bullshit.

    Actually, it's not. The Watts riots are a lousy analogy, unless the looters ran around 'copying' TV sets and home appliances without so much as tapping on a window or rattling a lock.

    The Boston Tea Party, while not perfect, is a much better analogy.

    But there needs to be a way for people to opt-out.

    Fair enough. Good luck.

    Bottom Line: Metallica and EVERY OTHER BAND distributed on Napster should be forced to PAY Napster for the free exposure and mind-share their service has provided. The book in you mail-slot will self-destruct in 5 seconds...

  • i think it's great that slashdot didn't edit out the comments and left that for us to pull out what was meaningful. and for me there were three comments he made that were of perticular interest. before i quote them here, i do want to make one point: a recent entry of crypto-gram made the point that if the information is brought down to a system there's no technical way to control what gets done with it. no copy-protection, encryption, or proprietary client will stop a determined person from making a (damn near perfect) copy of it. in my opinion there are three ways to stop unauthorised copying: ethics, laws, and ettiquitte. personally i'd rather not use the law and instead work to raise peoples' levels of courtesy and ethics. i think it was larry wall who mentioned that the ethically immature mistake giving for taking? or something of that nature.

    also, i'm not a metallica fan, but after reading this i have respect for lars. he makes good points. techno-clueful or no, he sees the big picture a lot better than many people who post here. here is where i think he makes his points best:

    And I want the right to control what is mine. And if I decide to give
    -- I respect the next guy, who wants to put his music on Napster, but I
    want him to respect the fact that maybe I don't. It's that simple. It's
    really the point.

    when we monitored Napster for 48 hours three weekends ago, we came up
    with the 1.4 million downloads of Metallica music, there was one, one
    downloading -- one! of an unsigned artist the whole time. You can sit
    there and talk about how this is great for up and coming artists or for
    unsigned bands, but a big counterargument that nobody gets is, me and
    you could form a band together, and we could like, make a demo and then
    we could put it up on Napster. Who is going to give a fuck? Nobody's
    going to care, because they don't know anything about what sets my and
    your band out from the gardener and the guy who cleans my pool's band.

    I believe ultimately -- and this is sort of what I was talking about
    before -- that the hardest thing about this is to try and come up with
    a system where it becomes an individual's right to choose how he will
    want to partake in this sort of stuff through the Internet. That's the
    hardest thing because it becomes very difficult, it's very difficult
    to generalize, like I said before. It's not fair to sit there and say,
    'Napster can't exist,' because there are people who would like to use
    it. And it's not fair to sit there and say 'It has to exist and you have
    to be part of it,' for the people who don't want to use it. That's where
    it gets really tricky. There are people who are far smarter than me on
    this, people that will ultimately ... I believe that five years from now,
    there will be systems in place where the artists and the owners of the
    intellectual property -- and remember, we're not just talking about music.
  • If you had to live the life of a musician, I doubt you would be so keen on giving discounts.

    If the alternative is to thumb my nose at poor college students and sow dissention in the fanbase, I'd consider educating myself in the new technology and the irrevocable changes that technology caused right quick.

    It's a _tough_business_ and the fact that Metallica has had remarkable _longevity_ is a credit to both their intelligence (not "book learning") and their talent.

    It's also a business that has, as its primary profit model, the control and sale of media. That profit model is now, with a keystroke, stiflingly obsolete. They did great in the past by playing by those rules, no doubt, and big respect for that. However, those rules are absolutely and completely demolished by the Internet. The question is: what are the new rules? How do I win the new game?

    I don't recall Lars making any suggestions as to how you should do _your_ job or how you should be compensated for it.

    Yes, but a large percentage of his income is now dominated by the rules of _my_ game, and I've been playing this game for decades. I don't presume to tell him or anyone else how to do their jobs (except for my lackeys ;) ;) but I _do_ offer insights into the nature of my game that are hard-won over years. I do so hoping that they can reconcile themselves with as little damage to their livelihoods and my community as possible. It's an 'intervention'.

    It was obvious to me that he stuck to talking about what he knows, and where his knowledge was lacking he made an effort to become informed.

    Very true, but it should be clear by now that his knowledge is now obsolete. His efforts to become informed are laudable, and my efforts are aimed at offering food for thought, and peaceful ways of migrating his expectations and business model to the new era by applying lessons learned in a similar field with decades of experience facing the same issues.

    Perhaps you should quit your job and become a musician, tell you what, just do it for 5 years (should be enough time for someone as savvy as yourself to master an instrument and build a following) and then see if you feel the same way.

    I would turn that around and offer Lars the opportunity to become a junior sysadmin and master _my_ instruments (Cisco routers, 3Com/Bay/Cisco switches, Solaris/Linux/HP-UX/Tru64/*BSD, sendmail, bind, apache, bugzilla, XFree, etc...) in order to inform his mindset regarding the internet and its effects on his field of endeavor.

    At least then maybe you be somewhat qualified to have an informed opinion.

    Not to sound too egotistical (egotistical sysadmin? Moi?) but I'm thinking that at some point, maybe Lars needs to worry about how informed _his_ opinion is?

    Remember, and keep this in mind first: the old media pricing model is thoroughly smashed. All other constructive discourse can only start with that as the primary underlying assumption.

    Your Working Boy,
  • ---
    I might choose to use the word "misinformed" instead of "ignorent". If only to avoid the hostile tone of someone that may occasionally make a mistake.

    I agree that avoiding a hostile tone is a good thing, but...

    'Misinformed' is not knowing the statistic. 'Ignorant' is repeating a highly questionable statistic in a public forum as if it were fact.

    Of course, that's assuming that this statistic isn't true - I find it pretty hard to believe though...

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews ( [])
  • Remember there is a tariff paid to the recording industry for every blank tape and recorder sold. See earlier articles about tacking this same tarif on blank CDR's, and the uproar at the suggestion.
  • I think that he was reasonably well-articulated, but nonetheless glossed over the cruxes of the argument. Case in point:

    you know, when somebody fucks with what we do, we go after them. You don't sit down and sort of try and sort of justify yourself, well, 'Maybe our time and energy would be better spent thinking about something a year or two from now.'

    Otherwise known as a 'kneejerk reaction'.


  • The scale get is notice but it's wrong either way.

    I have agreed with Metalica's right to do with their music from the start. It just like a software developers right to choose a license for their work. I may not always like the choice but I respect it and would people to do the same for my work.

    I think it's clear in this interview that Lars is being hypocritical when it comes to copies. An illegal copies is an illegal copy. It doesn't matter how good or how bad your Xerox was.

    That is the thing that bugged me about this interview. He flips back and forth from strong ethical arguments to strong cash flow arguments. It's my work I should have control over it's distribution to Well that's different it was an analog copy.

    come on...
  • "...record companies will never be
    completely extinct, for one reason and one reason only, that there will always be a need to develop younger artists"

    There are artists who 'groom' or, shall we say, 'venture captilize' new artists. They have their own labels, help these up-and-comings learn the ropes, etc.

    Seems to me that there are enough successful bands that this sort of a model could be used to completely eliminate the big record companies.

  • Let me just say that, after today, I will never ever criticize any of the slashdot authors again for grammar / linguistic errors.
  • We are talking distributions here, but this is the sum of it:

    Someone who has been given a musical training is going to have a region of his cortex given over to acoustic processing that otherwise wouldn't. All other things being equal that is matter that isn't available to other functions. And all things being equal, the more neural resources you throw at a problem, the better you will do at it.

    Now, it's also true that musical training can enhance other types of cognition, including mathematical reasoning, because the associative cortex's structures can be 'lended' to other functions (it's why people tend to use their own fields of expertise as source-metaphors for understanding other fields.) And, of course, someone who is given a good literary education in addition to a musical one will have stronger language skills than one who has had neither; it is most certainly not a zero-sum game.

    I do hope you aren't someone who thinks that an exception will invalidate rules, when those rules are about probabilities (i.e., more/less likely, not either/or). However, if we are going to be anecdotal, I will cite my own brother, a Julliard graduate and musical prodigy from age 5, with sadly compromised verbal expression skills - he's a born hemmer-and-hawer, with lots of um's and frustrations trying to express himself verbally. He also has perfect pitch. I've seen this trait in many other musicians, including Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern.

    Besides, the only conclusion that I drew was that Lars was incoherent and circular in his interview, and I didn't need an fMRI for that.

  • by jzitt ( 1054 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @10:24AM (#1046182) Homepage
    Lars comes across pretty well, all told. He looks like he's been doing some thinking -- this could turn into something useful like the Bezos/O'Reilly dialogue.

    One interesting point that he makes: Metallica has supported and thrived on the free distribution and trading of certain of its materials (live tapes, etc), but requests (forcefully) that other of its materials, those released on commercial albums, not be distributed. This makes sense: for example, my ensembles, Comma and Gray Code, have lotsa MP3s up for free download ( ). OTOH, I would prefer that our studio tracks, which are or will be released on for-sale CDs, not be distributed in this way.

    Unfortunately, AFAIK, there is no way to indicate in an MP3 whether it's artist-authorised. It seems to me that some combination of an ID3 field and a PGP-like signature could somehow indicate that an MP3 was authorised by the musicians. A Gnutella-like client could then check that field and alert the fan, who would then be free to choose whether to download it or not based on that person's moral sense of whether the artist's wishes are to be honored. (I recognize that it would be up to the listener whether to use a client which would honor that field, and whether to act upon that information.)

    I'm just a good enough programmer to be pretty sure that it's possible, but not how to implement it. But if such a project would happen, I'd eagerly participate. (And if it already exists, I'd love to know about it.)

    Any takers?
  • by Chouser ( 1115 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:11AM (#1046183) Homepage

    I just put a couple MP3's up, and forgot about 'em. Last week, I got a fan letter.

    I think your statements shows how weak his point about young artists is. I don't doubt that there was only 1 non-label artist download on Napster in 48 hours, because Napster is not a good forum for finding artists you haven't heard of. Try [], instead.

    But his point was that young artists need record labels in order to be heard. This is so wrong. What are your chances of getting signed by a record label? From your comments, I would bet you would agree they are slim. But by circumventing classic (archaic) record labels you got heard, which is more than any record label would have done for you.

    So he is wrong to think that classic labels are needed by young artists. And he said himself that as soon as they get out from under their currect contract with a record label, that they will be looking at internet distribution ideas. This obviously spells doom for classic labels.

    Other than that point, however, I think he was surprisingly articulate and I can certainly understand his position. Whether or not trading music should be illegal, it currently is, and by law, Metallica should be able to seek some kind of relief. Whether or not what Napster as a company is doing is illegal or not remains to be seen...

    BTW, I kept referring to 'classic' record labels, because places like [] and labels like GoodNoise [] "get it", and fulfill some of the roles of record labels that are still needed.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:24AM (#1046184) Homepage
    Like I said before, it's all about mindshare, market bandwidth.

    Lars DOES have a point, Metallica IS in a special position, because they have LOTS of mindshare, mindshare that was very expensively bought by the record companies.

    Where he is wrong though, is to say that record companies will always be necessary to generate this mindshare. Perhaps Napster, as it currenlty stands, isn't the best model to generate this kind of thing. But the thing is, people have come to accept this lemming attitude that the major music labels are THE authority on what is good music, and what is not. Sometimes, they hit on good talent, and it gets out. Most of the time, they do not, but it is still sold and hyped and cast upon the masses, and sorry to sound like an elitist here, but the masses buy it, and the record labels make money, and these one-hit-wonders retire, or they go on to capitalize further on their fame. It's largely this fame that keeps them going. Rarely is it excellent talent. When it is, Then, I'd say the system is working, the system is functional.

    What I believe that most of us here, on /. agree on, is the philisophical opposition to the fact that talentless fucks can go out, blow a record executive, get signed, and posess this great mindshare for years, or even decades, when great talented bands are swept aside by what is essentially fasion. The mere fact that the record companies make such obscene profits is really beside the point. It's much easier to argue the ethical drawbacks to that issue, but it's not really the point. This is why you hear these intangible arguments like, how bad backstreet boyz are, or brittney spears is.

    I think what we're looking for is a mechanism to circumvent the record industry's dictatorship, and a lot of us are taken with technology as the cure-all solution to this problem, because we see it solving so many other things right now.

    It's true that in this perfect dream world, that a lot of crap unsigned bands will exist, and will in-effect, drown out the signal of good talent. The fallacy is that we need some kind of authority to "tune-in" the consumer to what is good and what is bad. The fact is, I believe that the strong collaborative power that the internet lends us all, can be harnessed to focus the signal that the few good talented musicians out there represents. I believe strongly that probably, some successor to Napster will be that tool - but it probably will be in conjunction with tools in other media, like TV, print, and radio, which have traditionally been the best promotional tools. They've been the defining and leading tools. I think they need to be tools that follow from what goes on the internet. The internet is where music fans will discuss, SAMPLE, read about, new music, whether it's from crap bands, or good bands, but they'll all be UNSIGNED bands. Perhaps there will be agencies that will promote the bands on the internet, radio, print, and TV, but no longer will those agencies have a monopoly on what is heard and what is not. The reason I use SAMPLE above, in all caps, is because that is the main missing element today. We can't sample the music easily or conveniently. This was the essential component Lars was talking about, the free sample, well, he's afraid that the free sample is a perfect first-generation recording. FACT: it is not. Not even at the highest bitrate is MP3 equivalent to even a CD, which also is not equivalent to a first-generation recording. Where do they want to draw the line? Obviously, what they want is some kind of technology that gives them control of distribution, (like SMDI). At the same time SMDI will let bands who want no control to free it. What they don't want is something that increases supply infinately (which is what MP3 does) because that theoretically drives down demand to 0. Demand for what? for a digital copy of a recording? Profits are made from selling the CD, and from concerts. This is the argument we've made all along. Drive demand for the digital recording down to 0 where it belongs, and you do not devalue the true art, the live performance, and collateral materials (CD, liner notes, cover art, lyrics sheets, etc.) Control the sample with something like SMDI, and the potential is that you could be paying $20 for a single you could listen to one time only. THat's what that kind of control can give you.

    It's the capability to eliminate scarcity by the free copying of data, that pops intellectual property like a recording right out of the market equation. It's no longer a commodity, it's a promotional tool. Which is what it should be. It's what videos originally were, promotional tools, not actual products. Tell me Lars, are your videos currently profit centers, or losses? That should illustrate the point.

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:52AM (#1046185)
    "Since by definition an unknown artist is, well, unknown, who the hell is ever going to find their songs?

    That's a good point. However, you can use the "browse user" feature and browse other songs a particular person is sharing, and stumble across stuff this way."

    I think that it's a very major point. I gave up on searching through MP3's for new music because there was too much choice and 99% of what I listened I didn't like or thought was sub-standard. Maybe I'm too picky. The record companies pay a lot of more to people to do this full-time. I grew up liking just about everything that labels such as RoadRunner put out. My tastes have changed now, but there is a place for record labels: they provide a selection from which I am more likely to find something that I like. If I want something new, I can look at the (generally indie) record labels and browse their catalogues.
  • by mysty ( 4842 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:33AM (#1046186) Homepage
    With napster, the tail of the music is always cut off. Usually there is a minute or so missing at the end, more often half of it. This is of course because people's downloads are broken off halfway through, and you get proliferation of broken-off songs that way. The songs can only ever get shorter. Another thing is that the quality is usually very low, either because of the particular encoder, or because of a low bitrate. Or because of a semi-broken cdrom-player it was copied off. All in all I certainly don't agree with Lars about that Napster provides studio-quality perfect digital copies of their music. Napster is no match at all for the original cd's.
    There has to be a better system; with quality checks at the recording, encoding and download stages. With download you have CRC/MD5 checks of course, but if I am going to pay for music I download over the Internet, I'm going to demand quality ensurance in return. That is one way that copyright holders could still earn money on in the future. Also having licensing info encoded in the recording, free like GPL, or for pay, or public domain or whatever, I want to be able to know what license I have with a digital music file (or movie or whatever).
    -------------------------------------- ------------------
    UNIX isn't dead, it just smells funny...
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:50AM (#1046187)
    >How much money do you get from the sale of each
    >CD, and how much goes to the record company?

    Lars, you did NOT answer this question, or even
    attempt to address the question in your response.

    I suspect the reason you did not answer the question, is because you DON'T KNOW the answer.

    What I take away from this interview, is that you
    did not, for whatever reason, answer this one question.

  • Ever since I heard her on a "smooth jazz" radio station in Florida, Vanessa Daou has been one of my favourite artists. She's probably typical of a whole genre of people who make a living out of their work, but stay frustratingly far from the big time.

    She started a web site [ ] to sell her newest CD as an "internet-only" venture. Naturally, being a big fan, I bought it. Sadly she went back to the record companies - I assume she, quite simply, needed their promotional muscle to push the music, just as Lars said in his interview.

    As a curious symbol of her return to the record company fold, by the way, her web site has turned Flash only, so I can't even view it properly on my computer! Oops.

    Anyway, I thought this might be an interesting data point to confirm what Lars was saying in his interview. I'm not keen on metal-style music, but if you strip off the phone transcript sillies, I think he's smarter than most of you think. And I'm intrigued by his notion that the record companies are sleepier than ever in terms of trying to protect the artists they nominally serve. Interesting interview, Lars; thanks.


  • by EvilNight ( 11001 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @10:28AM (#1046189)
    First, I'm stunned. I never would have figured Lars for a genius. What we have here is someone who is just as passionate as we are about this, and just as educated on the issue. Thing is, he is on the other side of the fence. Let's hope he will work with us on this, because the only way we will ever find a happy medium is by talking to people like him about it.

    Our problem - We want to participate in a mass media digital distribution network capable of getting any media that we want, be it music, movies, text, or software, to our computers in as fine a quality and with as much speed as possible. Library of Congress on tap, for lack of a better term.

    Their problem - Nobody is paying the copyright holders for the acquisition of their property, and it can potentially cause them to lose a lot of money. They don't mind that we are interested in acquiring their media digitally - hell, that's what they want. They want you to buy their goods.

    Lars said it - the copyright holders must be able to choose their own terms for this digital distribution. They can charge whatever they see fit (including free) for the media. They can choose to be a part of it or not, but they still retain their rights. That is the only way a commercial service like Napster can remain legal. They have to provide a way to block media that is not supposed to be there - they provide the service, so they bear the responsibility. That's the law, and breaking it will only get you slammed into oblivion because big business runs this country.

    Solution - Develop a system that allows firm control of the media that is distributd over it. There's no need to control users or invade privacy. Only the copyright holder of a piece of work should be allowed to introduce it into the system, and on their terms alone. They should also retain the ability to remove it at any time.

    Why should they be required to regulate their service, when, for example, an ISP is not required to regulate Usenet/IRC? Simple. Their service exists for the express purpose of providing you with said content, a content that exists ONLY on their service. ISPs are like a phone company. They only provide a medium, not the content. If you provide content, you are responsible for maintaining control over it. Granted, it is a very gray area, and it can be argued either way, however this way would allow the artists to protect their rights, and that's how the courts are going to see it.

    THIS WILL NOT STOP PIRACY. It will however reduce it greatly. Most of the people who use Napster do it out of convenience (and to try before you buy). If a LEGAL alternative exists that falls within reason, most people will use that instead, simply because it is legal and moral. Only when it is too expensive (like current CD prices) will it be shunned for an illegal alternative.

    Napster in its current form is incapable of this. Everyone can be a server/client, and there is no way they can take that back. That program is released, and it will continue to serve as a vehicle for piracy until a better one comes along, just like Usenet and IRC always have. DON'T waste your time trying to control the things that cannot be controlled. Even forcing Napster out of business will not make people stop using Napster. The software exists with or without the company that created it.

    Instead, design and create a digital distribution format that allows people to PAY for the property. Once that system is in place, the vast majority of the users will use that instead, cutting the piracy back down to reasonable levels (like old fashioned bootlegging). Just because some pirate steals it doesn't mean that 10 other people won't go out and buy it. Also, don't assume that the pirate would actually buy it if he couldn't steal it.

    Since a system like this does not (AFAIK) exist, everyone uses the next best thing - Napster. Napster should have given a bit more thought to this before they let the cat out of the bag. They have the ability to create such a system, they just took the quick way out, and now they are paying for it.

    Lastly - Some might say that this will not be any different than the currently exiting system, and if there are only a few digital providers they can do or charge whatever they want. Not true, for three reasons. First, the copyright holder should set the cost. Second, it is a lot easier to create such a digital system than it is to create, for example, a record label. There will be a lot of distributors, and consumers can choose the one they like. AOL/Time Warner will probably jump on this in half a minute. Third, they cannot justify the cost of charging $10 per song, because they never produce anything. All they provide you with is a means to download digital information, and possibly a central server structure from which to download it.

  • by dwlemon ( 11672 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:42AM (#1046190)
    People should have a say in where their copyrighted material goes. I think most people would feel pretty bad about writing a book and then having it yanked from your hands and copied all over the place without receving a penny for any of it. ('course I stink at analogies)

    Maybe if Metallica themselves uploaded a few MP3s themselves at one time, then all they would be able to say was "oops, I didn't know they would spread like that".. but they didn't.

    But I also think it's impossible to control mass distribution of media now. And any attempts to go after Gnutella (a true file-sharing utility just like anonymous FTP) will be fruitless.

    So what Metallica and other musicians want may be justified, but it just ain't gonna happen.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:56AM (#1046191) Homepage Journal
    Katz:"Lars, what do you think is the driving force behind the opensource MP3 dominated, internet freedom, napsterized,internet and natalie portman influenced, hellmouth paradigm shift?"

    Lars:"It's like, well you know when, sometimes you just have to, and since I don't know too much about those types of things. On the other hand James and Jason think that, well that's not exactly accurate, there was once this time that we all took this think and did stuff with it. That isn't really important here because, you know what? My dad just got this AOL account and I used up all of his free hours then he was all like, "Lars, those were MY free hours!" and I like blew him off about the whole thing. I have a little dreidle, I made it out of clay, and when it's dry and ready, with dreidle I will play. Um, what? Oh, oh, oh, the technology thingie? My managers, like said that it was, um bad for me or something so I, uh think that ahhh , I'm against it. I think?"

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:36AM (#1046192) Homepage
    Minidisc to minidisc can be done, as I understand it, but it costs extra.

    The media are getting cheap, though - not much more expensive than tapes, and they reuse better.

    Your point about taping is good. If five of my friends and I share all our vinyl, we're still buying one album per five people. If a million people and I share all our MP3's, we're talking about one album per million, or maybe a little more. Big difference.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:10AM (#1046193) Homepage
    Compare your argument with the same argument the other way:

    "The guy admits he knows fucking nothing about the music industry, yet he's starting a hugeass distribution mechanism and attempting to bankrupt a record company. What the fuck gives some goober who has no clue what he is talking about the right to regulate the administration of the music industry?"

    Getting the point yet? Well, I didn't think so, but there's a reason your post stayed at 0. ;)

    Lars is attempting to find a way to keep the technology from wrecking the industry he works in, not because "technology is bad", but because "people ought to be able to exercise the control we have given them by law in this country". If you're willing to be the one to figure out how new bands get promoted and paid without record companies, go make your billions revolutionizing. But don't just sit on your hands and say "it's not my fault that I steal stuff from people, it's new technology".

    Lars is a hell of a lot better informed about the computer industry than you appear to be about the music industry.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:15AM (#1046194) Homepage
    I suspect that if you counted the bootlegs of concerts, Lars would be not especially surprised, and if he were surprised, it'd probably be positive. I suspect he wouldn't even be surprised by the number of bootleg tapes of studio albums.

    Why? Because I suspect that number is self-limiting, in a way that MP3's aren't. Bootleg tapes of studio albums aren't that good. They wear out. Hell, I haven't personally put any music but mine on a tape in at least five years. People tend to buy CD's if they like an album... IF the copy they have now isn't a perfect, non-degrading, digital one.

    You've got lots of ideas for how a band can get sold among the tiny little group of people who are out looking for new bands. Record companies have found ways to get a new band sold to people who are in music stores. Until you can do that in your business model, you're not improving on anything.
  • That doesn't seem right at all.... I constantly am getting stuff from bands with avante garde names or if I hotlist someone with similiar music taste, you can find some unsigned bands as well.

    And there is no bigger rush for myself, then the occasions when I type "bratwurst orange" [] and see my music up for trade. It's great. Uh, so check out my band too.

    As an aside, my side project, XIR (xir is recursive) has banned me for making a song called "kill everyone who works at" bad taste? sure, but it was obviously a joke and I put it in the comedy genre and deleted it when they put it on hold, but now XIR is no more on
  • Johnny Socko is hardly an unsigned band. They have one album available from and their new one is sold on They are definatly on the lowest popularity rung of bands traded on Napster, and they're a "regional" midwest band with a real record contract.
    Lars' figure of one unsigned band may be made up, but I don't think anyone could say with a straight face that legal trading of unsigned bands using Napster for publicity makes up anywhere close to 0.01% of all Napster trades.

  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:12PM (#1046197)
    Regardless, no one has made any sort of convincing argument as to why these users deserve free music. The arguments here all biol down to "you can't stop us- neener neener!" and "you're stupid and misinformed." Guess what- it doesn't matter if Lars is a complete fool (and despite his relative net innocence, I think this interview showed to me that he's not)- he has a right to say what can be done with his stuff. You're welcome to hate him for it. You're even welcome to point out that such efforts don't hurt the industry or bands (which I'm still not sure about, and I don't think anyone else has a legitimate ability to be sure about either) or even that its benefical via free advertising. It's still his stuff, which was released under his terms. Maybe he's behind the times. Maybe it's counterproductive. But that's HIS decision to make. If it kills Metalica's future, maybe he'll learn. But it in no way justifies stealing. It is entirely hypocritical to claim to hate the state of the music industry and then to take their music all the same.
  • Aside from half the questions chosen being pretty piss-poor and redundant (/me watches my karma drop even more), Lars' answers weren't the least bit useful.

    If anything, he proved once and for all that Metallica really doesn't know what the fuck is going on. It looks more like a show of the agressive metal theme being played on a corporate stage. Lars would like it to look like its the scruffy, underdog metalheads fighting the evil, thieving corporation. And in reality its the embittered, out of touch, aging superstars against the geeks. It's feels like an orcs vs. kender battle suitable for a D&D tourney.

    I don't know how Lars can take this fiasco seriously. I can understand the "I can take a dare" theory of why they went through the trouble of finding all the names. I mean, hiring someone else to find the names for them. But they have less than a passing knowledge of whats going on. It's not anything like the macho aggressiveness of a street fight, of the sort you would expect from a metalhead, but the cowardly scheming of a rich, well-connected bureaucrat (with lots of yes men) trying to... i don't know... trying to stop the X-Men, or something. What I mean is that Metallica isn't getting so much as dirt under their fingernails over this, but that doesn't stop them from parading at the front of the horde when the gauntlets are thrown.

    Enough metaphor. I'm not impressed by any of Metallica's arguments. Lars' answers are full of holes, not only exhibiting his almost total lack of knowledge of even the details of the case, but also repeatedly contradicting himself. Sure, Napster trading isn't causing our income to go down, but it's the principle of the thing -- unless the trading is on a smaller scale, like the guy down the street with the Iron Maiden record; that's a different principle I guess.

    The bottom line is Metallica wants to pick a fight, and they can't do it with 600,000+ users directly (their current count), and they can't do it with Gnutella or Freenet (which they haven't quite realized yet), so they do it with Napster. They want to blame Napster for what 600,000 other people want to do with their music.

    Maybe they should blame Jagermeister for all those mornings they were ill and hung-over, too.
  • Lars mentioned the single download of a nonsigned artist, and the fact that he feels that a small band could never make it without the record industry. However, with a reputation manager, and shared interest manager, his point could quickly be invalidated. Ie, I go through a slection chart listing my likes, dislikes, yada yada, just as is done with amazon. Then, each song can be rated by the individual similar to slashdot, with an added field for additional comments (and possibly multiple rating categories.) This would allow a method for finding quality music by relatively unknowns. Giving them the full power of network effects/pulbicity without the costs.

  • by crackpot ( 40270 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @10:00AM (#1046200) Homepage
    As many of you might be aware Charlie Rose (on PBS) had a head-to-head interview with Lars and Chuck D. on 5/12/00. Essentially, Lars and Chuck agreed to disagree, however, both were quite "eloquent" in their arguments and I was impressed with Lars' passion for pursuing a public debate. Chuck D. was equally (if not more) impressive in his knowledge of the issues (philosophical and to a lesser degree technical). I can't seem to find a transcript on the internet but if you go to the PBS site you can order the dead-tree version. []
  • But it really ISN'T an issue of a copy of a copy of a copy! Every person talking in this forum knows someone who knows a person with a metallica CD. At MOST you'll have a second generation copy of a CD, which is the same quality as MOST of the metallica MP3s that are being traded on Napster. You would be lying were you to say that someone in wyoming couldn't get just as good a copy via a friend as they can get via napster.

    The fact that you don't have to track down your friend for the tape and time to copy it is really moot. If you are a fan of their music, you'll buy a CD because the MP3 won't be good enough for you. If you are a casual listener, then yes, you are stealing. But you wouldn't listen to the song if it weren't on Napster, and the fact that it is in your MP3 library and you listen to it will make you want a good copy of it.

    But then, this is the same argument software pirates make about pirating software: it doesn't really impact the company's profits.

    I don't agree with software or music piracy, but I disagree with the methods used by BOTH sides in this 'battle'. Generally both sides take such an extremist viewpoint that one or the other ends up winning, and the end is really as bad as the beginning because the winner runs it too far into the endzone. You either end up going overboard with restrictions or you end up going overboard with liberties.

    Metallica is using statistics to lie about the extent of the piracy. Napster is using the 'service provider is not responsible' lie to make it seem like they hold NO responsability for the actions of their users. The Users are using the lies that they will either buy the CD, or have it already. These all contain a good portion of truth, but they are being blatantly exagerated.

    The music industry is facing another paradigm shift, and this is just one of the tiny pre-battles which are going to draw the real battle lines. Like many shifts before (shows-> pressed records-> recordable tapes-> pressed & recordable CDs-> computer manipulated and transferred, compressed digital) this one is going to be fought tooth and nail until it brings both the music industry AND the users kicking and screaming into another quiet period of peace and profit.


    Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
  • by Chalst ( 57653 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:53AM (#1046202) Homepage Journal
    It's funny how different the views expressed on this item have a
    rather more anti-Napster quality than those in the original
    interview. Is the congregation obediently abosorbing Linus' view on
    the matter?
  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:38AM (#1046203)
    >And you aren't the least bit suspicious that that
    >number is cooked up?

    You might say that...

    Unsigned bands whose songs I've DLed from Napster:

    Atom and His Package
    Skif Dank
    Johnny Socko
    Gigolo Big & the Barflies
    Don't Know Jack
    Nature Kids
    The Savoys
    The Usuals
    The Spitvalves
    Edna's Goldfish

    That's just off the top of my head, WITHOUT going through my MP3 folders to check. Fair bit more than one, eh? Now, some of these may or may not be associated with little indie labels, I'm not 100% sure, but NONE of them have whored themselved out to the RIAA majors.

  • by pkj ( 64294 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:19AM (#1046204)
    Since, well, it is pretty obvious that, like, someone asked Lars the questions and then, you know, just taped or transcribed his answers. That it would make sense, you know, to just send the audio, I mean, like in Real Audio or MP3 format, instead of lots of long, rambling text that just takes forever to read.


  • by kniedzw ( 65484 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:00AM (#1046205)
    First off, I'd like to make the comment that Lars's answers were obviously a transcript of an oral conversation. For anyone who still thinks that he was being incoherent and grammatically incorrect, I recommend that you tape a conversation between you and a friend for a few minutes, transcribe it, and read it back. It really does look horrible.

    Secondly, I'm curious about Lars's assertion that they were able to monitor downloads. My understanding of napster is that the individual clients queried a centralized database of "libraries," which would then act as an intermediary between clients so that one might download from the other.

    If NetPD actually did manage to monitor downloads, then that means one of two things:

    • Napster has horrible security, broadcasting the actions of any client attached to the central server (which I doubt, frankly), or
    • NetPD broke into Napster's computers for the information, which is blatantly illegal.

    What I find infinitely more likely is that NetPD was in fact monitoring the contents of Napster's databases for instances of files with "metallica" in the title, noting the user names of anyone who had such an mp3 in their library. Thus, the claim that they only saw one unsigned artist is either misleading or an outright lie.

    Further, this leads to the question about the nature of the libraries. It is possible to configure napster to not allow your computer to upload files to another client. If your client were set in such a fashion and you happened to have a metallica mp3 on your computer, you wouldn't actually be infringing on copyright, as you aren't actually granting anyone permission to download the file from you.

    One wonders about the nature of this NetPD firm. ...and the nature of their tools.

  • by WiartonWilly ( 82383 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:31AM (#1046206)
    UF seems to have a grasp of this situation. hehehe ;^)

  • by Noer ( 85363 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:51AM (#1046207)
    I quote...

    "And I believe, and the people that we talk to about this, we believe, that the minute some of these companies become active, when they basically come to a point that they become fully funcitonal, we believe that there will be technology and a way to go after them in the way they can invent this technology and make it untraceable."

    Lars just doesn't get it, and I'm sure their lawyers don't get it either. There may never *be* anyone to sue. They can try to sue a thousand people, like the MPAA did over DeCSS, and that will only spread it around more. Maybe Gnutella has some holes that would allow Metallica to find out who's pirating their mp3s (I don't know if Gnutella has any such holes, I'm just speaking hypothetically) but there's never going to be a company that you can sue for damages. And holes can be patched up.

    Sorry, Metallica, it's going to stop being possible to sue *somebody* whenever you feel you've been screwed.
  • by belgin ( 111046 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @11:46AM (#1046208) Homepage
    I'm amazed that Lars can say that the taping vinyl is OK but MP3ing vinyl isn't, purely on the basis of scale and availability. ... At what scale does it become unethical?

    One word: Microsoft.

    Most people on /. are not fond of MS. Is the stuff they are doing that much worse than that done by many smaller companies? No, not much. Scale does become a factor in that one, because it gives them the power to pummel anyone who interferes with their plans.

    In general, there are a lot of things that people overlook all the time. When you do those same things on a massive scale, people start to care. Kill a bug: who cares? Wipe out a healthy species: Some people are going to care. The scale at which people care varies by person. An entymologist or environmentalist is going to care about someone killing bugs long before your average yuppie. An average Washinton DC politician probably won't care until studies come in showing that many voters care about the fact you wiped out the entire population of mantids everywhere in the world and we now have locusts. It just varies from person to person and what they care about.

    B. Elgin

  • by rograndom ( 112079 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:31AM (#1046209) Homepage
    when we monitored Napster for 48 hours three weekends ago, we came up with the 1.4 million downloads of Metallica music,

    I have no idea how they came up with the 1.4m number but it seems like maybe NetPD had their 500 or so bots or what ever each with a bunch of Metallica songs available and they just tracked when someone went to download from them. Now 1.4m x 2-4mb per song is a *LOT* of bandwidth (at 2mb per song it something like 16mb/sec. for the 48 hour period). So they probably just logged the user, time, etc. then killed the transfer. I'm guessing (if my theory is correct) a typical session would go like:

    user: Oh, look. The new Metallica song. I will grab this.

    NetPD: user name and time logged, kill transfer, downloads=downloads+1.

    user: WTF? Failed download? I'll just try to get the file again.

    NetPD: user name and time logged, kill transfer, downloads=downloads+1.

    user: goddamn it! I'll try another source. Ahh here's one.

    NetPD2: user name and time logged, kill transfer, downloads=downloads+1.

    user: WTF?

    repeat until user gets bored or finds a non-NetPD server.

    Also Metallica only (hmm only) logged 350,000 or so user names (1.4m / 350,000 = 4 tries per user).

    andy j.

  • by phossie ( 118421 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:21AM (#1046210)

    Lars has admitted here (we all knew it) that their information is screened for them. Lars probably doesn't know how digital compression techniques work, or that the majority of mp3's are noticeably not CD quality, much less master quality.

    To illustrate:

    ...we do not condone and want to be part of some kind of illegal trading of our masters through sources we have not authorized...

    There is a difference, I think, ... comparing that kind of home taping to basically going on the Internet and getting 1st generation, perfect digital copies of master recordings from all the world, is just not a fair comparison.

    Some .lawyer. decided to tell the band that mp3's were "perfect digital copies" of their masters. Not that under usual use, mp3 is a lossy compression algorithm. Why, I ask, didn't they just request that Metallica mp3's encoded at a bitrate higher than 160 be banned? Because someone told them their masters were in circulation. It sounds like if Lars knew that mp3 had a little quality problem (again, in normal use) he, and presumeably Metallica, would also have a little less of a problem with Napster.

  • by jbarnett ( 127033 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:42AM (#1046211) Homepage

    IMHO it was a really good interview and Lars seemed like he was well prepared for it, but one thing I didn't get is this question:

    7) Skip the Record Company
    by cwhicks

    How much money do you get from the sale of each CD, and how much goes to the record company?

    Did anyone else notice that Lars dodged that question better then Bill Clinton and Bush combined? Slick one that Lars is, have to watch him or he'll get away from ya. I would like to get a direct answer from him. Wonder if his Label has him under some non-disclose agreement about that type of stuff??

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:32AM (#1046212) Homepage
    "I think a very very valid thing the other day, that all the people, that are sitting right now, the Sean Fannings of the world, and the guy in Ireland, and all these Internet guys that are sitting there coming up with all hese programs and all this stuff, you know what? The record companies should have hired those guys 5 years ago. That is the biggest single fuck-up that they did, was basically letting those guys get to the other side."

    Albeit a bit misstated (the whole "light side" and "dark side" thing, which further shows his lack of personal knowledge in the subject), this quote is perfect.

    Metallica - take a clue from this one - HIRE these sort of people, NOW! Start your own system. Don't just talk about how its the future - make it the future! Get with net supportive bands, like Limp Bizcuit (sp?). Get as many groups together as you can that are free to distribute their msuic without the RIAA's control, and form your own system. You can afford it, software isn't that expensive!

    Think about this: If people had a service, where, at any time, ever, they could download music from their favorite bands, without having to search, with nice software designed for it, maybee even having the capability to burn a cd as soon as it gets to their computer - any music they want - for a yearly fee that was half what they annually pay for their limited supply of cds - do you think there is anyone in their right mind who wouldn't sign up? The more a certain artist is listened to by each person, and the wider the audience range (the more people) that listen to it, the larger the percent of the profits they get. You could even scale it logarithmlicly so lesser known artists get more of a share of the profits than they normally would. This would be a truly wonderful system!

    If each person had a unique code, and its transmission was kept secure, it would be really hard to fake interest in the music that isn't there - to crack a million codes can *not* be a simple task.

    You could do this, and finally break the artists free - encourage new growth, encourage people who write music to come out there and see if people like it, and even get more money for yourself. And make the fans happy again!

    Do it!


    - Rei

  • by streetlawyer ( 169828 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:37AM (#1046213) Homepage
    Errrmmmm ... I know you guys aren't professional journalists, but Roblimo has been in the business long enough to know that leaving in all of somebody's "You know"'s and "OK"'s in an attempt to make them look like a moron isn't good ethics. I certainly hope that this utterly verbatim account is at Metallica's request, otherwise it looks a bit shabby.

    And bTW, what did he actually say which Emmett replaced by [fight] above. I'm guessing he used the c-word?

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:08AM (#1046214)
    The quality of mp3's is a great deal better than tape.

    A good dub tape sounds much, much better than an mp3 rip. Anyone who has listened to both on a quality hi-fi system and thinks otherwise has ears of tin.

    Of course, being a drummer in a heavy metal band for your entire adult life could make parsing out sound fidelity pretty tricky. When Lars says that mp3's are a perfect copy of the masters, I'm sure he is taking somebody's word for it; no doubt everything he hears is blended with a steady "eeee..."

    I would have used more "e"s to make my point, but the dang lameness filler kicked in. :(

  • by Sister Mary ( 191388 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:55AM (#1046215) is for unsigned artists, yeah. Napster is a corporation looking to go ipo who doesn't give a crap about unsigned artists. THAT'S the whole POINT!!! Napster makes money off the intellectual property of others, under the current system. End of story. Gnutella and some other programs don't, which is a BIG distinction.
  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:59AM (#1046216)
    For readers who haven't waded through the article or were confused:

    As far as I can tell, the main points Lars makes are as follows:

    • Metallica should decide how Metallica's works are distributed.
      Allowing distribution via Napster to go unchallenged removes this control (Metallica hadn't OKd this distribution of their work).
    • Distribution over the 'net has a much bigger impact than distribution via tape dubbing.
      Tape dubs degrade and generally aren't spread very widely from the source. Files shared across the 'net are always perfect copies and are distributed very far afield from the original purchaser.
    • Metallica is investigating 'net distribution options, but Napster won't be it.
      Metallica is aware of the 'net (now), but wants to retain control over distribution with whatever distribution method is chosen.
    • The Napster prosecution was an act of the band itself, not their legal department or their record company.

    As far as I can tell, these are the main points stated in the interview. Please post addendums if I've missed any.
  • Interestingly, some people (including a fairly well-known SF/fantasy novelist) are working up an idea to sell stories and other material on sort of a "Storyteller's Bowl" system, similar to the Street Performer Protocol. The discussion is going on over on sff.people.storytellers [] right now, and a website will be up at some point, as soon as they have the site transferred over to their domain host.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:34AM (#1046218) Homepage
    I think he actually articulated very well. Maybe you don't ramble at all on the phone. I do. I talk a lot like that sometimes, when I'm not in a medium where I can backspace over things.

    I think he has a damn good feel for what this involves. Napster is, indeed, totally different from home taping. It is, indeed, potentially going to screw people.
  • by Anonymous Shepherd ( 17338 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:39AM (#1046219) Homepage
    It's very strange. It seems Lars tacitly acknowledges that he's responding out of ignorance and concern. It would seem a good opportunity to use this as a way to change the way the market works. He obviously cares, otherwise he wouldn't put this effort into Napster, MP3s, and the internet vs his music.

    How is it that we can use this to our(Lars, artists, and consumers all) advantage? Is there a way to *work* with the artists, like Lars, rather than against them? They just want to make music, want to sell it, want to have it spread. We want to hear it, obviously, and share it. Can some genius, someone with the right insight and the right knowledge, right now work a system up that puts all of this together and create a win-win situation?

    I don't think I am that person. I don't know how we can create a system that gives consumers instant access, perfect quality, convenience, and acknowledgement, and the artists the satisfaction of being heard, being paid, and being loved.


  • by stab ( 26928 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:34AM (#1046220) Homepage
    That doesn't really work out.

    The key point with transferring tapes or other analogue mediums is that they suffer from degradation when copied. So you COULD lend it to your friends, but after about five friends have passed it on the quality would have degraded so badly that it isn't worth it.

    The music industry came close to facing the MP3 problem with the Minidisc format, since that is digital. They staved it off temporarily by slapping the "no minidisc to minidisc" copying rule on, which prevented easy transfer. That, and the fact that the Minidisc media itself it relatively expensive.

    MP3s are unique in that they can be transferred ridiculously easily, and suffer no loss in quality when going through the transfer to different people. The music industry is quite justified in their fear of this new format I think.

    Anil Madhavapeddy
  • by Abjuk ( 29648 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:40AM (#1046221)
    But what are the chances of Linus or Stallman doing a phone interview rather than an e-mail one, particularly for Slashdot? In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first interview Slashdot has done that wasn't e-mail based. Also, the impression I got was that one of the reasons Lars agreed to this interview was that he could say whatever he wanted, unedited, for better or for worse. It's not all that easy to edit someone's answers for grammer without changing what they said into your interpretation of what they said.
  • by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:36AM (#1046222)
    At issue isn't whether, or how such things should be transferred digitally/electronically, as that appears inevitable.

    What IS at issue is exactly how the artists will be recompensed for their time and effort. Well produced albums take time and money to produce. Freeloading (those that don't buy the CD) mp3 addicts use the product without paying anything back to the artist.

    While Lars isn't the best spoken guy on the planet, and I'm not a fan of most of what he's saying, I think THAT's the issue here, and it's not one that anyone has an answer for yet, TTBOMK.
  • The statistic about *ONE* unsigned artist is particularly sobering.

    And you aren't the least bit suspicious that that number is cooked up?

    Just think for a second about what would be involved in coming up with an accurate number of unsigned bands being traded on Napster. I think he's either a) Ignorant (he isn't the brightest man I've even run across, after all) or b) lying.

    Let's sya the number isn't accurate. Let's say it's an order of magnitude off, or even 2 or 3. That means while 1,400,000 million Metallica songs were downloaded, 1,000 unsigned artists were downloaded. That's 1400 songs by just Metallica to ever song by an unsigned artist. Now, let's say Metallica is 5% of all Napster traffic. Thats means there were...counting on fingers and toes... 28000 copyrighted songs to every song by an unsigned artist. Which makes songs by unsigned artists statistically insignificant.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Napster, and I use Napster. But I hate to see people trying to rationalize what they're doing as being the "right" thing. At the very least be honest and don't try to bullshit everyone about it.

  • by Whoozit ( 162620 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @10:45AM (#1046224) Homepage
    A looney idea that came into my mind when I heard their 1-download thing and read this post is:

    To monitor actual downloads, could they not have made some kind of "proxy" napster client which, say, takes the list of songs some user has, posts to the server that it has those songs, and when somebody requests them, redirects the request to the original source? Maybe this is a little complicated but would give them some idea of how often music was downloaded, without necessarily "breaking into" Napster's computers.

    Regarding the interview, I was also pleasantly surprised by Lars' responses, and must say that for the most part, I agree, and have for quite some time, agreed with the arguments he raises. In my opinion, the way to fight this kind of corporate greed and abuse of copyright we're seeing here is not to blatantly ignore and break the laws that have been so important in the past. I think the key is to show our non-appreciation for the abuses by refusing to spend our money on corporate products which support firms that continue to abuse user's rights. That means not buying CDs from signed artists, for example.

    The fight is not to actively destroy the RIAA (and by the wayside, the artists their CD sales support, in whatever slim fashion) by pirating every CD you can get your hands on; the fight is to support in a constructive way the struggles of artists who would and do freely share their music, if that's what we truly want.

    In order to manage this, however, it is of paramount importance that the freedom of the internet is maintained. The RIAA would naturally love to squash utilities like Napster, not just because they're allowing infringement, but because this distribution method spells out their doom in all its electronic glory.

    My suggestion would be this: let them dig their own graves. Don't give them any excuse to attack you; Napster should live up to its claims that it is just for "struggling" artists and indie groups; why not block songs matching "Metallica" from their database, for example? As Lars was saying, he doesn't want to be the one to constantly have to search the Napster network and find and report the people trading his songs. Can't Napster compromise?

    Let the Metallicas and RIAAs block their songs from Napster. All it means is that the hordes of Napster users will be left with... guess what, only free, indie music to listen to. Some of which is damned good, I might add. They won't throw money at concerts and CDs because they heard the mp3. Instead they'll buy indie CDs, t-shirts, and concert tickets. We've been using the argument that mp3s increase sales, well dammit let the RIAA prove it to themselves!!

    Lets stop being hippocritical and actually act on the arguments we've been using, people! Long live free music! Down with RIAA's crap!
  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:36AM (#1046225) Homepage Journal
    Lars' words were published verbatim by prior agreement. It would have been a lot easier for us (especially timothy!) if we'd gotten neatly-typed answers. But the band and their publicists wanted to make sure you knew that you were getting honest, unfiltered opinions from Lars himself, not a bunch of stock lines cooked up by lawyers.

    Timothy and I both know how to edit and "clean up" an interview transcript. If this was CNN's Web site, we would have. But this is Slashdot, where we figure most of the readers like the unvarnished truth better than the laundered version.

    And, if this was CNN's Web site, we would have written the questions ourselves instead of doing the "Slashdot thing" and asking questions that were written by readers and chosen (through moderation) by other readers.

    Slashdot is often accused of not being the New York Times, or ABC News, or whatever other medium you happen to favor.

    Guess what? It isn't supposed to be! :)

    - Robin
  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:09AM (#1046226) Homepage Journal
    Timothy taped the interview and transcribed Lars' answers verbatim. No lawyers, no PR people. Just Lars, speaking off the cuff to Tim on the phone, totally unscripted, without "soundbite" time limits, in a forum where Lars knew he was allowed to say "fuck" if he wanted.

    I'll call Thomas Edwards at (where Geeks in Space is hosted) and see if he wants to digitize the "Slashdot Lars Interview" and put it up. If he does, Timothy and I only live about 15 minutes away from thesync, and can run the tapes over there sometime this weekend.

    - Robin

  • Subject: Metallica is right to sue copyright infringers...

    ... but truthfully, you're cutting off their nose to spite your face here. As a software nerd I believe in copyright (for it's copyright which protects open-source software licensed under the GPL, but that's a techie issue) and I think piracy is morally wrong, but at a certain point reality has to be faced. The internet, higher bandwidth, MP3, Napster/Wrapster/Gnutella/etc have all essentially dropped a large atomic bomb on the existing music business model. Like dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist act or natural disaster, people can experience denial (it didn't happen, life goes on as always), rage (those bastards! let's get them), and other strong emotions, but in the end the only useful thing to do is pick up the pieces and start again.

    The medium that music is distributed on has essentially reduced the 'product' itself to software: a product which is easily and cheaply copied and distributed for essentially zero cost to the consumer. That's the atomic bomb I wrote about, when your business model is entirely media-cost based. So, this strange new world is baffling and scary, where do you look for guidance?

    The software industry. That industry has dealt with the piracy problem for decades, and has evolved some interesting ways to continue to profit (hansomely!) in the face of piracy. The fundamental question to ask is, how do you keep people buying media which is easy to obtain and distribute for free?

    Software companies have solved that problem by applying a concept called 'Value-Add', which means that their profits are not pinned just on the sale of the media, but on the sale of service and support based on the operation of the software contained on that media. For example, technical support and upgrades, as well as software consulting services (for installation and 'integration' into existing software systems) provide reliable profit over and above the actual cost of software. In addition, to qualify for those services, you need to prove that you obtained a legal copy of the software media, so that drives legal ownership and prevents piracy as well.

    Now, you might ask, how does this apply to musicians and the music 'product'? Clearly, one cannot expect to derive value from providing technical support when it comes to packaged music, but consider what you have when you use physical media here: you can include a unique identifier on each distributed disk, which the media buyer can use to unlock additional content available to legal music owners. Some examples of content might be:
    • discounted concert tickets
    • discounted products (t-shirts, other records, endorsement arrangements like phone cards or consumer goods)
    • access to 'members only' goods and services (such as websites, 'subscriptions', remixes, 'draft' recordings, lyrics/tabs, backstage pass raffles, etc)

    These things comprise what I feel are the most obvious 'Value-Adds' to your licensed media products, and are ways which you can use to both reduce piracy and involve fans further in your world. There are many more (like pay-for-play, corporate/private 'commissioning' of work, etc) that wouldn't even apply to the traditional software business! could be the site that provides the value-add community (you already have a 'members-only' section, why not restrict full access to those who have a compact-disc with a 'key' on the label?) so you can continue to record and derive legitimate profit while reducing your exposure to piracy (and fan hostility)?

    I realize this address is the fanclub address, but I'm concerned about this issue, and I hope that if my message has some useful points and is not entirely incoherent it might make its way to Metallica and hopefully provide some guidance on how to pursue the whole Internet/MP3/Napster issue. I feel that coming to terms with the internet in a way that faces reality in a creative way can provide opportunities that will end up proving more profitable, fan-friendly, and sustainable than the current system, at the expense of the 'middlemen' and non-creative members of the recording industry that absorb most of the margin in the business.

    Hoping that your suit is on the merits of copyright and not some duping concotion by your lawyers to generate fat fees,
    Your Working Boy,
  • by Jordan Graf ( 4898 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:22AM (#1046228)

    This of course begs the question, how would NetPD even come up with a figure like this? If you want to get a list of everyone who's pirating Metallica material, it's pretty easy, you do a search for "Metallica" and maybe a few other variations and then pick all the user names out of the results. You could pretty easily devise an automated tool to do this, you run the search all weekend and presto, 300K odd names.

    But claiming to know how many times a track was downloaded is a much more difficult problem. You have to somehow convince users to tell you how many people have downloaded a particular title. Obviously the server itself can do this because requests go through it, but as an outside client? Maybe the protocol lets you do this, but I doubt it.

    Then, to find out how many unsigned artists were downloaded, you essentially have to track every client on the whole system and how many times every track was downloaded and then figure out which tracks were by unsigned artists. This essentially means having a master list of all signed artists in the world and doing some sort of text match against all the titles listed on Napster to eliminate signed artists. I find it highly unlikely that NetPD did this. I suppose you could develop a list of "known unsigned bands" (maybe scrape it from or something) and see who downloads those tracks, but this is hardly accurate (And a great way to undercount.)

    My guess is that this figure is invented. Whether NetPD or Lars invented it, I can't say.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:47AM (#1046229)
    I'm a Metallica fan, but I expected Lars to be more of a dumbass with regard to this topic.

    I did not expect such candor from Metallica. Lars made points which were completely valid. As Utopian as free-exchange-of-information and globally accessible libraries of music via Napster and Gnutella and such is, it still comes down to the fact that it is their product. Their music and art.

    I cannot walk into a store and say that I feel the television they are selling is outrageously overpriced, and thereby justify walking out with it in my arms, thumbing my nose at the clerks and owners.

    In addition, the fact that Metallica only went after those they believed (although I still believe screen and file names are not wholly legitimate forms of proof) to be trading in *their* music, suggests that they are not in favor of destroying Napster and those like it, but enforcing copyrights which are infringed through it.

    As an example, let's say that someone posts the full text of an entire collection of novels on Usenet. The author of those novels finds the owner of the account who is responsible for posting them and, instead of targetting Usenet and seeking to 'shut it down', takes action against the individual responsible for the distcint criminal act.

    All I see Lars promoting is the right to do with your music as you wish. Contesting that right is rediculous. And as he points out, the fact that the price of a CD is unjustifiably high and that musicians earn a very small amount of the overall profit, is a seperate discussion entirely.

    The act of music piracy cannot be justified by the legal (but unethical and grossly immoral) practices of the music industry.

    I've been a Metallica fan for a long time. They're the only 'metal' band that I listen to. So I've followed this thing pretty closely and even felt rather enraged at Metallica over the way they've handled many parts of this fiasco. But in the end, their views and reasons are just. I no more want to see James' and Lars' creative work traded around like a cracked copy of StarCraft than I do anything I've written or created.

    Just because Metallica is unbelievably successful doesn't mean they own anyone a damn thing. Not the record companies and not Johnny College Boy bogging down his school's bandwidth downloading Metallica's S&M. If Johnny were downloading, say, Beethoven or Mozart -- or even modern compositions or alternative music from new bands who have expressely made their work publically available without cost, then that's great. But just because Napster and Gnutella can be used for this, doesn't mean that they are being used for it. (I do not, however, support holding Napster any more responsible for this than I do the manufacturer of a newsreader program that allows you to post anything you want to Usenet -- the violation is still an individual act and should be treated as such).

    Anyway, Metallica makes great music. I don't believe this should diminish their respectability as musicians or 'rebels'. Just because they don't sell their CD's with the same sort of legal agreement that would allow you to freely distribute the contents of a RedHat CD that you may buy, doesn't mean they're some sort of corporate vulture praying on music-lovers. (Their record company is a different thing all together, though...)

  • by RichDice ( 7079 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:40AM (#1046230)
    That's a very shallow analysis of the situation, and one that Lars addressed directly and powerfully in his interview.

    First, the tape copying example you use is not the same threat (or perceived threat) to Lars et al. as is the copying of music in a digital fashion. Tapes aren't worth copying after the 5th generation or so, meaning that you're limited to about 62 friends being able to get a copy of the tape at all, let alone a good copy. And those friends aren't really able to give copies of these tapes to other people, once again because of analog degradation.

    But secondly, and probably more importantly, the internet is a distribution medium _far_ more powerful and quick than you and your buddies dubbing a few tapes. You aren't limited to the number of buddies you have, you aren't limited to speed of transportation (e.g. when's the next time one of your friends is hopping a flight to X random city on another continent? and does he remember to bring the tape?), etc.

    Please don't interpret this posting as to say that I don't think that there's an issue worth exploring in great detail with this whole Metallica / Napster legal battle. I just think that your example of buddies copying tapes being "more or less the same" as Napster in terms of being an effective distribution network is very weak.
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:59AM (#1046231)
    If you look at the history of artists being paid, the recorded era is an aberration built on scarcity of the physical media.

    Before the printing press or the record or photograph, copy protection was a natural result of the process involved. It was too difficult to copy a book or painting. Someone could listen to a storyteller or musician and "steal" their work, but it inevitably changed in the process, such that the stolen copy was noticeably different.

    Artists made a living by performing or producing new material. Most producers had very little luck getting royalties, even when the concept existed. Beethoven worried about copying. "What have you done for me lately?" was the question, and the answer was, "Next show at 9." There was no concept of living off the past. They had to keep producing or keep performing to make a living.

    Recordings changed that, and good communication enforced it.

    The net will turn things back, with more hobby artists and fewer mega artists. The scarcity aspect is fast disappearing. Contrary to what Lars thinks, it won't take huge marketing budgets to promote artists. Reputations will spread by word of mouth, searches, and respected sites. Without marketing and retailers gobbling up 90 percent of the retail price, artists will be able to survive on far fewer paying customers. More artists will produce merely because they want to. People will support the artists they like, though nothing like the inflated way of today. Concerts and new material will become more important. Most artists will forego the expensive and lengthy editing which studios and book publishers have used to justify their huge take.

    In the 1930s and 1940s, when records were just taking off, Fats Waller usually went with his first takes. In the 1960s, the Beatles came out with, what, 5 albums in a couple of years? Nowadays music is so heavily produced that bands are lucky to come out with one album a year. Is the music really that much better?

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:22AM (#1046232)
    Since by definition an unknown artist is, well, unknown, who the hell is ever going to find their songs?

    That's a good point. However, you can use the "browse user" feature and browse other songs a particular person is sharing, and stumble across stuff this way.

    The problem with doing this with napster (at least for those of us conscientious about downloading only music we have already paid for in another format) is, how do you tell what is legitimate "" material, and what isn't? Other than the big-name RIAA bands, of course, which obviously aren't.

    A mixture of and FreeNet is what is needed. An style interface, overview, etc., coupled with FreeNet's inability to be censored. No more banned music or songs, in any country.

    We can't stop unauthorized recording, or trading of illegal copies, whether its on cassette tape or in mp3 format. We can, however, maximize the exposure of underrepresented bands, put mechanisms in place that provide the opportunity and encouragement for people to behave ethically, and accept the fact that teenagers and college students will get allot of their music for free (just as they do now on the radio or via friend-sneakernet and cassette), and that these same people will buy their music when they can afford it.

    I think if Lars had the ability to count the number of bootleg tapes people have (live bootlegs which he allows, or copies of studio work, which he doesn't), he would be shocked by the number. The fact that such statistics are easier to track on the net than elsewhere has perhaps contributed to his sense of panic. In addition, I have downloaded numerous songs multiple times (once at work, once onto a laptop, once at home, once on a friends PC to play the song for her, etc.). Since I own the song these aren't 'illegal', or at least 'unethical' but they would certainly show up in the artist's statistic as multiple 'illegal' downloads.

    I understand his fear and concern, and he has the right, however misguided, to persue whatever means he feels he needs to to protect his rights to his work, but as another pointed out in his question, he could be spending his time and energy far more wisely in developing a business model tailored to the new technical reality which has, for better or worse, completely changed the economic landscape of mass media distribution.

    If Lars & Co. are wise, they or their agents will get in touch with Their contract may not allow them to have any business or distribution arrangement, but they could learn a tremendous amount from the conversation regardless.

    In the meantime, I will personally continue my boycott of RIAA affiliated music for philisophical reasons, irrespective of how much I may like or dislike a particular personality.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @10:28AM (#1046233) Homepage
    Call Lars and ask if you can get permission to release the conversation in MP3 format.

    Seriously! It's a good application for the format, it'll solve the "is this really him" debate, and if he authorizes it, it's totally legit.

    The cool thing is, this would be a way in which Lars could shove a rusty railroad spike up the RIAA's colective asses, by visibly and publically endorsing the use of MP3's for some purposes.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:03AM (#1046234) Homepage
    Yes, scale makes it wrong.

    Is it net abuse to send a single email to a single person asking about a possible economic relationship? No.

    Is it net abuse to send a few million? Yes.

    Many, many, things are problems only if done on a large scale.

    Most people have come to the conclusion that morality and ethics have to allow for grey areas, as something gradually shifts from harmless to harmful.

    Concrete example: If I touch someone, I probably kill a skin cell. This is not a problem. If I killed enough of their cells, it would be a problem. How do you decide whether causing cells in someone's body to die is immoral? Well, you look to see if it's doing measurable damage. At some point, it's clearly doing damage. At some point a little before that, it's ambiguous, and you have to look at the context.

    Bob's Nearly-Successful Band probably doesn't care if I make a copy of their band for my wife. However, if I give away thirty thousand copies that are good enough that people don't buy their album, they may be screwed.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:32AM (#1046235) Homepage
    Okay, quick show of hands, who believes that was orchestrated by the record company execs?

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    I think he's got damn good points. The statistic about *ONE* unsigned artist is particularly sobering. Let me share something with you all. I write music. It's not very good music. I don't have the bandwidth to post a URL here. I just put a couple MP3's up, and forgot about 'em.

    Last week, I got a fan letter. Someone liked my music. That was fucking awesome. I am also nowhere near making any sort of a living at this.

    Would I like to see something like Napster make it easier for me to make a living? Yes. But I'd like them to do it by *ASKING MY PERMISSION* before letting people distribute my work.

    Hell, the fact is, I'm not sure that Metallica would have said "no" if they'd been asked; if you read the interview, they're pissed because they weren't asked, not necessarily because people are copying their music.

    Anyway, I'm really glad it's Metallica doing this, and not a pop band that gets its entire mindset from the record label, specially shrink-wrapped.

    Not a bad interview at all; really, it frankly totally exceeded my expectations; how often do you see a public figure in a debate like this give any ground at all, or admit that the issue is more complicated than he thought at first?
  • So, what is it with this? Whence the instinctive assumption that people who aren't "into" computers can't possibly understand their implications? Can non-drummers appreciate good music?

    I work in tech support, and I laugh at all the stupid-user jokes, because I've *talked* to those users. But I also believe that the jokes are symptomatic of a tendency to assume that one's own field is the important one, and that it's not that hard and people could do it if they really tried.

    In fact, most people who don't know how to use computers are about as smart as the people who do know how to use computers. Just like I'm probably as smart as many people who can perform brain surgery safely. Same deal; I haven't put the time in to know jack shit about the medical field. Now, as some people recently established, newbies tend to overestimate their understanding of a field, and indeed, many geeks cheerfully make proclamations about how much they understand about nutrition after reading a single web page.

    But never forget that we, too, are hopelessly, laughably, ignorant. Maybe in different fields, but we're just as ignorant.

    Lars admitted, quite frankly, and right up front, that he's not a techie. That computers aren't his thing. How many slashdotters have the balls to admit that we don't know a damn thing about the music industry?

    Me, for one. Anyone else?
  • Part of the bootleg taping issue is that the MP3s are often NOT CD or perfect copies. The fans which download this stuff, most of which are on 56k lines still, are getting cassette quality crud because it downloads faster. Someone has sold metallica a boatload of crud, Lars believes that everyone on Napster are making/getting perfect copies.

    Metallica: Whoever you have chosen as you technology advisor, get a second and third opinion.


    As a computer, I find your faith in technology amusing.
  • by meadowsp ( 54223 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:38AM (#1046238)
    I'm amazed that Lars can say that the taping vinyl is OK but MP3ing vinyl isn't, purely on the basis of scale and availability.

    Assuming I was incredibly rich and created millions of tapes of one of his albums and made them freely available to everyone in the world, is that the same as taping or MP3ing?

    At what scale does it become unethical? It's such a bogus argument, it's almost unbelievable, it's either alright or it's not, there's no half way.
  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:47AM (#1046239) Homepage Journal
    I actually think it's better that all of the verbal gaffs were left in. You could tell it was Lars, you could tell it was off the cuff, and you could most certainly tell there was no laywer sitting between Lars and the phone.

    If they had screened the gaffs, we would have indebatably spent the next 300 comments complaining that 'Lars musta been scripted or something'.
  • by superkorn ( 101469 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:20AM (#1046240)
    Anyone who agrees with this letter or found it interesting might also want to check out the Street Performer Protocol []. It was developed by a couple of cryptographers and offers another way for artists to profit off their work in a world totally devoid of copyrights. Basically, they hold their work for ransom until they recieve whatever amount of money they think they can get from whoever wants to donate it. Then, the work is released and immediately becomes public domain. Check it out [] it's thought provoking.
  • by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:33AM (#1046241)
    ... where he refutes lars?
  • by Andrew Cady ( 115471 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @09:06AM (#1046242)
    (Quoting Ulrich) it's about the perception of what my rights are on the Internet, it's about the perception of how people have become so comfortable with the computer as a tool that they feel they have a right to these things.
    Wow. This is exactly how I feel about copyright. People have become so comfortable with copyright as a tool to reward artists, that they (artists and others) feel that artists have a right to prevent people from preacefully sharing information if that will result in greater profits. Copyright is (in public opinion) no longer a tool to reward artists, but rather artists actually own the information that they copyright. It is that attitude that allows copyright and information ("intellectual property") law to go out of hand with restrictions, like on what you can peacefully *do* with information once you have it (DMCA), or absurdly long limits on copyright, or the lack of any exceptions for people who need information they cannot afford.
    (Quoting Seumas) Just because Metallica is unbelievably successful doesn't mean they ow[e] anyone a damn thing.
    Just because Metallica authored their music, doesn't mean copiers of it owe anyone anything either. Sure, the law may say they do, and apparently you hold the law in some authority, but the very fact that the law (democratic or otherwise) has been so patently wrong (and contradictory) proves that in actuality it is no authority. Nobody owes Metallica anything. They don't have any right to restrict the peaceful actions of others, just to increase profitability.

    I cannot create a magnificent garden in my front lawn and then claim a right to prevent people from looking at it without paying me. Nor can I create one in my back lawn and claim any right to prevent people from looking at it through whatever peaceful means is available to them, like going into my next door neighbor's lawn, who charges less than me for the service. Sure, this discourages the creation of for-profit gardens. And so it is with public goods. When public goods are necessary, and the market cannot provide them, government interjects by infringing on non-essential rights of the people, e.g. by taxing and building roads, or using the law to restrict people from seeing my garden, or hearing my music. But still, let's not forget where the rights are in this case. I have put effort into my garden, but that doesn't mean I own the view it creates, even if the law were to disagree.

    Even if my work benefits others, I have no right to restrict the benefit to others who won't pay me. If I'm not comfortable with this I always have that famed third option: not working on projects that will benefit people who won't pay me.

  • by Bloo ( 176827 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @08:54AM (#1046243)
    Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides a non-exhaustive list of factors to be examine when determining whether the particular use of another's work is permissible. They're not long, so I'll post them: "In determining whether the use made of a work in a particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--- (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." Obviously, factors 3 and 4 reflect the weight of Lars' argument. The difference in quality between a digital MP3 and a tape cassette copy of a vinyl recoring might easily fall into the scope of the "substantiality" term. Also, the NET Act (No Electronic Theft) Act amended the copyright law placing volume and dollar value thresholds for criminal copyright violations, closing the so-called "LaMacchia Loophole", which enabled an MIT student to escape liability because even though the computer service he provided (IIRC this was pre-WWW) allowed people to pirate and otherwise infringe the copyright of computer games, he did not personally profit from it. Disclaimer: I'm a lawyer but I'm not your lawyer. And I dont' practice right now anyway.
  • So let me get this straight.

    It's okay to bootleg concert performances.

    It's okay to copy an album to tape for a buddy.

    It's all about quality and scale.

    Sherman, set the wayback machine for the early 1990s. A new trend had started among the big retail music chain stores. Used CDs. Racks and racks of them. This got the ire of the music industry to threaten stores with no more new CDs to sell if they didn't yank the used ones. Drugstore cowboy singer Garth Brooks made himself the pulpit boy for the cause. The claim was that used CD sales is "theft" from the artists because the sound quality on used CDs degrade. A used CD sounds just as good as a new one. Brooks and the RIAA wanted to ban used CD sales or at least to 'tax' them with the kickback going to the RIAA to make up for loss to artists (/me scratches head at logic here). The issue was LAUGHED at by the public at large. Garth Brooks was seen as a raving idiot and the issue faded away.

    Now it's Napster. Same shit all over again.

  • by GrayMouser_the_MCSE ( 192605 ) on Friday May 26, 2000 @07:49AM (#1046245)
    I hope this post doesn't get lost at the bottom of the pile, but it took quite a while for me to sort through the ramblings to understand what he was actually saying. I think his main point is that the creator of a work should control how it is distributed. Isn't this the same point of the GPL? Otherwise just release open source into the public domain. The band (or a programmer) created a song (or an app) and wants to decide how it should be distibuted. I don't think that sounds unreasonable. Just because the internet is a relatively new medium doesn't mean that all laws and ethics should not apply to it. Would it be ok if I linked up my server to the internet to freely distribute all my MSDN and MCSP apps to the world (I know, who would want them... but you get the point). They may not have done the best PR job in the world on this, but I think they are working from a valid position, and taking reasonable steps to protect their works.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming