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At Last And At Length: Lars Speaks

timothy posted more than 14 years ago | from the parental-guidance-suggested dept.

Music 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 (http://www.wws.princeton.edu:80/%7Eota/disk1/1989/8910_n.html) 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.

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This guy is hard to follow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1045271)

This guy is hard too, i mean, 1st of all, it's like, well, I wonder if this guy is, you ever think this guy is on something and can't finish a sentence. You know: subject and predicate, whether compound or simple? Sure, as I've spent more and more time online over the years, I take certain liberties with the Englinsh language, but this guy seems to throw all the rules out the window. He's a drummer and not an orator, so it hardly matters, but I couldn't finish the interview. Music good! Coherency bad!

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (1)

djweis (4792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045304)

By the time that tape gets to a dozen people, it's going to sound like hell. The 100th person to get the mp3 will have the same cd quality audio as the first person.

Fighting the wrong battle (1)

Mumble01 (5809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045315)

I think Metallica is right to be outraged about piracy. Every other well-known artist should be too, because they don't get enough money for their music as it is and now for the first time there exists a method to make perfect copies of music and distribute it to millions of people in seconds. That far exceeds what people have been able to do for years with cassettes or digital methods like MiniDiscs that didn't have the installed base of users.

So what's my suggestion for musicians such as Metallica? Forget about MP3s. You've unfortunately lost that battle and you'll never be able to put that genie back into the bottle. Ever. As long as there is one person with a computer and MP3 encoding software the format will not only survive but thrive.

Instead, direct your energy and attention towards the recording industry. Join together with your peers and force them to quickly implement a service that allows people to purchase digital music on a pay-per-track basis and allows them to easily assemble their own custom CDs. And force the industry to keep the price reasonable, something like $.50-$.75 per track with a $2.00 burning and shipping charge for the music on a CD rather than digital versions that are limited to computer based players.

What will happen? Sure, the younger portion of the listening audience will continue downloading anything they can get their hands on for free and amass MP3 collections that would make the nearest music store seem quaint by comparison. I did the same thing when I was younger, had fewer morals and had nothing better to do.

But the rest of the market will want to follow their conscience and pay a reasonable charge per track. They buy CDs now and don't bother trying to tape them anymore. Like me, they want to reward musicians for their efforts by purchasing a song from one artist and another song from a different artist and fashioning collections that represent their own unique tastes. *BUT THERE IS NO WAY TO CURRENTLY DO THIS* Yes, some services exist but record companies are unwilling to make their more popular material available and that defeats the whole purpose of it. Greed seems to be the principal motivation there.

Re:How Does This Guy Make Any Money (1)

jmpvm (6160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045320)

Errr, he wasn't WRITING this. It was obviously a phone interview and that was the transcript. If you have ever heard him talk you'll know thats exactly how he speaks. I am sure if it had been WRITTEN from him it would look alot better, but probably taken alot longer to get.

Re:How Does This Guy Make Any Money (1)

RichDice (7079) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045325)

Come on, cut the guy some slack. It was a telephone interview; he didn't _write_ anything at all. Few people have the ability to speak in formal essay style on the fly in real time and at great length. After a certain point, even a sentence or two gets muffed.

how did they monitor napster? (1)

Thrakkerzog (7580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045327)

I'm wondering if they set up a machine on a high-bandwidth connection and put a bunch of metallica songs on it, and other artists. Then, they watch how many people download from them.

If this is how they did it, it would be quite biased! I can't see how they could get this sort of information without actually getting the information from the people who run the napster servers.

-- Thrakkerzog

Wow, a very good reply (1)

astyanax (8365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045328)

It certainly sounds like Lars is at least trying to get as educated as possible to answer these questions. His point about there not being a middle ground in the music sharing scene is certainly a good one., and it made me think more about this whole issue. The book of the month club is probably not a good analogy when you think about it though, because you do sign up for the service, even if "8 books for a buck" is waved in your face, you see the terms and conditions right where you sign up. But overall a pretty good response.

Interviews with musicians. (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045329)

I remember reading a bit about the neurology of musicians: how, often, regions of the brain that are 'colonized' by the language and higher cognitive functions are, instead, recruited into the service of audition.

It went a long way to explaining why most interviews with musicians are borderline-incomprehensible fugues of inchoate rambling, false starts, and unformed thoughts. This is no exception. I was wincing throughout the whole article.

One of the few musicians whose interviews were always a wonder to behold and a joy to experience was Glenn Gould - who had his own, very prophetic perspectives on the relationship between music and technology.

In general, I've always gotten along swimmingly with composers, but I tend to get annoyed by musicians.

how soon we forget? (1)

banky (9941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045335)

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. funny, as a longtime metallica fan, I thought it was cause you guys played your asses off, wrote kickass songs, and worked harder than anyone else.

Internet media and short-cutting publishers (1)

Submarine (12319) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045348)

A first note: Lars Ulrich has well expressed the fact that Metallica is a for-profit band that works inside the system. So much for youthful rebellion! But at least he's honest with it (plus, they have made some pretty decent music).

Now we are again at the starting point: how to reward authors of "virtual goods" (music, source code, novels...) that can be copied ad infinitum without loss of quality and at little marginal cost?

Lars Ulrich is very right at comparing a record company with a bank. It is even more than a bank: it is essentially a company that takes care of all the industrial aspects of music for the masses (to the point, sometimes, of swindling the artists themselves...). They sure lose a lot of money of artists that never succeed, or on artists whose second record is a total failure. On the other hand, they make a decent profit.

The idea of short-cutting intermediaries is not new. The trend in retail has been to reduce intermediary overhead: instead of small shops buying from wholesale retailers buying from producers, we have supermarket chains directly buying from the producers. It is therefore a tempting idea to short-cut the music publishers.

One other advantage, apart from making products cheaper, of using Internet servers to deliver music, is the alleged jump-start it gives to small bands. Alas, as Lars contends, this is bogus to a large extent: people look for well-known stuff.

The same goes for novel etc... publishing. While it's tempting to remove publishers out of the game, so that even unknown authors can get published, the common behaviour on the Net seems to be only looking for famour stuff. This can hardly be helped: for one interesting novel, how many semiliterate ramblings, boring short stories and ersatz sci-fi novels?

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...).

So in the end, a question: how to fund artists if people download their songs? What about micropayments?

Who writes Metallica lyrics? (1)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045350)

Can't be Lars... I mean, ug, grrrr (oh shit!) I mean...

"And it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel is just a freight train coming your way" can NOT be a product of Lars. The sentence alone is too long, nevermind the imagery and ironic payload. Is Metallica the heavy-metal version of Milli Vanilli or what?

Metallica's Tour Schedule: protest time? (1)

bee (15753) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045360)

Here's Metallica's touring schedule-- maybe if they started seeing former fans of theirs protesting in favor of Napster at every tour stop, they'd perhaps start to Understand.

What would also be good is letting the other bands that are touring with Metallica know that you will not be seeing their show because they are with Metallica and that you support Napster.

Fri 06/23/00 6:00PM

Fri 06/30/00 4:00PM

Sat 07/01/00 4:00PM

Mon 07/03/00 4:00PM

Tue 07/04/00 4:00PM

Fri 07/07/00 4:00PM

Sat 07/08/00 4:00PM

Sun 07/09/00 4:00PM

Wed 07/12/00 4:00PM

Fri 07/14/00 4:00PM

Sat 07/15/00 4:00PM

Sun 07/16/00 4:00PM

Re:Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (1)

yobtah (16795) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045363)

Maybe... but I think they're also pissed because they might make less money. Lars talked about "western capitalism." Metallica is definitely capitalistic first. Their main concern is making less money.

Re:It is the quality and the scale?????????? (1)

Spatch (28798) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045408)

Sure, 1.4 million copyright infringements in 48 hours is different than one fellow trading tapes with his school chums.

But surely Lars isn't trying to say that one person's MP3 of "Enter Sandman" on Napster equals 1.4 million 'copyright infringements'. And surely Lars isn't insinuating that only one person in 48 hours has home-taped a song for their buddies.

I respect Lars for being able to openly and honestly speak his mind about the events with Napster without using a PR shill or, worse yet, a lawyer, for his voice. However, this whole thing now smacks to me about as hypocritical as Rosie O'Donnell's being at the moment -- the tireless anti-gun crusader's son's bodyguard is applying for a concealed weapons permit. It's bad for other people, but not bad given personal circumstances. I guess I was most shocked to see Lars still exhorting bootlegging, really.

I sure hope this gets quoted around (wired/NYT/..) (1)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045409)

It's refreshing to finally hear something from the horse's mouth so to speak. I'm sure that a lot of people will pick on some inaccuracies in this interview (mp3s are much lower quality than a digital master, especially if they have been encoded at 128) but let's not forget the big picture.

Before I read this interview, I have to say I was not very impressed by Metallica's behaviour in this whole affair, and now I wonder how much of that impression was caused by the fact that nobody really seemed interested in what they had to say, but rather in the 300,000 names etc.

Like Lars said, the issue here is not the money the artists are losing (which he admitted is peanuts *right now*) but Intellectual Property itself. Or, why should somebody have the right to make an mp3 of Metallica and share it with everybody without the consent of Metallica themselves.

It would now be nice to see what can be done about this issue: one interesting experiment would be, for example, for Metallica to put up a page at, say, mp3.com with mp3s created from bootlegs and see how many people download them and, most important, what kind of comments people have.

I am sure that a significant part of Napster users use Napster just to avoid paying for the music they listen to (come on, be honest) but I am also sure that others have different reasons. For example, if you are an immigrant, sometimes it's *REALLY* hard to find music from your own country (ask me, I had to dig around for 4 *MONTHS* to be able to buy a CD I wanted) and it's just easier to fire up napster and see if you're going to be so lucky as to find what you were looking for to tie you over while the damn CD crosses the Atlantic strapped to a whale's back ;)

I am really interested to see in what the /. population will say about this interview, and I hope that they will forget their preconceived opinions, and keep an open mind. From the tone of this interview, it looks fairly apparent that Lars is being honest, so please try to keep this mature ok ?

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (1)

The Wookie (31006) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045426)

Tape copies degrade in quality very quickly as you go down successive generations. By the time you get to 1.4 million copies, you might as well have recorded static on the tape.

I think Lars' point is that digital copies don't ever degrade, so 1.4 million digital copies are just as good as the original.

Another take on Metallica v$. Napster (1)

el_chicano (36361) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045451)

METALLICA: "NAPSTER - BAD!" [campchaos.com]
You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (1)

Sun Tzu (41522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045469)

Exactly. I think he's just pandering with the claim that friend-to-friend copying is ok. He just knows that it's less efficient than the Internet copying model and is, therefore, a thing of the past.

Re:How Does This Guy Make Any Money (1)

arthurs_sidekick (41708) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045470)

Have you ever really listened to the way *most* people talk? Often, we seem to employ some sort of semantic filter that distills the information contained in the utterance rather than commit the actual noises to memory. (that's a pop-psychological analysis ... I claim no research behind the proposed mechanism, but the phenomenon is clear enough)

"Verbatim" transcripts often never are. There are tons of pauses and "um"s and so forth that get filtered out in the transcribing process.

What emerges here is that Mr. Ulrich wasn't prepped, he's not a trained / seasoned public speaker, and this is how he sounds. Does it sound dorky when you write it down and think of how it would have been said? Yes, I suppose it does, but I bet you wouldn't notice it *as much* in a face-to-face conversation.

I actually thought he was reasonably articulate. I now know what happened and why, and what his position is.

Mr. Ironic Example, at your service (1)

arthurs_sidekick (41708) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045471)

"often never are" ... whoa, that sucks, especially in a discussion about sentence construction =)

Hmmmm (1)

noweb4u (52880) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045483)

I wonder if Lars has ever personally heard an MP3....
He keeps stating they are lossless copies of the masters, but they are technically low bitrate lossily compressed copies of the CD. I don't think he could be more wrong. I have some MP3s that are shittier than FM Radio, Cassette tape, etc etc etc.
Plus, how does he know that people who are downloading the Metallica songs don't have a copy of the CD? Or they did and it was destroyed, badly scrached, or they have a slow ass computer that makes ripping a joke? I had a 166 that took 15 minutes just to compress a song. When I got my 350, it takes about that much to rip the whole damn CD.
It's all relative. They don't know the motive of the downloader.
Plus, how can they be removed? I could call an MP3 N0Th1n6 3l53 MaTt3r5 - M3tall1ca and they couldn't block it unless they filtered out "L33t 5p3ak" terms too. Good luck, Metallica.
They did convince me they aren't as much of assholes as I thought, but they are truly clueless about the whole thing.
My $0.02 :-)

Re:Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (1)

GnrcMan (53534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045485)

Not especially suspicious. I've certainly never met anyone who used napster to get music that they couldn't have bought on CD.
WEll congratulations...you have now.

It's easy to say he's "not the brightest man I've ever run across". Would you come out any better in a verbatim phone interview?
That statement had little to do with this interview. I've never been particularly stricken by his intelligence. And he excerbates the problem by not knowing when to shut up.

And I certainly don't think he's lying. Too far out of character.
So you think that a member of Metallica, the epitome of corporate rock, would have any qualms whatsoever about lying to protect their pocketbook? What about their popularity?


Interesting... (1)

jmccay (70985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045535)

I found that quite interesting. It's alright for them to break copywrite laws but no alright for anyone else?

One question I would have like to see answered would be "Do you realise the scale of which you could gain new fans through this channel as it now stands? For example, college kids don't have a lot of money (imagine that). Some kid gets an MP3 from a friend of a good Metallica song. They decide they like the group, and they decide to get the cd. They have a chance to expand their market to people they may have never reached before. I know plenty of people who "discovered" artist this way."

Also, Lars, if you actually read this, spend more time in the studio instead of with the lawyers. The song for MI2 sucks! Focus on you "art" instead of everything else. The song shows it lack musical talent.

Re:Ignore Lars at your Peril? (1)

Borealis (84417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045577)

I loved his casual assumption that "tracking" would keep up with piracy. He doesn't seem to realize that Napster made their job easy. Try tracking a file distribution through freenet even with anon FTPs from warez sites.

Oh well, he never needs to worry about being too informed.

Re:Scale makes it wrong? (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045593)

He also said that it was about QUALITY of music, The quality of mp3's is a great deal better than tape. I can understand their aurgument when said that the sheer QUANTITY of the songs sent batched with the quality of the rip... Fair enough.. but I dissagree with their view in general.

What about fair use? (1)

soboroff (91667) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045595)

To my mind, the whole question of Napster is, where is the line between fair use and copyright violation? I hoped Lars would give his opinion on the question:
If I buy a Metallica CD, what is it that I own? What do I have a right to do with that piece of plastic?
Can I play it for all my friends? Can I blast it from my car in the mall parking lot? What if someone there had a tape recorder and recorded my noise? So there, Metallica doesn't care because the quality is so degraded. Where is that quality line drawn? Could Napster insert random noise into some tiny fraction of the bitstream, such that you download the equivalent of an audio dub of an MP3?

As to the last question (1)

Tayknight (93940) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045600)

My mom used to have a saying about the pot calling the kettle black. I doens't seem right for the pot to say it isn't like the kettle just because the kettle is bigger. The pot is still black. Just like the band members are just as guilty of stealing for making copies of tapes. My $.02

How Does This Guy Make Any Money (1)

quakeaddict (94195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045603)

I think Lars has been drumming for toooooo long.

He could barely write a complete sentence.

An example:

"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"

It just goes to show that uh, you know, you don't have to uh go to um you know school, to make alot of uh...money.

Re:Ignore Lars at your Peril? (1)

uqbar (102695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045623)

Well I understood him just fine. I'd say you don't grasp any of what this involves either (in terms of the realities of the music industry.)

It's bad enough that all but a few lucky musicians are screwed by their labels, but now they're also being screwed by their so called fans...

Is Napster really good for unsigned artists? (1)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045631)

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.

Thank you Lars for backing up my suspicions with hard data. For a while now on Slashdot I have heard people justify Napster by saying that it is a way for unsigned artists to get recognition and it has always seemed like B.S. to me. Napster is primarily a search engine, meaning that people already now what they are looking for when they use Napster. People who maintain that Napster will somehow free the unsigned artist fail to realize that there already is a service that does this [mp3.com] and as at yet it has not created any house hold names nor spawned any artists who have quit their day jobs to pursue music fulltime with the revenue from MP3 sales. It is abundantly clear now that besides good music, an artist needs good promotion, music videos, radio airplay, etc. or else the artist will wallow in obscurity despite being extremely talented and having their song on the internet either via Napster or MP3.com.

The upshot of this is that record companies will probably never really fade away and instead will always be necessary maybe in a different form but ever present. Good knows that without record companies all of the really successful bands today would be much less successful (especially the Britney's, Backstreets and N'syncs of this world).

Re:Scale makes it wrong? (1)

clgoh (106162) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045632)

Fair use could be considered half way, and big scale trading is obviously not.

Statistics of Napster (1)

reginald (107649) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045637)

Lars used his "1.4 million downloads" = 1.4 million copyright infringements statement quite a lot. The real question is when were they monitoring, before or after raising their concerns about napster. That 1.4 million downloads were probably all by metallica fans who were concerned about not being able to find metallica mp3's for a while, or by people trying to make a statement.

Lars makes sense, like it or not (1)

Animol (120579) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045687)

I had the misfortune to be one of the Napster users banned because of the whole Metallica proceedings, and I read this interview with one thought in mind.

I don't hate Metallica.

And strangely enough, after reading this interview, I still don't. My tastes in music are extremely eclectic, and the reason I first started using Napster was to try to find rare songs that couldn't be easily found anywhere else. It's a great forum for the distribution of the ever-popular parody songs (What if God smoked cannibus, etc.) and a lot of older, less-popular music. Lars, however, made a lot of sense if you read carefully. All he says is that he didn't want Metallica's album-perfect music put up for trade for free, because there CAN still be money made from it, and because he doesn't feel it's necessary.
Chuck D., as a counter-example, supports Napster. I also have no problem with this point of view. But, as Lars said, the argument that everyone's ignoring is why Metallica made this decision - *METALLICA* didn't want *THEIR* music traded like that. Metallica's not damning all of the copyright violators of the world. Metallica's not intentionally barring people from enjoying their music, they're just strongly showing a preference about the way it's done. And they know it won't *STOP*, because there are many total anarchists out there.
Maybe Lars isn't particularly internet-savvy. Maybe he *DOES* enjoy getting SOME money out of this. This is no reason for us all to scream "Bad guy! Bad guy!" He's just doing what he thinks is right, and it's always up to us (the fans, the Napster users, the real world) to make the final decision.
Me? I don't share Metallica songs on Napster anymore. I still do, however, share the Punk Polka.

english major? (1)

ocipio (131260) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045710)

take out 'i mean' and 'obviously' out of lars' replies and you have shorted the length quite a bit. I wish they understood technology more. They don't get too deep into the reason. Napster is 'bad' and that is as far as they can go.

Re:Journalistic ethics (1)

emmett (131645) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045711)

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

I secured the interview, but timothy conducted and transcribed it.


Copyright, is right though (1)

gowdy (135717) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045720)

Hi All,

He does make very good points in general I do agree with what he says. I guess this goes against the Free Software morallity though, programmers can't financially benefit from their work, so why should musicians? I don't think we (as a society) are in that position yet and people still do need to derive something from their work, be it a musician or a doctor.

Many entertainers are grossly overpaid, why should (to pick a name at random) Tom Cruise get paid many orders of magnitude more than a teacher? Why really does benefit society more?

Anyway, to conclude, I think he should "win" in the sense that people should not be giving away what is not theirs to give. Bands who "GPL" their music should be allowed to use Napster-like services though, so there is no reason for it to be stopped.

Stephen J. Gowdy

Re:FWIW... (1)

Dethboy (136650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045727)

Dave is writing even shittier music than Metallica... and trying to find a decent guitarist since Marty bailed.

Re:Journalistic ethics (1)

startled (144833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045752)

I actually don't mind minimally edited transcripts. Anyone with half a brain knows that's how most people talk, and that most journalists edit it out.

Basically, anyone who posts "oh, Lars is such an idiot, look how he talks" is not only going to get ignored, he's going to get modded down. Well, unless he makes some extraordinarily funny joke involving Chuck D, User Friendly, and fsck.

For the rest of us, who are at least slightly intelligent, we get to read an interview that sounds like it was done with an actual person, not a publicist for the RIAA.

Re:Journalistic ethics (1)

startled (144833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045753)

Oops. Nevermind my previous post, quoted below. Apparently, all it really takes to get modded up to 4 is saying "like" a lot of times. But I couldn't have overestimated the intelligence of either the poster or the moderators, so I must just not "get it".

I actually don't mind minimally edited transcripts. Anyone with half a brain knows that's how most people talk, and that most journalists edit it out.

Basically, anyone who posts "oh, Lars is such an idiot, look how he talks" is not only going to get ignored, he's going to get modded down. Well, unless he makes some extraordinarily funny joke involving Chuck D, User Friendly, and fsck.

For the rest of us, who are at least slightly intelligent, we get to read an interview that sounds like it was done with an actual person, not a publicist for the RIAA.

Re:FWIW... (1)

ZikZak (153813) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045776)

where's Dave Mustaine when you need him?

Preening in front of a mirror, running his fingers through his pretty-boy hair, and reminiscing about the good old days when he had a career, maybe?

He's got a point, you know. (1)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045794)

"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?"

I say no.

nine valid points, and no valid answers. (1)

ChiaBen (160517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045802)

Lars, I'm afraid has backed up my theory that rock musicians are not too bright.
But thanks for responding to the questions, Lars.
Benjamin Carlson

Thanks Lars... (1)

zipped (163315) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045808)

Thanks for the interview Lars. It is good to have you answer questions from the general population, so that we can get answers to our questions about the issue, not the media's ?s.

Towards a new system of intellectual property (1)

Hentai (165906) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045815)

You know, I either heard or read in a book once, a notion of a society based entirely around IP. It was a completely open, free society, in which everything everyone said was well-documented and publically available. The trick was that whenever you quoted someone, or used one of their ideas, you had to talk to them about it and arrange some sort of payment or they could sue you. Production, labor and the like were all taken care of - technology and energy production had reached stages where it was pretty much trivial to do anything you wanted, and noone really HAD to "work" for a living. So the entire concept of wealth was based around your ideas; around what new ideas you could offer the world and how eager the world was to utilize those ideas. If you came up with something people liked, and used, you were compensated for it (sort of like the idealization of the Karma system here). If you never contributed, you stayed pretty much in anonymity. We're pretty close to being there, you know. We could very easily replace most people in most jobs with automated equivalents; we just don't in most cases because people are afraid to lose their jobs, and other people are afraid to make these people lose their jobs. We've grown up with this idea that what you do with your hands and the sweat on your back define your worth as a person, which leads to a bunch of people toiling away in dead-end, boring, unimaginative and just plain unpleasant jobs, that they admit regularly that they hate, because they feel they have to. What we need isn't just a redefinition of intellectual property or a redefinition of wealth; we need a redefinition of worth, at the fundamental, humanist level. An idea that a person isn't worth the money they make or the work they do. An idea that you're worth what you know, and what you help others to know. It sounds hopelessly, stupidly idealistic, right? One of those pipe-dreams that Internet pundits and sci-fi buffs talk about all teary-eyed. But it's entirely possible for such a system to conretely work. One of the first steps is to ENCOURAGE people to allow themselves to be replaced by automation. Put forward a publically funded project: If you can find a cost-effecive way to replace yourself with automation that will save your employer money, the government will offer to fund the patent-filing and research to realize it, on the condition that the profits and/or savings get split 33/33/33 between you, your employer, and the government. This will make EVERYBODY money, besides the fact that you no longer have to work for a living! The second step is to teach people that creative, original ideas to problems are not taboo. That "this is the way it's always been done" is a really stupid reason to do something, but that you should always make sure there isn't really a better one before you go ahead and change everything. Encourage people to THINK about what they're doing, not just blindly follow instructions. We have robots that can do that, thanks. Just about anything that a person can do physically, a robot can do better and cheaper. The real value of a human being these days is the neural net housed in its skull; we need to start utilizing these beautiful machines more effectively.

Grr. Sorry about the formatting of that. (1)

Hentai (165906) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045816)

Anyone know how I can make 'Plain Old Text' my default choice? I keep hitting 'submit' but forgetting to change my format. ;)

It is the quality and the scale?????????? (1)

redleg141 (169213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045834)

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.

It is the quality and the scale?????????? Who is he kidding. Can he prove that of those 1.4 million copies, noone who downloaded them owned the appropriate CDs?

I own several CDs but I don't want to carry them everywhere I bring my laptop. However, if I have MP3s for all of my CDs, they don't add any wieght to my system.

How I get the MP3s is another question. should I spend 20 to 30 minutes a song and rip them myself of should I download them from someone else who owns the CD as well and has already ripped them in 5 to 10 minutes a song. My time is valuable. I think I'll go for the shorter time.

As for Napster, it is a tool that allows me to easily find the files for the CDs I already own. I have a question for the peanut gallery; how many people out there download MP3s for CDs they don't have and keep them permanently? I don't. I use the MP3s I download to decide if a CD is worth buying.

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (1)

VaporX (171185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045838)

Imagine the quality of the recording after that many generations of duplication. That is _entirely_ different from making exact digital copies with the exact same fidelity and quality.

Re:Ignore Lars at your Peril? (1)

VaporX (171185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045839)

I agree with seebs. I thought he got his ideas across very clearly and intelligently. It's fallacious to try and decry his arguments simply because he doesn't have a degree in English. He made an excellent case for his side.

Re:Dopehead? (1)

VaporX (171185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045840)

And pray tell, how did you HEAR him talking?

Good for the bunch. (1)

liposuction (176349) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045864)

You're right, but keep in mind the fact that if HE can copy cds and cassettes, so can everyone. Sorry if there's a lot of people in the world. 1.4 million or only 5; it doesn't matter. If he can do it, we all can.

OK for me, but not for you. (1)

molda (187523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045907)

Nice interview, but for the last question and answer. I take it by that it's ok to copy tapes from your friends, but not from the internet. However if I have a tape and lend it to a friend who lends it to two friends ad infinitum, there will soon be more than 1.4 million copyright infringements. just not as easy to catch as napster users.

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (1)

molda (187523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045909)

minidisc to minidisc can be done, cd to cdr can be done, cd to minidisc can be done. There is negligable degredation across these media. How many people do you know with any one of these devices. It won't stop people copying music. If you want to look at the real culprits. I'd go for the record labels. How much does it cost to produce, package and market an album? how much do they charge? and how much does the artist get?

Kudos to Lars for aggreeing to be interviewed. (1)

Jetifi (188285) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045944)

It's fairly obvious this is something Metallica have chosen to do. How many PR types would agree to have a band in Metallica's position be interviewed by /.? I just wish he'd get to the point instead of talkinglike a machine gun.

Crypress Hill present - ODB and Machine-Gun Mouth!

Get the users leave Napster Alone (1)

shinoda (192733) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045961)

My only problem is the condemnation of Technology. Napster can't stop users from passing stuff around except by banning them when they are notified of the problem. The users ARE LIABLE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. LEAVE NAPSTER ALONE THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.

what is at stake? (1)

jazzkat7 (192741) | more than 14 years ago | (#1045962)

Of course I understand the argument that you would want protect your goods/services/music/etc. from being stolen..
The fact that when you see a $16 dollar CD in a store, and you choose to either buy it, or not buy it, not steal it... That's a very credible argument
- However, I would like to see one authoritative example of how the trade of these mp3's are actually hurting sales. I've actually seen that due to exposure to a wider audience, CD sales are going up. I know myself that I have downloaded mp3's to see if it is material that I would want to listen to, and then have bought the CD.

Is Lars protecting his CD sales(of which may not need protecting, otherwise the CD companies would be taking action), or is he just trying to show the world what a badass Metallica is?


Oh dear (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1045999)

Shit, an all out effort to ignore Metallica and look what happens. Isn't that right dave.

Either/Or (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1046000)

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.

Re:He "gets it", but he doesn't. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1046001)

Actually, it sounds like they wanted (want) to work with it but were never asked. There's a slight difference.

He "gets it", but he doesn't. (2)

caferace (442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046003)

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.

Napster is being *ABUSED* (2)

strredwolf (532) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046004)

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 "uncertainty.microsoft.com." The purpose of that site was not known. -- MSNBC 10-26-1999 on MS crack

Re:Journalistic ethics (2)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046014)

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....



General Notes (2)

pridkett (2666) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046019)

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.

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (2)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046029)

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.

Grammar (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046033)

Let me just say that, after today, I will never ever criticize any of the slashdot authors again for grammar / linguistic errors.

Kudos to Lars... (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046062)

...for coming through with a great interview. Even if you can't agree with some things he says, he definitely had some good answers there, and if he rambled a bit from time to time, well, that just goes to show it's authentic, not a scripted party line. I think on the whole he did a pretty good job here.

Re:Journalistic ethics (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046063)

Allow me to call your attention back to part of the interview--specifically, to the line I've highlighted in bold.
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.
Get it?

Besides, if it had been edited and cleaned up, then everyone would have been ragging on it being the lawyers speaking, not Lars. This way you can be pretty darned sure it's the genuine article.

Re:One major point... (2)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046072)

Count the generations, though.

A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an MP3 is indistinguishable from the original MP3.

Re:Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (2)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046078)

Not especially suspicious. I've certainly never met anyone who used napster to get music that they couldn't have bought on CD.

It's easy to say he's "not the brightest man I've ever run across". Would you come out any better in a verbatim phone interview?

And I certainly don't think he's lying. Too far out of character.

heh, heh. (2)

j_d (26865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046096)

Lars in a Suburban.

Long winded webby awards (2)

British (51765) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046115)

Just imagine a chat transcript between Jon Katz and Lars. The conversation would be a terabyte long.

Re:Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (2)

GnrcMan (53534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046116)

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.


Re:Journalistic ethics (2)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046119)

The advantage of the verbatim transcript is that not many people are
gping to think that this is the 16th version that finally made it
through a panel of lawyers review. I'm guessing Lars wanted it this
way. I don't think Slashdot are guilty of treating this interview

Re:Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (2)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046141)

A third possibility exists. That NetPD was not told to watch for such traffic, and didn't. When asked, 'Oh, btw, how many unsigned artists got traded?' they pulled a number out of their collective asses..

Hmm... (2)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046164)

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

Does anyone else get the impression from this that he has NO CLUE what goes on with Napster?

-- Dr. Eldarion --
It's not what it is, it's something else.

Lars makes some good points ... and misses a few (2)

alanjstr (131045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046168)

I'll start with the bad: Lars seems to think that MP3 is a perfect copy. Although he agrees that CDs are too expensive (hence the wide interest in MP3s), he has no plans for distribution over the internet (which he agrees would be cheaper). For Metallica, Napster is just the first step. They think that after that, they will go after other things such as Gnutella, especially when they IPO. Well, since AOL disowned Gnutella, there is no link to any "funding."

One great point is that downloading stuff from the internet is a privilege and not a right. He's not against the idea of Napster in general ("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"), he just doesn't want copyrights, etc. being trampled on. People tout Napster and MP3.com for their ability to let "new" bands distribute their songs hoping to make it big. How many of these bands will really take off without the promotion of the record companies?

Something else to ponder. (2)

liposuction (176349) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046179)

I had 4 albums (FOUR!!!) on cassette that were either old and distorted, or broken all together. I downloaded only the songs that I had already paid to listen to. As it turns out, some company all the way across the country sees this and submits my name to Metallica, who inturn, submits it to Napster. Now I find myself kicked off of Napster for downloading Metallica songs legally. Also, I'm sorry if Metallica is losing it's bread money, but I don't agree that Lars can sit there and say that he copies things illegally, but he's just one man . Give me a break Lars. There are how many people in the U.S.? In the world? What's good for you is good for everyone. That's the way the world works. If YOU can copy songs without permission, so can 1.4 million people in 48 hours. Sucks when it happens to you huh? ------------------------------- Trim the fat!!

I have to say that I agree with him... (3)

dwlemon (11672) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Re:Long winded webby awards (3)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046191)

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?"


Re:OK for me, but not for you. (3)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046192)

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.

ONE unsigned download? / OT: mp3.com banned me (3)

dayeight (21335) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046195)

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" [mp3.com] 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 mp3.com" 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 mp3.com

A change of opinion? (3)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046202)

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?

Two points: transcript and monitoring Napster (3)

kniedzw (65484) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

User Friendly Rewlz! (3)

WiartonWilly (82383) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046206)

UF seems to have a grasp of this situation. hehehe ;^)


No understanding of OSS *or* the internet (3)

Noer (85363) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Journalistic ethics (3)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046213)

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?

Executive Summary of Lars' Concerns (4)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ignore Lars at your Peril? (4)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046218)

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.

Help! (4)

Anonymous Shepherd (17338) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046219)

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.



Re:OK for me, but not for you. (4)

stab (26928) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046220)

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

The point is: How do they get paid? (4)

mckwant (65143) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

My note to Metallica.com last night... (5)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046227)

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! Metallica.com 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,

I Expected Lars To Be More Of A Dumbass (5)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#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...)

Re:OK for me, but not for you. (5)

RichDice (7079) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Wow. That was a fucking cool interview. (5)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046235)

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?

Half-off-topic: Contempt for non-computer-people. (5)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046236)

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?

One major point... (5)

stienman (51024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046237)

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.

Scale makes it wrong? (5)

meadowsp (54223) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Re:Journalistic ethics (5)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046239)

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'.

can we now have a chuck d interview... (5)

T.Hobbes (101603) | more than 14 years ago | (#1046241)

... where he refutes lars?

Control of Intellectual Property (5)

GrayMouser_the_MCSE (192605) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.
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