July 11, 2000
3:20 PM   Subscribe

Wow! Lars Ulrich makes a valid point! Who'd a thunk it? While he still fails to notice the obvious benefits the Nap' provides, or make amends for attacking his own fans (or at the very least realized that it's not Congress' place to meddle), Lars has gone ahead and more clearly illuminated his own point of view. Now if only he could have STARTED his argument a few months ago with such calm and coherent points (as opposed to grandiose posturing), this whole Napster debate would be a bit more...um...SOLVED by now?!
posted by NickBarat (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
wow, you mean he's reached past grunts and hand gestures? amazing.

what he fails to realize is that napster is simply a medium. that would be like suing (if there were) the internet for containing pirated software.
posted by dominic at 4:00 PM on July 11, 2000

Napster has caused me to buy many CDs and also realize how crappy other CDs could be. Unfortunately, it made me realize metallica's CDs weren't too good, and I decided not to buy it. However, I know that I'm not like everyone, but I think there are many people like me who use napster as a service to test music, kind of like the listening booths at a CD store. However, sometimes I only download the best tracks of every CD *mischevious grin*. Allthough I believe they have a point, has Metallica lost any money that is PROVEN to be caused by Napster?
posted by starduck at 6:46 PM on July 11, 2000

Napster "caused" you to buy CDs? It came to your house and compelled you? It made you do it?

In any case, it would be next to impossible to prove actual financial damages to Metallica or any other artist due to Napster, because that would require the sworn testimony of people who broke the law -- those who used Napster to download the music in MP3 format and *kept* it in lieu of purchasing CDs. Who would swear to that for someone else's benefit?

But that points out the substantial difference between Napster (and counterparts) and listening booths at music stores. Listening booths do not afford you the opportunity to walk away with music that you can keep and listen to at your whim.

While it is true that Napster does facilitate the "test drive" of music, it is clear that many (if not a clear majority) of the users are not merely "testing" the music that they download. They aren't listening to it, making decisions, and then making purchases or deleting the MP3 files when they choose not to buy -- otherwise, no one would have hundreds of MBs of MP3 files on their hard drives, ready to share with the other Napster users who come calling.

All that said, and with complete agreement with Lars Ulrich, Metallica and the other artists who are opposed to this unlawful trade of their music, I'm afraid that it's all a lot of effort to try to close the barn door after the horse has packed up and moved to China. Too little, too late. I sympathise with them, and support the concept of artist control over the fruits of their labour, but I don't see any way to stop this now.
posted by Dreama at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2000

Starduck: "...has Metallica lost any money that is PROVEN to be caused by Napster?"

Nope. Not yet. See, artists and corporations alike fear the potential loss of future revenue, if mp3tech and the Internet as a whole are not placed under some kind of controls. More specifically they are unhappy about the lack of more revenue than they have now, due to the fact they can't control the flow of information. I feel like a broken record but that's what this is really about: control.

If corporations and some well-financed individuals had their way, the entire 'Net would be fee based. On the surface some think this is a good idea, but if it's forced, it leaves out people like you and me. And if the control is taken from the masses and given to a select few financially powerful institutions, eventually the Internet will become just as boring as television is now.

Check out Todd Rundgren or Stephen King. These are just the first babysteps. Encyclopedia Britannica tried to be all pay when they started out. The New York Times still has a premium archive: pay only. And this is their right. I'm not saying it's wrong or right. However, they can't make any decent money so long as other similar services are offered out there for free.

I said long ago that the only way corporations could really sink their teeth into the 'Net is if legislation was passed making the 'Net effectively pay only. If they change the copyright laws to accomodate the corporate greed, say goodbye to the 'Net as we know it.

Right now it's not possible to effectively change legislation to accomodate corporate greed. Why? There's no way to police it. There's no way to control it. At least, not yet. Believe me. They're working on it. It's only a matter of time.

But make no mistake: this is all about control.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2000

Another point I'd like to make. I find it intriguing, that right after you read through all of Lars Ulrich's very astute and persuasive speech, ZDNet then takes the opportunity to show you their Ultimate Napster Guide. This is simultaneously free publicity for Metallica, ZDNet (and any other media sharks in the frenzy) and Napster.

The music industry wants people to get used to the Napster concept, but they also eventually want this concept to be controlled not by Napster, who successfully accomplished it first, but by the music industry, who will charge for everything.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, but it will start a dangerous precedent. If a time comes when you can only get mp3s for a fee, why not just do that to the entire 'Net?

It's been fun, y'all, but the party's almost over. And maybe that's for the best, but I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2000

The more I thought about it, I realized that if Lars REALLY wanted to stick up for the plight of the musician, while he had Congress' attention, he should have stood up against the current work-for-hire copyright legislation that will HARM musicians. But then, of course, HE isn't affected by that. Metallica already gets huge royalties, and guaranteed radio airplay - unlike the typical major label signee who is basically a modern day serf under the caste system of the RIAA. If the guy was so altruistic towards the plight of musicians, he should have said something about that. If you're a musician, or just care about this, check out www.futureofmusic.org, as well as FOM head Jenny Toomey's columns at insound.com for some further insight.
posted by NickBarat at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2000

Essentially the internet is a tool for exchange. When this exchange involves "owned" data there is a perceived loss of potential monetary compensation. The fear is that people will not fill this potential and that no one will get paid for anything that that appears on the internet.

We will just have to ignore the fact that as long as software has been written, it has been pirated. A pirated copy is often available before it is released in stores.

We will just have to ignore the fact that public libraries with books and videos exist in almost every city in the world.

A lot of people make the argument that they wouldn’t buy a CD if they could download it for free. I guess these are the same people that go restaurants and never leave a tip. After all, you don’t have to tip. There is no LAW that says you do. The fact is that people do tip. A lot of people love to over tip.

Lars cries out for control, but that’s always been an illusion. He’s never had control and he never will. All the control in the world is not going to get people to buy music. Laws are not going stop those that want to commit crime. His whole argument is selling humanity short on conscious and I am not buying that.

posted by john at 11:25 PM on July 11, 2000


Looks like it will be Metallica v. the whole world. Great case, if you can win it...
posted by baylink at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2000

Lars has a point. From now on I'll just tape Metallica songs off the radio.
posted by mikewas at 2:30 PM on July 12, 2000

yea your right, its only metallica just forget the list of groups and musicians that were on tv and in the newspapers that support metallica and RIAA (there are even some small unknowns in there) when will you guys just realize that napster is illeagal

you can toss the "we use napster to test out music" argument because almost all bands have a site to leagally download a part of most songs

if napster is a medium like the internet i would like to see the man who owns and makes money off whole internet like the creaters of napster do, hey i just realized that drug dealers and hitmen are also mediums, lets leagize that stuff

bad meatllica cds? too bad most of them are amazing and the 2 million that almost buy each cd probably likes them also, its impossible to badmouth metallica after seeing them live, no one can put on a better show, no one
posted by Goonan at 9:01 PM on July 12, 2000

Precisely Goonan, and in the years to come that will be the real place of revenue for artists: concerts. Live performances is one thing that technology hasn't been able to replicate, and probably never will since it's a matter of flesh and blood.

The RIAA and those who embrace the status quo and fear change have been gouging the american people for too long. It is widely known that producing CDs is cheaper than producing vinyl, and yet CDs are MORE expensive in the mainstream.

Wanna picture of the World of Tomorrow from the point of view of the RIAA? Check out Music Choice which is run by Dave Del Beccaro, president and CEO of Music Watch. Claiming to be "the world's largest provider of commercial-free digital music via cable, satellite, and the Internet" it's actually supported by Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, Media One Cable, Sony Music, EMI Music, Warner Music, Motorola, and Microsoft. They're also affiliated with Primestar, DirecTV, and practically every major player in the cable business except AT&T.

Music Choice is a subscription service. Presently they also offer free music downloads, but you have to register, and most of what they offer, including their "Backstage Pass" archive retrival and commercial-free channel system, is cost-based. Right now it's just five bucks a year, but that only allows you to join the service. Downloading stuff costs extra. So you pay these guys five bucks a year before you even get to listen to music. And you purchase all music you download from them before you listen, so once again you don't know if you're paying for something you want to keep. Right back where we started.

This is how they want it to be. Where they control the distribution of information for a fee, and if you're a little artist wanting to make your stuff available to the world, eventually you'll have to go through something like this. Because distribution of music online will be illegal, whether you personally have rights to what you're making available or not.

So the big guys will survive the present battle, but little guys will be right back where they were when the Web was a twinkle in Berners-Lee's eye, and the music industry was the only game in town.

Napster is being used by some for illegal activities. No doubt there are people out there downloading music, converting it to .cda, mass producing CDs and selling them for a profit. That's illegal. Being a medium for distribution is not illegal. Otherwise any company who made blank CD cassettes would be liable for what other people record on them.

Passing music around to friends and fellow music enthusiasts in order to discover music that suits your tastes so you can be an informed consumer and make better music purchases is very legal. It's 'research' and falls in line with the copyright laws already on the books.

If you want the big corporations to continue to control what music you have access to, go ahead and get in line with Ulrich. His speechwriters put some pretty words in his mouth, but he's still full of shit, and hasn't the slightest idea what is really going on here, or where it's going.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:53 PM on July 13, 2000

Zach, I love the research argument...

No, I really do. But is there any case law? Mike?
posted by baylink at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2000

We must remember that the music industry did exist before the napster and the internet came a long. Bands had to come from somewhere and get popular. There will always be places like mp3.com and artists personal webpages to get legal sound files of their music. More than 90% of the files on napster are illeagal, i always laugh when the creaters of it say that it was made to trade bootlegs and legal files, ill belive that as far as i can throw Rosie O'donell. Big coreperations will always have controll of what mass media we are exposed to, you just have to get past them like it has always been to find different things, but college kids with 3000+ illegal mp3s on thier computer is not the way to do it. CD makers have no idea of what goes on the cd, but napster does know that tons of illeagal mp3's are going through them and did not stop it.
posted by Goonan at 6:34 PM on July 13, 2000


If you're going to use the "X existed before Y" argument, you can't discount the fact that music existed before there was any means of distributing it other than performing it live.

And, uhh... last time I remembered, MP3.com had some legality issues of their own.

Big coreperations will always have controll of what mass media we are exposed to

Wow. What a pessimistic, dreary view you must have of the world. Claim "realistic" if you want, but I still believe that the masses will have control of what mass media we are exposed to.

but napster does know that tons of illeagal mp3's are going through them and did not stop it.

Of course they didn't. Napster's 'goal' as a company and service is to provide a means of transferring information, not controlling that information flow.

(wow, an argument that got me on the side of Napster. How utterly curious.)
posted by cCranium at 6:14 AM on July 14, 2000

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