Metallica's Ulrich Defends Intellectual Property Rights in Senate Hearing
(July 12, 2000) At a Senate hearing on Internet music duplication services such as Napster and Gnutella, the rocker Lars Ulrich proved to be the most forceful and articulate advocate of intellectual property rights in cyberspace. He argued that it is necessary to incentivize people to produce music. He also stated that Napster's business model is "like old-fashioned trafficking in stolen goods."
|Lars Ulrich, Senate Witness
and Philosopher of Capitalism
Lars Ulrich formed the heavy metal rock group Metallica in 1981 with James Hetfield. He is the drummer for the group, and an icon of sex, drugs and rock and roll. The group has also enjoyed considerable success, which has lead to the employment of many people in the music industry.
The Senate Judiciary Committee brought together nine witnesses on July 11 to testify and answer questions about the technologies and legal issues involved with music copying on the Internet.
Representatives of Napster, Gnutella, and MP3.com defended their activities. The panel also included several representatives of the music production industry, including a Sony executive, and the President of the Recording Industry Association of America.
So, it was ironic that the drummer for the band that has made music albums such as "Kill Em All" and "Ride the Lightening" would be the most forceful and articulate advocate of intellectual property rights.
Ulrich's crusade against Internet music piracy began earlier this year when he discovered that the entire collection of Metallica's music, and works still in progress, were available for free via Napster. The group was the first to file a lawsuit against Napster.
At the Senate hearing Ulrich testified that "If you're not fortunate enough to own a computer, there's only one way to assemble a music collection the equivalent of a Napster user's: theft. Walk into a record store, grab what you want and walk out. The difference is that the familiar phrase a computer user hears, "File's done," is replaced by another familiar phrase - 'You're under arrest.' "
Ulrich explained a large number of people are involved in the production of Metallica music, including "a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians."
|See, Testimony of Lars Ulrich Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 7/11/00.|
He continued that "we rent time for months at recording studios which are owned by small businessmen who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record company employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. Add it all up and you have an industry with many jobs--a very few glamorous ones like ours -- and a greater number of demanding ones covering all levels of the pay scale for wages which support families and contribute to our economy."
"It's clear, then," said Ulrich, "that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable; all the jobs I just talked about will be lost and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear. The argument I hear a lot, that "music should be free," must then mean that musicians should work for free. Nobody else works for free. Why should musicians?"
|Related Story: Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Napster and Gnutella, 7/12/00.|
"The backbone for the success of our intellectual property business is the protection that Congress has provided with the copyright statutes. No information-based industry can thrive without this protection. Our current political dialog about trade with China is focused on how we must get that country to respect and enforce copyrights. How can we continue to take that position if we let our own copyright laws wither in the face of technology?"
"Make no mistake, Metallica is not anti-technology," said Ulrich. "But how can we embrace a new format and sell our music for a fair price when someone, with a few lines of code, and no investment costs, creative input or marketing expenses, simply gives it away? How does this square with the level playing field of the capitalist system? In Napster's brave new world, what free market economy models support our ability to compete? The touted "new paradigm" that the Internet gurus tell us we must adopt sounds to me like old-fashioned trafficking in stolen goods."
Ulrich several times in the hearing jabbed Napster CEO Hank Barry for infringing the copyrights of Metallica and other musicians, while at the same time asserting copyright in its own web site.
In response to a question from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chairman of the Committee, he argued that the Congress should pass legislation, because the parties will not be able to work out a solution on their own.