- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000

The drummer from Metallica told a congressional panel yesterday that on-line music-sharing companies are violating the band's copyrights and hurting record sales, while executives from those companies denied those charges.

Lars Ulrich said he wanted "Congress to understand the depth of this issue." He told The Washington Times that testifying was "about standing up for artists rights, not just to be compensated.

"I want to continue to control what I create," the rock drummer said.

But Hank Barry, the chief executive officer of on-line music service Napster, and a copyright lawyer in a Silicon Valley venture fund that just invested $15 million in the company, told a packed Senate hearing room that the industry is just having a knee-jerk reaction to new technology it doesn't know how to deal with.

"Napster simply facilitates communication among people interested in music," Mr. Barry said. "It is a return to the original information-sharing approach of the Internet, allowing for a depth and a scale of information that is truly revolutionary."

Napster had asked for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month in reaction to a lawsuit filed against it by the Recording Industry Association of America for copyright infringement.

Mr. Ulrich wants Metallica's music to be removed from Napster until U.S. District Judge Marilyn H. Patel in San Francisco rules on the industry's lawsuit July 26.

At one point during the three-hour hearing yesterday, committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, downloaded a song from the rock band Creed using Gnutella, a service similar to Napster. He let the audience listen to it while he and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, left for a Senate vote.

"I don't think we infringed rights," said Mr. Hatch, who is also a songwriter. "It was for education and governmental purposes."

Napster is a network of "peer-to-peer" transfers in which users download files directly from one another and not from a central server it does not have the actual music on its service. Instead, Napster provides the medium to find and save onto a personal computer music in a digital-music format known as MP3, which is a compressed version of a track from a compact disc.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company isn't alone in its type of business: It competes with services like Scour Inc., Gnutella, SpinFrenzy.com Inc., I-Mesh.com Inc., CuteMX and Yo!NK.

Recent studies show that nearly three-quarters of college students across the country use Napster which was developed by a college student at least once a month, a statistic that worries the recording industry.

"The record industry as a whole is very concerned about their copyrights being infringed," said Amy Weiss, spokeswoman for the industry group, which represents 18 record companies, including major labels such as Sony, Virgin Records and Warner Brothers.

The association says that once consumers can access music for free on line, they will stop buying CDs.

That's not the case, Mr. Barry argued.

"Users who transfer more than 20 files soon delete over 95 percent of those files," he said. "In the last six months, record sales are up more than 8 percent from the previous year an increase of more than $1 billion a year. Like other advances in technology, what Napster shows is that more access to music leads to more interest in music."

Mr. Barry also reminded senators that Congress and the courts allowed technological advances like radio, the cassette player, cable television and the VCR, although industry associations objected to them.

Napster also is being sued by Metallica and rap artist Dr. Dre. Metallica had sued several universities as well, including Yale and University of Southern California, where many students use Napster, but it later dropped the suits.

Mr. Ulrich said his band only wants a choice about having its music freely traded on line. "They never gave us a choice. And that's all we are asking for.

"We know they have the technology to take our band off, but they need our music to attract users," said Mr. Ulrich. "This is where it gets tricky, because if all the big artists want their music taken off, all they'll have left are babies."

When asked if Metallica would allow Napster to offer its music if the company formally asks, Mr. Ulrich told The Times that would require a business deal, "and at the end you either come to an agreement or you don't."

Senators urged Internet companies and members of the music industry to work out licensing agreements on their own, allowing music to be distributed on line. They cautioned yesterday that increased pressure about how the record industry should deal with new technologies such as Napster would force Congress to step in.

"We must protect the rights of the creator," Mr. Hatch said. "But we cannot, in the name of copyright, unduly burden consumers and the promising technology the Internet presents to all of us."

Several hundred congressional interns gathered outside of the crowded room in the Hart Senate Office building during the hearing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Ulrich.

Fewer, but just as persistent, interns on the House side looked for Mr. Ulrich later in the afternoon. At a lunch in the House Cannon Office Building, Mr. Ulrich and Rep. John R. Kasich, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, discussed music-related technology and the Internet.

A number of the players are exploring ways to create for-fee networks like Napster's that would be easy to use. However, the appeal for those services diminishes when users know they can get music free through services like Napster.

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