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Lars Ulrich, Roger McGuinn Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee on Downloading Music on the Internet

Aired July 11, 2000 - 10:45 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we are going to go back live to Washington D.C. for a convergence of cultures that has Lars Ulrich, from the band Metallica, addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee. The topic, Napster, and being able to download music for free on the Internet.

Let's listen.


LARS ULRICH, DRUMMER, METALLICA: ... "Mission: Impossible 2," we were startled to hear reports that five or six versions of our work- in-progress were already being played on some U.S. radio stations. We traced the source of this leak to a corporation called Napster. Additionally, we learned that all of our previously recorded copyright songs were, via Napster, available for anyone around the world to download from the Internet in a digital format known as MP3. In fact, in a 48-hour period, where we monitored Napster, over 300,000 users made 1.4 million free downloads of Metallica's music. Napster hijacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission. Our catalog of music simply became available for free downloads on the Napster system.

I do not have a problem with any artists voluntarily distributing his or her songs through any means that artist so chooses. But just like a carpenter who crafts a table gets to decide whether he wants to keep it, sell or give it away, shouldn't we have the same options? We should decide what happens to our music, not a company with no rights to our recordings, which has never invested a penny in our music or had anything to do with its creation. The choice has been taken away from us.

With Napster, every song by every artist is available for download at no cost. And, of course, with no payment to the artist, the songwriter, or the copyright-holder. If you are not fortunate enough to own a computer, there is only one way to assemble a music collection the equivalent of a Napster user, theft. Walk into a record store, grab what you want and walk out. The difference is that the familiar phrase, "file's done," is now replaced by another familiar phrase, "you are under arrest."

Since what I do is make music, let's talk about the recording artist for a moment. When Metallica makes an album, we spend many months and many hundreds of thousands of our own dollars writing and recording. We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and occasionally other musicians. 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 companies' employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations.

Add it all up, and you have an industry with many jobs, a few glamorous ones like ours, and lots more covering all levels of the pay scale and providing wages which support families and contribute to our economy. Remember too that my band Metallica is fortunate enough to make a great living from what we do. Most artists are barely a decent wage and need every source of revenue available to scrape by. Also keep in mind that the primary source of income for most songwriters is from the sale of records. Every time a Napster enthusiast downloads a song, it takes money from the pockets of all these members of the creative community.

It is clear then that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs that 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 the musicians should work for free. Nobody else works for free, why should musicians?

In economic terms, music is referred to as intellectual property, as are films, television programs, books, computer software, video games and the like. As a nation, the United States has excelled in the creation of intellectual property, and collectively, is this country's most valuable export. The backbone for the success of our intellectual property business is the protection that Congress has provided with the copyright statutes. No information-baseed industry can thrive without this protection.

For instance, our current political dialogue 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 about it, Metallica is not anti-technology. When we made our first album, most records were on vinyl. By the late '80's cassette sales accounted for over 50 percent of the market. Now the compact disc dominates. If the next format is a form of downloading from the Internet, with distribution and manufacturing savings passed on to the American consumer, then, of course, we will embrace that format.

But how can we embrace a new format and sell our music for a fair price, when somebody, with a few lines of code, no investment cost, no creative input, and no marketing expense 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 economic model supports our ability to compete? The touted new paradigm that the Internet gurus tell us we must adopt sounds to me like good, old- fashioned trafficking in stolen goods.

We have to find a way to welcome the technological advances and cost-savings of the Internet. However, this must be done without destroying the artistic diversity and the international success that has made our intellectual property industries the greatest in the world. Allowing our copyright protection to deteriorate is, in my view, bad policy both economically and artistically.

In closing, I would like to underscore what I have spoken about today. I would like to read from the terms of U (ph) section of the Napster Internet Web site. When you use Napster, you are basically agreeing to a contract that includes the following terms, and I quote:

"This Web site, or any portion of this Web site, may not be reproduced, duplicated, copied, sold, resold or otherwise exploited for any commercial purpose that is not expressly permitted by Napster. All Napster Web site design, text, graphics, the selection and the arrangement thereof, and all Napster software are copyright 1999/2000 Napster Inc," end quote.

Napster itself wants and surely deserves copyright and trademark protection. Metallica and other creators of music and intellectual property want, deserve, and have a right to that same protection.

Finally, I would just like to read to you from a recent "New York Times" column by Edward Wasting (ph), and I quote:

"Information does not want to be free, only the transmission of information wants to be free. Information, like culture, is the result of a labor and devotion, investment and risk. It has a value, and nothing will lead to a more deafening cultural silence than ignoring that value and celebrating companies like Napster running amuck."

Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, the title of today's hearing asked the question: The future of Internet, is there an upside to downloading? My answer is yes. However, as I hope my remarks have made clear, this can only occur when artists' choices are respected and their creative efforts protected.

Thank you very much.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ulrich, we appreciate your testimony.

Mr. McQuinn, we'll take you at this time.

ROGER MCGUINN, MUSICIAN: Thank you, Senator. It's a pleasure to be here.

My name is Roger McGuinn and I have been in the recording business for approximately 40 years. I started back in 1960 when I recorded with a group called the Limelighters and subsequently recorded with the Chad Mitchell Trio, and Judy Collins, and Bobby Darin. And I was not a royalty artist at that time. I became a royalty artist when I signed a contract with Colombia Records, with a group called The Byrds. And we recorded 15 albums or so during that period. And aside from modest advances for each of these albums, I never saw any royalties. And so I am just saying that the protection for artists, the issue of that is not necessarily -- the artists always don't always get the royalties they are supposed to get from the record companies.

When you sign a contract that says you are going to get 15 percent. There are ways the record companies have of not paying these royalties. And in my experience, even though we've had number one hits with "Mr. Tamborine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn," I saw nothing but the advance, which was, divided five ways, it was only a few thousand dollars apiece.

And with the advent of, I'm getting 50 percent of the CDs that come out now, I think it's a wonderful thing. I'm also in the -- I have a Web site, And there I have a project called a folk den, where I'm preserving traditional songs. Each month I upload a traditional song for people to listen to and it's free, it's a public service and it's sponsored by the University of North Carolina. And somebody from invited me to put my songs over on their site as well.

And I thought it was a good opportunity to get them to a more global market. And so I really appreciate the transmission of MP3s over the Internet. And these songs are traditional public domain songs and I am not worried about the copyright or publishing problem. I can see how someone might be if they were not being paid their publishing rights. And I think that MP3 servers should make deals with the publishing companies like -- they should make deals with BMI and ASCAP and have proper royalties paid to the artist.

But as far as my experience in the record business, the artist doesn't always receive royalties from the record companies, and that has been my experience.

HATCH: Thank you, Mr. McGuinn. That's a complaint I have heard from a number of people.

Mr. Barry, we will take your testimony at this time.

KAGAN: All right, we were listening to two members of the music industry address the Senate Judiciary Committee as they look at the future of downloading music on the Internet. We just heard from Roger McGuinn, a founding member of The Byrds, and Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica. They have differing views on what could be happening here. Metallica has actually filed a lawsuit against the firm Napster, claiming that it's basically theft when someone downloads their music on the Internet. Mr. McGuinn sees a different side, saying there could be upside of downloading music on the Internet.

Interesting to see those two cultures come together today. They were actually playing the Metallica song "Creed" during a little break for the Senate Judiciary Committee, different times in Washington. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT


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