SC: Well, you’ve been months and months into it. How different does it feel now dealing with the Napster issue than when you first dealt with it? Is there still the same sense of burning injustice or has it become a chore?
LU: I think the main difference between now and four months ago, is really that Napster the company is increasingly taking a lesser role in this. We’ve been fighting this as a direct legal action against the company Napster, but at the same time, the bigger picture is really trying to get people to understand what it’s about, to understand the enormity of the issue and to understand what it really means.
SC: Are you talking about copyright?
LU: I mean the idea of basically file swapping on the internet – what it really means, not just to musicians, but to artists of all kinds, you know from obviously movies, literature or poetry and so on. But increasingly it’s starting to reach new levels. Like there’s a site we just heard about a few days ago where you can basically swap copyrighted video games, for Nintendo and Playstation and all this kind of stuff. People are complaining about things like, well I know this might sound a little silly, but things like recipes lifted out of cookbooks tat are owned and are being traded on the Internet. Things like, once again I know this may sound silly, but sewing patterns that people have copyrighted. So what’s going on is basically that you had an issue which is ‘should people be allowed to freely share anything they want on the Internet that is copyrighted? That’s the bigger picture at the moment – what we’re trying to get people to understand. The idea of ‘do you want to live in that kind of society where the mob rules mentality becomes the main thing’ and that ‘because the technology exists then it’s OK’. The Napster thing is increasingly more of a sidebar that is ultimately out of our hands, because it’s being played out in the courts of California. So what has been taking up my time, and what I is really much more valuable right now, is public education: getting people to really understand what this is about and trying and get people away from the selfish ignorance of, you know ‘he’s just taking my ability to download a song off the internet.’
SC: Can you put yourself in the shoes of a 15 or 18 year old kid, as you once were, when you were trading tapes and so on and so forth and can you understand why it might be harder for someone who has not had the passage of life that you have had to grasp the finer points of honor and copyright?
LU: Of course I can. But that’s kinda irrelevant. I mean, it’s like asking ‘if you weren’t a drummer in a rock band what would you be doing?’ OK so, uh, of course if I was 15 then, sure. But I’m not 15, I’m 36 years old and I have been through what I have been through.
SC: But it’s not irrelevant when you’re trying to educate an entire fan base as to where you’re coming from. Surely if you can empathize with them a little bit, your point will find it that much more easier to get across. Or are you quite happy with the ease with which it’s been getting across?
LU: Well, I sort of have this quiet peace with the fact that anybody who doesn’t really get it, or is vehemently opposed to what we’re saying, doesn’t know the information or doesn’t really understand the issue, so it comes out of ignorance more so than anything. I don’t really fell that it’s an issue; you cannot really oppose the fact that whoever creates something should have the right to decide what happens to it. It’s not an argument.
SC: And that’s not even the argument here. My question to you is are you not interested in being, in this case, ‘the kindly educator to your fans?’
LU: That’s what I was just saying. I think I just spent 10 minutes saying that that’s we’re trying to do. So you try and come up with basic sort of analogies and stuff like that people can understand. Bottom line is that for every 15 year old that sits there and thinks that it’s really exciting to do something in the privacy of their own which is potentially illegal – hopefully by the time they get to be 20 and 25 or they’ll understand that it’s not the right thing to do and that you try and appeal to people’s decency and sense of right and wrong, especially in terms of Metallica fans. If you want to be a Metallica fan, whether you agree with the position as a whole, if you want to be a Metallica fan and hang out and follow what we do then at least FUCKING respect what it is we’re trying to do. Y’know, find a way to correlate something between respecting our music, respecting what we do live, being a follower of the band and understand for better or worse, this is part of the ride at the moment. It shouldn’t really affect that much of your day to day life as a Metallica fan, because I presume that most hardcore Metallica fans don’t have a particular need to swap our copyrighted songs off our records. And as we’ve said a thousand times, there’s no issue with them swapping any live bootlegs or any kind of live recordings, or any kind of rare appearances.
SC: When did you guys come to that conclusion – a few years ago? When did that distinction become clear to you? When did you realize – you know, if you’re going to tape a live show and swap tapes that it’s cool?
LU: I think basically what it all boils down to, is all roads lead down to the same point that people tend to overlook, which is it war our choice to let people tape our shows.
SC: Right. And I’m interested to know when that choice was made.
LU: That choice was made before the ‘Black’ album tour, when we invented something called the taper section. You could buy a ticket to a specific spot in the arena where you were welcome to set up any kind of audio equipment of your – there’s that word again, choice. (laughs).
SC: And you were the first, other than the Grateful Dead, probably the first band to embrace that.
LU: Probably, yeah. We’ve always felt that for the small percentage who are interested in hearing every sour note or every fucked-up drum fill from any of our performances, that they were welcome to do that, and it was not something that we would prevent people from doing or use time and energy to stop happening.
SC: There were a couple of other areas that will relate that I want to get into. Could you explain the reasons behind you suing your record company when you did, and how the general premise behind that might relate to the whole premise behind this fight against Napster. I believe you were one of the first bands to do that with your record label, right?
LU: Yeah, I mean in 1994 when we sued our record company, we were basically wanting ownership of the songs that we wrote. We felt that by us not owning what we created, the possibilities for our songs to be used for something other than what we wanted later on was there. One of the clearer things that sparked it off, was when some of the Beatles songs were made available for Nike commercials in the early 90's, outside of their willingness because somebody else owned them. So we felt that we didn't want to see Leper Messiah end up as background music in a toothpaste commercial (laughter), unless it was something that we wanted and the choice came from us. So now we retain the rights to any master recordings we have ever made, master recordings basically being any songs that we have written and that have appeared on our studio albums.
SC: So, it could me said that the whole course of controlling your own music started for real then and that’s when that whole phase of control...(Lars jumps in)
LU: Sure, yeah, right! There are some people that...and this is where I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing...some people call wanting to control what you create either selfish or old fashioned or outdated or whatever. That’s fair enough. I don’t have a problem with people having different positions on that. But I have a problem with people not respecting my right to want to control it. In the course of the last few months, you hear so many different things all of the time, so many off the wall arguments, so many different analogies. But I think it’s very clear that if you follow what we have been doing for 15-20 years, and know our position on it, that we do what we do for one reason and one reason only; for ourselves, for our ultimate enjoyment and ourselves getting off on being in a band, writing songs. The fact that other people relate to it, and get off on it too, is obviously a wonderful thing, but we’ve always had a very selfish attitude when it comes to that because we’ve never felt we had to answer to anybody. The minute that you sit down and start thinking or contemplating what people want from you and how they want it, then it becomes something that you do to make people happy. And so then I think it becomes polluted and it becomes tainted and loses some of its purity. So, in order for us to be the purest and most unpolluted band that we can be, we have to look at it as a very selfish thing because that is why people, and how people, get off on it. They know that whatever they think of it, from a creative point of view it’s not motivated by anything other than keeping ourselves happy and doing what’s right for us. That is a premise that not every band subscribes too, and that’s fine. A lot of bands have this sort of ‘give the people what they want, we’re doing it for the fans’ mentality and all that type of stuff. I think people have sort of gotten their wires crossed a couple of times with this whole thing, because we are so accessible. Because we treat our fans with dignity and respect and so on, people put this kind of brand ‘Metallica the fans band, ’’Metallica the peoples’ band’ which I have no problem with. But we’re not doing it for the fans – we do it for ourselves and ultimately the fans get something out of it.
SC: Do you feel that the record labels fucked you/others by being slow off the mark and not actually making you aware of the full possibilities, potential and possible ramifications of digital music online?
LU: One issue that comes up a lot is that because of our stance on Napster that we are pro-record company. That is not true. I’m not particularly pro-record company, I’m not particularly anti-record company. I’m pro Metallica, and at the end of the day I’m doing this because I’m pro-Metallica. That’s the only thing that I really care about. Yes, the record companies have made many, many mistakes in this whole thing, the record companies have been arrogant, the record companies have been aloof, the record companies have not been keeping their feet and ears to the ground. I think they treated the whole digital Internet music thing as something that was not a threat, as something of a joke. So that certainly bit the record companies in the ass. I would say that the biggest mistake that the record companies have probably made, was that people like Sean Fanning, and people who have written all of these programs, should be working for the bands and for the record companies to come up with a solution. So, clearly the record companies fucked up and made many, many mistakes on this. But a lot of the arguments that go out from people that are pro-Napster are that the record companies are these big, greedy, horrible institutions that just fuck the bands, fuck the consumers, fuck everybody and are run by these fat fucking cigar smoking guys on 52nd floors in buildings in New York. And that is something that I also can’t agree with. Record companies exist as a business, record companies spend millions and millions of dollars on basically trying to sell records – that’s the business they’re in. For every successful record that a record company puts out, there’s fucking nineteen unsuccessful records that nobody ever hears about, and there are a lot of good people and a lot of passionate people that work at record companies, who are really pushing and trying to help artists and to get artists out there. The problem with this whole analogy of making the record companies disappear because they’re ‘evil’, and then turning what the record companies do over to Napster-like services, is that Napster-like servers don’t promote, they don’t market and they don’t build any kind of awareness of bands. There are some basic facts here. It is a fact that there is no band that has ever really broken, or become successful, through the Internet alone. There’s this thing some people say that everybody’s music should be equally available on the Internet, which I don’t in theory have any kind of problem with, as long as the artist chooses and the artists are part of that choice. The reason that Korn becomes successful and the reason that Limp Bizkit becomes successful, the reason that all of these other bands become successful, is because record companies sit there and pour hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars into making videos and into marketing them so you hear about them. They spend lots of money giving them tour support and slots on fucking tours so you hear about them. So, if Korn and Limp Bizkit, for example OK, were just Korn and Limp Bizkit on the Internet through the new artist category on Napster, you would never know anything about Korn and Limp Bizkit that would make them stand out from the bands next to them.
SC: Right, without any special marketing.
LU: Right. So, the bottom line is that no band will ever really break from the Internet alone without the aid of some kind of record company. There’s only 24 hours in a day, we talked about this before, and people do not have enough time to sit down and listen to every single posted file on the Internet to see were the next Limp Bizkit or the next Korn is.
SC: Well, let me tell you, the labels are not exactly launching off the right fucking foot in the great digital divide. Because if you go to EMI’s downloadable albums, you can buy certain artists albums for roughly $ 13.99. I mean, I don’t know any sane individual who is going to download an album for $ 13.99 that they can go and buy in a shop for the same price. I mean surely for the same...(Lars interrupts)
LU: A couple of things. It is not my responsibility to defend record companies. It is not my responsibility to come up with what will work on the Internet. I’ve been to busy in the last four months fighting what’s unjust and fighting on behalf of what my rights are and should be. So, I’m not saying I have the solution yet. The record companies have certainly been arrogant. We are still dumbfounded and bewildered about the lack of record companies who aren’t going out to defend themselves, and trying to get the information about what record companies do out to the people. Because the record companies are the ones taking the hardest hit here. But once you start getting into all of these things like 'if CD's weren't so expensive then I wouldn't download,' I mean all of these arguments are just crap and they are ones that can't be used against...I don't dictate what a CD costs in a record store, that is not my job. That is something called the market place which dictates that. If people weren't buying CD's at $16.99, the fucking prices would be lowered - end of story. People buy CD’s $16.99 because that is what the market dictates...
SC: Hang on...
LU: ... #2VERY IMPORTANT - When CD's came out in 1984 and 1985, they were priced either at $14.99 or $15.99 so you are talking about product that has probably a $1.00 rise in basic cost in the last 15 years. So, are CD's overpriced? Probably, and that's an argument that I would love to have with somebody and I'm not saying that I don't necessarily agree with the fact. Is there a particular reason a CD couldn't be $12.99? Not really, but that still doesn't fucking give people the right to steal it, just because they are too expensive. Back again to the usual argument. If I walk into a grocery store and think that Oscar Meyer's fucking wieners are overpriced, then it still doesn't give me the right to steal them. But if there is enough people buying Oscar Meyer wieners at the price that they choose to sell them for, then obviously they aren't going to lower the fucking price.
SC: One of your famous food analogies strikes again! I have to do this. I will remind you that you say you have no control over prices, but you did also at one point dictate a releases pricing code. You told your record label to put on the cover of ‘Garage Days’ a ‘Do not pay more than..’ So it can be done. I understand that’s not quite the center point of the argument, but I have...(Lars interrupts)
LU: ...the point on the thing that you’re talking about, was because in the age of vinyl when we put out the ‘$5.98 Garage EP,’ we didn’t want record stores to sell it as a full length record. That’s why. It’s because it was a 12” format and to people it could look like a full...(SC interrupts)
SC:...and the CD had a price on it as well. But you’re saying you wanted it sold as an EP.
LU: Yes, as an EP, not as an LP – very important.
SC: I might have known you had the point well and truly covered.
LU: As with most of these, believe me.
SC: (laughs) I mean let me just get to a point of very simple...(Lars interrupts)
LU: Wait, wait, wait. Once again, also understand that in Metallica's career, whether it's collectors items, whether it's whatever we offer for sale that has Metallica's name on it - we always price it. Literally, when we sit down and decide what are we going to charge tickets for on a tour, we sit down and look at what Aerosmith is doing, what Van Halen is doing, what the Smashing Pumpkins...we always put our prices right smack down the middle. We don't want to get into a kind of Fugazi type thing, because we don't believe that we need to do that. We always put our prices for t-shirts, concert tickets right fucking down the middle, because that is that what the market place dictates. We don't overcharge and we don't undercharge. We're n NOT GREEDY and we don't give it away. We're right down the fucking middle, and if you look at anything we've ever done for 15 years, that has always been our position. We almost let all of the others around us dictate it.
SC: Back to the main matter, I must ask, have you ever got a computer and logged on to Napster?
LU: Never logged onto Napster in my life.
SC: How can you fully understand it? Which is a question people would have.
LU: I’m not saying I fully understand it. I’ve never said that. I don’t believe that I need to sit down and use Napster as a tool in order to fight for what is my right.
SC: Fair enough.
LU: Everybody always attacks me on it, and I’m totally open and frank, the computer is not something that gets a lot of use in my house. The Internet is not something that I utilize very much as a tool. That’s fair enough. Now certainly I have been accused of being ignorant on certain computer things, that’s all fair enough, but once again it’s sort of sad and pathetic that it becomes the best counter argument that people come up with ‘how can he be against a company like Napster if he’s never been on there?’ It’s like, because, my fucking songs are being traded around, you know, hundreds of thousands of them a day against my free fucking will, against my wishes. I think people lose sight of that with all these arguments, all these analogies, all these things that people try to come up with and be clever.
SC: Let’s go to the point at which the press conference was held (outside Napster HQ) and the names were handed over. I mean did you get blind sided? Could you honestly have perceived that you would be caught up in the two minute ‘sound bite’ media war that it became? Did you expect it to be pot boiled down into three sentences with no context? I was alarmed I have to tell you...
LU: I’m not sure blindsided is the right word, but I was definitely surprised at a lot of the editorial bias in this. I’ve done thousands of interviews, and I feel that the music media, the Rolling Stones of the world, has been very, very biased against us. The hard thing about this issue is that it’s not an issue that you can really explain in what’s called a sound byte, in one or two sentences. So it has been very frustrating doing 30-45 minute interviews with periodicals and so on, and then seeing one sentence being used, or taken out of context or something like that. So I really feel that people have not been very fair in sticking to the facts. This whole thing about ‘Lars sues his fans’ type of thing. That is just completely out of context. You have to remember, once again, that Napster were the ones that sat there and held up their arms and said that ‘we’re not doing anything illegal here, but if you come to us with proof of people who are downloading your songs, we will be happy to remove them from our service’ fully well knowing that they could come up with that information themselves. It wasn’t about suing the fans, it was basically ‘OK, you want to play that kind of dare game with us, then here’s the information.’ Certainly in the beginning of this process I said some things that were out of line...(SC interrupts).
SC: Such as?
LU: I did an interview with BBC where I said some things about ‘yes we will go after the fans directly’ or something like that...this has been a learning process for me also. In the beginning I said some bad things about, you know, the Fred Dursts’ of the world. I said some very arrogant and aggressive things about our fans and so on, and I calmed down a little bit and tried to be more just, y’know, standing up for my own rights and be more neutral, sticking to the facts and so on.
SC: Correct me if this is wrong, did you not reinstate some 35.000 people because they were found to have only traded live stuff?
LU: Yes, absolutely.
SC: I mean that's something that I knew, but I don't think that many other do.
LU: Well, once again because of Napster having basically played this whole fight out in public, everytime we've done something good, that's where the bias come in. It has a tendency to get overlooked. That side of it has been very frustrating. You were asking before about personal viewpoint on a lot of this stuff...
SC: It must get a little tough to deal with on a personal level. The cartoon that’s been doing all the rounds on the Internet. Camp Chaos? On a personal level that cannon be pleasant.
LU: That type of stuff doesn’t annoy me as much. To me that’s no different than some idiot just talking shit, like in Nikki Sixx’s little world. If people want to poke fun at us, that’s fine, I don’t have issues with that so much. What I have issues with more is deep, deep levels of ignorance. I have issues with, like, when Rolling Stone, for instance, reports on the scene and then they print three response letters, all three of the response letters are ‘what the fuck are Metallica doing – these greedy, multi-millionaire, rock stars, arrogant assholes?’ There’s no reason that the response letters have to have the same tone. That’s editorial. Do you know what I mean? So that’s the stuff that infuriates me more where people choose to only point certain things out in the big picture.
SC: How frustrating is it also that until the morning of the senate there wasn’t any vocal support from other musician artists other than Dr. Dre, yet on the morning that you went into the senate there’s suddenly a full page ad in USA Today “Artist against piracy” with about 60 names?
LU: I mean,. I think that’s almost more sad or comical, somewhere in between that. That to me just continues to point out that a lot of other artists are truly greedy, don’t want to put their reputations on the line, are afraid of the consequences, and don’t have the fucking balls to stand up for what they believe is right.
SC: Did it disappoint you?
LU: No, not really. I doesn’t bother me that much if we’re the only ones out here with balls big enough to take this on and say what has to be said on behalf of everybody who agrees with us; that makes me proud. That doesn’t bother me so much and the whole kind of paylars.com and all of that stuff that we’re talking about, silly cartoons and stuff, that’s really no different than somebody telling us to fuck off because of Lollapalooza, because of haircuts or because of Bob Rock or whatever. That’s just outside criticism.
SC: Do you think people perceive this as you fighting a battle or the band.?
LU: I think people perceive it as the band. Whenever the band fights any battles they send me in. So, I mean obviously people know, at least people who know Metallica know, that I wouldn’t be out here if the band and everybody around us weren’t 100%.
SC: Let me ask you on a very blunt level, was there a certain thrill in the chase of this at first, which has now dissipated into somewhat of an absolute fucking drag?
SC: Was it ever an exciting thing to know that you might be leading a copyright charge or...
LU: No. This truly started out as something legal. ‘OK we’re going after this site where our song ‘I Disappear’ has become available in work in progress form.’ So, I certainly never anticipated to get into this and all this crap about Lars Ulrich poster boy for artist rights and all that. I don’t need any more publicity, and I don’t need anything else on my plate, but what happens is that it becomes sort of like a snowball thing. It becomes something that fuels itself. You sit there and you do something, and then somebody else respond to it, and then you try to restate your position and then somebody else says something that’s so complete horseshit that then it becomes this thing that escalates. Do you know what I mean? Where you once in a while have to take a deep breath, and I’ve been so caught up in so many emotional things in the last couple of months where you sit there and it gets to a point where you call up Cliff and go ‘I’m so fucking both pissed and annoyed and it’s like I don’t even know if I can do this anymore’ and then you sit there and have your pep talk and it always comes back. I look at it almost more like what a radar screen looks like. You have sort of a present position, and then you have hundreds of miles of the sweep that goes across and monitors weather in front of you, and you end up going all the way out 200-300 miles in front of you and feeling the stuff that’s out there. And then you become so emotionally distraught at what’s out there that you have to take a step back to your present position and remind yourself what you’re doing. You start over again, and you sit down and go ‘the reason I’m doing this because I have a right to control where my music goes, including the Internet. That right has been taken away from me end of story.’ So, you have to sort of keep coming back to the original starting position, and that is what makes it possible to sort of keep it going. Because, there has been a lot of times over the last couple of months where I have been so frustrated that I just wanted to walk away from it.
SC: Do you think that the Senate was vindication of all of this, and also how did that come about? Did you just get a call ‘by the way this is Orrin Hatch and we wanted you to speak?’
LU: I think that by us getting involved, and us being obviously high profile, that there was a profile. You know, this basically is the first great issue of the 21st century. This is one of those things that is not just sort of like a current issue in terms of something that’s going on just in the immediate. The fallout from everything that we’re going through right now will shape and dictate the role of the Internet, parameters for the Internet, you know, all these types of things for mange generations to come.
SC: Right. Is there emotional vindication through?
LU: (a little frustrated) You ask so many questions! Yes, Orrin Hatch’s office called us up and said they would like to have a hearing on this because of the high profile that it was getting in April, May and June. Emotional vindication? I just look at it as one other branch on the tree.
SC: Really? It wasn’t like ‘we’re making a difference here. This has gone to the senate level.’
LU: Well, it’s kind of difficult to sit back and talk about it. People have a tendency to talk about it in the past tense. I mean, nothing was really solved. There was a hearing there for three hours, but have there been any rules rewritten, has anything been solved? I mean, the last thing that the senators did was they asked each one of us there how we saw the issue and was it solvable without getting the legislative branches of this country involved. Everybody answered ‘yes’ except me. And basically the last thing that Senator Hatch said was ‘you guys try and solve this problem and try to come to a conclusion.’
SC: But I mean in tems of enlarging that awareness factor generally?
LU: If anything was accomplished that day, I would say that this is an issue that scares a lot of people, and scares a lot of politicians. A lot of politicians are afraid of the Internet, and afraid of getting involved in the Internet because from one point of view the Internet very much represents the great American freedom. It’s this thing that is subject to so many ideals and comparisons with the great American idea of society, about freedom, about government and not getting involved. You know, there was something called the 1998 Digital Copyright Act, and I do believe that there will have to be some laws at least augmented, or rewritten, in the next couple of years because of one simple fact. Technology continues to be so far ahead of any laws, and that’s where the US legislative branches are having difficulty keeping up. It’s really important again to remind ourselves that for every Limp Bizkit, for every Offspring, for every Smashing Pumpkins or whatever that want to make their music available for free on Napster or Napster-like services, that’s still not the issue. The issue is that it’s their choice, and I should have the ability to make that choice.
SC: Choice being, perhaps, the key word of it all.
LU: I totally support Fred Durst, and I totally support Napster as a right to exist. What I'm fighting for is my choice. I was never asked if I wanted my music traded on the Internet. I was never asked if I wanted my music traded on Napster. Well, ‘we’re Napster, we have all these wonderful sites with emerging artists’ and all this type of stuff. Fine, yes you do, because the artists gave you their permission to have their music. So, the bottom line is really that we know that they have the technology, to remove Metallica recordings that we don't want traded, we know that technology exists, they've copped to it. The bottom line is...
SC: So they can block people form getting to...
LU: No, it's not about blocking people, it's about blocking the specific music.
SC: Right, it means that even if I’m file swapping with a computer in Idaho there will be a piece of software that prevents me from swapping Metallica stuff.
LU: Right. Or Metallica stuff that has a block on it. I don't have a problem with somebody swapping 'Leper Messiah' from the L.A. Forum in 1992 live, but I do with someone swapping 'Enter Sandman' from the 'Black' album. So that exists, we know that. The minute they say to us, ‘Ok, yes you can have your 96 master recordings blocked’ then the next guy, Dr. Dre, wants to be off. And then Bryan Adams wants to be off, and then Britney Spears, and then all of a sudden that site has one-third to half as much traffic as it did three months ago. Then the perceived net worth of that company goes down. And, all of a sudden, Napster turns from a potential 1 billion dollar company into a 100 million dollar company, so then the traffic is going to go down. It’s basically that simple.
SC: Right. Let me ask you this...(Lars carries on)
LU: For the record, let it be officially known that I have no issues with a company like Napsters’ right to exist, but if the only way that I can prevent my music from being ‘swapped’ on a Napster-like service is to shut them down, then I’m sorry. They came to us many, many times over the last few months and said, ‘what can we do to settle this?’ It’s really simple, you can block our 96 songs from being ‘swapped’, you can issue a public apology, and you can pay our legal fees, end of story. Everybody’s happy. They’ll go on doing what they’re doing, we’ll go on doing what we’re doing and we’ll call this...Well they can’t do that, because the minute they let us go...
SC: ...their lifeblood starts sapping away.
SC: Have you had any meaningful conversations with anyone from Napster? The suits as well as the monkey?
LU: I exchanged some pleasantries down at the office that day. A little bit of, ‘this is not personal we just feel we’re doing what is right versus what you feel is right.’ That sort of thing. There’s a few people like Michael Robertson, the head of MP3.com, who has reached out and we’ve had some dialog with him and so on. The other thing you have to remember, which I think is interesting, was the thing that became very apparent in Washington. You’ve got at least 4-6 high profile Napster-like companies. You’ve got Napster, you’ve got Gnutella, Freenet, Emusic, you’ve got MP3; just remember one thing. That they all have very different ideas of what it is they want to do, what their role in it is, what their business plans are and so on. Some of them are very willing to play ball, and some of them realize that the only way the can play ball is by being legal. But let’s not forget, Hank Barry and Napster are not doing it as some kind of charity, they’re doing it because ultimately they believe that one day if Napster becomes the standard – almost AOL-like company on that frontier – that they will have a company worth billions and billions of dollars.
SC: Is there also a certain bitter-sweetness to knowing that in fighting a company like that, you’ve probably helped raise their profile by 200%? I mean it’s fair to say that until you guys got involved people didn’t know who they were.
LU: But I really do believe that three months from now, they will be out of business and not exist. Napster will not exist in three months. I really do believe that, because they are digging their own grave by not wanting to play ball. Because they have sort of dug themselves into this whole thing about what they’re doing not being illegal, the minute they retract from that they are going to look like fools. The other thing people keep sitting there and saying is ‘what about Gnutella and what about Freenet?’ It’s like, believe me, everything we hear from our technical advisors on a daily basis is hat these fucking Internet anarchists sit there and go ‘well they will never be able to stop Freenet or they’ll be able to stop Gnutella because there’s no central server.’ Yeah, you want to fucking watch? You want to fucking watch us stop it? You want to fucking see in three months how we can fucking blow your measly little company apart? No problem.
SC: Uh, Freenet is a tough one. That Ian Clark is a smart man, he’s got a...
LU: He’s marked as one of the most dangerous man on the planet.
SC: Right. He’s a tough nut to crack.
LU: Well, the great thing about Ian Clark is the things that he says are so fucking outrageous and so out there that everytime he opens his mouth he does his cause, and his service, more harm than good. He says things that are just so ludicrous and there’s just...
SC: There’s got to be a side of you that finds a guy like that fascinating and very interesting and would almost want to try and I are you ever tempted to want to try and work with someone like that?
LU: Well, I think ultimately what we would like to do, is some of these people are very ‘Internet smart,’ and obviously we need to align ourselves with somebody who can help us once we get past the problems. But before we can start thinking about solutions and stuff like that we have to rid ourselves of the problems.
SC: But I mean let’s re-address the balance here a little bit: it’s not like you guys are complete Internet doofuses. I mean you were streaming stuff two years ago.
LU: That’s the whole thing. Here we made ‘S&M’ available for streaming for one week. We were the first big band to make our new albums available for unconditional streaming. People sit there and say ‘we’re only really using Napster to check out stuff and whether to go and buy it in the record store’ (giving the wank sign). Fine, we’re already looking at ways to make our records available. OK, you want to check out ‘Master of Puppets’ to see if you want to go and buy it in the record store? OK, here it is available for one time, two or three time streaming. The problem becomes if you sit down and make everything endlessly available for streaming, for people that only listen to music through the computer it basically becomes the same as owning it. So you have to find the right parameter. Let me just clarify another thing, which is this whole thing about the use of the word ‘sharing’. We really feel that using the word ‘sharing’ is not right. Look at it like this: I’m a Napster user and I have a Metallica record. I trade that whole record away, I ‘swap’ it with somebody else and I gain Soundgarden’s ‘Badmotorfinger.’ So I’m not really ‘swapping’ my Metallica record., I’m basically duplicating for somebody else and then I’ve gained ‘Badmotorfinger’ by duplicating. But I still have my Metallica record when we’re done swapping. If I swap stamps, if me and you sit down and swap stamps, I give you a stamp and you give me a stamp. I start with one stamp and when me and you have swapped stamps I’m left with one stamp. When me and you ‘swap’ Metallica for ‘Badmotofinger’, I turn my record into two records. So basically what we’re trying to point out to people is that instead of buying ‘Badmotofinger’ for $16.00, you’re basically using your Metallica CD as currency. Your Metallica CD replaces the $16.00 in the way to gain the Soundgarden CD. So basically, what we’re trying to make people understand is that Metallica records are being used to gain something else. This is not ‘swapping’, it’s duplicating. It’s replacing currency. Do you know what I mean? And that’s really something that people seem to overlook all of the time.
SC: Again, we go back to the fact when you’re 17, 18, or 19 and I tape ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and give it to my mate for his ‘Witchfynder General’ record or whatever. I think it’s done with the same ‘ignorance’ you know? You just want to hear the music. Sure I’ll tape your record if you tape me yours. When you’re 17 or 18 you don’t think in legal terms.
LU: Once again, doing it on a shitty little TDK analog cassette tape with your friend down the street is very different from having access to first digital copies with 20 million users all over the world. It’s just not an analogy that works.
SC: And you’re talking about a case of pure numbers and quality, right when you say that?
LU: Yeah. Because clearly, once again to remind everybody that Metallica is not anti-Internet, we’re not anti any of this stuff, we look forward to sharing our music on our terms and conditions with our fans on the Internet and computer.
SC: Which you have already done.
LU: Which we have already done. I want to get back to when we were talking about being a 15 year old. I think to myself ‘you’re 15 years old, what the fuck does the term intellectual property mean? This is all fun and games ha ha, I’m sitting in front of my computer, I can download something, I’m really cool ha ha’. But just because the technology exists, doesn’t mean that it’s right. If I invented a device that could open any car door in North America with the press of a button and start that car with the press of a button, that would not give me the right to...
SC: ...(interrupting) You would be a very rich man (ha ha)
LU: That would not give me the right to take that car at random and drive away in it.
SC: Which is easy for people to understand because it’s a physical object.
LU: The thing that’s difficult for people to understand, is that if you work on an assembly line and create something that is physical, people understand that that physical product has an owner and it’s a tangible item. That person has the right to purchase it or he builds something for himself and it’s his. If somebody takes it from him, it’s stolen. The thing that becomes difficult about intellectual property, is that a lot of people think it’s information. They talk about how ‘information should be free.’ Fine. Information should be free, but this is not information, this is property of a different kind. This is something that I create, this is something that I own. Music, movies, literature, recipes, however far you want to take it, intellectual property, it is this countries biggest export item – that’s a fact. This country makes more off the selling of music, motion pictures, video games all these types of things than anything else that this country exports.
LU: I want to go into an analogy that 15 year old kids might understand. What does a 15 year old kid own that could be comparable to intellectual property? Their homework. You write a term paper on U.S. History. You write that, it’s yours, it comes from you mind. (interruption) So, I’m 15 years old and I write a term paper on U.S. History. It’s something that I create, it’s something that I write, it’s something, for all intents and purposes it’s mine. Now, let’s say that somebody got access to that term paper and put it up on the Internet for of the other kids in my class to download and copy.
SC: Right. You would be pissed (although friends later told me they’d be proud...I doubt it).
LU: You would be pissed because it’s your term paper, you wrote it, you put a lot of time and effort into it. You wrote it – it’s yours! Should you not have the right to decide who copies the term paper? If you want to give it to one of your friends, that should be your choice, but if somebody stole it from you and put it on the Internet and copied it to everybody in their class so people could just download it for free, wouldn’t you be fucking pissed? That, I think is an analogy that 15 year old kids can understand. But as soon as you start talking about money, people get this like weird thing about greed and all this type of stuff. Look, it costs Metallica a million dollars to make a record. Forgetting about what it does for Lars, James, Kirk and Jason in terms of time, but there’s also physical cost in that. It costs us money, we employ dozens of people. We hire a studio, which is a small business, the profits from us making a record there. We hire tape operators, we hire assistants, we hire runners, we hire recording engineers, that’s a whole livelihood depends on us making records. Costs us a million dollars. So, the minute you make all that music available for free and there’s no music that comes back – forget about Lars, James, Kirk and Jason, we’re fine, we’re set up for life thank you very much for supporting the cause for twenty years we’re fine – but you’re going to put that studio out of business, you’re going to put that recording engineer out of business, basically there’s an industry here that is not just about those fat cats that run the record companies on the 52nd floor. That is what people also have a tendency to overlook, and they have a tendency to forget about how many people this really affects. It affects everybody who works at Tower Records.
SC: Have you and management or whoever explained to record stores why they should be involved in this?
LU: Yeah. We’re trying. The road is littered with, you know, a lot of small record store owners, especially around college campuses and stuff like that, who are complaining about how their sales are down. We’re also trying to get some people from the record companies to stand up and fight for themselves. It’s not my fucking job to fight for the record companies. I’m not particularly pro-record company either. But when the Chuck D’s of the world sit there and talk about how the record companies are the evil greedy enemy run by lawyers and accountants...I mean, give me a fucking break Chuck. They helped you sell over 20 million Public Enemy records.
SC: Right. I’ll ask you this final question, did you ever find out who was responding for putting ‘I Disappear’ out? Did your ever source it? I mean it’s a small point, but it would be an interesting one because that person inadvertently created an enormous...
LU: When you’re dealing with a song from a movie soundtrack, there’s a movie company, tons of faceless people at movie companies, who were working with different record companies, tons of faceless people there – you’re dealing with mastering plants, you’re dealing with there’s 50 people that could have done it.
SC: Did you narrow it down?
LU: No. Why waste our energy on that? The point is how are you going to track it? It’s getting to a point where you can basically use this whole thing with encryption, and stuff like that, so every CD that’s put out has a different code on it, which will happen very soon. So person 17 has number 17 and you’ll be able to read that.
SC: Oh really? So they are actually going to do that with CD’s now? They are going to have a situation where the 350,000th person has their own encrypted code on that disc?
LU: Yes. They are also starting to talk about basically doing stuff like getting into all these codes on CD’s where a CD cannot be downloaded into a computer more than once, that type of stuff where you’ll be to trace it if I go on Gnutella or something like that.
SC: Right. Well, let me get back into this thing. They are going to give an encrypted number as the purchaser, does that mean they then have the information on you? Is that the suggestion? That’s going a little bit too far, nobody wants that.
LU: I’m not saying that it’s a position that I support. I’m just saying that for every guy sitting there trying to fuck a record industry and trying to come up with these Freenet’s and Ian Clarkes of the world, there are people sitting down trying to invent, trying to come up with all these ways of not being fucked with.
SC: Have you ever, in these last few months, started formulating you ideal solution?
LU: Ultimately, we want to get into making our records available to stream on Metallica.com. We want to be able to sell our records on Metallica.com, but not while the other guys are giving it away for free. We want to be able to share live concerts, share all kinds of crazy stuff that we come up with through our Internet site and so on.
SC: So, there is a master plan in place?
LU: Well, we’re starting to get there. We’re starting to think about it.
By Steffan Chirazi (The editor of So What! Magazine).