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The following text was posted to Slashdot today, May 3rd, 2000, by Jon
Katz. Mr. Katz is a very well written and educated individual. His
comments are thought provoking and inspiring regardless the topic.
Agree or disagree, you still have to admit he know's what he's talking
Shut Down Metallica, Not Napster
Posted by JonKatz on Wednesday May 03, @08:45AM
from the time-to-fight-back dept.
Metallica has every right to fight for its interests. But the unleashing
of lawyers on more than 330,000 Napster users -- many of them kids --
who allegedly downloaded the band's music last week is an outrage,
a punitive and thoughtless assault on privacy and freedom. . It's time to bite
back against this corporatist band. They've made some great music, but Napster
contributes a lot more to the world than they do. Take note: P.S. Tomorrow,
Slashdot will be taking questions for a Metallica interview. (Read More.)
Metallica ought to be stopped cold.
The band's efforts to identify and intimidate 335,435 fans and Napster users
for alleged copyright violations are a shock. In the perfectly legitimate
disagreements regarding the distribution of free music online, this action goes
way over the top. It invades privacy, is a blatant act at intimidating mostly
younger Net users, and sets a dreadful precedent for resolving the many issues
raised by the Net concerning who can own, control and disseminate intellectual
This an issue for anyone who believes in a free and open Internet, not just
Yesterday, the band's attorney said his firm will deliver close to 60,000 pages
of documents to Napster today, asking that the site block all the indidividuals
named from its service. The announcement sent shock waves through the online
music community. Napster and a handful of other music-swapping sites have
allowed hundreds of thousands of computer users to open their hard drives and
share music files online. People can remain "superficially" anonymous but
Napster can track individual users to their computers. And that's just what
happened: Metallica's Los Angeles attorneys (who also represent Dr. Dre in his
suit against Napster) say they hired NetPD, an online consulting firm, to
monitor the Napster service this past weekend. The company came up with more
than 335,000 individual users who had made the band's content available online.
Artists are perfectly justified in worrying about how they will get paid for
their work as the sharing of online music grows. But Metallica has legitimized
a wholesale invastion of privacy, and a pointlessly punitive campaign. It's
targets include many younger children and younger consumers who have no idea
their online movements are being tracked, and who certainly have the right to
pursue individual cultural interests without worring that they're being
The implications of Metallica's bone-headed move (this from a group that
markets itself as rebels) are awful. Parents, school administrators or
political parties will be further inspired to hire consultants to track the
movements of kids -- and adults -- who might be listening to music, reading
books or visiting websites that are not-approved, or are controversial in some
way. One of the miraculous things about the Net is that it has opened up all
kinds of information to people who were previously denied access. Metallica
seeks to reverse this liberation in the interest of more royalties.
Many people online will now feel justifiably intimidated about moving about
freely on the Net for fearing that someone is watching and planning a court
action or lawsuit. This chilling effect is particularly outrageous, since the
legal issues Metallica professes to be worried about are already being
threshed out in negotiations between the music industry and MP3.com and in
courts in New York and Los Angeles.There is no reason to go after some of the
Net's most vulnerable users -- kids -- or to establish a precedent that privacy
can be wantonly violated and free Netizens intimidated every time some company,
artist, or group is worried about maximizing profits.
Apart from all these other concerns, Metallica's action is dumb and nearly
insanely self-destructive. Even music industry executives are beginning to
concede that sites like MP3.com and Napster are helping bonding an entire
generation to many different kinds of music, something that is good both for
artists and their industry.
Metallica's fingering its own fans on Napster isn't a step forward towards
artists' controlling their art. In addition to protecting their own work,
artists also have a responsibility to protect freedom and creativity.
Metallica's name-gathering is an ugly, excessive and noxious assault aimed at
curbing the free movement of information and ideas that characterizes the
Internet, while doing little to resolve the many copyright, commercial and
other issues involved in the free music controversy.
Everyone reading this can name at least a half dozen alternative sites and
programs that have boomed in recent weeks even as the music industry, Metallica
and Dr. Dre have moved against Napster and MP3.com.
There is simply no justification for a band to go after hundreds of thousands
of its own fans, mostly kids, for the purpose of intimidation. Said Metallica's
attorney Howard King: "I don't know if it's going to put a chill on the user
end, but it certainly is going to show other artists what they can to do get
their work out of Napster."
Metallica and King both ought to know that the action will certainly "put a
chill on the user end," to put it mildly. This issue is no longer about money
Metallica is invading its fans' privacy, challenging the ability of others to
move freely and privately about the Net and the Web -- perhaps the hallmark
social, creative and educational feature of the Internet. The band's action
will not improve the life or work of a single artist. It will advance the
interests of the greedy and invasive corporatists moving aggressively to turn
the Net into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a Disney theme park.
Artists have the right to fight for their interests. But Metallica's move
against hundreds of thousands of music lovers is outrageous. It needs to be
fought tooth and nail.
Step One: Let's Shut Down Metallica's attacks on computer users, not Napster.
Stop buying the band's music. Urge everyone you know to do likewise until
Metallica calls off its legal Rottweillers, leaves kids downloading music
alone, and agrees to slug the issue out in court and other venues where it
This is posted here today because ReznoR Allied Technologies fully supports
Napster, CuteMX, and other software sharing programs, and their users.
Is it illegal? Maybe. The copyright on music is grey. You can make a
"personal copy" to backup your music. Or can you? That has waffled so many
times it's not even funny.
There was a time when copyright violation was limited to actual piracy:
duplication for profit. I don't see anyone profitting here. Whatever
happened to that?
The net was designed for the free and open exchange of information, not to
be secure. The underlying protocol that all net communication is based on
is likewise insecure. I know. Securing the insecure is what I do for a
living. Whoever told large corporations that they could safely conduct
business on the net fully lied to them. Metallica, ASCAP, and the rest of the
recording industry and any industry for that matter which produces a tangible
and sellable product needs to realize that in this day and age, if something
can be replicated in a digital format, it will be. Once something goes
digital and hits the net, it is subject to the same freedom that the net, as
well as our country was built upon.
Anyone, be it Metallica or the the U.S. Government that wants to encroach upon
these freedoms can rightfully head directly to hell. Do not pass "GO". Do not
collect US$200. And roast there for eternity.
Something else to toss out for y'all as well. Metallica claims that they
are not trying to shut down Napster, just that they want their music no
longer traded over it. I was listening to an old venerable heavy metal
station the other day, and one of the DJs made the comment that this
mindset and action is the same as the War On Drugs we have going on here
in the U.S. It's conceptual at best. If a truck get's pulled over with a
few pounds of pot in it, while it's on the side of the road with 12 DEA
agents surrounding it, a dozen more trucks filled to the brim are probably
driving by. For every lone guy smoking a joint in a park that gets
arrested, and the media hails this as being such a victory, there are
people buying and selling such quantity for distrobution that it would
make your head spin. Metallica can not stop the free exchange of
information no matter how much they think it should be policed. Who would
have thought one of the most successful heavy metal bands ever would want
to stop free trade and return us to a police state?
This is a most futile display of symbolic, pseudo power. How sad.
Oh, and a question for Metallica:
"When you were young, scraping by, did you ever once borrow a tape or an album
and make a copy of it? Did you ever duplicate an audio recording that you
didn't purchase or pay for? Did you send the artists royalty payments for
these copies you made? Payback time, bitches."
-- Aj Effin Reznor 05.03.00
The following is mail I sent to Forbes regarding an article they posted about Metallica
and NetPD, the firm used to "track down" Napster users *allegedly* swapping Metallica
My last paragraph above is repeated in this mail to Forbes, as it bears repeaing.
It is a valid point, one which should be brought into and kept under
From: Aj Effin ReznoR
Organization: ReznoR Allied Technologies
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Regarding the article located at:
RE: Metallica, Napster, and NetPD
NetPD claims that it uses an "artificial intelligence" to track
A few thoughts on this.
(A) Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not all it's cracked up to be.
Chances are what this company is using is something which people in
the computer industry call a "program". You may think of Microsoft
Word as a "program" also. You will note that AI is completely absent
from Microsoft Word, as well as Microsoft alltogether. They produce
"programs", not AI, which is something that MIT has been trying to
get right for over a decade.
This is something that should have been called into question in the
article. Either the company is misrepresenting its abilities, or the
author misunderstood them.
(B) Metallica's attack through NetPD is largely inaccurate, by
design. If someone attaches to Napster, and looks for "Metallica" in
all listed files, the only way to genuinely guarantee that the file
is indeed Metallica is to download it and play it. I could easily
rename a Weird Al song, or even an MP3 of a cat howling, and change
the titled to "Metallica - Enter Sandman.mp3". In this case, would
NetPD finger me as a suspect in pirating Metallica material?
If NetPD has not verified the actual presence of copyrighted
material, then they have not pracited full diligence in this matter.
If they *have* downloaded mp3s to test this theory, did they get
written permission from Metallica, or more importantly, from their
lawyers? If they did not, then they have also violated copyright
laws. Being UK based, does this escalate the matter into being an
(C) At any point in their youth, did the members of Metallica ever
duplicate to audio cassette or recordable 8 track music which they
themselves did not purchase? That is, did they copy music which they
did not purchard, or did they copy a copy of a copy a few generations
old? If so, did they at any point send the artist and/or the label
royalty funds to reimburse them for the lost sale?
Yes, all these points are slightly extreme, but should be considered.
NetPD: is it all it's cracked up to be? *DO* they have a clue?
Metallica: There was a time they relied on and appreciated an
underground fanbase that traded and swapped music. Are they now
turning on them? It *is* about the money. If it weren't, they
Please address these issues to myself if limited, preferably online.
Be original, Forbes. Step away from being media. Become free
thinkers. Think outside the box.
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Original Text By Jon Katz Copyright © 2000 Jon Katz
Remaining Text Copyright © 2000 Aj Effin ReznoR, ReznoR Allied
Technologies. All rights reserved.