A letter from RIAA chief executive Hilary Rosen to Napster CEO Hank Barry that is making the rounds on newsgroups asks Barry--or founder Shawn Fanning--to extend an apology to Metallica and its drummer, Lars Ulrich.
Ulrich has been a critic of Napster, advocating musicians' rights for financial compensation. His band, Metallica, sued the file-swapping company in April for alleged copyright violations.
Ridicule levied against the band Metallica and Ulrich can be found across the Web. One Web site, Camp chaos, created a two-minute cartoon titled "Napster Bad." In the animation, Ulrich stands before a background of money bags with an oaflike James Hetfield, Metallica's lead singer, popping up in the background, screaming, "Money good, Napster bad."
In the letter, Rosen explains why an apology to Metallica would be appropriate at this juncture.
"I think the band and their team feel very undermined by the deal announced (Tuesday) even though many of us support it...You guys have fostered the abuse that Lars and the band have taken for standing up for their rights, rights which you have acknowledged in theory in the past but now have a financial interest in supporting since you are taking Bertelsmann's money. Metallica took a stand on behalf of artists...They have been my heroes in this thing, and I am determined to make sure that if this thing turns out to benefit everyone, they are not left out."
An RIAA representative confirmed that the letter was legitimate but noted that it was intended for Barry only.
"This was a private correspondence between Hilary and Hank Barry, not intended for the world to see," said RIAA spokesman Doug Currie.
Excerpts from this letter were first posted by Hits Daily Double.