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Napster foe Lars Ulrich takes label online

Lars Ulrich, the drummer for hard-rock band Metallica and better known in Net circles as Napster's most prominent antagonist, is launching an online venture of his own.

Lars Ulrich, the drummer for hard-rock band Metallica and better known in Net circles as Napster's most prominent antagonist, is launching an online venture of his own.

The Music Company, Ulrich's music label that he founded in 1998 with a former Metallica tour accountant, moved online today, hoping to provide more visibility for the two bands it manages.

The burning question about the new Net venture is whether it provides free MP3s. One of the bands, hard-rock act Systematic, provides free songs on its site. The other band, Goudie, whose page is still under construction, has its songs freely available on Napster.

Ulrich has been one of the most outspoken participants in online music debates, serving as his band's leading spokesman in its lawsuit against Napster. That role has given him a different spotlight, moving the musician out of concert stadiums to the more refined settings of PBS's "Charlie Rose Show" and even to the halls of the U.S. Senate.

The musician has taken Court: Let Napster music play onthe bold step of calling for legislation that would block the activities of companies like Napster and Scour, which facilitate the trading of songs online without payment.

Ulrich was not available for comment today.

The Music Company is distributed by Elektra, a major label owned by Time Warner's Warner Music Group.