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Digital music’s highest-profile legal dispute has come to an end. Napster announced Thursday that it has settled its copyright infringement suit with heavy metal band Metallica. The high-profile suit brought the first mainstream media attention to the Napster issue last summer and resulted in dozens of televised debates between Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Napster interim CEO Hank Barry. Also Thursday, Napster showed that it did not forget about Dr. Dre, settling a similar suit with the rap star and former member of the group N.W.A. According to the terms of the settlement, the struggling music-distribution service agreed to block access to the files that artists do not want to share. From the start of the dispute, Metallica argued that the issue was less about copyright and more about control. With the band’s blessing, Metallica fans have long traded bootlegs of concerts. “Our beef hasn’t been with the concept of sharing music,” Ulrich said in a statement. “The problem we had with Napster was that they never asked us or other artists if we wanted to participate in their business.” In exchange for Napster’s guarantee, Metallica agreed to release certain tracks to the file-sharing community in the future. Dr. Dre also agreed to release tracks to Napster “from time to time once an acceptable model is in place that ensures payment to artists and publishers for their works.” Representatives for Napster and Metallica declined to specify whether there is a direct financial component to the settlement. Bertelsmann loaned Napster $60 million in November to help it beat the legal barrage directed against it and to develop a legitimate business model. The settlements came the day after U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered Napster, based in Redwood City, Calif., to continue to keep its service dormant until it can prove that its filtering system is 100 percent effective. Barry had asked the court’s permission to reactivate the service when the filtering system had achieved a 99 percent success rate. “While we are disappointed by this ruling, we will work with the technical expert to enable file transfers as soon as possible and we are continuing full steam ahead toward the launch of our new service later this summer,” Barry said. Napster founder Shawn Fanning expressed relief that his creation is no longer at odds with rock stars that he personally admires. During the past year, he has appeared frequently at public events wearing a Metallica T-shirt. “It’s time to end the court fight and shake hands,” he said. “We’re pleased this chapter is behind us.” Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Napster to Appeal Shutdown Order Pressplay Strikes Deal With Microsoft Liquid Audio Gives Japan Affiliate 30 Days to Cut Ties Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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