Dr. Dre joins fray, files Napster suit

Rapper/producer opposes being on site's MP3 list

Multiplatinum rapper-producer Dr. Dre and his Aftermath Entertainment label filed a copyright infringement suit Tuesday against Internet file-sharing program Napster.

The action came after Napster failed to comply with a written request to remove Dre’s recordings from its directory of MP3 files.

Dre’s suit follows similar legal actions filed by multiplatinum hard-rockers Metallica (Daily Variety, April 14) and the Recording Industry Assn. of America (Daily Variety, Dec. 21, 1999) .

It also comes one day after multiplatinum rap-rockers Limp Bizkit announced plans to mount a month-long free concert tour that would be sponsored — to the tune of $1.8 million — by Napster.

The forthcoming tour, which would include hemp-hoppers Cypress Hill and a yet-to-be determined third act, would consist of multiple shows in 3,000-5,000 seat halls in 10 major markets. It’s set to run July 4-Aug. 6.

In making the announcement, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst noted that all proceeds from Napster’s sponsorship of the tour would go toward covering the direct expenses incurred by the tour and that neither Limp Bizkit nor Cypress Hill would be making any money from the shows.

As far as being sponsored by Napster, Durst said, “We believe that the Internet and Napster should not be ignored by the music industry as tools to promote awareness for bands and to market music.

“We could care less about the older generation’s need to keep doing business as usual. We care more about what our fans want, and our fans want music on the Internet.”

Recent events with regard to Napster underscore the music industry’s conflicted mindset on how to deal with today’s technological challenges: Limp Bizkit records for Flip, which is distributed by Interscope, while Durst is a senior veep with the latter label; Dre and his Aftermath Entertainment label are distributed by Interscope as well. What’s more, Interscope, by virtue of being distributed via Universal Music, is party to the RIAA vs. Napster lawsuit.

Napster’s attorney could not be reached for comment, and Interscope had no comment late Tuesday.

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