- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has defended his band’s much-maligned decision to sue Napster, the groundbreaking file-sharing service obliterated by an avalanche of litigation led by the group’s 2000 lawsuit.

“The whole Napster thing — it didn’t do us any favors whatsoever. But you know what? We’re still in the right on that — we’re still right about Napster, no matter who’s out there who’s saying, ‘Metallica was wrong,’” Mr. Hammett, 55, said during a recent interview on a Swedish television program, “Nyhetsmorgon.”

“All you have to do is look at the state of the music industry, and that kind of explains the whole situation right there,” added the Grammy award-winning guitarist.

Mr. Hammett’s remarks came in response to a question regarding Metallica’s decision to release the band’s most recent album through streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, abandoning earlier reservations about the digital format.

“There was a time when the streaming thing was kinda weird, and it’s not that great of quality — I don’t care what anyone sounds about modern streaming, all these ‘bits’ and whatnot. It’s never going to sound better than vinyl,” said Mr. Hammett.

“Having that said, we want to be accessible, and you need to make sure you’re accessible on all the modern fronts.”

Metallica was much less supportive of having its music accessible online when an early version of the band’s song “I Disappear” leaked online in 2000 and brought their attention to Napster, a peer-to-peer service that allowed users to share digital music files freely over the internet. Metallica discovered its entire catalog was available for free through Napster, and the band took action that ranged from identifying and contacting hundreds of thousands of Napster users caught sharing their songs, to successfully pursuing one of several lawsuits brought against the service around the turn of the century.

“From a business standpoint, this is about piracy — taking something that doesn’t belong to you,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said when the band sued Napster in April 2000. “And that is morally and legally wrong. The trading of such information — whether it’s music, videos, photos, or whatever — is, in effect, trafficking in stolen goods.”

While Napster ultimately shuttered its file sharing service as a result of lawsuits brought by Metallica and others, today other digital platforms are responsible for generating the bulk of the music industry’s revenue. Streaming, on its part, constituted 65 percent of total music industry revenue in 2017, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.


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