WTF!?! Everyone's favorite band (back in high school) Metallica is suing Napster and a handful of universities
April 13, 2000 11:03 PM   Subscribe

WTF!?! Everyone's favorite band (back in high school) Metallica is suing Napster and a handful of universities for unlawful trading of their music. This is ridiculous, and I hope it doesn't set a precedence. If anyone would just slap a revenue model on napster so artists could get paid for their work, none of this piracy crap would happen. And Metallica, what about the other apps that do the same thing, are you going to sue them too? And what about every other band on earth? What do you expect to get out of universities, tighter controls over bandwidth, or student monitoring of internet usage? What about every cable modem and DSL provider that lets people use Napster, are you going after them too? Why don't you sue everyone on earth that's heard your songs but didn't pay for them? Side question: Is it better to burn out or fade away?
posted by mathowie (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a good question:
You design web pages for a living, and you've designed about 30 corporate sites. All of a sudden, your designs starts cropping up everywhere because someone has written a piece of software that allows them to copy your design, back-end database, and all other perifery that goes into your designs.
This software also distributes it easily and freely to as many people who have the client, and soon your sites are ripped off all over the net, from student web-pages to run-of-the-mill e-commerce sites.
You don't earn a cent from your copyright. You don't earn any more money from your designs. Do you want to continue creating great design only to have them stolen each and every time, no credit to you (or just a token "this was by that design dude"), no money to you?
The only way for you to prevent this is to sue - someone. Do you sue everyone on earth that's using your designs, or do you sue the people who wrote the software allowing your designs to be stolen?

PS. Burn Out.
posted by Neale at 11:37 PM on April 13, 2000

Well, I'm not losing sleep over seeing a different or something similar to metafilter (they seem to be having CSS problems, but it appeared pretty much the way posts and comments do here), and if someone distributed a product to make it happen easier, I wouldn't sue anyone. If anything, the company I did the design work for (and in the mp3 case, Metallica's record company) would sue the company with the product, or a class action suit would do something similar. By the way, I have a pretty open ended copyright on my site, if anyone wants to take something I've done and run with it, knock yourselves out.

I really don't see what Metallica is going to gain here, I'd hate to see universities limit what students can do on the net, and I'd hate to see every other artist attempt to sue Napster.

The cats out of the bag, normal things like suing or blocking ports isn't going to stop mp3 trading, something drastically different has to happen.
posted by mathowie at 11:50 PM on April 13, 2000

Now this was a stupid argument:

Says Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, "With each project, we go through a grueling creative process to achieve music that we feel is representative of Metallica at that very moment in our lives. We take our craft - whether it be the music, the lyrics, or the photos and artwork - very seriously, as do most artists. It is therefore sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is.

Funny enough, I thought they wanted money. I thought thats why they're suing for lost profits... its because the music biz trade music as a commodity. If they want it to be treated "as art", if it was all about creative expression, then it should be all about sharing to the masses, and has nothing to do with money.
posted by aki at 12:37 AM on April 14, 2000

I'm not a huge fan, though do I have a lot of respect for Metallica because over the years they've been good to their fans and have been willing to take some musical risks, change their sound, played with an orchaestra, etc. But Lars, now you're just being lame. Napster isn't about "trading", it's about sharing, and the objection that mp3 exchange reduces music to a commodity is ridiculous. People want more mp3s for the same reason they want more Compact Discs--because music is important, and powerful, and enjoyable. People want Metallica songs because they THINK METALLICA ROCKS, and Lars should be happy about that. If you're so concerned about your music being commodified, then why the fuck are you selling it in record stores, playing at fasion award shows, and letting radio stations air it back to back with furniture advertisments? It seems to me that any avenue that can liberate songs from the extremely commodified realms of MTV, Sam Goody, and the big 5 record companies, will benefit the artist. Metallica has a contract with Elektra, who reaps most of the cash for each album sold, and I imagine that the band gets small royalties from each sale. If money really isn't the issue here, I'm impressed . But if Lars thinks that people don't appreciate the creative effort just because their not paying for the music, he's quite mistaken. Copyright laws are being broken, but they're being broken because free art is better than 16.99 art. The lawsuit is going to start a giant red-tape and mudslinging mess, and I don't wanna watch.I'll try to paraphrase something that Chuck D said a while back when an interview asked if it bothered him that his music was being freely distributed on the web, earning him no money-- The music that I create will always be mine, and making a copy or giving it away wont change that. If my creations aren't getting my message across, or they aren't earning me enough to make a living, then I've just got to work 2 or 3 or 10 times harder to create more. You can't download me.
posted by sixfoot6 at 1:57 AM on April 14, 2000

Referring to the original post - Yes, they will sue all of those people. Or more accurately, their lawyers will. I suspect lawyers are going around doing high-fives over this whole thing. It's perfect for them. They get a bottomless barrel of new people to sue, they get to beat up people who are taunting them, and this is an easy case to win.

One thing the open source folks seem to think is that just because their software is free/open, everything else should be free as well. Maybe it's not such a bad thing that the music industry will have to get by with less money. I think THAT would do more to make music less of a commodity. But they'll make everyone's life miserable in return. Count on it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:00 AM on April 14, 2000

Its like if the fed gov procecuting Boeing for FedEx's shipping of the Marijuana.

"Sue Al Gore... he invented the internet anyway"
posted by jamescblack at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2000

Um, Neale?

You sue the people who are doing the stealing.

I'm a creative, too, and I'm honest enough to admit that Napster can be used in a fully legal manner, and that that potential audience is large enough that that's not a strawman argument.

Guns kill people too. Sometimes, people need to be killed; guns are the most effective method. That doesn't make guns bad. Courts even seem to be realizing this; several suits against gun makers have been thrown out of court, lately.

Or hasn't a cop ever saved your life?

-- jra
posted by baylink at 8:14 AM on April 14, 2000

I used to pirate games like mad. It allowed me to buy more games, since I wasn't afraid about taking a risk in buying crap.

Now I can do the same with music. I can decide if I want the single or the whole album. I can discover the music of artists I would have never heard of.

The claim of lost sales is complete BS. The people want to support the game companies and musicians they like. My Napster use has triggered me to purchase more CDs. some of my newest CDs are from independant bands thet I would never have had a chance to hear.

The people who are not buying the albums are the kids that can't afford them, so I really don't see how they are losing money. Eventually these kids will get jobs and run up their credit cards. This will make artists work harder. Soon napster will highjack the hype machine and people won't rush out to buy the latest album when they already discovered it sucks.

Maybe I'm just an optimist?
posted by john at 9:01 AM on April 14, 2000

John brings up a good point. I just opened up my mp3 folder, and here's a list of bands I'd never heard of before mp3s came along, and I have purchased CDs for each of these artists:

- Ozomatli
- G Love and Special Sauce
- Moxy Fruvous
- Lagwagon
- The Flys
- Apocalyptica
- Ben Harper
- Buck O Nine
- Jimmie's Chicken Shack

After downloading some mp3's, I ended up buying at least one CD (and in some cases an artist's entire catalog) from each one listed.

mp3s are great for marketing, a good song will sell CDs.
posted by mathowie at 10:05 AM on April 14, 2000

Sometimes I think Chuck D should be President...
posted by stefnet at 10:49 AM on April 14, 2000

Oops. I wasn't finished.

I think that all of us tots who used to make tapes off the radio should be sued as well. And all the manufacturers of cassette tapes should be sued for allowing people to make mix tapes for those that they are wooing. I really wish that all musicians had the attitude of a just-starting-out garage band. I would be absolutely thrilled to know that my music was being shared and listened to by so many people. Or maybe I'm just naive.
posted by stefnet at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2000

Okay, this is for for all of you long-suffering, law-abiding, and fully compliant individuals...

Delete every single piece of unregisterd software, shareware that's over the evaluation time limit, and do make sure that you can produce a license for what you've got left. That means get rid of those Photoshop plug-ins that you wheezed from your friends. I'd be suprised, for most folks, if that's more than a browser, oh and make sure that you've given the distributor, or owner of your operating system the approprieate fee.

Make sure that you've got a release from every copyright holder for every font that you use, every photograph that you use (yes, even if you've cropped, blurred, it and changed the colors), and do make sure that you pay each royalty due in accordance with the contracts and agreements that you have for all of those things.

While you are at it, please destroy all of your unauthorized copies of videotaped movies and television shows.

Oh we were talking about music weren't we? I wouldn't want to get off topic...

Make double sure to destroy all copied, records to tapes, tapes to CD's and copies of CD's that you've burned to keep for your car... Shall I continue?

I don't intend to address the moral, or legal implications and questions. So don't bother telling me that it's still wrong.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2000

dean: nice to see you've wrapped that all up so nicely for your self.

I linked to this on the pocket last night, and won't bother you with my screed over here.

re: Matt's point, though, when cassettes came out there was a hue and cry from the record industry about piracy and everyone losing money and all of it; but supposedly, people who make tapes of music are more *active* record buyers than the norm. I think we'd be hearing the same thing about writable CDs if it weren't mp3s, which have the potential to eliminate music companies entirely.

my question: is this just another form of cassette tape, or is there something about this technology (either the quality or the potential for mass distribution) that *does* substantially threaten the livelihoods of artists?

posted by rebeccablood at 11:50 AM on April 14, 2000

posted by mathowie at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2000

Let's point out that fans do support their interests. It is about the line between promotion and stealing. Should artists be entitled to all the potential sales of their work? Are listeners entitled to hear the entire album before they decide to buy?

I think a lot of artists will lose money because people won't have to buy a CD before they decide they don't like it or that they only like one song.

The artists that are opposed to this don't trust their fans and they don't respect their fans.
posted by john at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2000

To answer Rebecca's question: no; of course it's not the interests of the *artists* that are in danger here.

Artists don't have any money.


It's the *labels* that are in serious deep-doo-doo danger here. They get the lion's share of the profit from the sale of that $14.99 CD you just bought, and they've based their business model off of that for so long that they didn't even think of it... until it became *practical* to move music some other way.

Someone still needs to do A&R, and interface with record companies, and finance videos for MTV, and deal with radio, and book tours... but are those functions going to continue to be done by record companies?

Only the ones who can adapt fast enough. Remember that rabbits and dinosaurs parable about Microsoft from back before Christmas?

-- jra
posted by baylink at 1:11 PM on April 14, 2000

Can I sue Metallica for producing the FM radio crap that clogs up bandwidth when I want to download some decent music from Napster? And for the abomination that is "Nine O'Clock Mandatory Metallica" on Atlanta's 99X?

Can I?
posted by holgate at 3:47 AM on April 16, 2000

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