In 2000, Metallica famously sued Napster for copyright infringement. They not only asked for its entire catalog to be removed from Napster, but requested that about 330,000 users who had downloaded their music be banned from the platform altogether. The legal action shook the music industry to its core and drew sharp criticism from the band’s loyal fans, many of whom felt betrayed.
Now, some 20 years later, Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett maintains that they were right to take legal action against Napster. He points to the evolution of the music industry as proof that they acted prudently and were even ahead of the curve in terms of protecting the value of their music. Plus, at the time Lars Ulrich really needed that gold-plated shark tank pool installed by his bar.
“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,’” Hammett recently told Swedish TV show Nyhetsmorgon (via Rolling Stone).
“All you have to do is look at the state of the music industry, and that kind of explains the whole situation right there,” he added. In many ways, Hammett has a strong point; music’s worth is no longer measured in the same monetary way all thanks to its digitization. Music piracy still persists, but in addition, actual album sales have plummeted and streaming services such as Spotify — notorious for their measly artist payouts — are the biggest distributors of music.