The Reason James Hetfield Let Lars Ulrich Become Metallica’s Spokesperson In Napster Case

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Currently, people can stream songs through online platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer without having to buy physical records. Also, they don’t have to pay even a dollar to listen to them thanks to the musicians’ and the other fans’ Youtube channels that share the tracks the day they are released. However, downloading them to their phones and PCs for free is still a bit difficult.

In addition, most of them resolve this issue by using some apps and websites that have no problem with violating copyrights. It was actually harder to find these songs online years ago until Napster’s founders found a solution for that. In fact, a lawsuit filed by Metallica against Napster two decades ago changed the music industry’s perspective toward unauthorized online streaming and filesharing.

Metallica Vs. Napster Inc.

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Napster can be defined as an audio streaming service, which was founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, to allow peer-to-peer file sharing in MP3 format. During the late ’90s and early 2000s, the platform became so popular that it reached 80 million monthly users and had a net worth of between 60-80 million dollars from file transfers. So it seems that the filesharing damaged the album sales in terms of physical records.

The crisis started when the company didn’t purchase the rights of the musicians’ songs, and Metallica was one of the first bands that discovered it. Metallica filed a lawsuit against Napster in 2000 and accused the company of unauthorized use of their songs, copyright infringement, and racketeering.

They demanded a minimum of $10 million in damages and for the service to ban users sharing their songs illegally. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich ran the campaign and was in charge of their file because James Hetfield had another important thing to do.

Lars Ulrich Read Metallica’s Testimony To The Senate Judiciary Committee

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The case started when Lars Ulrich read the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it marked the beginning of the legal battle between Napster and Metallica. Even though the streaming company lost the case and had to reach a settlement with the band by placing a filter that erases the Metallica songs from their system, Napster’s publicity was way better than the band. Therefore, many people targeted Metallica by defining them as outdated mean people who prevented young people from listening to music.

In one of their previous interview with Playboy, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich opened up about the lawsuit and mistakes they made while explaining their motivation behind declaring the war against Napster. Hetfield stated that he let Ulrich become Metallica’s spokesperson throughout the case because he and his wife Francesca Hetfield had just a baby, Castor Virgil Hetfield in the same year so he had to take care of his family.

In Hetfileld’s words, he said:

“My wife and I were giving birth to a second child, and family is number one. So Lars had to run with the torch, and there were a few bad moves. You know, Lars can get really mouthy and be a snotty-nosed kid at times. I cringed at certain interviews: ‘Oh dude, don’t say that…'”

Ulrich responded:

I said some things that were borderline silly. When Limp Bizkit embraced Napster and took $2 million to play this ‘free tour’—it is possible to play free shows without taking sponsorship money because we do that—I said it was total bullshit. I know a lot of people hate Fred Durst, but I think he’s really f*cking talented. I and Fred kissed and made up. When I open my mouth, most of the time something somewhat eloquent comes out, and once in a while, I talk a bunch of f*cking bullshit. I’m aware of that.”

As it can be understood from Hetfield’s statement, even the band’s reputation cannot be more important than his wife and kids, which was appreciated by the band’s fans. However, he admitted that Ulrich, who stepped forward to run with the torch as the co-founder, made some bad moves without thinking about its consequences.

The Metallica drummer agreed with him, saying that he said silly things, especially about Limp Bizkit when they started their free 2000 summer tour, sponsored by the Napster in the middle of Metallica’s legal battle with the company. Ulrich revealed that he later talked with Fred Durst and solved their problems.