Metallica had a famous legal battle with Napster back in the early 2000s when it was a peer-to-peer file sharing network. The band filed a lawsuit accusing Napster of copyright infringement and racketeering.
These days, Napster is a subscription service, and the two former bitter adversaries have come to an agreement that Metallica’s catalog will be available for streaming on Napster.
In a statement, Napster says, “The release of Metallica’s new album comes at an incredible time for streaming music with streaming subscriptions accounting for almost half of industry sales in the first half of 2016. Today, Napster is a legal, paid subscription service with a catalog of over 40 million tracks. We are thrilled to bring Metallica’s full catalog – including their latest new album – to Napster subscribers around the world.”
Though public opinion has shifted over the years in their favor, at the time Metallica took a huge amount of criticism for taking on Napster. Lars Ulrich discussed the lawsuit in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
“Napster wasn’t about money,” Ulrich states. “It wasn’t about commerce. It wasn’t about copyright. It was literally about choice. Whose choice is it to make your music available for free downloads? We were saying, ‘Hang on. It should be our choice.’ And then other people had different opinions and it became about whether you’re greedy or about money.”
Ulrich continues, “And all of a sudden it was like, ‘Huh? What? Where the f-k did that come from? We’re not greedy! Wait a minute, who changed the direction of this whole argument?’ [laughs] That was the part that kind of threw us.”
Napster was purchased by Rhapsody in 2011, and fully rebranded itself as Napster in the U.S. earlier this year. The popularity of streaming has skyrocketed over the past few years, led by services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
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Lars Ulrich: Napster Lawsuit Was About Control Not Money