Guitar News Weekly
Edition #91, May 22, 2000
Metallica is suing Napster, several universities, and several John or Jane Does (their fans) for copyright infringement, claiming that the "illegal copying and trading" of their music on Napster has robbed the band of its rightful revenues. The suit is seeking damages of $100,000 for each song that was traded, for a total of $10,000,000. Now, that's an awful lot of revenue they claim to have lost, isn't it?
What's more, by naming several John or Jane Does as defendants in the suit, Metallica has positioned themselves to sue their fans directly for alleged copyright infringement. This means that Metallica fans could be fined and even serve jail time, especially because Metallica is invoking the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act, which was designed to fight organized crime. It seems to me that threatening to fine your fans and put them in jail is not the best way to promote your band.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich labeled MP3 trading Metallica fans as criminals when he said, "From a business standpoint, this is about piracy... The trading of such information - whether it's music, videos, photos, or whatever - is, in effect, trafficking in stolen goods." Meanwhile, a representative of Q Prime, the band's management company, equated downloading songs from Napster with stealing cash from an untended record store cash register.
Until I can pay for my groceries with a pirated MP3 file, I think that Q Prime's position is nothing but hype, and does nothing to endear Metallica or its associates to their fans.
At August Nelson, we think that industry fears of rampant piracy ruining the music business are nothing but paranoid propaganda. Industry representatives have failed to point to any data that shows the extent to which MP3s and CD burners, by making copying music so easy, have hurt industry revenues. That's because there are no such data, because sales keep going up!
We don't believe that it's a mere coincidence that as copying has gotten easier, more people have had the chance to try out more music, and as a result they've ended up buying more music. Here are some numbers from Soundscan that show CD sales are way up in the 1st Quarter of 2000, against the 1st Quarter average from 1995-1999:
Jan 2000 change from Jan 95-99 average +07.3%
So, sales are up, copying is easy, everybody is suing everybody for millions of dollars in lost revenue that actually weren't lost. Metallica is seeking $10,000,000 in damages and may try to put their fans in jail. Has the whole world turned upside down? Isn't the real problem that there's an easy way to GET the music but no way to actually PAY for it?
We think that if it's cheap and easy for people to pay for digital music, people will generally pay. We also think that copying and trading music can have a positive impact on an artist's overall sales. That's why we combined these elements on OrangeAlley, a website where artists and their fans work together to promote and sell music. At OrangeAlley we not only encourage fans to copy and trade MP3s, we pay them for it, while ensuring that the artists get paid for their art.
METALLICA V NAPSTER SITES:
METALLICA v. NAPSTER @ GuitarSite.com:
Camp Chaos site has posted a scathing Metallica Cartoon, which depicts the band's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in a rather unflattering light: http://126.96.36.199/cartoons/napsterbad/
And The Onion has something to say:
About.com Guitar Guide Met/Nap News:
IS METALLICA GREEDY?
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