Metallica performed their “For Whom the Bell Tolls” live virtually from their California headquarters as part of this year’s BlizzCon, the annual presentation for video game makers Blizzard Entertainment.
The heavy metal legends previously appeared during BlizzCon 2014. This year’s conference went livestream-only due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “We would love to be there this year, but obviously can’t be, so here we are, and this is for you,” James Hetfield told the virtual audience prior to performing the Ride the Lightning classic.
BlizzCon streamed on a variety of mediums — YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, etc. — but viewers were quick to note that on the Twitch Gaming stream, the band’s music was replaced by something un-Metallica as a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) failsafe kicked in to protect the song’s rights.
the current state of Twitch: the official Twitch Gaming channel cut off the live Metallica concert to play 8bit folk music to avoid DMCA pic.twitter.com/sCn56So8Ee
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) February 19, 2021
According to EuroGamer, Twitch has had DMCA issues in recent months, even warning their streamers not to use previously recorded music on their channels or face takedown notices; in May 2020, record labels started to send out DMCA warnings to Twitch users in regards to their archived clips.
As noted on social media and during the stream, the sound gaffe was a comeuppance moment for Metallica, who 20 years earlier were at the forefront in the music industry’s fight against file sharing service Napster, although that legal battle occurred three years after the DMCA’s enactment.