You just knew an artist would eventually pick up the gauntlet and sue Napster, the company responsible for software that enables the free sharing and distribution of MP3 files. Metallica, the no-nonsense San Francisco-based metal statesmen, have filed suit in U.S. District Court Central District of California against Napster Inc., the University of Southern California, Yale Univesity and Indiana University. The group alleges that Napster and the schools committed copyright infringements, unlawful use of digital audio interface device and violations of the Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In non-legalese, Metallica and their publishing company claim that as the copyright owners of their sound recordings and musical compositions, they have the exclusive right to commercially distribute their songs and derive income from them. Basically, Metallica are pissed off that webheads are rampantly swapping copies of Master of Puppets and And Justice for All, and not cutting them in.
“With each project, we go through a grueling creative process to achieve music that we feel is representative of Metallica at that very moment in our lives,” said Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. “We take our craft — whether it be the music, the lyrics, or the photos and artwork — very seriously, as do most artists. It is therefore sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is. From a business standpoint, this is about piracy — taking something that doesn’t belong to you; and that is morally and legally wrong. The trading of such information — whether it’s music, videos, photos, or whatever — is, in effect, trafficking in stolen goods.”
The suit further states that “Napster has devised and distributed software whose sole purpose is to permit Napster to profit by abetting and encouraging the pirating of the creative efforts of the world’s most admired and successful musical artists. Facilitating that effort are the hypocritical universities and colleges who could easily block this insidious and ongoing thievery scheme. The last link in the chain are the end users of the stolen musical works, students of these universities and others who exhibit the moral fiber of common looters loading up shopping carts because ‘everybody else is doing it.'”