Kirk Hammett Still Believes Metallica ‘Were Right’ to Sue Napster
The dawn of the file-sharing era for mainstream music fans came with a lot of messiness between hardcore consumers and the record industry — a conflict that will forever be symbolized by the lawsuit filed by the members of Metallica against the early peer-to-peer network Napster.
That suit, filed in April of 2000, was just one of many ways that artists and labels tried stemming the tide of freely available music, but it became one of the biggest lightning rods in the passionate debate over the tension between the technological evolution of a medium and the protection of the artists responsible for creating it. To this day, there remain people who argue Metallica made a mistake by going after Napster — and effectively targeting some of their own fans in the bargain — but looking back, guitarist Kirk Hammett remains secure in his belief that the band did the right thing.
"It didn't do us any favors whatsoever. But you know what? We're still in the right on that — we're still right about Napster, no matter who's out there who's saying, 'Metallica was wrong,'" Hammett explained during an appearance on the Swedish program Nyhetsmorgon. "All you have to do is look at the state of the music industry, and that kind of explains the whole situation right there."
You can watch the interview below.
Even though they did what they could to bring some sense of legal order to what was then a rapidly growing free-for-all, the members of Metallica have since made their peace with digital distribution — even though, as Hammett pointed out, he still believes there's a trade-off in terms of audio fidelity between compressed files and old-fashioned physical analog media.
"There was a time when the streaming thing was kind of weird, and it's not ... great quality," he added. "I don't care what anyone says about modern streaming and whatnot, and all these bits and whatnot, it's never going to sound better than vinyl. Having said that, we want to be accessible, and you need to make sure that you're accessible on all the modern fronts."