Metallica Lawyer Explains Why Band Was Right to Sue Napster Over Illegal Downloading
The early 2000s brought a revolution in terms of how music was consumed and forever changed the music industry. At the middle of that transition was Metallica, who found themselves a very public face in the fight against illegal downloading. Now, nearly two decades later, lawyer Peter Paterno has shared that he feels the band was right to sue Napster and fans at the time and he explains why.
When asked by Variety if he was involved in the band's lawsuit against Napster and against fans, Paterno confirmed that he was, adding that he felt that it was a "fair" move.
When asked why, Paterno explained, "Because they were basically thieves! It’s not a popular opinion. The popular opinion now is a sort of revisionist history that we shouldn’t have sued Napster, we should have worked something out with them — well, no, there was nothing to work out with them. 'You could have made a deal.' What was the deal? People were getting music for free."
He continues, "It was really necessary in order to set the ground rules for what music is worth. Those fans aren’t fans — fans pay for music and appreciate its value. It’s like [Dr.] Dre said when we told him about Napster, he said, 'I work 24/7 in the lab and these guys just steal it? Screw them.'"
When Paterno was told that was a stance that was hard to disagree with, he responded, "Well, a lot of people do. A lot of people think that’s really a radical stance, but we went from a business that was doing $30 billion a year to doing a third of that in three or four years because of people’s creativity not being rewarded. I’ve never agreed with that."
In 2016, drummer Lars Ulrich said he was still proud of the fact that they "stood up for what we believed in at the time," but added that he felt they could have better prepared for the backlash that followed.
"Somebody to be fucking with us so, fuck it, you fire back," said Ulrich. "After the shots were fired, the band found plenty of people congratulating them for their efforts behind closed doors. And then all of a sudden this whole other thing happened and we were in the middle of it, alone. Every day that summer, there was not a musician or peer or somebody inside the music business who wouldn't pat me on the back and go, 'You guys are standing up for the rest of us.' But the minute we were out in public, we were on our own. Everybody was too shit fucking scared and too much of a pussy to take a step forward. The only other person that said something in public was Dr. Dre."