No one innovation or event
changed the course of the modern music
industry more than the introduction of
Napster. On this day 15 years ago, Napster
faced its first real challenge from the artistic community.
On April 13th, 2000, while label executives were wringing
their hands and trying to decided their next move, attorneys
for Metallica filed Metallica
v. Napster, Inc. in the United States District Court
for the Northern District of California.
It was the first time that had artist sued
Napster. The charges leveled against the peer to peer
music file sharing service included copyright infringement,
racketeering, and unlawful use of digital audio interface
“Napster hijacked our music without asking,” Metallica’s
drummer Lars Ulrich told Congress in July 2000. “They never
sought our permission. Our catalog of music simply became
available for free downloads on the Napster system.”
Here’s what happened next:
In March 2001, the federal district court
judge ruling over the case, Marilyn Hall Patel, issued
a preliminary injunction in Metallica’s favor
pending the case’s resolution
On July 12, 2001 Napster reached a settlement with
Metallica and Dr. Dre after Bertelsmann AG BMG
became interested in purchasing the rights to Napster for $94
million. The settlement required that Napster block all of
the music being shared from any artist that did not want
their music to be shared.
The $94 million deal was blocked when Judge Peter Walsh
ruled that the deal was tainted because Napster Chief
Executive Officer Konrad Hilbers, a former Bertelsmann
executive, had one foot in the Napster camp and one foot in
the Bertelsmann camp.
Napster was forced to file for Chapter 7 and
liquefy its assets.
To say that the music industry has never been the same is