I’ve noticed something lately while wandering aimlessly over the Internet. A lot of the “official-sounding” websites (www.encycmet.com, www.metallicainc.com, and so on and so on) are falling victim to the Metallilawyers. They either have disclaimers posted on their sites (which are nothing but shells of the quality sites they used to be), bowing down to the demands of the mighty lawyers, or they’ve shut down entirely because the lawyer’s guidelines leave them with absolutely nothing with which to make a site of any substance.
This is not an insult to the webmasters of the victmized sites - if a group of power hungry lawyers armed with copyright infringement laws started sharpening their claws in my general direction, I’d pack up in a hurry too. I’m a university student, I’m too poor to deal with this shit.
I tried voicing my thoughts in the official Metallica Club forum - a nice, polite little note saying “gee, those lawyers are getting a little trigger-happy, aren’t they, and boy, I’m sure glad my crapass site is hidden in the depths of Angelfire where no one ‘official’ can see all the stuff I’ve stolen”. But alas, the forum is moderated, and my post never showed up. Wow, now I’ve got some censorship action going on. Thanks, all-powerful webmaster. Kiss my ass. And on the subject of the official site, the unofficial fan sites are a helluva lot more fun that the sterile, Metallically-correct official one.
And no, this is not a rant directed at the band, either. This is solely a rant for the lawyers, baby. I wonder if Metallica even knows about this? I hope not. I’d like to think that if they saw what these webmasters are being left with, they’d redirect their legal army elsewhere. But maybe I’m just being naive.
And before you start sending me irate emails discussing the importance of copyright infringement laws, yes I am aware of how bad we are to use the Metallica logo without permission, and to put up videos without permission, and to steal photos deigned for use in “Rolling Stone” that we don’t even bother to remove the copyright symbol from.......geez. I bet you’d report me to Interpol for my illegally dubbed copy of “The Usual Suspects” too, wouldn’t you?
My point is, Metallica would not be the highly successful band they are today if people hadn’t circulated copies of demo tapes and pirated albums or bootlegged concerts that got to the people who just couldn’t hear the band by any other means. Before “Master of Puppets” and “...And Justice For All”, I seriously doubt every record store on earth was stocking copies of Metallica albums. Some places you couldn’t find a copy anywhere. And I doubt many radio stations were playing them much either. Well, this is the SAME THING. I’ll admit, I’m exaggerating a little, but come on. I’ve talked to people who have only seen half (and a grainy half at that) of the “Until it Sleeps” video and THAT’S IT. No other videos. These people have a right to see videos just as much as any other Metallica fan who’s fortunate enough to have MTV or MuchMusic or whatever. And if they don’t see it on the net, they’ll probably track down a second or third-generation “taped from TV” VHS copy. How is that any different, or any more or less illegal? Why should site owners be punished? Because they’re easier to prosecute?
Anyway, enough. I’m rambling. All I’m saying is that it would be nice if the lawyers called off the heavy-handed Gestapo tactics. It’s pissing me off. (Not like I can do anything about it if they don’t, it’s just nice knowing that my anger’s out there for the world to see.) These sites are labours of love for the band and their music. Some people have worked their asses off on them, putting their heart and soul into their own personal dedication to Metallica, and don’t deserve to have it all thrown away simply because they’ve used a logo, or picture, or video. Have a heart, for fuck’s sake.