Posts Tagged with "napster"

The Day Metallica Died

September 28th, 2006 at 11:06 pm by Mark
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     By 1986, I was a huge Metallica fan.  I had all three albums, a bunch of imports and an impressive number of bootlegs that “don’t exist” — outside of someone’s degrading collection of cassette tapes, stuffed, caseless, into a shoebox and long forgotten under a bed or at the bottom of a closet that’s never opened until guests arrive.
     And it was on this day, twenty years ago, that a friend of a friend called me to tell me that Metallica’s legendary bass player, Cliff Burton, had been killed in a bus accident the day before.

     If you’re not familiar with Metallica save their more recent albums like St. Anger, you’d do well to give the old stuff a listen.  To illustrate what sort of influence Cliff Burton was on the band, it’d be a good idea to grab the 1981 compilation album, “Metal Massacre,” which features a terrifyingly poor version of “Hit the Lights” with original bass player, Ron McGovney, and original guitarrist, Lloyd Grant. Grant was replaced early in 1982 by Dave Mustaine (of Megadeth fame). In 1983, however, Dave — who seemed to pay more attention to alcohol and drugs than music — was ousted as Kirk Hammett (from the thrash metal band Exodus) joined the crew . 

     Quiet, classically trained and immensely capable, Cliff brought an edginess and raw nerve to the band.  Influences like Motorhead and the Misfits are very apparent on their first release album, “Kill ’em All” from 1983.  Being “the major rager on the four string motherf#&$er,” — a quote delivered by Hetfield at an early stage show — Cliff grandstands his bass guitar talents on the track, Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth).

     Cliff was quick to realize that this was a group who could define the shape of things to come.  As a visionary, he noted that each of the members were talented in their own right: Kirk Hammett was an impressive and established guitarrist and songwriter, Lars Ulrich was an exceptional drummer, and the vocalist of the band, James Hetfield, was a burgeoning poet.
     Under his leadership, Metallica veered slightly off of their Thrash Metal path to release “Ride the Lightning” in 1984.  This marked the beginning of Metallica’s signature accoustic guitar intros (the Segovia-influenced intro to Fight Fire with Fire), and melodic intrumentals (the brilliantly arranged Call of Ktulu, titled owing to Cliff’s love of H.P. Lovecraft).
     Power Metal was born.

     Building on that success and using a similar formula, the 1986 release of “Master of Puppets” catapulted the band into Billboard’s top fifty.  This was no minor achievement, considering Metallica had gone completely without the radio airplay granted other artists in the Billboard list.

     Tragically, Cliff was killed during the Damage, Inc. World Tour (named from of the last track from Puppets album, a track clearly showing Cliff’s bass talents) with Ozzy Osbourne.  While in Sweden for the tour, their bus hit some ice, and he died in the ensuing malady (being thrown from the bus window, crushed, and crushed again during the attempted rescue effort).

     Shortly after, the slot was filled by Jason Newsted of Flotsam & Jetsam.  Although an accomplished bass player, Newsted couldn’t fill the shoes of Cliff.  Unfortunately for him, the band would never let him forget it, either.
     “Garage Days Re-Revisited” was released in 1987, followed by “…And Justice For All” in 1988, and featured some of the last riffs from Cliff.
     While Garage Days — featuring covers of bands like Diamond Head, Misfits and Killing Joke — was a suitable ode to the influences of Cliff Burton through the prior years, Justice fell notably short.  The band released their first Top 40 Single, One, and the rest is the more recent history of an altogether different band.

     Without Cliff in the role of mentor, there was no one to temper the paranoia of James Hetfield, nor the ego of Lars Ulrich.  Instead of the Metallica we all knew and loved, their self-titled album, also known as the Black Album, spawned multiple Top 40 hits.  As the once iconic Metal legends became more mainstream and less distinguishable from other Metal bands, it was unsurprising to see them touring with popular glam rock band, Guns ‘n’ Roses, in the early 1990’s.
     The downward spiral continued through the mid-to-late 90’s with the releases of Load and Reload, which spawned a new wave of marketing the like of which had not been seen since the Kiss campaigns in the 1970’s.  From action figures to zippos, Metallica’s mainstream popularity put them on equal footing with “bubble gum” artists such as New Kids on the Block and Britney Spears.
     With Lars at the helm, the mainstream, sold-out Metallica became a figurehead in the Recording Industry Association’s fight against the then-reveolutionary music sharing application, Napster.  In multiple interviews, Ulrich’s egomaniacal viewpoints — especially his contention that content providers should be legally liable for anything that happens on their network instead of the user who is abusing the service — turned many fans away.  The battle came to a head with Lars standing before a Senate Judiciary Committee in July of 2000, standing up for Intellectual Property and Copyright Laws during the RIAA’s bid to have Congress put more teeth into the Digital Millennium Act (DMCA).  Fortunately, Camp Chaos was there to lambast the RIAA and poke fun at the entire situation.

     Now with their fifth bass player, Robert Trujillo (a great guy, BTW — met him plenty of times), they’ve decided they’re not going to split like they had intended, but will probably release another bad album in the near future.  Of course, this won’t be any fault of Trujillo — the man who’s played Bluegrass, Classical, Funk and Metal with the ease of a concert Bassist — but it’s inevitable, given Metallica’s radical shift into mainstream “teeny-bopper” Metal.

     It’s unfortunate, really.  Cliff Burton was responsible for so much of what was great about the early Metallica.  Besides taking Cliff’s life, the tragic accident also took with it the power and creativity that made Metallica stand out from the crowd.

     Rest in Peace, Cliff Burton (10-Feb-1962 to 27-Sep-1986).

     And R.I.P Metallica (Oct-1981 – 27-Sep-1986).

Napster of Puppets

July 27th, 2000 at 11:45 pm by Mark
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     By order of Chief US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, Napster is shut down. Earlier this morning, she signed an injunction to shut them down pending the outcome of their trial.

     If you’re not familiar with Napster, or if you think you are, I’ll give you a run-down of what it is. Basically, it’s a program that allows users to download free music. The Music Industry claims that Napster is a “dangerous Internet rival that could short-circuit traditional music sales.”
     Plain and simple, right?

     In a word, No…

     Not only is the whole Napster ordeal reason number one hundred and seventy-eight why people think Metallica suck, there’s also the fact that technically it’s only a Network. More specifically, it’s an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) Server not altogether unlike Undernet or DalNet that a lot of Internet users chat on. Instead of using an IRC-client however, there’s a front-end program that allows users to share files. Again, this is not altogether different than the DCC file servers and such available to IRC users, but whereas with standard IRC most people are chatting, the majority of Napster users are transferring files.
     When one logs into Napster, the contents of a shared directory on your hard drive are made public to everyone logged into the server. Running the “Search” inside the program searches a database of all connected users and finds matching filenames in those shared directories and lists them.
     Napster itself, as an entity, doesn’t have any of those files, which are Songs in this case. The users share them between one another.

     Officially, Napster itself claims that they do not promote the use of their product for the illegal transfer of copyrighted or trademarked material. Music information on their website, despite what you’ve heard, is restricted to un-signed artists who opt to self-promote their music.
     It’s been great. Finally, there was a way for un-signed musicians to promote themselves and make a few dollars without being raped by Music Industry thugs who care more about marketability factors and profitability rather than the Art of Music.

     Basically what the Recording Industry Association of America (incorrectly referred to as the “Music Industry”) is attempting to do is overturn many former legal precedents set worldwide so they can make a quick dollar. The case is ludicrous, and could be easily overturned (with damages granted to Napster for their loss of Advertising revenues during the injunction period) if only their Lawyers would do some very basic legal research and urge the Honourable Patel to uphold the verdict of another Judge. No Judge likes to see their verdict overturned, especially by a lesser-experienced, un-impartial Judge with a mindset strictly adverse to the Spirit of Law.

     The defence avenue that comes immediately to mind is BLAHBLAH (insert litigant here) vs. America Online (Internet Service Provider). In each of these cases, it was ruled that a content or service provider cannot be held liable for the actions of its users. Some AOL user had posted a web site in bad taste in their free space on AOL, someone was offended and tried to sue AOL instead of the person who did it.
     In most cases, the content was actually illegal (either defamation, hate-crime related or boasting of illegal behaviour) and violated AOL’s Terms of Service, something that a simple e-mail to [email protected] could have taken care of it. But Lawyers, intent on getting as much money as they could rather than using a bit of common sense, saw the need for legal action such that a Precedent could be set and their other Lawyer-buddies could make even more money if the case was actually won.
     (Ian C. Ballon, Esq. comes to mind — the man who attempted to sue a child a few years ago for the use of the domain name “gumby.org” claiming that regardless of whether it was the kid’s nickname, it was a registered trademark of Prema Toy Co. — as he claimed [on his Hong Kong partners’ site] that he lost at least one of these AOL cases. After writing a long volume about the verdict being wrong, he proceeded to draft revisions of standing laws and claimed [again on the Hong Kong site] to have submitted some to the series now dubbed the International Intellectual Property and Trademark Acts. I’m sure he’ll sue me for using his name here, actually. Common Sense and any interpretation of Law says, however, that even though I have, and even though I think he’s a wanking leech and a bottom feeder, he can’t sue me for Libel or Slander as what I have posted is A. truthful by information he or his colleagues have given, B. within the realm of public knowledge, and C. a matter of subjective opinion protected under an inherent right of Freedom of Speech.)

     The bitch of it all is that there is a world-wide Common Sense which says that a manufacturer can’t held liable for damages caused by illicit use or misuse of their product. If your kid goes out tomorrow and overdoses on Viagra (strangely not uncommon), are you going to sue the manufacturer of Viagra? What if he/she shoots him/herself with your shotgun, are you going to sue the gun manufacturer?
     What if your next door neighbour puts up a web page on Ihug claiming you’re a rapist? You’re using the ‘net to read this, so you know that you’d sue the neighbour, and that the provider can’t possibly police everything on their network.
     What if someone with a Hotmail address e-mails you a Trojan that sends someone all of your business records and then deletes them from your machine? Of course, you can’t sue Hotmail. But what if that person started distributing your confidential information to people on auckland.nz.undernet.org? Would you try and get the server shut down?

     Of course not.

     You prosecute the offender, not the means by which they offend. It doesn’t take a barrister’s degree to figure that out.

     But if things keep going the same way in the United States, look out. New Zealand has signed the same laws on Copyrights, Trademarks and Intellectual Property, and it might just turn into a mess here, too.

     But if it should happen that the manufacturer of the Napster program is found liable for the illicit actions of its members and New Zealand follows suit, then I should bloody well be able to sue Clear Telecommunications for that loud, screaming bastard who kept calling me over and over with the wrong number in the middle of the night.

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