In a brand new interview with CraveOnline.com, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield spoke about how far the digital music industry has come since 2000 when METALLICA launched legal action against Napster, claiming that the pioneering music file-sharing service was illegally allowing users to download METALLICA tracks without paying royalties to the band. Although the case was settled out of court, 300,000 users were banned from Napster as a result and METALLICA's image took a tremendous beating in the eyes of music fans.
METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, who was the main spokesperson for METALLICA in the Napster battle, has since become friends with Napster co-founder and current Spotify investor Sean Parker and recently attended Parker's wedding.
Asked what changed over the last few years, Hetfield replied: "I don't know, kind of like in our lives, as you get older, you're able to get past certain roadblocks mentally and friendship-wise, like things with MEGADETH, people from our past," Hetfield explained. "They become a little less potent. They become less of a source of hatred or whatever. They affect you less and at the end of the day you're just kind of realizing that everyone is looking out for the best interest, hopefully, for the world.
"[Lars Ulrich] was wanting to do something. He had a vision and had no idea what the consequences would be.
"At the end of the day, we're all adults and you sit down and you talk and you go, 'Hey, when I did this, that happened.' We did the same and let's move on from there.
"I think we've learned a lot, like from obviously the 'Some Kind Of Monster' movie and the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Seeing all these bands that can't even show up and play together because they're arguing about something that happened 20 years ago and they can't celebrate a great moment, or create a new moment in history. Life's too short for stuff like that."
Ulrich later admitted that he wished he had dealt with the Napster situation differently.
In a 2003 interview with Launch, Lars about the band's battle with Napster, "Most of the time, it's like a bad dream, like what the fuck was that? [Several] years later, it's like did that really happen? We went from being somewhat well-respected, well-liked, and then I woke up one day and all of a sudden I was the most hated man in rock 'n' roll. It was like, huh? Me? What did I do wrong? I'm one of the good guys. That was all kind of weird.
"If you look at our history, we've always been pretty protective of our own shit. When anybody got too close or fucked with our shit, we always took action.
"In retrospect, I'm proud of what we did. I really felt sideswiped on that one. In my own little ignorant world, I didn't see it coming. I was completely ignorant and unaware of the magnitude of this issue for people. I was just sitting there in my own little selfish world going, 'I'm going to protect METALLICA. Don't fuck with METALLICA.' Then (explosion sound), 'You're pro-record company, you're greedy!'
"I'm not pro-record company. We invented being anti-record company. We told our record company to go fuck themselves before anyone else. Stop.
"It was a very surreal thing, because it was so hard to connect what I read about myself and METALLICA, it was so abstract to what was on my radar about my own reality. People going, 'You're a really greedy little man.' It was like, what are you talking about? We've been giving shit away for years. We want to be the ones giving it away, not someone else.
"I'm proud of the stance we took. It was a very tough time. It was a much tougher time, because in the middle of that you have to put your best game face on. It was difficult. A lot of that shit hurt and it was very bewildering because it was difficult to connect it to your own reality. For better or worse, it got a good debate started.
"In retrospect, I'm not claiming any sort of victory — who gives a shit about that? — I think more people are starting to realize, not that we were right, but this is an issue that is changing the face of everything that is going on. Not only the music world, but the film world is next. What better way to deal with it than at least educate people about it. If nothing else, I look back at the six months in 2000 as the first step in the education."