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Lawsuits Aren’t Metal

At one point Metallica was considered metal royalty. Records like “Ride the Lightning” and “…And Justice for All” are jewels in the crown of metaldom—the apex of what’s possible when you take two guitars, a bass and a drum set and play them all really, really fast.

Kings of Excess in the ‘80s, the band was once dubbed “Alcoholica” for its legendary levels of imbibing and backstage excess. Lately, however, they’re more known as grumpy old men with a penchant for issuing lawsuits than a gang Southern Comfort-soaked unhinged metalheads.

Metallica famously led the charge against the digital-sharing movement that led to the collapse of Napster (which ironically only served to prove that the Internet was the music marketplace of the future). While the band had every right to protect its music from illegal downloads, the lawsuit did irrevocable damage to the band’s image long-term. It’s a move that has haunted them ever since—and this week, the legal papers were flying once more.

It was announced last week that a Canadian Metallica cover band by the name of “Sandman” received a 41-page cease-and-desist order from the group’s lawyers. The order cited the unapproved use of the band’s name and stylized logo likeness.

This is probably the most un-metal thing you can do.

Metallica claims they were unaware of any sort of legal correspondence, and to their part, have encouraged the band to continue playing their songs. They even commented on the overzealous actions of their lawyer, saying that the attorney “can be found at SFO catching a flight to go permanently ice fishing in Alaska.”

A solid move for a band that’s been a bit trigger-happy with the legal briefs in recent memory, but it’ll take more than righting a wrong for the band to regain the massive respect they earned in the past.

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