A live-streamed Metallica concert was cut short this weekend when the host service Twitch dubbed over it with royalty-free music. Fans were amused by this course of events — not least of all because Metallica helped make copyright laws what they are today. The mishap spawned a whole tidal pool of memes and jokes on social media.
Metallica was hired to perform at BlizzConline, this year's live-streamed version of BlizzCon, which is a video game convention held by Blizzard Entertainment every year. The event was hosted on the video game live-streaming service Twitch, among other places, but it was only on the Twitch Gaming channel that the band was dubbed. Without warning, the stream replaced Metallica's roaring metal with gentle piano and chimes. Most agreed that this was the company's way of avoiding legal action from Metallica's record companies.
lmao blizzcon muted metallica's live virtual concert and is just playing random low-key music over the whole thing pic.twitter.com/UqKnJf24VS— RickyFTW (@rickyftw) February 19, 2021
According to a report by Euro Gamer, the livestreams on Blizzard's Twitch account and YouTube channel did not have the same interruptions. It seems like Twitch did not get the same licenses that Blizzard got to broadcast Metallica's performance, and so made the last-minute decision to cut the sound.
As many viewers were quick to point out, Metallica is at least partially responsible for these litigious concerns. The band launched some high-profile lawsuits against Napster in the early-2000s, defending themselves against early forms of internet piracy. Most agree that these lawsuits and the publicity they generated led to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as we know it today. Still, some wondered whether Metallica's record labels would really have issued DMCA take-down notices to Twitch over this performance.
The band will never have to find out for sure, and now they have a new meme to their name. Here is a look at how social media responded to Metallica's over-dubbed livestream.
They're fucking playing an official live concert— 🔞HyperLazerOranges (Commissions CLOSED) (@HyperOranges) February 20, 2021
I don't know what's more embarrassing, Twitch cutting off the music to avoid striking themselves or the fact Metallica could copyright strike themselves
Reap What You Sow
Not all that surprising considering the litigious vengeance that Lars and company unleased on poor Napster users over copyright issues. Hoping this band doesn't get paid for much of anything going forward.— Jason Reeher (@jason_reejer) February 20, 2021
Metallica v Napster is a big reason for internet copyright enforcement being the way it is now so they 100% deserve this lmao https://t.co/hfKkDY5KSf— H. P. Bugsnax (@LumpyTheCook) February 19, 2021
Napster don’t grammar.— Shmick 🇦🇺 (@_shmick) February 20, 2021
Of course, many commenters called out Metallica for their history of litigious action against piracy sites and individual pirates. They thought that the band deserved some flak for going after illegal downloads so hard even when they were already relatively rich.prevnext
Schadenfreude aside... why didn’t Twitch or Blizzard or even Metallica themselves think to get a licence for this?— dan le sac 🦄 (@danlesac) February 20, 2021
It’s almost like someone wanted this to happen 😹 https://t.co/eAUh49Ovto
The following two things are both true:
1. Twitch is really really bad at copyright stuff.— Mike Dunford (@questauthority) February 20, 2021
2. Metallica being the one to lose out to an internet-related copyright issue is absolutely amazing. https://t.co/WQlt0GZtOU
Users wondered how so many different people failed to think ahead here, from the Twitch legal team to the Blizzard team, and even Metallica themselves. They saw so many places along this process where the rights could have been secured easily.prevnext
Take my hand, off to DMCA land— Jason Tyner (@diablo_aod) February 20, 2021
Yeah, yeah 🤣
Artists who have been forced to rely on live streaming due to the pandemic are routinely screwed by Twitch and other platforms, getting banned or muted even when playing completely original material. One producer had 17 minutes of her stream muted just for playing a bass.— Mike Smale (@MikeSmaleMusic) February 20, 2021
On a more serious note, many commenters pointed out how hard these kinds of issues hit small-scale streamers, including musicians. They thought that Metallica got off relatively easy compared to newer artists trying to make it right now.prevnext
Does anyone here know the song title of this one?
Not going to lie it's a real banger. 💯— Christian Orpinell (@deadwithoutgod) February 20, 2021
Really digging this new Metallica song https://t.co/dZ3ck13m1f— Kripparrian (@Kripparrian) February 20, 2021
Some fans joked as if the generic music playing over this clip was simply a new direction for Metallica, prompting some jokes about the aging rockers.prevnext
Basically if this is for DMCA then you’re assuming metallica are as tight live as on they are on record 😂😂😂— IM OLD CREGG (@reynlord) February 20, 2021
These days, many DMCA take-down noticed are prompted by algorithms, employed by the rights-holders to sweep the internet for unlicensed uses of their material. Many users pointed out that a Metallica live performance would be unlikely to trigger one of those algorithms, adding an extra layer of absurdity to this situation.prev