Over the weekend, agents for the rock band Metallica logged on to Napster and captured the screen names of 335,435 fans who were offering the band's songs for download. The press seemed captivated by the image of the seasoned rockers trooping into Napster's headquarters bearing 30 boxes of printouts. Fans, meanwhile, were calling the heavy-metal band heavy-handed.
CNET's John Borland first broke the story of this latest development in Napster's legal saga on Monday evening. CNET seemed the only outlet to identify the consulting company Metallica's lawyers retained over the weekend to collect fans' screen names.
The New York Times turned in solid coverage (The San Jose Mercury News also picked up the Times story.) Matt Richtel and Neil Strauss pointed out that if Napster revokes the user IDs of the fingered Metallica fans, nothing prevents them from re-registering with new names. Richtel and Strauss got good soundbites from a disgruntled Rob Jones, founder of heavy-metal fan site KNAC.com: "They're (Metallica), the No. 1 fan of George Washington. They're just being the man."
MSNBC's Lisa Napoli concentrated on fan reaction, and her coverage was nearly as colorful as the discussion on Slashdot. Napoli mentioned the spoof site PayLars.com (named in mock tribute to Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich), which offers Napster-loving Metallica fans a way to send money to the band. (So far, the fans have cooperated to the tune of $211.)
The Metallica-Napster saga got the attention of the Financial Times's man in San Francisco, but the FT coverage did little to advance the story.
Several outlets added context by recapping news from other fronts of the MP3 wars. CNET gave some electronic ink to Rapper Chuck D's endorsement of Napster, and the New York Post broke an anonymous-source story claiming that MP3.com (MPPP) and the RIAA are talking around a figure of $100 million to settle their legal beef. - Keith Dawson
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