The entire album started circulating illegally online last week after a French record store mistakenly began selling copies.
Metallica's response?MORE: Metallica rediscovers its essence on 'Death Magnetic'
A collective shrug.
"By 2008 standards, that's a victory," says drummer Lars Ulrich. "If you'd told me six months ago that our record wouldn't leak until 10 days out, I would have signed up for that. We made a great record, and people seem to be getting off on it way more than anyone expected."
The band waged its costly Napster battle in 2000 after a demo of I Disappear hit the Internet before its authorized release. Though Napster settled, Metallica surrendered to rampant piracy.
"My fight on a daily basis is getting my kids to finish their vegetables," Ulrich says. "Technology is moving faster than the legal side. The focus should be on education, on choices and consequences. It's suppressing talent in guys who don't have record deals and don't have money for guitar strings or rent. Our issue was control, not money. We're OK, thank you."
Though their views haven't changed, "we're closer to accepting that once we make the record, and it leaves our hands, we have to let it go," says guitarist James Hetfield.
"Someone's always selfish enough to crush your master plan. Some rabid fans will steal it. Others resent that and don't want to shake the Christmas present. The majority of people who rip it aren't even fans. They do it because they can. It's a personality defect."
Anti-piracy views didn't impede Metallica's leap into the digital age. Magnetic has been heavily promoted on a dedicated website, missionmetallica.com, where the band offers streaming singles, ringtones, video and audio clips, tour footage and studio visits. The full album can be downloaded to Guitar Hero III.
To bolster physical sales, configurations include a five-LP vinyl set and lavish coffin-case box set (with T-shirt, bonus CD of demos, DVD, poster, flag, guitar picks and concert download).
The choices "can seem overwhelming," Ulrich says. "Deluxe versions are fine as long as there's value, creativity and the right balance. You can't have overkill. (Guitarist) Kirk Hammett is not going to come over and vacuum your carpet. That is cheesy."Posted Updated E-mail | Print | To report corrections and clarifications, contact Reader Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to [email protected]. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. Guidelines: You share in the USA TODAY community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Use the "Report Abuse" button to make a difference. Read more. Newspaper Home Delivery - Subscribe Today Home • News • Travel • Money • Sports • Life • Tech • Weather About USATODAY.com: Site Map | FAQ | Contact Us | Jobs with Us | Terms of Service