The Metallica/Napster feud is as old as the online music piracy debate itself. At this time a decade ago, just about everyone under the age of 20 was on Napster, many of whom waited hours to download a single track off a 56k connection. Metallica took it on themselves to fight the site for its piracy in court, and the rest, as they say, is recent history.
Things have obviously changed. Illegal downloading has gotten so out of hand that it couldn't be stopped even if the Rolling Stones used every penny they had to fight it. Napster, after shutting down from its earlier rogue days, has now become a third-rate legal download site. And while Metallica continues to oppose illegal downloading, the desperation to get some recognition among MP3-dependent fans has led them to put their catalog online—on the site of their former enemy.
Objectively, having Metallica put their songs on a legal download site is not that big a deal—they're already on iTunes and Amazon. But the symbolic significance of Metallica putting their tracks on Napster is hard to deny, even if both are going through less-than-steller times in their histories. Metallica may be primed for an upswing, however, as this news come right in time for Metallica's very own Guitar Hero game.