Metallica's Bogus Chord Claim

By | July 20, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Earlier this week, reports of Metallica’s latest lawsuit surfaced, this one against a Canadian band for trademark infringement over the heavy metal band’s branded E, F chord progression.

Lars Ulrich & Co., who have found themselves in court battling everything from lipstick and perfume to tires and Napster, were widely criticized for this latest legal nitpicking.

“How pathetic,” chimed in one critic on the Encyclopedia Metallica Website, echoing a sentiment similar to those found on several message boards.

Problem is, the lawsuit is a fake, concocted by an Internet prankster who happens to be the lead singer-songwriter of the Canadian band in question, Unfaith.

Freelance commercial designer and aspiring musician Erik Ashley designed the bogus piece to look like it originated from MTV.com and even included a response from the band.

“People are going to get on our case again for this, but try to see it from our point of view just once,” drummer and band mouthpiece Ulrich supposedly said. “We’re not saying we own those two chords individually-that would be ridiculous. We’re just saying that in that specific order people have grown to associate E, F with our music.”

The faux Ulrich went on to say that Metallica should be credited for the two chords-a very common progression-whenever Unfaith used them and wanted 50 percent of all revenue generated from any songs using the chords.

“It’s nothing personal against them,” he added. “We intend to enforce our rights with any band intending to use Metallica-branded chords in the future.”

The hoax, which reportedly generated 200,000 hits in two days, “originally began as something of a psychology study on Metallica’s reputation,” wrote Ashley on Unfaith’s official Website. “Instead [it] turned into an exposé on how dangerous the Internet-and its media-can be.”

“We all know about the Napster issue, the perfume company, the lipstick company, the tire makers, Metallica has sued them all,” said Ashley. “However, the idea behind this parody was to gauge, after all that litigation, just how willing America was to buy a story as extraordinary-as outlandish-as them claiming ownership of a two-chord progression.”

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel apparently bought the scam, mentioning it on his late-night talk show Tuesday before retracting the story the following day.

It’s not known what the iconic metal band thinks of Ashley’s “psychological” experiment. Metallica’s label, Elektra, refused to comment and calls to the band’s attorney Jill Pietrini, who was quoted in the mock story, were not returned Friday.

Given Metallica’s sue-happy history, a lawsuit doesn’t seem out of the question.

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