Today marked the opening ceremonies for BlizzCon, the annual event in which fans of Blizzard Entertainment—they of Diablo, Starcraft, World Of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and more—get together to celebrate the company’s games, and get glimpses of the all the upcoming new stuff. And despite being entirely online this year—or “BlizzConline,” as it’s been clumsily portmanteau’d—the event still had some major reveals today, including news that fan favorite Diablo II is being remastered and re-released later this year. What BlizzCon 2021 was not, though, was hilarious—at least, not until Metallica took “the stage.”
In any other year, one of the world’s biggest dad rock bands hanging out with the collective orcs of the Blizzard fanbase would just be another hype-creating moment for BlizzCon attendees. This year, though, the opening ceremonies were being broadcast online, both through the official BlizzCon page, YouTube, and Twitch. And you know what happens when licensed music gets played on the internet, don’t you, folks? That’s right: Copyright issues!
Per Uproxx, the audio of James, Lars, and the boys’ performance apparently went out as per usual on YouTube and the BlizzCon page—although the whole thing appears to have been excised from the YouTube upload of the event. But on Twitch…On Twitch, things did not go so well. Which is to say that, even though it was being hosted on the company’s official twitchgaming channel, the performance was ominously preceded by a chyron noting that “The upcoming musical performance is subject to copyright protection by the applicable copyright holder.” And then this happened:
(You can see it for yourself on Twitch’s broadcast of the event; the Metallica stuff starts at roughly the 1:10:00 mark.)
And, look: Can we prove that someone at Twitch intentionally picked the dorkiest, most Zelda forest-ass music imaginable to have Metallica rock their little hearts out to, instead of broadcasting their extremely copyrighted music (and thus having to deal with the possibility of issuing one of their ubiquitous DMCA takedown notices to themselves)? Obviously not, just as we can’t show definitive evidence that Twitch then switched over to, like, “lo-fi beats to publicly thrash to” to finish out the set. It’s totally possible that that was just, you know, the copyright-free audio that Twitch had on hand, which they then simply chose to dub over one of the most popular rock bands of all time. On the other hand, we can prove that it is extremely funny to watch this happen, especially—as many people have pointed out—since Metallica is at least partially responsible for the restrictive character of many online musical streaming laws that dominate the internet today, after their high-profile campaign against Napster way back at the dawn of the MP3.