If you were watching BlizzCon 2021 on the Blizzard website this year, or on YouTube, or even on Twitch’s main channel, then you got to hear Metallica play For Whom the Bell Tolls. (The band previously performed at BlizzCon in 2014, back in the before times when it was an event that took place in the real world.) If you were watching on the Twitch Gaming channel, however, you only heard the opening of the song, before it was replaced with a royalty-free magical forest plinking and plonking instrumental track, presumably to avoid breaking copyright law.
Twitch has history when it comes to DMCA takedowns, so in a way they’re following their own advice to streamers: avoid any recorded music you don’t have the rights to. And the advice of Blizzard itself, whose guidelines for streamers who wanted to rebroadcast the event to watch along with their community stated, “Note that some segments will feature copyrighted licensed music, and we advise that you do not stream these parts of the show.” It’s still a ridiculous situation, of course.
Some in the Twitch chat seemed to prefer the new music, with comments like “This is my jam” and “METALLICA TRAP REMIX”, though several viewers simply paid their respects by typing “F”.
There’s a layer of tasty irony to the fact this happened to Metallica, the band who took Napster to court back in 2000 and helped usher in the age of zealous copyright protection their own performance fell prey to.