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Metallica announced on Friday (November 30th) that it has taken ownership of all the band's master recordings and long-form videos under a provision of the band's 1994 joint venture agreement with the Warner Music Group. According to that provision -- almost unheard of for acts signed to major label contracts -- all the masters reverted back to the band as of Friday. Frontman James Hetfield said in a statement, "We would like to thank everyone at the Warner Music Group for 28 years of a fantastic relationship, particularly since 1994 where we truly felt we had partners in every aspect of our business in North America."

The band has also revealed that it is launching its own label, called Blackened Recordings, that will be the new home for all of their recordings and videos, as well as anything else that the band may come up with. All marketing and promotion will be handled by Blackened, with distribution through Rhino Entertainment in North America and the Universal Music Group internationally. Drummer Lars Ulrich said, "Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, giving us 100 percent control and putting us in the driver's seat of our own creative destiny."

Ulrich told us a while back that Metallica was long past the point where the band needed a corporate record label to support it: "The great thing about being in a band like us is that we're in a position to bypass the record company. Basically record companies act like banks. And when you don't need the bank element of a record company, then you can kind of do it yourself."

The first release from Blackened Recordings will be Quebec Magnetic, a live DVD documenting two Quebec City concerts in the fall of 2009. The disc is set to arrive on December 10th and fans can order it at Metallica's website.

Metallica is also working on a 3D feature film for release next summer, as well as a new studio album that should surface in early 2014.

In other news:

Metallica has partnered with the Virginia Tech university bookstore to produce an "Enter Sandman" shirt, with the band's share of the proceeds to be given to the Morgan Dana Harrington Scholarship Fund.

According to Blabbermouth, the fund is named in honor of the Virginia Tech student who disappeared after leaving the group's October 17th, 2009 concert at the John Paul Jones Arena on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her skeletal remains were found on January 26th, 2010, in a remote field on a farm in Albemarle County, Virginia. The shirts went on sale in October, and the first month of sales generated $17,000 for the fund.

You can order a short-sleeve shirt at and a long-sleeve one at

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