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Song sites face legal crackdown


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From the BBC website:

 

Song sites face legal crackdown

By Ian Youngs

 

The music industry is to extend its copyright war by taking legal action against websites offering unlicensed song scores and lyrics.

 

The Music Publishers' Association (MPA), which represents US sheet music companies, will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006.

 

MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.

 

Guitar licks and song scores are widely available on the internet but are "completely illegal", he told the BBC.

 

Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".

 

Bitter battles

 

The move comes after several years of bitter legal battles against unauthorised services allowing users to download recordings for free.

 

Publishing companies have taken action against websites in the past, but this will be the first co-ordinated legal campaign by the MPA.

 

The MPA would target "very big sites that people would think are legitimate and very, very popular", Mr Keiser said.

 

"The Xerox machine was the big usurper of our potential income," he said. "But now the internet is taking more of a bite out of sheet music and printed music sales so we're taking a more proactive stance."

 

Music publishers and songwriters will consider all tools under the law to stop this illegal behaviour

 

David Israelite

National Music Publishers' Association

David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers' Association, added his concerns.

 

"Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing," he said.

 

"Music publishers and songwriters will consider all tools under the law to stop this illegal behaviour."

 

The campaign comes after lyric-finding software PearLyrics was forced off the internet by a leading music publishing company, Warner Chappell.

 

'No alternative'

 

PearLyrics worked with Apple's iTunes, searching the internet to find lyrics for songs in a user's collection.

 

"I just don't see why PearLyrics should infringe the copyright of Warner Chappell because all I'm doing is searching publicly-available websites," PearLyrics developer Walter Ritter said.

 

"It would be different if they had an alternative service that also provided lyrics online and also integrated [with iTunes] like PearLyrics did.

 

"But they don't offer anything like that at all."

 

Warner Chappell were unavailable for comment.

Looks like all the song lyric websites are the next ones to go then!
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I read about this when I studied mp3's and the music industry. Early on there was concern about web sites giving away lyrics and guitar tabs away for free and stopping the record companies making money from the sheet music, but obviously Napster became the big headline and so they dropped the matter at the time. But its no surprise that now that they have a better control over downloading that they'd go after other ways to make money off the internet, and selling tabs/lyrics through the web could bring in quite a bit of money.
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