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Lyric Sites In Trouble With The MPA 666

Posted by timothy
from the great-artists-are-just-mumbling-anyhow dept.
Joe the Lesser writes "Apparently the Music Publishers Association is cracking down on sites, like LyricFind, that display song lyrics without permission. 'Just because there is no central licensing body it doesn't make it right to take lyrics and publish them without permission.' says Sarah Faulder of the MPA."
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Lyric Sites In Trouble With The MPA

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  • by redcliffe (466773) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @05:56AM (#5953107) Homepage Journal
    then yes there should be royalties paid to the copyright owners. Non-profit users shouldn't have to though.
    • Question: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:05AM (#5953137) Homepage
      If there is no central licensing body, who gave authority to the MPA to sue LyricFind on behalf of the copyright holders?

      ??

      ???
      • No one. I didn't suggest paying them. In the music industry there are companies that represent large numbers of songwriters. So they should pay the companies representing the particular writers a reasonable commission to be able to publish the lyrics.

      • Some Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

        by darrylballantyne (447044) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:02AM (#5954795) Homepage
        First of all, the MPA never sued us. In fact, we were never sued by anyone. We hardly even talked to the MPA, since when we did, their response was "You'll have to talk to the publishers directly." - so, not very useful.

        Our negotiations were through the CMRRA [cmrra.ca] (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency), who did everything they could to help us - but in the end it turned into an administrative nightmare.

        Secondly, this is really old news - I went through the copyright negotiation gauntlet over two years ago (and, of course, tried to get a slashdot story back then...). I'd hardly say that the MPA is "cracking down" on lyrics sites. Since the dawm of time there have only been four lyrics sites shut down - lyrics.ch (everyone knows the story there), lyricshq.com, LyricFind, and lyricsh.com. The final 3 were shut down only because we PROACTIVELY tried to get licensing - WE went to THEM (them, in our case, being the CMRRA), not because they were "cracking down" or anything.
    • by Alan Cox (27532) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:35AM (#5953281) Homepage
      If they don't include the lyrics maybe the hearing impared should simply sue them back. There are lots of people who can enjoy music but whose hearing isnt good enough to pull the lyrics out of the music.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:59AM (#5953377)
      I heard an old Billy Joel ballad on the radio, a song from back in the days when I had hair. I just had a few lines, but the melody stuck with me.

      I typed those lines into Google with his name, and the song popped up on a fan/lyric site. It was "And So It Goes." Never would have found it otherwise.

      I did go out and buy the CD, though it wasn't easy to find. If this is their attitude, next time I'll just snag it off eDonkey. Fuck 'em. Lot's less hassle to just steal it.
  • Words? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kupo zero (581452) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @05:56AM (#5953108)
    How is this wrong? If you simply listen to the lyrics, you can learn a whole song by heart, without permission. Are they going to crack down on people with good memories too?
    • Re:Words? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ramzak2k (596734) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @05:57AM (#5953111)
      Its not for knowing the lyrics in a song , it is for republishing it.
      • Re:Words? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Atzanteol (99067)
        See, I don't get the difference. What is the difference if I tell you the lyrics, or post them on my website?

        Copyright on the song, sure. But on the fscking lyrics? That's just anal.

        • See, I don't get the difference. What is the difference if I tell you the lyrics, or post them on my website? publishing them would allow them to be easily reproduced - accurately.
          • Re:Words? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Atzanteol (99067) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:16AM (#5953196) Homepage
            Well, gee. I can see how *that's* aweful. 'Cuz the last thing any song writer wants people to know is what his lyrics are! Think of what would happen if everyone knew the lyrics to their songs? Mass hysteria my friend, mass hysteria.

            Seriously. They've got a copyright on something a guy stands in front of thousands of people at a time singing. I just don't get it. This doesn't hurt *anybody*.
      • Re:Words? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @07:13AM (#5953442) Homepage Journal
        Whatever. There comes a certain point when ideas (misnamed intellectual property by these types) proliferate into culture that they should cease to be owned but rather should become public domain, as they are ingrained to the point of becoming common knowledge anyhow. That is the biggest failing of copyright law today.
    • Re:Words? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by einer (459199)
      What do you mean by "wrong"? It's not wrong in the sense that it's unethical. It's "wrong" in the legal sense. It is not always the case that these two meanings of "wrong" coincide.

      This is wrong for the same reason republishing a book online is.

      You can memorize a book too. But publishing it for mass consumption is a totally different action.

      The copyright holders may believe (correctly or not) that the value of their property is diminished if part of that property is made freely available to all. It
  • by MrFenty (579353) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @05:57AM (#5953109)
    Am I still allowed to sing (off key) to a song in the shower, without owning the original cd ?
  • by ramzak2k (596734) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:00AM (#5953121)
    la lala lala LA !, la la lala Luh !..
  • Lyrics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gryftir (161058) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:03AM (#5953128) Homepage
    This seems asinine to me. Don't free lyrics serve to enhance the listening experience? It seems to me that they are most likely to increase music sales.

    I mean isn't this fair use? I'll admit I'm still a bit hazy on the concept as it relates to this sort of non-commercial use, so would some kindly slashdotter explain how it would apply in this situation? Or are they talking about commercial lyrics sites? (I suppose such exist). I know I personally use a russian server for most of my lyric searches, and I'm aware Russian intelectual property law is or was rather spotty.
    • Re:Lyrics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mblase (200735) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @07:42AM (#5953620)
      I mean isn't this fair use?

      It's only fair use if you're citing part of the lyric for a paper or an article. Copying the whole thing, for the sole purpose of having a copy of the whole thing, is simple infringement. Poetry is protected the same way, and you'll find that there are in fact several popular poets (or their estates) who aggressively protect their work from online reproduction.

      Music is heard, but the words are still copy and are fairly copyrighted.
      • Re:Lyrics (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aronc (258501) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:01AM (#5953755)
        It's only fair use if you're citing part of the lyric for a paper or an article. Copying the whole thing, for the sole purpose of having a copy of the whole thing, is simple infringement.

        No, and no. I can make all the copies I like of all the books/lyrics/magazine articles/whatever and be perfectly within the bounds of the law. The part that makes it infringment is the redistribution part. Granted, that is being done in the case these discussions started with, but we have to make sure we keep the ground rules of the discussion in mind.
    • Sensible Lawsuits (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:19AM (#5954391) Homepage
      This reminds me of Sony's attempt to have Aibo enthusiast sites shut down because they were doing things with the Aibo that Sony hadn't intended.

      At some point, every manager and every CEO needs to stop and think "I can sue, but should I?" Lyric sites keep songs in the public eye, raise interest in their back catalog, and embed the product further into the cultural dialog. Is it a violation of copyright law? Yes, the same way that publishing screenshots of videogames is a violation of copyright law. But it makes no business sense for any videogame company to attack the publicity they recieve through the gaming news sites. And it makes no business sense to attack lyric sites which only serve to drum up interest in the music.

      Question your lawyers.

  • by Talez (468021) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:03AM (#5953130)
    Unless you're a top songwriter you basically get paid dirt.

    Songwriters should be allowed to make money off the lyrics since they wrote them in the first place.

    That being said, I think LyricFind and the MPA should sit down and work out a licensing agreement with each other to work out a deal that benefits all three parites involved (Songwriters, LyricFind and consumers).
    • That being said, I think LyricFind and the MPA should sit down and work out a licensing agreement with each other to work out a deal that benefits all three parites

      Agreed. MPA has no right to break the law just because someone else does.

  • by LemurShop (585831) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:06AM (#5953140)
    RIAA is seriously making some good efforts in keeping everyone hating it's guts. Can anyone even speculate how lyrics sites hurt the industry? Dont bother saying "provides pirates with track titles", most official artist sites have lyricks and track listings. RIAA is slowly but surely shooting its own foot.
  • Ah, the iron fist. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yroJJory (559141) <.me. .at. .jory.org.> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:07AM (#5953147) Homepage
    You'd think by now these people would understand that if you can search a snippet of lyric and the complete lyrics show up, then you'll know who the artist is and can go out and buy the album that may have been unknown to you before.

    Um, excuse me? Don't you want to sell more albums and get more royalties?

    I guess not.
    • "Don't you want to sell more albums and get more royalties?"

      No exactly. They just want more money. They don't care about the albums.

      Can't find the site back, but numbers showed that numbers of albums decreased, and, even when sales decrease, money gained by albums went up from around 350US$ in the beginning of the '90 to more than 500 kUS$ now.

      • I believe it. It's tough to find a store that sells CDs for less than $18 each nowadays. I refuse to buy a CD for more than $13.

        It's just like the theatre company I used to work for. They charged around $38 for the cheapest seats and up to around $75 for the best. They didn't often sell out shows, but had a loyal subscriber base. The question I always wondered, though, is whether it is better to sell out at a slightly lower price that more people can afford or hope you'll sell out at the higher price?
    • unfathomable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Tyro (247333) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:30AM (#5953261)
      I can't count the number of times I've gone to a lyrics site to find a song name/title/artist based soley on a line of lyrics.

      C'mon... everyone's had an old song running through their head from time to time, where they can remember only a line or two. Enter that line into any lyric site (or google with quotation marks around it), find the song, and mark it down on your "future purchases" list.

      What the hell is the matter with these people? I suppose if they want to cut their own throats they're free to do so, but sheesh...

      This has to be a hoax; no organization dedicated to making money can survive long with this level of stupidity.
  • by misterpies (632880) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:08AM (#5953153)
    Why stop at banning reproduction of song lyrics?

    What we really need to do is clamp down on people who actually _sing_ those songs, out loud, without paying a royalty. And I'm not talking just street musicians -- what about those immoral folks who sing in the shower? And the even more wicked ones -- since they try to conceal their crimes -- yes, people who hum along in their heads.

    Let's face it. It's wrong. The original artist (via the record company) has complete control over how the music is to be experienced. Any performance not sanctioned by them is clearly illegal. And worse, all those folks who heard you sing would otherwise have bought the CD, so you're losing sales -- stealing from the artist.
    Not only that, but someone could record you singing the song, even if the original CD was copy protected, which would clearly be a breach of the DMCA.

    I know theft when I see it.
  • What would be OK? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JanMark (547992)
    Would it be all right to publis lyrics if they were changed in any way? I'll refrase that, would it be ok to publish lyrics in ALL CAPS and call that the BIFF version? (And putting it in the Public Domain?)

    Reproducing lyrics in text could be considred an art form (for sure there will be differences).

    How about a search-only lyric site? Where you can google for that song that goes: "... hu hu hu what ever you mean ... hu hu ... don't know why ..."

    Why in the hell would anyone object to the reproduction of l
  • This is a surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:10AM (#5953165) Homepage
    I don't know why anyone is surprised by this. Lyrics are basically poems, and no one would argue that poetry isn't covered by copyright. If I wanted to put up a page of poetry, I would have to contact the individual copyright holders and get their permission. Why is it people think music is somehow different from other forms of art and can be readily and freely stolen?
    • by Atzanteol (99067)

      Why is it people think music is somehow different from other forms of art and can be readily and freely stolen?

      Listen to yourself. Me listening to a CD with other overhearing may be considered 'stealing' in your world! Everyone within earshot should pay a royalty!

      Lyrics are *part* of a song. Not the entire work. I don't understand why reproducing it is *stealing* the song. One would think the *artists* would *want* people to know what they are saying! Next we crack-down on people who hum tunes in p

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:25AM (#5953236)
      Poetry is a text based artform. Musical lyrics (most of which can't even be called poetry) are not exactly rocket science - it's the music people pay for not the inane lyrics except in extremely rare cases.

      I would like to see the business case for how lyrics damage record sales.

      If lyrics are protected and cannot be published or read, where does fair use end? Can music reviewers still write reviews with lyric snippets?

      Is posting the technical specifications of a product illegal once it has hit the market and ANYONE can get them for free, just like lyrics?

      The only argument I see is that having the lyrics on a site generates traffic that can potentially generate profit for a site - so you are profitting from the artists work. But by that same logic, just having the name of the song listed on your site generates the same traffic. Are those now illegal to publish as well? Is it also illegal to place the singer's or group's name on the site, because that may also generate traffic? Are unofficial fan and gossip sites illegal because they generate profit for the creator?

      The answer is yes. Remember all those lawsuits folks scoffed about when, for example, the Crayola corporation shut down multiple websites about their crayons, and *Ty (beanie babies) did the same? They even went so far as to serve legal papers to quake clans for using their names - and they could because they had the money to back up their legal departments insane claims.

      Welcome to 1984.
      • by nuggz (69912)
        The songwriter/lyricist writes the song, that is possibly their entire work.
        That is why they get royalties for the performance, even broadcast, where the performing artist does not.
    • by nathanh (1214) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:41AM (#5953312) Homepage
      Lyrics are basically poems, and no one would argue that poetry isn't covered by copyright.

      Poetry? Let's read an example of modern music and the "poetry" within.

      Ahh, heat is up

      So ladies, fellas, drop your cups
      Body's hot from front to back
      Now move your ass - ha, I like that
      Tight hip huggers (low fo' sho')
      Shake a little somethin' (on the floor)
      I need that (uh) to get me off
      Sweat until my clothes come off

      Any law which makes it illegal to copy crap like that is OK by me.

      Why is it people think music is somehow different from other forms of art and can be readily and freely stolen?

      I like how you jump from "lyrics" to "music" without even changing gear. If I tried something like that I think I'd ruin the synchro.

    • by Bobman1235 (191138) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:18AM (#5953859) Homepage
      I don't know why anyone is surprised by this. Lyrics are basically poems, and no one would argue that poetry isn't covered by copyright. If I wanted to put up a page of poetry, I would have to contact the individual copyright holders and get their permission.

      In this case I think you're... um... partly wrong. Whether that's the same as being partly pregnant (ie impossible) I have yet to determine for myself.

      I can't necessarily say it's not equally wrong to reproduce someone's song lyrics as it is to do the same with published poetry. HOWEVER, the REASON behind copyright is to protect someone's... source of income, no? For a poet, this is the published word. For a lyricist, however, it's the song that his word goes into. You cannot argue that an artist would lose any revenue from the lyrics of his / her song being printed. Obviously if the song was reproduced without permission, there's an argument.

      So yes, it is equally illegal. But is it equally wrong?

      Why is it people think music is somehow different from other forms of art and can be readily and freely stolen?

      Downloading the music that you should be paying for == stealing. Even most people who do it will admit to that. I just can't convince myself that putting the lyrics up on a website as a reference is the same thing. Or even close.
  • by Paddyish (612430) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:11AM (#5953167)
    I remember when the MPA tried to shut down the online guitar archive [olga.net] which is home to tons of ways to play popular music on a guitar - all interpretations, like someone showing you how they figured a song out from listening to the radio. The MPA used the lyric argument there, too. (this was in the pre-Napster time)
    Then, P2P happened. All I gotta say is, you reap what you sow.



    That is all.

  • by SomethingOrOther (521702) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:11AM (#5953175) Homepage

    Even if there sole purpose is to stop the muppet next to you with a walkman singing "Whats a glove got to do with it"
  • Lyric availability (Score:3, Insightful)

    by graveyardjohn (672128) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:13AM (#5953181) Journal
    I have personally bought loads of albums where there are no lyrics printed on the sleeve. For example, attempting to understand Moby shouting through his 'Animal Rights' album is particularly difficult without being able to follow exactly what he's saying, and websites where people have *translated* his shouting/singing have been beneficial and added to the experience. Besides, if the artist doesn't provide written lyrics on the sleeve, why should it be illegal for someone to write and post an approximation (because that's all its likely to be with a lot of heavy rock/punk albums) so listeners can sing along?
  • by shic (309152) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:13AM (#5953182)
    Somebody had to stop this form of intellectual theft - the music business has done everything within their power to prevent the derisory practice of unlicensed shower performances - nonsense rhymes by artists with poor articulation etc. Clearly something had to be done or risk the entire population embarking on a karaoke binge.
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:15AM (#5953187) Homepage Journal
    After their pockets have been suitably lined for the trouble-

    Without owning the CD, or the rights, you can't:

    Sing it,
    tell a friend,
    write it down,
    remember it,
    listen to a friend's copy,
    listen to it in someone else's car
    hear someone sing it (excepting the band, provided you paid them in the first place)

    am I missing anything?

    This is assinine.
  • by objwiz (166131) <objwiz@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:15AM (#5953191)
    I use those sites to find out the who and what for song. Typically I hear something on the radio but I don't know who is signing it. All I can remember is phrase from it. So I use those phrases to search the net and find the song title and band. All the music industry is doing to me is reducing the likelihood that I will buy another album.

  • by goldcd (587052) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:17AM (#5953201) Homepage
    "We feel it is only fair to compensate our members for the loss of earnings caused by the illegitimate transcription of unlicensed lyrics"
  • I suppose their "reasoning" goes like this: legally produced albums often come with lyrics. If people download music illegally, they don't get the album, so they must download the lyrics.

    Therefore, in theory, I think it's ethic for them to go after people who publish lyrics that came printed with the original album. On the other hand, if the album didn't come with the lyrics, to prosecute people who listen to the music and publish what they heard is ridiculous, those people are contributing to increase sal

  • ... if they had a replacement in place before they took donw the illegal sites. There is obviously a lot of interest in getting the lyrics to the songs and not everybody prints them on the CD sleeve (added value guys!) but if you're going to ban these sites, replace them with soemthing for your customers!
  • What the hell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arvindn (542080) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:20AM (#5953216) Homepage Journal
    Everyone take a pledge and put up the lyrics of any one song in your personal web space. Suppose 100000 of these turn up overnight, what can they do about it? If they send you a C&D then take the page off; there will still be 99999 sites left.

    Finding them will still be easy: if you know 2 or 3 words of a song, type those words + authorname + songtitle + the word lyrics into google and you're still going to find it just as easily.

    • by jhines0042 (184217) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:26AM (#5953928) Journal
      I think that this was best said by the Talking Heads in their song I Zimbra

      "GadJi Beri Bimba Clan Dridi
      Lauli Lonni Cadori Gadjam
      A Bim Beri Glassalal Glandride
      E Glassala Tuffm I ZIMBRA

      Bim Blassa Galassasa Zimbrabim
      Blassa Galassasa Zimbrabim

      A Bim Beri Glassala Grandrid
      E Glassala Tuffm I ZIMBRA

      GadJi Beri Bimba Clan Dridi
      Lauli Lonni Cadori Gadjam
      A Bim Beri Glassalal Glandride
      E Glassala Tuffm I ZIMBRA"

      -- The Talking Heads, "I Zimbra"

  • 1. Prevent people from finding which track the lyrics they remember are from.
    2. People can't find out which CD to buy.
    3. Watch sales plummet even further.
    4. Blame file sharing for lost revenue.
    5. ???
    6. Profit!
  • "From today not only will we encourage our members to publish music on copy-protects CDs, we will also be asking them to print lyric books as red on red." He continued "Legitimate users will be able to view their lyrics by wearing special glasses provided at a modest fee" When asked whether this protection would be enough the RIAA spokesman stated that "We will be lobbying congress to protect our encryption technology and hope to have the possession of coloured perspex or cellophane made illegal under the D
  • You'd think you could just report what you hear when you listen to a song or disc, but noooooooooooo!
  • Stupid (Score:5, Funny)

    by Datoyminaytah (550912) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:25AM (#5953237)
    This is just stupid.

    "Hey! Did you buy the new Eminem CD?"

    "No! I went to lyricfind.com and READ THE LYRICS for free!"

    "Cool! Think I can read the new Britney Spears CD there?"

    "Sure! Why not?"

    "Great! Now we'll NEVER HAVE TO BUY CD's AGAIN!!!" :P
  • Good for them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:25AM (#5953238) Homepage
    This is great news. A few more crackdowns on these criminal sites (lyrics, guitar tablature, fan sites) and entire music catalogs will become illegal to listen to, even should you purchase the CD. At some point they may criminalize multiple listening sessions to a CD, instead requiring a license renewal for every session. Rewind and Play? Nah. Take out the credit, relicence, then play. Soon the companies will just legisltate themselves to death and we can get on enjoying music.

    I'm definitely a lyrics person. I love clever lines even if the music verges on the pretentious ("sun so bright it leaves no shadows, only scars, carved into stone on fhe face of the earth", "like someone took a knife, edgy and dull, cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul") It's not Shakespeare but it's about the only thing interesting in many songs. Take away my ability to view lyrics and I won't buy the music.

    And I know at some point they'll go after the tab sites that put their own versions of songs.
  • Signatures (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeBeuk (239106)
    I'm a regular visitor of slashdot and I've noticed that a lot of people use sigs that are quotes of lyrics. We'd better watch our backs or else we're going to be in a lot of trouble!
  • This isn't new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:30AM (#5953258) Homepage
    This isn't a new trend. Remember what was the ultimate lyrics site, http://lyrics.ch - no adverts, no fancy web pages, just fast access to music lyrics. And what happened?

    Here's some links

    http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,17499,00. html [wired.com]

    http://slashdot.org/articles/99/01/23/1031244.shtm l [slashdot.org]

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/09/30/123324 6 [slashdot.org]

    The music industry has been trying for years to stop os reading what their artists are singing.

  • Boycott (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobbozzo (622815) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:31AM (#5953262)
    I have been against boycotting the recording industry as it will just give them more fuel to say how "piracy" is hurting them, BUT this is getting INSANE.

    We need to slap some sense into the industry.

    I'm starting to think an ORGANIZED boycott may be the only way to do it.
  • by tankdilla (652987) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:39AM (#5953299) Homepage Journal
    They're just thinking about the future of pirating. See, first is starts with publishing lyrics. That's the easy part. Next people will start publishing melodies translated into text. Such as

    "dun dun duh-dun dun dun-duh-dun/ping/bip-bip-bip bup-bup-bup bop-bop-bop-bing"

    With the lyrics and the melody, a person can imagine what the song sounds like without ever hearing it. Oh the piracy that will ensue and lost revenue from songs imagined.

    C'mon people use your imaginations!

  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:46AM (#5953333) Homepage
    According to this "authority", you must get permission before you record (video or audio) a worship service.

    Right.

    If you already have these recordings in your (church/religious) library, you must destroy them.

    Right.

    I think they presume a bit too much.
  • by mr breakfast (242421) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @06:57AM (#5953370)
    Supposing I quote two lines of a lyric, is that allowed? What if I quote a verse? Where does something become a breach of copyright? Can I have a whole song with a couple of incorrect words or could it be a three word phrase that is recognisably from a given song?

    This seems to be another excessive move from the recording industry. It seems to me that every time they take a step like this, the big record companies make themselves more obselete. Ultimately, artists won't want to be associated with their vile behaviour- there have been issues over artistic control of recordings for years and the more that viable alternatives arise, the more the creators of music will want to escape the machine.

    Hopefully soon we will start to see the big kids of the music industry adding financial bancruptcy to their moral and creative bancruptcies.
  • by William.Bertram (626623) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @07:18AM (#5953466)
    Is anyone else just flat sick and tired of the "entertainment industry"? Isn't the purpose of "entertainment" to make life more enjoyable? Does anyone find being sued for ridiculous amounts of money entertaining?

    We should refer to these people as the "litigation" industry to be more accurate. I hereby vow never to be entertained by the litigation industry again.

    Yes, I realize that nobody likes the litigation industry, but I'm just sick of it, and needed a vent. If I ran across an "entertainment industry" scumbag dying in an alley, I would only stop to kick their teeth in.
  • by dmnic (452122) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @07:24AM (#5953517)
    Last time I checked, publishers and record labels didnt SELL lyrics. (note: lyrics != song)
    So whats the beef? Posting lyrics isnt stealing anything unlike posting mp3 tracks taken from the latest album.

    I work for a band(s)
  • They're f*cked. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by user no. 590291 (590291) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:11AM (#5953811)
    As long as there is a searchable Usenet archive, and the web itself is searchable, they won't be able to stop the propagation of lyrics by shutting down any one centralized lyrics repository. And this is good.

    This action is only one more reason I only buy CDs used, unless they are from non-RIAA labels.

  • Fuck 'Em (Score:5, Funny)

    by waldoj (8229) * <waldoNO@SPAMjaquith.org> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:15AM (#5953836) Homepage Journal
    I run a Dave Matthews Band fan site, nancies.org [nancies.org] (a non-profit, non-stock corporation), and we provide both lyrics [nancies.org] and tablature [nancies.org]. These tabs are provided to us by site users, who interpret live and studio performances as best as they can. We have them for a variety of instruments, but mostly guitar. Anyhow, I got the following letter last week:

    From: "David Hall"
    To: "Waldo Jaquith"
    Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 3:31:50 PM US/Eastern

    Dear Waldo:

    It has come to our attention that you have been engaging in the practice of posting illegal tab arrangements on your website. Unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted musical compositions constitutes infringement under the United States copyright law, and the law provides substantial remedies to rights owners. Whenever printed music is copied or distributed on the Internet without permission, you are stealing from composers, publishers and music retailers.

    It is essential to the future of printed music that the copyright law be upheld by all. Composers, arrangers, publishers and dealers are losing a significant percentage of their income because of illegal photocopying. This loss of revenue ultimately means that less and less printed music is available for sale, short print runs mean higher prices for what is available, and dealers are no longer able to afford to carry large stocks of music.

    As a webmaster, you hold a special responsibility to understand and uphold the laws regarding what can and cannot be posted to your website. We urge you to practice compliance with copyright law so that no further action is necessary on behalf of music rights owners. Such compliance will benefit all of us in the music community - students and educators, creators, publishers and retailers.

    Sincerely,
    David Hall
    Sales Manager, eCommerce
    www.halleonard.com
    Never one to take this kind of nonsense sitting down, I replied immediately.
    From: Waldo Jaquith
    Date: Wed May 7, 2003 4:31:06 PM US/Eastern
    To: David Hall

    David,

    Make me. I dare you. Just try it. Seriously. I'll own you.

    I'll be very disappointed if I don't get a nastygram in the mail from you within a few weeks, because that will rob me of the opportunity to waste lots of your money by using up your attorney's time.

    Don't let me down, Dave!

    Kisses,
    Waldo Jaquith
    I've been checking my mail but, still, nothing. :) Sometimes, you've got to take these companies in hand.

    -Waldo Jaquith
  • I would like to know where I can buy the lyrics to, say, an older REM song. Where can you get the lyrics for singers besides like Elton John? Good luck buying that at Tower records... not gonna happen.
  • by yoha (249396) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:35AM (#5954535)
    If these sites are so useful, then the sites shouldn't have any trouble paying for the license to publish material which isn't theirs. Just like books, music, movies, research papers, and all other copyrighted material, it is important to protect the copyright. If I find utility in publishing today's New York Times or the newest Harry Potter, it isn't my choice to put it on the internet, it is the copyright holders.

    As many college students know, searching Lexus Nexus, and research abstracts are extremely useful. But they also require large fees from the University to pay the original copyright holders. Likewise, if some is going to publish someone else's lyrics, they should have to pay fees to the original copyright holder. And if that means, charging the end consumer, so be it. Record companies may find it in their interest to publish lyric catalogues at a loss in order to drive sales.

    Anyone who argues in favor of copyright looters should spend some time in Basra and let me know how that feels. I, like everyone else, prefers free to paying, but until they figure out cold fusion, you can't get something for nothing.
  • Ungrateful Bastards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hendridm (302246) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:57AM (#5954737) Homepage
    People look for lyrics because they enjoy a song and want to sing along or quote the song. To take away such services is to tell those who pay for the overpriced media, "Sorry, even though you bought it, you can enjoy it, but you can't enjoy it too much."

    It's just silly. What are they selling - the words or the music? I feel I should be able to reproduce darn near anything I hear as long as I give credit where credit is due. How is hearing a song on the radio and then posting what you hear any different than video cameras in public places? What if the video camera captures something copy protected - do you need a license to reproduce it??
  • Finding Lyrics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alanjstr (131045) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:02AM (#5954793) Homepage
    Have you tried some of the artists websites? Most of the ones I've visited are geared towards selling the next album. They often don't list names of tracks on their albums (I have to hit amazon.com for that) nor the lyrics. At least not in an easy to find manor. If it were, then wouldn't it be at the top of google? Then there are the splashy flash only sites. What good does that do me?
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:23AM (#5954977)
    Look, it's very simple. Song lyrics, just like poety or newspaper articles or novels, are protected by copyright. It is a violation of copyright law to publish them without permission.

    It DOESN'T MATTER if the sites publishing them don't make any money off of it.

    It DOESN'T MATTER if free lyrics sites could have the effect of increasing album sales rather than decrease them. We're not talking about recordings. The RIAA is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

    It DOESN'T MATTER if the lyrics are available for sale through legitimate channels.

    It DOESN'T MATTER if you think the lyrics are inane and stupid. That doesn't make them any less worthy of copyright protection.

    Unless you have permission from the copyright owner, you CANNOT PUBLISH the lyrics.

    The MPA is entirely in the right on this one.
  • Lyrics and Tabs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Merk (25521) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:29AM (#5955033) Homepage

    The RIAA is on fairly solid legal ground when they try to stop people from passing around MP3s of copyrighted songs when they represent the copyright holder. Lyrics and tabs are another story entirely.

    95% of the time, lyrics aren't supplied with the original song, and instead someone takes the time to listen to the song and try to guess what was said. Sometimes it's just a guess. Take the famous "Scuse me while I kiss the sky / kiss this guy" lyric by Jimi Hendrix. I remember hearing an interview where somebody who knew him said he intentionally said it so that it could be interpreted both ways. Writing down lyrics or tabs based on listening to the song and trying to figure out what was said or what was played is essentially reverse-engineering the song. Having said that, it has to be the easiest reverse-engineering task there could ever be. The output you're attempting to duplicate is a 1:1 mapping of the process used to create it. In other words, to get the words you hear, all you have to do is recreate the words that the artist was singing.

    Now if this exceedingly simple "reverse-engineering" is illegal when there is absolutely no form of encryption or copy-protection, then no form of reverse-engineering can be legal. The MPA might have a case if someone were releasing lyrics for unreleased songs, where the "copy protection" is the lock and key under which the unreleased songs are kept, but once something is played on the radio, how can they pretend it's not ok to try to transcribe the song?

    So sure, go after the people who copy lyrics out of jacket liners. Go after the people who release lyrics for unreleased songs. But if a judge decides that it's ok to go after someone who just tries to transcribe a song he/she heard, it means the end of "trying to figure out how something works". Say that bed you bought at Ikea, the one you lost the instructions for. If you figure out how to put it together and put up the instructions on the Internet in case someone else loses their instructions... you'll get busted. If you figure out how the levers work in the Hungry Hungry Hippos [hasbropreschool.com] game and post an explanation, you're going to prison. If you figure out how the magician managed to saw his assistant in half by watching carefully, remember not to bend over in the prison shower.

  • by natet (158905) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @11:11AM (#5955399)
    An old adage. "Never bite the hand that feeds you." It seems like the music industry is embarking on a deliberate campaign to piss off their customers.

    Cracking down on file traders... Ok, that probably only affects a subset of their customer base, but going after fan sites that post lyrics to songs? It's not like the person who wrote the lyrics is going to actually miss out on song royalties because someone could read their lyrics on the web instead of listening to them in the song. Also, I know of a lot of parents that use such sites to figure out what their kids really are listening to. These days it isn't always easy to tell what is being said in the songs just by listening.

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