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Music CopyRight Cops Strike Again
December 10, 2005 12:06 AM   Subscribe

Now they're after the lyrics. The MPA isn't stopping at the MP3 files.
posted by IronLizard (58 comments total)

 
Pardon the bad edit, please.
posted by IronLizard at 12:07 AM on December 10, 2005


So what is the issue here? Why does this matter to the MPA in a financial sense? And more importantly, did they go after their original enemy, the Xerox machine? Honestly, what the hell kind of industry goes around threatening to sue people and throw them in jail for enjoying their product? Also, questions.

Heh, I like how you asked us the to pardon the bad edit with a please! You could also email an admin.
posted by panoptican at 12:12 AM on December 10, 2005


It's late. They have better sleep to do.
posted by IronLizard at 12:13 AM on December 10, 2005


Ugh. Now they're going to ruin the internet.
posted by RokkitNite at 12:19 AM on December 10, 2005


I can't help but think they served the lyrics server with one of their nastygrams by accident.
posted by Richard Daly at 12:23 AM on December 10, 2005


The end of rap.
posted by bam at 12:24 AM on December 10, 2005


sorry, the end of bad rap.
posted by bam at 12:36 AM on December 10, 2005


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

Yes, good idea, because the US Could use a few more people in its prisons. Lets put them in with the guys caught with a burnt up roach in their ashtrays.

Fucking litigious America - I salute you! (with one finger)
posted by Dag Maggot at 12:37 AM on December 10, 2005


Why does this matter to the MPA in a financial sense?

Corporations operate solely to make a sufficient profit, after which point they operate mainly to provide a means for executives to hurt people they don't like.
posted by queen zixi at 1:08 AM on December 10, 2005


No surprises here at all. Anyone remember what happened to lyrics.ch back in 1999?
posted by Ryvar at 1:18 AM on December 10, 2005


It's obvious the lyrics sites are a violation of copryight, but I figured the RIAA or whomever was smart enough to leave them alone. It is highly unlikely lyrics sites cause them any lost revenue. But hey, I guess it is their copyright. Is anyone going to pay to read lyrics? Fuck no. Does it do anyone, most of all the artists, any good to make lyrics less accessible to the fans? No.

Seems like a stupid move on the part of the recording industry. They behave more and more like a drug cartel with every passing week.

Jail time for lyric swapping, huh? How's about some jail time for some of that criminal racketeering and collusion that certain record companies have already been found guilty of? Seems like a fair trade.
posted by teece at 1:32 AM on December 10, 2005


I'm an Artist™
posted by thanatogenous at 1:34 AM on December 10, 2005


teece, if you read the article you would see that the MPA is front group for the people who publish sheet music for sale - on dead trees.

Industry feeling threatened by this Internet thingo? Pull out a can of DMCA whoop-ass. That'll fix those hacker pirates.
posted by Dag Maggot at 1:41 AM on December 10, 2005


So does copy and pasting the lyrics to My Humps make me an outlaw? Cause I'll do it....just watch me.

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump,my hump, my lovely little lumps. (Check it out)

posted by destro at 1:44 AM on December 10, 2005


Whilst I can appreciate that it is their copyright, this does feel as though it's one step too far and really isn't going to do them any favours. They'll probably try to sell them as DRM'd text files through iTunes soon...

Also: mmm, browning...
posted by TheDonF at 1:44 AM on December 10, 2005


Thank you, Ryvar.
posted by Eideteker at 1:55 AM on December 10, 2005


To threaten jail is to threaten violence. Do the music people really want to escalate what should be purely issue of civil law into the realm of violence?

So they want people to be jailed for providing the damn words to their songs, so people can be happy singing with the right words? Then sing a different song, one of death and destruction. Damn them to hell.

The songwriters are missing income? Then charge more from the damn performers! Take the fat from the fat cats in the executive suites.
posted by Goofyy at 2:21 AM on December 10, 2005


I'm suprised this took so long... This happened in France a couple of years ago when the music industry forced lyrics sites to shut down (I just found that a site of French song lyrics is hosted in Russia...). It seems that they eventually worked out an agreement, at least for the large commercial sites. However, they also forced fan sites to remove the lyrics from their pages. One one hand I find understandable that the music industry doesn't want "their" work to be a free source of profit for other businesses (lyric sites are not there for the love of music). On the other hand, it's still copyright gone wild, and bad news for actual music fans running non-official sites.
posted by elgilito at 2:21 AM on December 10, 2005


So they want people to be jailed for providing the damn words to their songs, so people can be happy singing with the right words? Then sing a different song, one of death and destruction. Damn them to hell.

They will stop at nothing.

These are battle lines being drawn in the sand. The Free Culture brigade (Open Source, Open Access movements and so on) couldn't have arrived on the scene any sooner, to face the rotting monopolies and oligopolies of the music, journal, textbook, software and other piggish 'publishing' industries with their squeezing of the actual creators and DRM-wrenched control of the buyers' habits.

Our side has always been accused of being harsh on rhetoric, but it is they who asked for a clash. Only one mindset will remain as the overarching tone of the worldwide intellectual future. It's on.

Liberté!
posted by Firas at 2:43 AM on December 10, 2005


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".

This guy actually made it through law school?

Man, law school is easier than I thought.
posted by wakko at 2:46 AM on December 10, 2005


If they close the lyrics sites, where will we get quality spyware?
posted by Wolfdog at 4:41 AM on December 10, 2005


At Law school I did a paper on EMI threatening UNLV that led to the shifting of OLGA onto a new server.

Anyway it was about the only A+ I achieved at Law School and I argued that listening to a song and then writing down chords and lyrics to make them freely available was not in breach of the copyright held by EMI, at least under New Zealand law.

So if the decade old opinion of a spotty and geeky law student from the other side of the world is anything to go by the MPA don't have a leg to stand on.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 5:20 AM on December 10, 2005


This is ridiculous.

But I have an idea what their problem might be. I'm a musician (and songwriter) and if I know what a song sounds like-and have the lyrics-I can easily write out a chord/lead sheet for it, thus not needing to ever buy any sheet music of any sort.

But let me get back to saying just how stupid this is. Stupid stupid stupid. Vast majority of people wanting lyrics just want to know what the song is about. Or is it that the PTB want you to buy the cd in the hopes that they actually added lyrics?

Greed. This is nothing but greed.
posted by konolia at 5:25 AM on December 10, 2005


Come on, no one actually sells *sheet music* for all the stuff that's in the charts do they?

And what about artists and bands official sites where they provide they lyrics, are they going to after them too?
posted by funambulist at 6:19 AM on December 10, 2005


Come on, no one actually sells *sheet music* for all the stuff that's in the charts do they?

Oh, they do.
posted by holgate at 6:28 AM on December 10, 2005


Corporations operate solely to make a sufficient profit, after which point they operate mainly to provide a means for executives to hurt people they don't like.
This is something I will try to remember, and refer to ever after as Zixi's Law.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:37 AM on December 10, 2005


I don't get it. I mean, sheet music has like...notes and chords and shit. Lyric sites don't have that. What, are we going to just write the music down ourselves. Only thing that's holding me back is I can't figure out the words to this song!
posted by graventy at 6:50 AM on December 10, 2005


I think the motivation for this is pretty simple. Most of the lyrics and tab sites have some sort of advertising; ergo, they're making money from the lyrics.

What they want to do is stamp out all the small fry sites and then sign some sort of deal with the bigger sites to get a (big) cut of advertising revenue.
posted by aubin at 7:01 AM on December 10, 2005


What they want to do is stamp out all the small fry sites and then sign some sort of deal with the bigger sites to get a (big) cut of advertising revenue.

Didn't U2 do exactly this? I recall some big controversy among their fans when their label CODed tons of lyrics sites and then made all their lyrics available for "members" of their website.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:24 AM on December 10, 2005


Is this really a violation of copyright? I'm not buying it.

If I hear a song and write down what I think I heard, then where exactly is the crime? I am not performing the work for profit, I'm just writing down the words in a song.

Is this is infringement so is seeing a famous painting at a gallery and later writing a description of it.

Now if people were scanning official and copyrighted sheet music and then selling it without permission on the internet, then we would have a problem, but this isn't even close to that.
posted by skallas at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2005


To quote the Canadian band Propaghandi:
Anyone remember when we used to believe
that music was a sacred place
and not some fucking bank machine?
Not something you just bought and sold?
How could we have been so naive?
Well, I think when all is said and done,
just cause we were young
doesn’t mean we were wrong.
posted by sindark at 7:44 AM on December 10, 2005


Sorry, the Propagandhi link I meant to post is here: to their New Music Canada page.
posted by sindark at 7:51 AM on December 10, 2005


Would that skallas were right. If I'm a musicologist and I want to argue that [your hero here] is a genius, I should be able to spell out every last chord change and rhythmic quirk to make my case. But the copyright culture in publishing has undermined this particular freedom of thought — in many works of literary history and literary criticism, you will read that various scraps of poetry, essays, etc., have been "quoted with permission." Outrageous — they should be quoted without permission (obviously fair use).

But I'm being somewhat hypocritical here, since I google to get chords of songs I feel like belting out, sans musicological analysis. Wouldn't pay for 'em though!
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:59 AM on December 10, 2005


This reminds me a touch of the iniative to remove songs from DVDs of old TV shows if the producer didn't want to pay fees again. Great way to promote older material to any new generations that watch these DVDs. Take out the songs!

Tabs and lyrics posted by people who have figured them can help promote the bands. They're posted for a reason. People want to read the lyrics and try to play the songs. That record companies haven't provided them is telling. That they have provided them in some cases, and want to in others, only if you pay for them is laughable. We'll see how that works out.
posted by juiceCake at 7:59 AM on December 10, 2005


If you have all the lyrics to a song, you can sing it yourself - and the associations can't figure a way to squeeze a buck out of self-performances.

Look to the screenplay sites to be next, for the exact same reason.
posted by davelog at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2005


"Is this really a violation of copyright? I'm not buying it."
*Cymbal crash*
posted by dazed_one at 8:36 AM on December 10, 2005


More unauthorized guitar tabs lead to more bands proficiently playing covers, which leads to more ASCAP revenue. What's the fucking problem here?
posted by psmealey at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2005


All this copyright BS is for the better. Eventually people will turn to independent lables that make music for the love of it.
posted by j-urb at 8:56 AM on December 10, 2005


If you play by ear, does that make you a criminal?
posted by iamck at 9:43 AM on December 10, 2005


I can't help but think they served the lyrics server with one of their nastygrams by accident.

As others have mentioned, this is nothing new. They've been going after Evil Lyrics and other Winamp plug-ins for a loong time.

I don't see why it's *not* a violation of copyright, though. If I listen to a book on tape, transcribe the entire book by hand, then publish it on a Web site with advertisements (I don't know how important that last part is), that seems like infringement. I don't *care*, but it's still infringement.

And yeah, sheet music is still a big business.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2005


I wonder if these guys will sue my guitar teacher next... since he shows me how to play some songs (which he usually figures out by ear, he refuses to use tablature) AND earns a fee, isn't he in violation by the same logic?

This is complete idiocy, I guess they figure that if they're already paying to retain their lawyers, they better have them doing something.
posted by nomds at 10:11 AM on December 10, 2005


BitTorrent may be the solution here. If a core group of individuals created a weekly torrent seed of all the lyrics instead of setting them up on a website they'd be pretty hard to shut down and still fairly available. I can't imagine even a good size archive being much bigger than a dual layer movie.
posted by Mitheral at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2005


Ryvar: Doh. I ran here just to mention lyrics.ch, but you beat me to it. I was still in college, still kind of a naive internet newbie, and I LOVED that site. Shocked me then.
posted by artifarce at 10:47 AM on December 10, 2005


The notorious rip-off contracts with major labels require musicians to give over their copyrights on performaces and recordings, but a few of the smarter or luckier artists manage to keep their composition rights. This is important because composition rights, which are separate from performance and from recording rights, are the one remaining way that that subset of artists can earn significant income from their own work.

Also, correct me if I'm remembering this wrong, but the owners of compositions have to publish them as sheet music to get copyright protection and be able to collect royalties. That's why the sheet music business remains even though use of sheet music for pop/rock is seemingly old-fashioned.

Presumably the crackdown is led by publishers or music companies that have wrested the composition rights away from the actual composers. The corporate mentality is actually not a straightforward calculation that if they lighten up they'll receive more revenue. Instead it's more like demanding total control and thinking that they will then figure out some way to "monetize" it.
posted by jam_pony at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2005


I wonder if a mondegreens server would be similarly treated.

[hums "scuse me while I kiss this guy"]
posted by adamrice at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2005


Ok, I suspect I'm going to piss off a bunch of the artists in this thread, but hear me out.

Market economies (for better or worse) are a system for the division of scarce property and services.

Therefore, if you can't divide it (air) or it isn't scarce (numbers), it isn't property.

From this it follows that lyrics are not property, nor are any of the other instances in the set of "intellectual Property".

Labor is the property of the laborer, and any scarce item produced by the laborer is his or hers to market as they wish. But the intangible, innumerable, (and admittedly very difficult to create) art is just that: art, not property.

Wether we like this or not, I suspect it is true. True reality is merciless to those who attempt to defy it. We can either figure out how to live productively in the world into which we've been placed, or we can pretend the world is different than it is, and suffer the inevitable failure that results.
posted by Richard Daly at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2005


skallas, zurisshadai--

The flaw in your argument is that these are not critical sites; they are websites that provide lots and lots of lyrics and chord progressions with little or no extra material. That's not fair use; that's infringement.

The companies that print sheet music aren't getting the rights to print it on their own, but they have to pay for the right to do so. (This is where the infringement comes in.) The websites--should they pay for the rights to the music--would have the ability to display bars and tabs online. They could do it for free, too, since they already slather those sites in advertising and bring in money hand over fist.
posted by thecaddy at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2005


To summarize, copyright is doomed. Get to work on something better.
posted by Richard Daly at 12:03 PM on December 10, 2005


Oh crap, I had no idea they sold sheet music even for Britney Spears. Wow. I don't even know how to process that information.

So is the MPA saying that unless the lyrics come in the CD booklet, if you want them you're supposed to buy the whole sheet music, which may or may not be available? AS if people bought sheet music only for the lyrics?

They're never going to be able to take down the lyrics sites, there's far too many and it's text, even assuming they did the same as with mp3's how, do they see every provider checking all text files of their users for lyrics content? or do they just want to give people one more reason to use torrents?
posted by funambulist at 12:06 PM on December 10, 2005


First they came for the mp3s
and I did not speak out
Then they came for the lyrics
and I did not speak out
because I was not a lyric.
Then they came for the guitar tabs
and I did not speak out
because I was not a guitar tab.....
posted by keswick at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2005


Richard Daly, I'd aruge that the only people who would be pissed off by your little deduction aren't really artists. I'm laughing my ass off at an evil, exploitative industry whose zeal for lawsuits (or is it panic) will soon be its undoing.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2005


How many of us are going to reduce our retail music purchases because of this? Because that's the only thing that matters to these idjits.
posted by telstar at 5:11 PM on December 10, 2005


Yeah. I can see how it could be helpful to shut down lyrics sites. A handful more people might buy the next Ashlee Simpson CD if they don't get to read the lyrics and see just how inane they are.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:28 PM on December 10, 2005


I have already stopped purchasing anything non-indie - the only exception might be buying mp3s from allofmp3 although I haven't been doing that either. I had the last Kate Bush CD pre-ordered or I would not have even bought that. *shrugs*
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:29 PM on December 10, 2005


So, hands up how many people have googled a line from an unknown song, and wound up buying the CD because the lyrics were online? Is it just me?
posted by arto at 9:48 PM on December 10, 2005


Wolfdog basically beat me to it, so here's a variation.

Soon the RIAA will find all their computers inundated with popup ads in a unique form of website vengeance....

AND A BONUS:

You realize, of course, when they get to the karaoke people, the streets will flow with the blood of the tyrants.
posted by deusdiabolus at 5:18 AM on December 11, 2005


An old Lore piece comes to mind
posted by subaruwrx at 7:47 PM on December 11, 2005


How many of us are going to reduce our retail music purchases because of this?

A lot of us have already stopped. However, I don't think this site is indicative of the rest of the consumers in this world.

I don't know why, but this doesn't piss me off much at all (probably b/c I hate those ad-supported lyrics sites.) Suing some poor infringer for $22,500 is more upsetting.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:39 PM on December 14, 2005


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