Feeds

Action on song lyric websites is misguided

Says online sheet music retailer

The next step in data security

Comment The Music Publishers’ Association of America (MPA) has announced a legal campaign targeted at unlicensed sheet music, lyrics and 'tab' sites, threatening to throw site owners into jail. But these unfortunate actions could do more damage than good.

Internet forum contributors and bloggers alike have spent the last few days flaming the MPA and distributing link upon link to lyrics and tab sites, just to teach them a lesson.

A guitar tab is a simple graphic presentation of a song corresponding to the strings of the guitar. It is easy to read and can be written with any text-only editor. However, as with any graphic presentation of a song (i.e. sheet music), a tab is covered by the copyright of the original work, even if it has been transcribed by a well-meaning fan (tabs usually are). This is not new. Distributing sheet music of a copyright-protected work without permission is illegal, whoever created it.

But getting this message across gently is more important than threatening jail sentences. Jail threats for site owners are unrealistic and unnecessarily inflammatory ("so now they want to jail us just for singing their songs too").

The comments by the MPA president, intentionally or otherwise, unfortunately give the impression that the whole business of downloading sheet music is illegal. No mention is made of the thriving and growing businesses run by legitimate websites with the full permission and agreement of publishers and authors.

The MPA action, contrary to its claims, is not proactive. If it were, the MPA would be promoting and supporting the legal music sites currently operating instead of waving jail terms at their adversaries. And following hot on the heels of a questionable cease and desist action by Warner Chappell against a lyrics search tool, the MPA opens itself up to the criticism being targeted already at the big music companies and the Recording Industry Association of America, albeit for completely difference reasons.

The MPA is right to act against violations of music copyrights. However, it would be well advised to do so hand-in-hand with the legal websites already operating and to do more to explain the sometimes difficult question of copyright restrictions, instead of angering the very people it needs to convince.

© Jonathan Irons

Jonathan Irons is CEO of SheetMusicNow.com, a legal digital sheet music site.

This article was originally published at OUT-LAW.com

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.