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Warner Chappell backtracks over PearLyrics legal threat

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Music publisher Warner Chappell has let song lyric search tool PearLyrics off the hook.

The company has apologised to the application's author, Walter Ritter, for sending him an "inappropriate" cease-and-desist letter two weeks ago. In response, Ritter stopped making PearLyrics available for download.

Warner Chappell said it had merely wanted "to provide consumers a convenient, legal way to find accurate song lyrics", in a statement issued on Friday by the company's chairman and CEO, Richard Blackstone.

It's a smart move. Warner Chappell may lose a little face.

PearLyrics remains unavailable. But Ritter says "stay tuned for more info", and it's likely that when the application returns, it will do so with officially sanctioned Warner Chappell content.

As Ritter notes, that's good for users, because it means they're guaranteed accurate lyrics rather than the often incorrect and frequently poorly typed words submitted to unofficial lyrics sites. But it also provides Warner Chappell and other music publishers with hooks into the system.

Warner Chappell is to be commended for not only coughing to an overly harsh RIAA-style approach, but for apparently realising that most users are not inherently criminals out to defraud the artists whose material it publishes. By reaching out to folk like Ritter, its efforts to ensure that consumers get the lyrics they want - which, as Ritter has pointed out in the past, are readily available without the intervention of PearLyrics - but through channels managed by the rights holders. ®

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