If You Can Read This, You're Infringing

from the stretching... dept

The recording industry’s fight against sites posting song lyrics online has taken a slightly bizarre turn, with music publisher Warner/Chappell shutting down a Mac program (via Boing Boing) that simply searches the Internet for lyrics and displays them. The freeware application shows the lyrics of whatever song’s playing in iTunes, getting the information from freely available, unaffiliated lyrics sites. Sending a cease and desist to the program’s author isn’t remarkable, but where it gets slightly odd is that Warner/Chappell’s lawyers cited the Grokster case as their reasoning. Just to recap, it said that file-sharing networks could be held responsible if they took “affirmative steps” to encourage copyright infringement. Song lyrics are copyrighted, that’s not disputed — but how could simply viewing the lyrics be infringing on the copyright? The infringement (if any) is in publishing the lyrics, not in looking at them in a Web browser. What’s next? Get Internet Explorer and Firefox shut down because people can view lyrics in them? Hell, let’s shut down the entire internet since it’s needed to access the lyrics. Predictably, the program’s author took it down because he doesn’t have the resources to fight — like most of the people the music industry picks on.

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Comments on “If You Can Read This, You're Infringing”

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dan says:

Re: amaroK

That’s the first thing that came to my mind. I really hope not, it probably isn’t my most used feature in the app, but it is definatly up there.

I just can’t figure out how free access to the lyrics can hurt the RIAA or the artists. It’s not like they are losing sales, because they don’t sell lyrics. Lyrics only add to the enjoyment and are useless without the music.

Curt says:

Re: if you can read this

I own a store that sells computers, office supplies,phones, cds, music players etc… I had a sale and sold out all of my Sony products and replaced them with a similar product of another brand. I can’t believe the public how they turn their noses at the Sony products. We aren’t boycotting the line, it is just necessary to replace it to survive.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

He should fight this. You don’t even need a lawyer. Any competent judge would laugh this out of the court-room. Should MSFT and AAPL be sent cease and desist letters because people use their software to run their computers to “infringe” on copyrighted material? Should Dell and Intel IBM be responible for providing hardware? Should local electrical utilities get C&D letters for powering these devices ? Cable and telco for running the networks? Where does this crap end?

lawyers suck says:

the problem is..

lawyers are just SO DAMNED EXPENSIVE that sometimes people are left with no other choice. I had a similiar experience, a crappy ISP sued me and I tried & tried to find legal representation to fight it but lawyers won’t even talk to you unless you shell out $$$$$. If i had the money to pay lawyers, I would have taken care of the ISP issue well beforehand.

Lawyers SUCK. These slime are just another example. The RIAA is going to squash that woman and leave her bankrupt …. although thanks to our asshole President and his rich Republican gift to the financial industry, she’ll just live out her days as a debtor slave.

Newob says:

They can't sue you if they don't know who you are

Well this clinches it. If we want to avoid living in a 1984-type dystopia where the RIAA monitors everything we see and hear, then we have to start working together now and offer ANONYMOUS software tools for doing the things they don’t want us to do. Later, when the RIAA is dead because their copyrights are worthless, then we can get back to trying to take credit for our own works.

Howard (profile) says:

Copyright of Lyrics

It would seem that this is the easiest to understand. 120 years ago Music was sheet music. And copyright was about publishing paper. Now it is about publishing copies (electronic and physical).
1 – Lyrics are copyrighted. Putting them on a website, in e-mail, on a blog, or typing copies for your friends WITHOUT autorization is illegal.
2 – To view the lyrics on your system requires copying to the local memory and screen. Also illegal. There fore …
3 – Fair use for listeners to learn the words is the printed material that came with the album (CD or vinyl) or request a printed version form an authorized source.

Considering the efforts put forth in preventing us from copying songs from one media to another, is it any surprise they don’t want you to know the words. Personal interpetation of music is still legal (as long as no one hears you.)

Adam Antoszek-Rallo says:

Re: Copyright of Lyrics

That’s bollocks. If I listen to a piece of music, write out what I think the lyrics are, and share them, I have broken no laws. That was my interpretation of the lyrics, not the lyrics, and no matter how innacurate or accurate they amy be. This model has been protected in court many times before, harkening back to the bios on the first clone PCs.

I am a musician and publisher, have a huge legally obtained music collection, and I think this move by Warner-Chappel is sick. I spoke to them on the phone the other day and gave them a piece of my mind, and will be encouraging others to do the same, and refuse to pay for any WB media until these lawsuits and actions are dropped. There is no place in my society for corporations to limit my thoughts (ie. ability to ear read) and ability to share my thoughts. (ie. the chord chard I wrote out) That’s just sick, and it’s not protecting art or artists.


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