Music Publisher Sorta Kinda Apologizes For Bogus Threat To Lyrics App

from the you-mean-we-have-to-follow-the-law? dept

Last week we wrote about music publisher Warner/Chappell shooting first and asking questions later by having its lawyers ship off the standard cease-and-desist-you're-infringing letter to pearLyrics, makers of a funky little app that helps you find any online lyrics to the songs you're listening to in iTunes. They're not publishing the lyrics themselves, but simply searching for them and displaying them -- which is why we wondered if Warner/Chappell would sue Google, since their new music search does essentially the same thing. Earlier this week, the EFF decided that W/C's lawyers might benefit by having the law explained to them, including the nice little tidbit about how they open themselves up to federal liability if they were found to have made "a knowing misrepresentation as applied to noninfringing activity." W/C's lawyers slept on this idea for a day or so, and realized it was time to start backpedaling quickly. The EFF informs us that W/C and pearLyrics have put out a joint statement, whereby W/C blusters for a bit about good intentions and such, before admitting that they made a mistake. Still, it's a pretty weak resolution. W/C now claims it only wanted to make sure that pearLyrics really wasn't infringing, and the letter was a bad way to do that. However, it's not clear if pearLyrics is coming back online -- and W/C made it clear that it's still not thrilled with the idea that lyrics sites somehow "undermine" accurate lyrics. If that's the case, it kinda makes you wonder what the lawyers and execs over at Warner/Chappell think of KissThisGuy.com, an archive of misheard lyrics -- whose whole purpose is to undermine accurate lyrics. And, yet, we're still confused about how writing down lyrics is likely to harm the music publishing business in any way.
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  • identicon
    Howard Plumley, 16 Dec 2005 @ 4:33am

    Lyrics - copyrights - greed & stupidity

    Music copyrights started well over a hundred years ago and were all about the words and written music. The inserts in CD cases and albums all have the circle-c icon to establish copyright on the words. Teen agers buy the albums to
    learn' the words. So restricting access to the words is greed & stupity. Wierd AL had to stop doing parodies because of changes in the copyright law. Sampling is under fire for using snippets of recordings. The music industry in its efforts to swallow the world is consuming itself.
    If you want to watch the fur fly compare a hymnal from 30 to 50 years ago with the songs of todays Gospel singers. If there is more than 12% to 15% match then they own the performance but not the song. If asked the companies tend to lie first and threaten to sue second. Words are everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Oliver Wendell Jones, 16 Dec 2005 @ 5:04am

      Re: Lyrics - copyrights - greed & stupidity

      Wow, can I have some of whatever it is you're smoking? What color is the sky in your world?

      As a teenager, I never bought any albums just to be able to read the lyrics - and I've never met anyone who bought albums for that reason.

      I have all of Weird Al's albums, and even the most recent one is full of parodies - all of which are covered by Fair Use.

      The only time he's ever had an issue was with Coolio over Gangster's Paradise - Al thought he had permission (which he doesn't need but always asks for as a courtesy) and it turns out he didn't. Coolio got upset, but there wasn't anything he could do about it because what Al had done was not illegal.

      Get your facts straight, put down the pipe, and come back when you know what you're talking about, 'kay?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew Strasser, 16 Dec 2005 @ 5:09am

    A shame.

    It's a shame to see a large organization shut down a smaller new technology that is already in place in other fashions. I understand both sides to a degree however we have to realize that in this day and age information is going to become free to everyone. We will all gain more access to information. We will research more. That's what our next era is supposed to be about and it's no big secret either. My history teacher when I was a Junior in high school explained it to us one day as a class. With robotic (which I began working with in 3rd grade) becoming more present in our lives today and more and more gizmo's popping up there is a change from a service era which is what we have just been a part of and an era of research and development which we have just tipped the iceberg of. Though we do need to figure out if they really are trying to melt any glaciers right now to create waterways as somehow I just don't think melting the iceberg to get to the top is our best venture. Again, too bad for this newer corporation and I hope that they get back running and maybe even file a return lawsuit for downtime. I believe harassment could be sort of the case if brazen misuse of lawyers doesn't work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob3000, 16 Dec 2005 @ 6:15am

    No Subject Given

    God bless the EFF. I really shoudl donate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lar3ry, 16 Dec 2005 @ 7:13am

    Lyric sites are the next step

    As I wrote on a previous Tech Dirt entry, all those lyrics sites out there are just begging for C-n-D letters from the publishers. After all, nearly every one (except some fan sites) shows ads, which makes a case that they are sharing the lyrics for commercial gain. Contrast that with the RIAA and MPAA assault on file sharers, who aren't even doing it for commercial gain.

    With adverts, it is a no-brainer for the publishers to prove that the sites are "stealing" the money that is due to them.

    For now, a Google search for lyrics "Bell Bottom Blues" will still reveal all the sites that have the lyrics (without having to use Google's new music service). And tomorrow, the lyrics sites will be crying, "I don't want to fade away..."

    — lar3ry

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2006 @ 6:43pm

      Re: Lyric sites are the next step

      Actually they are the first and only step. The WHOLE POINT of the article is that the site in question didn't publish lyrics! They are about as infringing as Google, since it's just a search.

      Well, okay, actually Google gets link takedown notices I think for even linking to copyrighted info. IMHO, that is really rediculous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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