Music publishers to target online lyric sites

January 2006


They may well be illegal and infringe literary and musical copyrights – but – is the MPA wise to target unauthorized online lyric and music score sites? The Music Publishers’ Association (MPA), which represents US sheet music companies, will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006. MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be fined and jailed. Mr Kaiser cited the Xerox machine as the first enemy of sheet music and now identifies the internet as a major enemy. But having seen the big successes and mistakes made by the RIAA in the USA one does wonder of this is quite the right approach! A good example of what not to do was the action by music publisher Warner Chappell against online lyric search engine pearLyric which initially forced pearLyric offline but ultimately ended up with an apology from Warners! The EFF reported that Walter Ritter, who developed the pearLyrics software that automates the process of adding lyrics to iTunes tracks, had received a cease & desist letter from Warner/Chappell Music: But the EFF to challenged Warner Chappell’s action. Warners claimed that Ritter was liable for copyright infringement, because he developed a tool that “enable[s] the reproduction and downloading” of song lyrics. But the EFF fired off a open letter in response, pointing out that while the software does not violate U.S. copyright law, if Warner Chappell went through with its threats, it could end up in its own legal trouble. Thankfully some sense entered the dispute and according to pearLyrics, the chairman and CEO of Warner Chappell called Mr Ritter to talk about the situation and the parties published a joint statement, saying they “were committed to working together to provide consumers a convenient, legal way to find accurate song lyrics” and Warner Chappell formally apologized for their actions. Lets hope the MPA don’t make the same mistakes again.

EFF’s open letter to Warner Chappell:


Lyric dustup ends in apology,1412,69856,00.html

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