Music Industry to Attack Lyric, Tab Sites

The litigious music industry will have a new target in 2006: sites that provide lyrics and scores to popular songs. The Music Publishers' Association says fines and the removal of such Web sites is not enough -- it is even advocating jail time for those operating these sites.

MPA President Lauren Keiser told the BBC Monday that he thought if the MPA would be successful in "[throwing] in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective". He says the guitar tabs that have been commonplace on music sites for years are "completely illegal."

The effort marks the first time the MPA would embark on a legal effort to protect the copyrights of its members. Individual companies have used the courts to protect their rights in the past.

According to Keiser, the organization plans to go after popular sites that some would think are legal, but are not. The music publishing industry's biggest enemy before the Internet was the copying machine, Keiser said, "but now the Internet is taking more of a bite out of sheet music and printed music sales so we're taking a more proactive stance."

The National Music Publishers' Association is also planning to support the MPA in its legal endeavor.

The industry has already begun to strong-arm lyrics sites off the Internet. Popular Austrian-based PearLyrics was forced off the web on December 6 after a cease and desist letter from British music label Warner/Chappell Music Limited.

The software for Macintosh helped users to locate lyrics to popular songs.

"As a freeware developer I can not afford to risk a law suit against such a big company, although personally I don't see where pearLyrics should infringe any copyrights handled by them," PearLyrics creator Walter Ritter wrote in a message to users on his Web site. "After all, pearLyrics only searches and accesses publicly available websites, displays, and, at the users wish, caches its content."

Ritter is currently investigating his legal options, and thanked his users for their overwhelming support.

Apple news site MacNN also noted in a December 6 article on the removal of PearLyrics that most of the lyrics widgets had disappeared from Apple's Dashboard Widget download site.

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