Label Changes Tune on Lyrics Use

The push to make song lyric sites and programs illegal has cooled -- at least on one front. Walter Ritter, creator of the popular PearLyrics lyrics program, and Warner/Chappell announced that they would work together to allow the program to continue being offered.

Ritter said this holds benefits for the user, as it would give pearworks access to accurate lyrics for songs in the company's catalog. Many of its programs rely on unofficial sources.

"A service that would work with licensed lyrics would help to solve this problem - and additionally, it would also provide correct composer information, also an often requested feature," Ritter said in an announcement on the pearworks Web site.

Warner/Chappell also admitted that its tone in the original letter was "an inappropriate manner in which to convey that inquiry," and apologized to Ritter. The label said it only wanted to gain assurance that pearworks would fairly compensate artists for their work.

The statement also seemed to indicate that the label did not plan to go after sites that work with the label first, and would endeavor to protect "legitimate web sites with accurate lyrics [who] must not be undermined by unlicensed web sites."

Music publishers said earlier this week that they plan to go after "unlicensed" guitar tab and music lyrics sites in 2006. The head of the MPA has even advocated jail time as a punishment for running these sites, and to act as a deterrent to others considering launching such a service without prior permission and licensing.

Ritter thanked Fred von Lohmann from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for his open letter to Warner/Chappell, which he credited with helping to shift the opinion of the music label.

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