I am just outraged by this new attempt from the National Music Publishers Association to shut down lyric sites! According to Billboard magazine, the NMPA is saying that lots of sites have not obtained licenses to publish the lyrics and it has sent take-down notices to about 50 sites, not leaving them any choice: they have to either obtain licenses or remove the lyrics from their sites.
David Israelite, Chief Executive of the NMPA, declared in an official statement: ‘This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally. Rather, the NMPA “is targeting fifty sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior.’
Why do they want to be the Internet police suddenly? But they are not joking, they are about to fill copyright infringement lawsuits against sites that continue to publish unlicensed song lyrics, and they have already won a $6.6 million judgment against one of these sites (LiveUniverse) last year, and successfully sued Motive Force which operated LyricWiki.
They are now targeting 50 sites, and especially Rap Genius, a wonderful site if you want my opinion, with interactive annotation of lyrics line by line, which treats all kinds of texts from all horizons the same way,… just try to search for your favorite author, your favorite book, they probably have it!
However, Rap Genius co-founder Ilan Zechory didn’t seem too worried about the situation: ‘We can’t wait to have a conversation with them about how all writers can participate in and benefit from the Rap Genius knowledge project. Rap Genius is so much more than a lyrics site! The lyrics sites the NMPA refers to simply display song lyrics, while Rap Genius has crowdsourced annotations that give context to all the lyrics line by line, and tens of thousands of verified annotations directly from writers and performers.’
‘These layers of context and meaning transform a static, flat lyric page into an interactive, vibrant art experience created by a community of volunteer scholars. Furthermore, music is only a small part of what we do. Rap Genius is an interactive encyclopedia for annotation of all texts – anyone can upload and annotate texts relating to music, news, literature, religion, science, their personal lives, or anything else they want.’
Apparently, one of my favorite lyric sites, Songmeanings.net, is not targeted (may be it is too small?) but a lot of others, such as lyricsmania.com, allthelyrics.com, seeklyrics.com, are. Rap Genius doesn’t have advertising, so the site doesn’t even make money, so what is the NMPA worried about? Well, LyricsMania for example has advertising and claims 12 million visitors a month, so the NMPA thinks these sites will eventually make money, and a lot of it, as University Georgia researcher David Lowey explains:
‘Based on the popularity of lyric searches, it is possible that unlike the sound recording business, the lyric business may be more valuable in the Internet age. Indeed, the vast majority of these websites seem to have well established monetization schemes based on advertising. Many of the sites appear to have accounts with major online advertising exchanges and prominently feature advertising from major brands. There are even companies that appear to specialize in matching specific lyrics to key demographics for advertisers.’
Is this another desperate attempt of the music industry to recover money it is losing every minute because of the internet? David Lowery isn’t exactly an outsider, he is also a member of the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, so his study may totally be defending musicians’ point of view. Streaming services, piracy sites and now lyrics sites are the next target, will it ever end?
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