Lyrics Sites Illegal? - Rant

My opinion on why lyrics should be free (even if the law doesn't agree)


There are many legitimate arguments for and against file sharing, but when it comes to lyrics, the only reasonable approach is to allow them to be shared.

You may be thinking that this is a moot point, one that the music industry doesn't care about, as evidenced by the multitude of lyrics sites out there. Well, it is an issue to some people, and unfortunately these people could have an effect on the status quo. In a story at BBC News, Song sites face legal crackdown, Ian Youngs reports recent statements from the Music Publishers' Association and National Music Publishers' Association. In the article, NMPA president David Israelite is quoted as saying:

Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing.

Selling guitar tabs and lyrics is fine, but why hinder the sharing of that information? No matter what the financial benefit there is to selling sheet music, it cannot possibly be outweighed by having song lyrics freely available on the Web. After all, the main goal of a musician isn't for people to buy a piece of paper, but for an audience to listen to their music (preferably paying for it).

What if a person hears a new song on the radio and only knows a few lyrics, but not the name of the song? An internet-savvy music buyer can Google for a phrase or two, and she will get any number of results with the answer. Some of which may be at official sites, but probably most are unsanctioned. But that's not too important to our music buyer. She just wants to figure out what song it is. Even if she doesn't run out and buy the whole CD, she might purchase the song online using a service such as iTunes Music Store.

Music fans consider many different factors before buying an album or song, so of course lyrics are part of that criteria. For instance, a parent might want to check out the lyrics to a song before buying the music for his child.

People don't want to buy lyrics; they want to use lyrics as a determining factor when buying music. The more barriers the industry puts in front of prospective music consumers, the less music will be purchased.

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