Lyrics Sites Illegal?

Is this the end for lyrics sites?


In December 2005, BBC News reported that the music industry will be taking legal action against unauthorized lyrics and tablature sites starting in 2006. The reaction around the web was full of disdain from the users of such sites, and caution from some of the owners. Before going any further, it'll help to go over some basics.

The Players

Here is a list of the people and organizations mentioned in the news so far.


The MPA and NMPA represent the interests of music publishers, which can include everything from licensing music for recording (mechanical), performance/public use, and use in media (synchronization). The issue with lyrics and tab sites is centered around the sheet music business. They claim music sheet sales are negatively impacted by unlicensed lyrics and tab sites, and have threatened a coordinated legal campaign to take them down. But that's not all. From the BBC article:

Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".

The Web

Lyrics and tablature sites have long existed on the web, some for love, and some for money.

A tablature site will often be comprised of user interpretations of guitar tabs for famous (and not-so-famous) songs. A lyrics site will typically have user-transcribed song lyrics.

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