Songwriters want websites that publish their lyrics for free to duet with them on the profits.
The industry group the National Music Publishers’ Association demanded at a news conference Monday that 50 top lyrics sites immediately pull down their lyrics, posted without permission. The group says the sites are violating copyrights and illegally profiting from their work.
The group says 5 million people Google lyrics each day, and that half of all online lyrics searches lead to sites posting them without permission.
“These lyric sites have ignored the law and profited off the songwriters’ creative works, and NMPA will not allow this to continue,” said NMPA president and CEO David Israelite in a statement.
He clarified that the group is targeting sites that earn money through ads — not fans who post lyrics, for example, to express how they feel about a breakup.
“This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally,” he said. “NMPA is targeting fifty sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which significantly impacts songwriters’ ability to make a living.”
One of the sites targeted — RapGenius.com — had a defense others are likely to offer as well: It does much more than just post others’ lyrics.
The other 50 sites include lyricsmania.com, lyricstranslate.com, stlyrics.com, lyricsreg.com, lyricstime.com, lyrster.com, parolesBmusique.com, kovideo.net, songonlyrics.com, indexBofBmp3s.com, and lyricstranslations.com, among others.
Israelite said the notices were filed on behalf of Sony, NBC Universal and seven independent companies. Sites that don’t respond will face legal action, he said.
David Lowery, a veteran of the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker who has tracked the sites in his research for the University of Georgia, says they are big business.
“Unlicensed lyric sites are largely ignored as copyright infringers, but in fact these sites generate huge web traffic and involve more money than one might think,” he said. “The lyric business is clearly more valuable in the Internet age.”
NMPA earlier sued LiveUniverse and LyricWiki for copyright violations and won judgments of more than $7 million.