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Music Industry Looking for Lyrics Payoff 205 205

theodp writes "U.S. digital entertainment company Gracenote has obtained licenses to distribute the lyrics of more than 1 million songs. Music publishers are still mulling legal action against Web sites that provide lyrics without authorization." From the article: "Ralph Peer II, Firth's counterpart at peermusic, said licensing lyrics should boost worldwide music publishing revenues, estimated at about $4 billion annually. Peer said he hopes the unauthorized sites will seek licenses. 'I think we'll see a reasonable increase, as much as a 5 percent increase, in industry music publishing revenues five years out from where we are right now,' Peer said."
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Music Industry Looking for Lyrics Payoff

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  • Pay for lyrics? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:13AM (#15730451)
    Fair use is no longer an option and we can look forward to root kits on our computers to 'crack down' on illegal copying? I think it is time to tell the recording industry how we feel about their draconian measures. Could you go without purchasing or even downloading music for 3 months? 6 months? a year? to prove a point?
  • I can't decide (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:15AM (#15730469) Homepage
    On the one hand, this is another of those "it's our intellectual property, dammit" cases that seem so ridiculous - what is to stop lyrics sites from setting up shop in e.g. Russia, where it might be legally impossible to shut them down?

    On the other hand, I hate those lyrics sites so much, I wish they would find a way to shut them down. They contain ads, popups, sometimes malicious content, and on top of that they often have mistakes in the lyrics.

    So, I'm not sure I care that much about this one, personally.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:19AM (#15730497)
    Damn. Lost the link in all the /. server screwiness this morning: Here ya go, as originally written circa 3am:

    Worse still, it will likely put this guy [kissthisguy.com] out of business, and that would be a cryin' shame.

    When all lyrics are downloaded, and none have to be interpreted, something very important but likewise intangible about rock-n-roll is lost.

    Tom Waits, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

    Woo Woo Woo.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:25AM (#15730521) Homepage
    The only way to sell music is to raise a conscious desire to buy it in the minds of potential buyers. Exposure to the lyrics is one of the simplest ways for songwriters to encouarge people to think about the music they write and expose others to it in a way that has no meaningful way of allowing them to substitute copyright infringement for actually buying the song. Guitar tabs, for example, are useless by themselves. They form typically just one of four components to a song, but someone playing the tabs down the hallway at college or on stage at a local bar raises consciousness of the song.

    "Rights, rights, rights" is the mantra of the industry and why they're so amazingly stupid. The only way to sell a cultural work is to make it part of the culture and locking it up in a maze of contract law is not going to do that. Let people violate your Happy Jolly Lawyer Land Contract Rights all day long on things like lyrics. If you're in the business of selling **songs**, and that's how songwriters make most of their money on average, you WANT people sharing the lyrics and posting them in public. It's not the song, it's not even part of the actual audio they'll enjoy. It's just a collection of written words that they'd never have a reason to buy on their own as... surprise, surprise THEY'RE NOT MUSICIANS!!

    Meanwhile, most musicians, when given the choice, will gladly buy your sheet music at a reasonable cost if it means they get a 100% accurate set of sheet music with lyrics.
  • by shish (588640) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:27AM (#15730532) Homepage
    Eventually the media companies are going to push too hard

    Eventually? They haven't pushed hard enough for average joe to stop buying, but they're already shooting themselves in the feet in quieter ways -- how are you going to buy "that song" that you heard on the radio, if google won't tell you what it is, for example?

  • Re:DRM? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zoeblade (600058) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:43AM (#15730609) Homepage

    Will these official lyrics come in encrypted, DRM'ed text files

    That's a pretty good question, actually. From what I understand, the FairPlay DRM used in the iTunes Music Store (to use a popular example) only encrypts the AAC audio stream of the M4A wrapper file. Seeing as this wrapper also includes the album cover art and (as far as I know) the lyric to the song in question, and I'm pretty sure FairPlay doesn't encrypt either of these, it should be trivially easy to extract the copyrighted artwork and lyric without even circumnavigating DRM.

    Which presumably is legal for the fair use purpose of singing along to the song, but probably illegal for you to e-mail the lyric to a friend to tell them how good the song is so they also buy a copy.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:54AM (#15730666)
    Who would pay, anyways? Paying a few bucks for lyrics still won't give you the right to do anything, such as perform the music in public. I think most of the lyrics use is very casual - just looking up a song to buy (OK, buy or pirate), or for amateur musicians to learn the song. But these people aren't going to pay any significant amount for lyrics. So where's the payoff?
  • Re:Great... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:10AM (#15730767)

    Personally, I'm waiting for them to put an anal probe up our ass and shocking us when we hear a song on the radio if we don't pay.

    I don't see the problem here. Songs, by definition, have lyrics/singing in them, and people go to these sites to read the lyrics after hearing the song on the radio and they can't get the whole thing or don't understand some words, or because looking at the lyrics is different than having them sung to you. People hit these sites after a quick google search and they either click on the first one or the one that that gives them the fewest spyware or whatever.

    AFAIK, there is not "Official" RIAA compliant version available whatsoever, but these people feel "they are above the law!" and just want to pull access to these sites, even though the song is the canonical source. Its rare, and no business model whatsoever for someone to pay to read lyrics to songs on the web without having the song.

    This reminds me of the baseball outfits claiming all our data belongs to us with the web stats sites and/or books. Does anyone else see a similarity between these two, and does anyone know the status of the baseball stats?

  • by Agent Green (231202) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:37AM (#15730911)
    And this is part of why every restaurant I go to has their own special "Happy Birthday" rendition.

    If you want a grand example of why it's good for things to eventually become part of the public domain, then that has to be the prime one.
  • Re:I can't decide (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:04AM (#15731075)
    That's exactly what they want. Of course, you'll have to pay a monthly fee; we can't allow something like convenience now, right?
  • Re:idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kthejoker (931838) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:55AM (#15731388)
    Interestingly, the reason the lyrics were licensed and not the audio was because player pianos and other synthesizers were starting to take fold, and music was beginning to be viewed from an almost entirely scientific point of view. So musicmakers figured in the future when music was automatically created, the only money would be in original lyrics (which presumably couldn't be mechanically generated. Pre-Markov, and all ...) Also, while eerily similar music could be argued to be so different as to be original, lyrics offered no such ambiguity.

    Also, when they say "music publishers", they really only mean The Harry Fox Agency, which owns the lyrical rights to basically every major-label song ever. Everyone else is very small fry compared to them.

  • by uqbar (102695) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:58AM (#15731409)
    I doubt they can charge a lot and see it get used a lot. Frankly, an ad driven site that actually provides accurate content without all the malware would be great and might do well for them and for the songwriters (yes these folks will potentially get money, especially the more recent ones since agreements have gotten better for them). Tying it into Gracenote's services would be fine for most consumers, but not me (I'm a FreeDB kinda guy). Trying to charge a monthly fee for this would probably fail and per use micro payments doesn't seem like a winner either.
  • Re:I can't decide (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday July 17, 2006 @12:13PM (#15731980) Homepage
    They don't have to use google ads, but it would be nice if they stuck to nice clean text based ads in the spirit of google. That or simple banners like you see around slashdot. It would be a nice change from most of the other lyrics sites out there.

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