Monday, April 18, 2005

German Song Lyric Sites Cease & Desisted

I've never really understood musicians that prefer to fill their CD booklets with fancy artwork at the expense of the inclusion of song lyrics. Worse are song lyrics written down in some cryptic handwriting, or cut-and-pasted and printed in a surreal collage, for the listener to decipher (Radiohead-syndrome). Whenever I really want and need to read the lyrics, because of a foreign tongue or unintelligible growling by the singer, I go to a song lyrics site. It may take a few searches and several sites before I get the lyrics I want, but music enthusiasm drives you a long way.

That may come to an end now. At least, there are signs that the amount of online resources for song lyrics are going to be trimmed down. In Germany 42 non-commercial websites that provide song lyrics have received warning notices to take down the lyrics, or face fines higher than usually demanded for the offering of copyright infringing MP3 files.

The (German) law seems pretty straightforward about it that placing (song) lyrics online without permission constitutes a copyright violation. Still, I can imagine it is pretty hard for the website owners in question and music fans to understand this kind of absolute enforcement. Fencing off the exploitation, commercially or not, of copyrights may be a right, but one may question if it is the right thing to do. Not in the last place from a business perspective, coming down on the true fan base.

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