Music Industry Takes Aim at Song Lyrics Websites; Lawsuits Filed Against Companies for Posting Unlicensed Lyrics

Music Industry Takes Aim at Song Lyrics Websites; Lawsuits Filed Against Companies for Posting Unlicensed Lyrics
&hl&fsIt looks as if it's not just illegal music file-sharing websites that the music industry is going after these days. Now websites selling song lyrics are getting some heat as well, from companies like Warner/Chappell, Peermusic and Bug Music.

On August 24, the three music publishing companies filed copyright infringement lawsuits against two businesses posting unlicensed song lyrics for profit on their websites, reports Billboard.

The lawsuits allege that LiveUniverse, Inc. and Motive Force LLC committed repeated copyright infringement by selling song lyrics on their sites, according to the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) who issued a press release for the publishing companies. The lawsuits seek damages for the unlicensed use of the lyrics.

"Unlicensed websites exploiting song lyrics for profit have become a significant problem," said NMPA president and CEO David Israelite. "These sites are profiting on the backs of songwriters. It is unfortunate that copyright holders must so frequently divert energies to protect their rights to license and distribute their works. However, the demand for music prompts a seemingly endless stream of illegal business models."

According to the NMPA, it has sent cease and desist notices to hundreds of websites in the past three years and given them all opportunities to license the content and operate legitimately. Many of the sites chose to go the legal route, but Live Universe and Motive Force ignored the notices, resulting in the legal action.

"Music fans are the biggest losers when licensed businesses, like LyricFind, Gracenote and TuneWiki can't survive and prosper because unlicensed, illegal businesses are allowed to thumb their noses at the law," Israelite said. "We are confident the courts will conclude that, like Napster and Grokster before them, these sites are simply freeloading off artists and fans."

As Billboard points out, a recent posting on the Motive Force website alluded to the lawsuit. "LyricWiki is going away: Unfortunately, licensing agreements with the biggest publishers in the music industry require us to no longer offer the ability for programmatic access to LyricWiki's collection of lyrics," said the message posted on the site.