First they came for the MP3s, the .zip files and the YouTube uploads, and now a trade group that represents thousands of publishers wants everyone to quit it with the page view-scrapping lyrics websites, too.
Tipped-off to the problem by a study done by Camper Van Beethoven frontman and University of Georgia researcher David Lowery to determine the most “Undesirable” lyric websites, the National Music Publishers’ Association announced today that they’ve served takedown notices to 50 lyrics sites that have been cutting a profit off unlicensed and “blatantly illegal” reprints of song lyrics. Tops on their “worst offenders” list? Rap Genius, the popular crowd-sourced lyrics site that’s lush with investments, of course.
One-third Rap Genius founder Ilan Zechory doesn’t sound too worried. In an email to the New York Times, he argued that the “tens of thousands of annotations” entered by verified writers, performers and a “community of volunteer scholars” set their lyrics pages apart from the rest. And though he wouldn’t say if Rap Genius licenses song lyrics from publishers, but he did offer that this might be an opportunity for writers and artists to learn to “participate in and benefit from the Rap Genius Knowledge project.” He called Rap Genius not a “lyrics site,” but a “monument to human knowledge.”
Something tells us this unlikely to assuage Lowery’s concern. “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,” argued Lowery, an artist himself. “The lyric business is clearly more valuable in the Internet age.” Venture capitalists seem to agree.