The National Music Publishers Association has served 50 different lyrics websites with takedown notices, alleging that the sites profit from illegal use of copyrighted content. The NMPA says it will sue those that don’t take down the lyrics, but reiterates that it’s not looking to shut down any personal blogs or fan sites. Specifically, the organization is targeting websites that sell advertising—something that about half the lyrics sites do. Those in danger include Rap Genius, Lyrics Mania, Lyrics Translate, ST Lyrics, Lyrics Reg, Lyrics Time, Lyrster, Paroles Musique, KO Video, and Song On Lyrics.
According to NMPA associate David Lowery—who, in addition to fronting Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, is also a lecturer at the University Of Georgia’s Terry School Of Business—unlicensed lyric sites have been “largely overlooked” because the public “doesn’t understand that this is a type of copyright infringement.” Also because, according to Billboard, there’s a notion that “not a lot of money is at stake.” That’s true for songwriters, as there’s probably not a lot of coin coming in from liner note revenue, but not for the lyrics sites raking in hundreds of thousands of advertising bucks via online universities and Russian dating sites.
Just last year, a California district court ruled that LiveUniverse, a lyrics site owned in part by MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan, owed $6.6 million to Peermusic, Bug Music, and Warner Chappell Music for posting the lyrics to 528 songs, including TLC’s “Waterfalls.”