Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Evil Lawyers Strike Again

Its been a while since my last update, but that's because every time I think of something to post about I veto it as 'unimportant' blathering. Last night I sat down to practice my guitar and out of the darkness of the internet pure evilness reared its ugly head. Yet another revenue stream was dreamt up by a group of lawyers 'representing' artists. When I went to my favorite guitar tabs site I was met with the following from the website manager:

"The company which owns this website has been indirectly threatened (via our ISP) with legal action by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) as well as the Music Publishers' Association (MPA) on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement."

There's quite a bit more to the letter, which you are welcome to read, but the above sums up the problem. No tabs were available.

So I guess that Cliff's notes can expect a cease and desist? If I sum up the plot line to Snakes on a Plane will Samuel Jackson and the MPAA show up at my door?

Guitar tablature is rarely (if ever) pulled from a publishers song book or sheet music. Guitar tabs are interpretations of music by other muscians. Its not uncommon to find multiple, highly different versions of any given song. If, in the wildest dreams of the RIAA/MPAA/NMPA, tablature was copyright infringement, only ONE version could possibly be in violation.

This new sue early sue often by large groups of lawyers 'representing' artists is getting out of control. Its become a form of extortion and I hope it stops.

Maybe PirateBay will have to start hosting guitar tabs...


Blogger Zathras said...

I agree that these methods are completely draconian. Unfortunately, they are completely legal. The intellectual property laws are intensely lobbied by those with the greatest possibility of maximizing their property rights in patents, copyrights, etc. I remember a few years ago there was an intense lobbying effort by Disney to extend the lifetime of copyrights. The reason, of course, was that Snow White and some other classic cartoons were about to lose their copyright. The Republican Congress went along with it and added 25 more years to copyright protection, just as they had 25 years ago. It's an endless cycle of manipulation of the system.

As bad as these methods might be, I could imagine worse. I was thinking having an unorthodox class action, with all infringers as a defendant class. This way, the RIAA et al. could go after alleged infringers not just with subpoenas, but with contempt orders. Appear and show cause why you should not be held in contempt of violating the order banning downloads. This could mean jail time handed out summarily. Ouch.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Zathras said...

At least the movie industry was not allowed to make poison downloads.

I.e., you download a movie and play it, the movie unleashes a virus on your system. Not even the federal courts would go along with this.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

I sent a note to the EFF. They are looking into the guitar tabs issue.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Hanging Shingle said...

In defense of the lawyers . . .

As I understand copyright law, there is some pressure on the copyright holder. If they don't attack each and every attempt to produce their song, there is a possibility that their rights will be deemed waived. This forces them to insist on

It's also worth noting that it is often the client that pushes the lawyer to be the biggest jerk he can be. Not that all of us need that much prodding.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

I'm no lawyer, but I thought the defense of copyright was defense of trademark. I didn't think copyright required active defense.

I will note that the MPA has an interesting set up comments on their site defending their lawsuit. No where does it claim that failing to defend their clients copyrights would put the copyright in a state of lapse.

The only other place I see the effect you describe is in 'abandonware', software that is no longer available for purchase. Sites put up the software for download and will only remove it if contacted by the copyright holder.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:35 PM  

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