Lyric widgets shut down by record companies!

Diatribe

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Original poster
Jan 8, 2004
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As written on the publisher's site of pearlyrics (Link) Warner Music has sent him a cease and desist letter and he has stopped offering his widget as he cannot afford a lawsuit.
As of right now almost all lyric widgets are gone from the Apple widget page too. They are still up however on Macupdate. Snatch them up while you can...

This is a sad time for all those of us with a passion for music and song lyrics. As of December 6th, 2005 pearLyrics is no longer available due to a cease and desist letter from Warner/Chappell Music Limited. As a freeware developer I can not afford to risk a law suit against such a big company, although personally I don't see where pearLyrics should infringe any copyrights handled by them. After all pearLyrics only searches and accesses publicly available websites, displays, and, at the users wish, caches its content. Something that can easily be done with any combination of search engine and webbrowser too. Well, but I'm just a developer and not a lawyer.
I feel very sorry for all users of pearLyrics who provided me with such great feedback - I would have loved to provide them with even further enhanced versions.

What disconcerts/disappoints me most however is that now, after fighting against illegal filesharing (something I can fully understand) and trying to shut down lyrics sites, Warner/Chappell seems to want to dictate Internet users what applications they are allowed to use for searching and browsing content on publicly available websites. I am not sure if they actually checked pearLyrics for what it does, or if they just thought, hey, let's try and just send a cease and desist letter, after all, this is just a little freeware developer and he won't risk standing up against us anyway. If they did realize that pearLyrics is just a highly specialized webbrowser, then, well, then it is indeed a black day for the freedom of Internet and the users choice of tools to use. Well, maybe they don't like caching, but then again, any webbrowser and even all the search engines use caching techniques, so where is the point? Could it be that those companies are too powerful for them to sue? And more importantly, what's next? Forbidding text editors because one might type copyrighted song lyrics? Or is it just that pearLyrics makes it too easy to find song lyrics?

I have tried to convince Warner/Chappell twice that their cease and desist letter might just be based on a big misconception of what pearLyrics is all about, especially since they mention the MGM/Grokster case as example. However my mails remained unanswered.

Indstead of the MGM/Grokster case comparison they've brought up I think the Paperboy case [Az. I ZR 259/00 - also known as Deep Link case] (see this "The Register" article) would be a much closer match. Here the Deutsche Bundesgerichtshof concluded, that any information freely presented on the Internet is meant for public access, in which form ever, and therefore its access can not be resticted by law. Website providers need to take appropriate actions, if they don't want their content to be accessible by unauthorized means. At least that's my interpretation, but again, I am not a lawyer.

A quick check at Apple's widget download site also reveals that most of the lyrics widgets are gone now too.

If anyone out there has any legal advice regarding this topic, I would be incredibly happy for any suggestion. For example, if I have bought an album, am I allowed to save and view lyrics of that album on my computer? I mean, I surely can hear the words, but am I allowed to read them? Also, would it help to simply put up a dialog box the first time that makes the obvious obvious and states that pearLyrics grants no licence over the lyrics it displays, but rather assumes that users already have one? That it's all just for personal use? What about international considerations...?

Anyway, thank you very much for listening and please, don't let this ruin your passion for music and song lyrics. And keep on supporting the artists by buying their works.
Best regards,
walter

(*)pearLyrics is (or should I say was) a Mac OS X tool for displaying song lyrics of the track currently played in iTunes. Song lyrics are fetched either directly from the music file via iTunes, from text files in a local directory, or are searched and fetched from publicly available websites. For faster access next time it provides an option to cache found lyrics from the Internet locally (depending on the users choice either as a text file in an Application Support folder or directly in iTunes).

--

Disclaimer: note that everything I mentioned here is based on my personal opinion only and I am by no means an expert of copyright laws, quite the contrary is true.I am also vastly disappointed by the fact that my spare time work of the past months has ceased to exist, due to a simple letter (even delivered as a word document, I mean hey, come on folks, is this a joke?). So my point of view might be slightly biased.
What has the world come to? Seriously, now the record companies are dictating which kind of browsers I use on my computer? :eek:
I'd be more than happy to share it if it really disappears from Macupdate too.
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
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It's gone from MacUpdate now... just redirects to the pearworks site.

Never used it, but this is just sad.
 
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Apple

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Mar 3, 2005
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Charlotte, NC
Whats up with this? I mean there are billions of websites online that offer lyrics, why arent those shut down. The only thing that the widget does is offer the lyrics from the sites. It seems that these record companies just want to make our lives harder.
 
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Diatribe

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dubbz said:
It's gone from MacUpdate now... just redirects to the pearworks site.

Never used it, but this is just sad.
I'll be uploading it on rapidshare when I get home and post the link for everyone who needs it.
 
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Josh

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2004
1,640
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State College, PA
That's ridiculous.

Lyrics are something you can hear for yourself and know. I can listen to the lyrics, write them down, and post them and distribute them all over the net.

To say that I, potentially, cannot create a widget that fetches those lyrics is absurd.

This world is truly f'ed up...
 
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mrzeve

macrumors 6502a
Jan 25, 2005
614
1
Looks like I'll be getting one of these letters soon.

Except, I'll be willing to fight it
 
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Nickygoat

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Dec 11, 2004
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Apple said:
Whats up with this? I mean there are billions of websites online that offer lyrics, why arent those shut down. The only thing that the widget does is offer the lyrics from the sites. It seems that these record companies just want to make our lives harder.
Actually, from his letter -
What disconcerts/disappoints me most however is that now, after fighting against illegal filesharing (something I can fully understand) and trying to shut down lyrics sites,
This is news to me - anyone confirm it?
Sucks that pearlyrics has gone - it's a great widget.
 
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Diatribe

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Nickygoat said:
Actually, from his letter -

This is news to me - anyone confirm it?
Sucks that pearlyrics has gone - it's a great widget.
Good question. I haven't heard anything of them shutting down sites yet.

There are many lyric widgets out there but pearlyrics' functionality was the best. It found almost all lyrics...

mrzeve said:
Looks like I'll be getting one of these letters soon.

Except, I'll be willing to fight it
Are you a dev of another lyric widget?
 
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CubaTBird

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Apr 18, 2004
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doesn't itunes have lyrics built into the song id3 tag info now? since 6.0 i believe, yes?:confused:
 
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XNine

macrumors 68040
So, who's up for strapping bombs to our chests and marching into corporate headquarters of record companies, ala Jihad style?

I hate record companies. Which is why I condone and promote piracy of music. Until they start treating people with respect, I will not pay for another album (from a major recording company.) DEATH TO FASCISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Diatribe

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CubaTBird said:
doesn't itunes have lyrics built into the song id3 tag info now? since 6.0 i believe, yes?:confused:
Yes you are correct but it seems like it is "illegal" to use another app or site to fill it.... you have to manually listen to the song and write it in yourself... :rolleyes:
 
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freeny

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Onizuka said:
I hate record companies. Which is why I condone and promote piracy of music. Until they start treating people with respect, I will not pay for another album (from a major recording company.) DEATH TO FASCISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Its true. they really make it hard to be on their side.
 
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Diatribe

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Onizuka said:
I hate record companies. Which is why I condone and promote piracy of music. Until they start treating people with respect, I will not pay for another album (from a major recording company.) DEATH TO FASCISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Strong words but I am inclined to agree with you. To go after people who cannot defend themselves for things totally legal is insane.
I can definitely not judge anyone for hating the music industry. When do artists wisen up and see what record companies are doing is hurting them too?
 
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iGary

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May 26, 2004
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You know what?

I'm just about to the point where I will use "other sources" to get my music.

The lyrics widget, which was linked to iTunes most of the time did a great job and enhanced my music experience.

This type of behavior is really, quite bluntly, disgusting.
 
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Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
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This sucks for Mac users but not as much for PC users, who now have to visit websites to find lyrics, and those websites are notorious breeding grounds for spyware, trojans and viruses.

The record companies are so stupid. Don't they realize that listening to music with lyrics makes the experience so much more fuller and rewarding, especially with those newer songs where the compression and heavy instrumentals usually drown out the vocals.


 
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Moof1904

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2004
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Rumor some years past...

I heard a rumor some years past that Disney and/or the MPAA sent a ceast and desist letter to a children's medical ward in the U.S. because the nurses had a vcr at the nurses' station and were playing movies on four or five monitors simultaneously around the hospital ward. This act was interpreted by the lawyers as public performance and they were told to stop or face legal action.

True or not. I dunno. But I believe it
 
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MongoTheGeek

macrumors 68040
Diatribe said:
Strong words but I am inclined to agree with you. To go after people who cannot defend themselves for things totally legal is insane.
I can definitely not judge anyone for hating the music industry. When do artists wisen up and see what record companies are doing is hurting them too?
The thing is that the people who are suing aren't the people whose copyrights are being violated. The lyrics are copyrighted as is the recording, (but oddly not the performance.) In theory the lyrics sites should be kicking back to the lyricists probably through ASCAP.

As for the sense in picking on harmless people, it sets precedent and sometimes precedent is more important than law. TANJ
 
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tangerineyum

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Feb 16, 2005
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Moof1904 said:
I heard a rumor some years past that Disney and/or the MPAA sent a ceast and desist letter to a children's medical ward in the U.S. because the nurses had a vcr at the nurses' station and were playing movies on four or five monitors simultaneously around the hospital ward. This act was interpreted by the lawyers as public performance and they were told to stop or face legal action.

True or not. I dunno. But I believe it
I wouldnt doubt it, some years back the school my mom worked at received a cease and desist letter from disney stating that they are not allowed to show disney movies on Fun friday, its like a reward system for the students. You have a percentage of your homework completed and no behavioral infractions and you get to play outside or maybe a board game. On half days or special occasions you get to watch a movie, as disney is the defacto kids theater we show disney. Until a parent who was a high ranking employee of Disney found out from their kid, she then reported the school to disney and there you have it, the end of disney on fun friday.
 
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Counterfit

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Aug 20, 2003
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CubaTBird said:
doesn't itunes have lyrics built into the song id3 tag info now? since 6.0 i believe, yes?:confused:
Since 5, actually.

The thing is, I don't think pearLyrics (or any other lyrics app/widget) would be infringing on the copyright, as they include the lyrics, nor do they keep the lyrics on a server. The only parties that could be infringing here are the websites, which host and transmit the lyrics.
Of course, this highlights a problem that exists when you mix capitalism and justice, as the two aren't always the best of friends. Perhaps the EFF could find a lawyer to take his case pro bono.
 
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Abstract

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Dec 27, 2002
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Diatribe said:
Strong words but I am inclined to agree with you. To go after people who cannot defend themselves for things totally legal is insane.
I can definitely not judge anyone for hating the music industry. When do artists wisen up and see what record companies are doing is hurting them too?
Yeah, that's my biggest peeve as well. I don't see the point of having laws at all unless some harm was being done. I didn't ever think that lyric sites were illegal. Are they? Anyway, even if they are, they're absolutely harmless. This developer isn't making money from this widget anyway. They're free. I don't like stupid laws, or the enforcement of stupid laws. Who was this hurting, really? I think laws should protect people from being hurt, plain and simple. Surely there are better things to do than enforcing laws like this (if they exist at all).

I mean, taking Disney videos away from a childrens ward is stupid. I hope the people from that company have children that die. Die. Honestly. I hope they die of boredom and stress and restlessness while lying in a hospital bed because they can't watch any movies and just feel like crap. Then get more sick. Then I hope they realize how retarded they are.

I'm gonna download 2 albums now and do something that's actually illegal. This lyrics thing is ********.
 
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freeny

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Sep 27, 2005
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Abstract said:
Yeah, that's my biggest peeve as well. I don't see the point of having laws at all unless some harm was being done. I didn't ever think that lyric sites were illegal. Are they? Anyway, even if they are, they're absolutely harmless. I don't like stupid laws, or when people/companies start enforcing rules that have no negative effect for anyone but the general public. Who was this hurting, really, and what Judge wouldn't find this to be a complete waste of time? Surely there are better things to do than enforcing laws like this (if they exist at all).

I'm gonna download 2 albums now and do something that's actually illegal. This lyrics thing is ********.
Be sure its Warner Music. Heck, throw in some Sony while your at it:mad:
 
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