Will a Takedown of Sites That Post Song Lyrics Work?

David Lowery. Photo credit: Jason Thrasher

David Lowery. Photo Credit: Jason Thrasher

This seems quaint to me for some reason. A takedown of sites that publish plain text, in the form of song lyrics, probably happened first when I was helping provide you with your free 2MB homepage at GeoCities back in the ’90s. But well-known musician David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven) has helped the NMPA by developing a list of sites that post lyrics without any kind of compensation to the songwriters of those lyrics.

After 15 years in the internet business, here’s my take: I get it, but it’s also hopeless.

Yes, the written word has value. I’m a writer myself (maybe more on that another time), but issuing takedown notices on sites that publish TEXT? Unlike sites that serve audio or video content, this could be done from a low-end laptop or from a Russian cloud server for free.

Some have forgotten that, like viruses, things like this get stronger when attacked. When the record companies went after Napster, the “virus” evolved. Napster was centralized, so if you could successfully put the company out of business, you’d bring its service to an end. Seeing this threat evolve, software developers around the world developed LimeWire and other services which were NOT centralized and, ultimately, could not be easily stopped by anyone, even their creators.

While we’re here, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that we work in the live entertainment business, where the product still clearly has value for which people are willing to pay real money. Isn’t that a nice feeling?

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