NMPA Launches Suits Against Infringing Lyric Sites

The National Music Publishers Assn. is saying it has taken a last-resort approach and filed lawsuits against two lyric websites it claims is infringing copyright laws by posting lyrics without getting licenses from -- or paying -- rightsholders.

The lawsuits against SeekLyrics.com and LyricsTIme.com were filed yesterday in U.S. Federal Court in the Southern District of New York, according to the NMPA.

The Washington, D.C-based music publishers trade association says it filed the lawsuit only after efforts to educate and negotiate with the two websites failed.

Last November, working with the artist and University of Georgia researcher David Lowry, the NMPA sent notices to 50 lyrics websites it said were unlicensed, yet profit from advertising-generated revenue.

Since then, 11 sites have become properly licensed, including RapGenius, while 11 others have removed infringing content. Moreover, the organization says it is still in discussions with the other 26 websites.

As part of the latest step in its campaign against unlicensed lyric webistes, NMPA has sent out a round of letters -- some not the first they've issued -- to the 50 largest lyric sites, as updated by Lowry.

"Litigation is a last step," NMPA president David Israelite said in a statement. "Our goal is to insure that lyric sites and songwriters become partners through licensing... This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally. We are targeting sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which impacts a songwriter’s ability to make a living.”

In related news, LyricFind, which describes itself as the world’s leader in legal lyric solutions, announced that it had just inked a deal with the Universal Music Publishing Group to be the sole third party able to administer future licenses for lyrics controlled by UMPG.

According to the announcement, the deal, which came into effect as of May 1, 2014, not only allows LyricFind to search, display, distribute, transmit, and reproduce the lyrics of the roster of songwriters under UMPG’s umbrella, it also allows LyricFind to sublicense that material for display and sync to music sites, services and apps across the internet. UMPG songwriters will receive a share of the revenues generated by LyricFind.

Meanwhile, as part of its effort to get more lyric websites to take steps similar to LyricFind, Israelite noted in a press conference that some 5 million internet searches for lyrics take place daily. Lowry pointed out that most music fans would rather use legal sites than visit black market sites.

"We invite all the sites who received notices to go the legal path," and become good partners going forward, Israelite said. "We want a legal, vibrant marketplace."


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