Peermusic, Warner/Chappell and Bug Music filed copyright infringement lawsuits today against two businesses exploiting unlicensed lyrics for profit through their operation of four Web sites.

The lawsuits alleged that LiveUniverse, Inc. and its owner Brad Greenspan, and Motive Force LLC and its owner Sean Colombo, engaged in willful copyright infringement on a vast scale, according to the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization which issued a press release on behalf of its members participating in the lawsuit.

The suits were filed in filed respectively in the Federal Courts of the Central District of California; and Western District of Pennsylvania; and seek equitable relief and damages for the infringing companies unlicensed use of the lyrics from musical compositions on their respective Web sites and in conjunction with certain web applications.

"Unlicensed web sites exploiting song lyrics for profit have become a significant problem," said NMPA President and CEO David Israelite. "These sites are profiting on the backs of songwriters. It is unfortunate that copyright holders must so frequently divert energies to protect their rights to license and distribute their works. However, the demand for music prompts a seemingly endless stream of illegal business models."

For the past three years, the NMPA has sent cease and desist notices to
hundreds of illegal sites, providing multiple warnings and opportunities for the site operators to license the content and operate legally. While those notices have resulted in many sites either getting properly licensed or the cessation of operation, Live Universe and Motive Force ignored these notices, resulting in today's filing, the NMPA said.

"Music fans are the biggest losers when licensed businesses, like LyricFind, Gracenote and TuneWiki can't survive and prosper because unlicensed, illegal businesses are allowed to thumb their noses at the law," Israelite said. "We are confident the courts will conclude that, like Napster and Grokster before them, these sites are simply freeloading off artists and fans."

Live Universe and Motive Force couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

But a note from Colombo to users of on the Motive Force Web site said that, "LyricWiki API is going away: Unfortunately, licensing agreements with the biggest publishers in the music industry require us to no longer offer the ability for programmatic access to LyricWiki's collection of lyrics." The contact button on the page leads to a dead link.