NMPA Announces Deal with Rap Genius

Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam of Rap Genius speak onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 on May 1, 2013 in New York City.

Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch

After sending Rap Genius, the lyric and annotation startup, alongside fifty other unlicensed websites last November takedown notices, the NMPA has joined Sony/ATV and UMPG in coming to an agreement, ahead of possible licensing deals, with the controversial site.

"Today’s announcement is a welcome one," said NMPA head David Israelite in a statement, "and I applaud Rap Genius for respecting the rights of songwriters and compensating them fairly for their work.”  The National Music Publishers' Association is the largest U.S. music publishing trade association with over 3,000 members. 

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The NMPA had sent take-down notices to 50 sites identified in an October report by University of Georgia researcher David Lowery as likely not having licenses to publish lyrics. The notices demanded that the sites obtain licenses or remove copyrighted lyrics from their sites. Israelite said then of his organization's actions against the site: "This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally... [the NMPA] is targeting fifty sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior."

At the time Rap Genius Co-Founder Ilan Zechory said his New York company couldn't "wait to have a conversation with them about how all writers can participate in and benefit from the Rap Genius knowledge project." Apparently, that conversation happened and was productive as Zechory today released the following statement: “The NMPA’s members represent some of the best songwriters in the world. Rap Genius allows these songwriters to showcase their work and interact with their biggest fans in unprecedented ways – we couldn’t be more excited about this partnership."

Speaking to Billboard in March, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz said of his investment in the site, which he now sits on the board of among other music-related properties: "Other areas are just easier to license, and music is notoriously difficult." Horowitz's company, Andreeson/Horowitz, was part of a $15 million funding round behind the company in the Fall of 2012.

Correction: This article originally stated that NMPA had reached a licensing agreement with Rap Genius. The two have come to an agreement ahead of possible licensing.