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Rap Genius Named the Most ‘Blatantly Illegal’ Lyric Site by Music Publishers…

50worstlyricsoffenders

Rap Genius, a highly-collaborative, crowd-sourced lyrics destination, has more than $15 million in financing.  Unfortunately, a big chunk of that money may now be diverted towards a massive litigation defense.  Earlier Monday, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) declared legal warfare against 50 of the most illegal lyrics sites, with Rap Genius singled out as the worst offender.  Each of the sites will receive takedown notices and cease-and-desists, the first step towards more serious legal action.

The list was first published by David Lowery, whose cage-rattling is now starting to generate some serious results (so be very afraid of him from now on).

“These lyric sites have ignored the law and profited off the songwriters’ creative works, and NMPA will not allow this to continue,” National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president David Israelite declared.

“This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally.  NMPA is targeting fifty sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which significantly impacts songwriters’ ability to make a living.”

Lowery assigned an ‘undesirable’ ranking to each site based on a specific methodology (which is spelled out in this document).  And if you’re inspecting Lowery’s formulas, you may also want to check your in-box.

 

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Comments (35)
  1. nina

    Lol


    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    “Each of the sites will receive takedown notices and cease-and-desists, the first step towards more serious legal action.”

    Great news!


    Reply
  3. Anonymous Coward

    And… as a user Rap Genius is kind of invaluable. The contextualization of lyrics is imperative in albums like the MMLP2.


    Reply
  4. Sherlock

    and the original investors in Rap Genius are ……. Guy Oseary, Scooter Braun and Troy Carter. The hypocracy and treacherous behaviour is breathtaking ……..

    http://bit.ly/15BoKTz


    Reply
  5. Anon

    RapGenius’ position on the “extra layers” is BS. So all a lyric site has to do is introduce annotations on their site and the license is free?


    Reply
  6. GGG

    Sort of unsettling it took this long and a guy who doesn’t even work for these companies bringing it up for them to take action. I hope they give Lowery a cut of the settlement.


    Reply
  7. R.P.

    let’s take down the best lyric site out. yay, win! [insert sarcasm wherever you'd like] smh. morons


    Reply
    1. Darryl Ballantyne

      To be clear, the aim of these efforts is not to close down any of the sites, or to change their functionality. It is to license them.


      Reply
  8. Chris Koonz

    Everyone start copying and pasting! The dying dinosaurs are trying to feed on anything they can now!


    Reply
  9. jw

    So Lowery’s “undesirable” ranking is really just an SEO ranking of lyrics sites, essentially? There are pre-existing ways of measuring that type of thing, Lowery’s system seems off since sites like lyricstranslate.com & lyricsreg.com seem to be much higher than they ought to be, based on traffic. Honestly it seems like the most “undesirable” unlicensed lyrics site would be the ones with the most traffic, I don’t know why he doesn’t just use traffic data & call it a day. But I don’t guess you can publish something that’s already published. lol.

    Did David Israelite ever reach out to the guys @ rapgenius.com or is he leaving the communication up to his attorneys? As a consumer who uses these sites from time to time, it’s very disappointing to hear Israelite essentially saying, “We found this list so we’re starting this campaign against these bad guys,” rather than saying, “We have been unable to reach a mutual understanding about this situation, so we’re forced to take legal action.”

    It sounds a little bit like “These guys are playing a game with our ball so we’re taking our ball & going home,” rather than asking to join the game so everyone benefits. This is a recurring theme with execs across the music industry.

    Furthermore, I’ll again contend that the databases @ both lyricsfind.com & musixmatch.com are woefully incomplete &/or inaccurate. Musixmatch.com clearly scrapes crowdsourced lyrics from non-licensed lyrics websites, licensing their database is essentially paying to have your own inaccurate content fed back to you. That, to me, is a huge problem.

    If the publishers want legal lyrics websites, it seems like they could attempt to be a little more cooperative, & make an honest effort at compiling a publisher-approved, accurate, complete database of lyrics that a service would actually want to license. That would solve 90% of the problem.

    I get that Israelite’s instinct is to huff & puff in order to impress his constituents & keep his job, which is all you can do when you aren’t producing any results, but at what point did he just quit trying to produce results? It seems like genuinely sitting down at the table w/ rapgenius.com & trying to actually make some money for people could go a long way. It seems to me that he would be just as happy paying lawyers to shutting every one of these sites down.


    Reply
    1. Darryl Ballantyne

      I can assure you that virtually every site on that list has been contacted repeatedly by us at LyricFind to license their content. This is definitely not just a reaction to the list; the NMPA has been pursuing these sites since 2008. The new program, though, is a little more robust.

      On the database front, we do the best we can. We have a team of people sitting with headphones on transcribing lyrics – yes, there are occasional errors, but our team is the best there is! It’s a massive amount of overhead to do the transcriptions, and takes a lot of time.


      Reply
      1. jw

        Darryl – I really appreciate the response. If that’s the case, it seems as though David Lowery’s involvement is drastically overstated in this article. Would you agree with that?

        It seems to me that for publishers to own the rights to a song, they ought to have more than just an audio copy of the song. Shouldn’t the lyrics already be transcribed accurately somewhere? Has lyricsfind requested this stuff from publishers? Transcribing audio seems terribly inefficient… if these lyrics don’t exist in text form somewhere, that seems like an inefficiency on the publishers’ side that needs to be rectified if they would like their songs monetized.


        Reply
        1. davidclowery

          I love you JW. This is like one of those romantic comedies right? Like at first we don’t get along. We actually hate each other but slowly but surely we come to realize that we are madly in love.


          Reply
          1. jw

            Could be. Let’s do lunch & find out. Anywhere but the Grit.

            While I have your attention, what’s up with the Pootie Tang stuff on the Leftover Salmon record, anyways?


            Reply
        2. Darryl Ballantyne

          Sorry, didn’t notice the reply until now. David’s involvement is not overstated – he has been a catalyst for reviving this program and turning it into a larger scale operation than it ever was before.

          As for the content, sadly, the publishers don’t have it written down anywhere. If they do, it’s on a piece of paper in a filing cabinet in somebody’s garage somewhere – nowhere that is efficient for them (or us) to retrieve. In fact, we even provide lyrics for artist sites, as they don’t have them either.

          And you are correct, this is terribly inefficient. I wish there was a better way without sacrificing quality!


          Reply
          1. jw

            Appreciate the candid response, Darryl.

            Does this not seem incredibly absurd to you? Lyrics are typed up routinely for album artwork, this is a standard part of the album release process… but these lyrics never reach the publishers themselves? And what inefficiencies does that create in enforcing the ownership of the publishing rights? Individuals essentially have to memorize the publisher’s catalog in order to recognize an infringement? And what does that say for publishing rights being sold or transferred in bulk… does anyone really know what they do & do not own except by song title?

            I appreciate what you & your team are doing, I can imagine that it’s an incredibly tedious task. But I can’t help but think that publishers taking it upon themselves to properly document their own catalog of songs would not only be quicker, but would solve myriad efficiency issues related to monetizing the catalog on pretty much all fronts. This is 2013, how are these companies allowed to operate as if it’s still the 1980s?

            Are these publishers AT LEAST requesting copies of the lyrics to the songs they own as your team transcribes them? Do they even see the value in this data?

            Do these guys still have their secretaries printing out their e-mails for them?

            This is another instance of these music companies refusing to evolve, trying to exist outside of the continual evolution of technology, & the complications that arise therefrom, & relying on attorneys in an attempt to stop the hands of time. I understand that you’re trying to bridge this gap, which is noble, & which may be lucrative for your company, but that’s a temporary fix that belies the systemic problem, which could be fixed by hiring a competent technology consultant & a few data entry specialists. I can’t help but believe that the infrastructure investment would pay for itself pretty quickly.


            Reply
            1. Darryl Ballantyne

              I’m happy to talk lyrics all day! :)

              Does this not seem incredibly absurd to you? Lyrics are typed up routinely for album artwork, this is a standard part of the album release process… but these lyrics never reach the publishers themselves? And what inefficiencies does that create in enforcing the ownership of the publishing rights? Individuals essentially have to memorize the publisher’s catalog in order to recognize an infringement? And what does that say for publishing rights being sold or transferred in bulk… does anyone really know what they do & do not own except by song title?

              Here’s the thing with artwork – generally, it’s in image form, so the text is not easily stripped and use. And that’s IF you could pull together all the files. So that isn’t practical, either.

              Proper rights management is a gigantic task, and also a huge mess. We support 30 countries right now, and license from over 3,000 music publishers. Ownership for the same song varies from country to country, and in some cases can be split my as many as 15 different publishers, each owning a piece. Rights move around a lot, and sometimes we don’t get notified – which makes things even messier. For all these reasons and more, it actually doesn’t make sense for the publishers to manage it themselves – you’d create so much overhead for the sites licensing the content that they’d never be able to survive (and would go nuts trying).

              I appreciate what you & your team are doing, I can imagine that it’s an incredibly tedious task. But I can’t help but think that publishers taking it upon themselves to properly document their own catalog of songs would not only be quicker, but would solve myriad efficiency issues related to monetizing the catalog on pretty much all fronts. This is 2013, how are these companies allowed to operate as if it’s still the 1980s?

              Are these publishers AT LEAST requesting copies of the lyrics to the songs they own as your team transcribes them? Do they even see the value in this data?

              They do see the value, and they do request copies. However, I’ll be honest – we refuse those requests. We spend a HUGE amount of money creating those lyric files, and we aren’t about to hand them over to the publishers and enable our own competition. It’s a bit negative on our part, but a necessary business decision.

              Do these guys still have their secretaries printing out their e-mails for them?

              Only a few of the really small indie publishers :) (Names withheld to protect the guilty).

              This is another instance of these music companies refusing to evolve, trying to exist outside of the continual evolution of technology, & the complications that arise therefrom, & relying on attorneys in an attempt to stop the hands of time. I understand that you’re trying to bridge this gap, which is noble, & which may be lucrative for your company, but that’s a temporary fix that belies the systemic problem, which could be fixed by hiring a competent technology consultant & a few data entry specialists. I can’t help but believe that the infrastructure investment would pay for itself pretty quickly.

              I’m hoping that one day it becomes lucrative – it better, I’ve spent nearly ten years on this! :)

              As I mentioned above, though, this isn’t something that publishers can solve independently due to the fragmentation of the publishing industry. This type of content is actually the perfect case for a third party aggregator like us – it simply doesn’t make sense for either side that we serve to do this on their own. The economies of scale aren’t there, and it isn’t a big enough market for anyone to justify the overhead for a single service.

              D


              Reply
              1. jw

                Right on.

                Certainly the licensing should be handled by a third party, I totally agree there. But are there publishers who DO have copies of the lyrics to the song they own publishing rights to on hand & do they provide them to you?

                I understand the complications surrounding extracting text from artwork, however the lyrics were likely sent to the artist in an e-mail or in a Word doc or a PDF. I’m just saying that, at some point, it’s no extra effort for the artist or his or her handler to pass this along to the publisher to be stored in some sort of digital database. This should be standard practice. That just seems like a no-brainer to me. And it would free your company up to simply handle the licensing, & not be bogged down with the data entry.

                Unlicensed lyric websites on the internet are nothing new, a lot of sites have been getting away with not paying publishers for quite some time. It stands to reason that other unlicensed uses of songs are going unenforced, & that an internal lyrics database would be the first step towards making broader infringement detection & enforcement possible. And since they aren’t going to get the lyrics from you (which is a reasonable business decision, by my estimation), they have all the more incentive to begin properly documenting their catalog now.

                It even seems like it would be within a publisher’s legal rights to create a program that would crawl a website that licenses lyricfind.com’s database to search for songs they own and copy those lyrics into a database to get a head start. (Judging by the common errors in their lyrics, this is how musixmatch built its database… it’s even likely that scraped lyrics that your team transcribed, & are getting paid to license those lyrics.)


                Reply
                1. Sherlock

                  Most publishing contracts have various “delivery requirements” that detail how songs must be delivered (old days – DAT or reel to reel, these days MP3 or even WAV); song splits, and LYRICS. Many writers ignore these requirements (other than a poorly labeled MP3 – i.e. one of the multiple words in a title followed by Mix 6 – VOX up), and rarely deliver the lyrics. If they do, they may not actually be accurate or reflect further changes. Most publishers don’t hold them to the requirement to deliver the lyrics. Even if they do, their systems and procedures never contemplated needing to systematically feed them to Daryl in any kind of coherent way.

                  Simple, huh?


                  Reply
                  1. jw

                    Certainly. I’m just saying Darryl has been at this for 10 years, it never at any point occurred to the publishers to update their systems & procedures?

                    By my judgment, that’s a poorly run company.

                    I can see being lax on initial deliveries… most of those songs are never going to do anything. But when a song is recorded & released, there are multiple points at which you could obtain the lyrics, & the implications of having those on hand extend beyond enforcing licensing on lyrics websites. To me, “we just never got them from the artist” isn’t really an excuse.


                    Reply
  10. Philippe Marchal

    I do represent the Karafun.com website and I can assure you that we have never been contacted by NMPA or lyricfind.com before yesterday !!! This is purely defamatory to say the least !.Here is our statement:

    -Our company is exploiting fully licensed content from Major and Independent publishers.
    -Our aim is to provide a 100% legal alternative for copyright owners but cooperation is often slow and clearance process inconsistent.
    -Our company has developed tools to help copyright owners fight against illegal lyrics-Karaoke uses.
    -We do keep struggling everyday against illegal websites (not even part of that list) but few attention is given by copyright owners despite our repeated warnings.
    -Our services are run by former industry professionals who are fully aware of their legal obligations
    -We shall firmly defend our company’s reputation against any false or defamatory statements.


    Reply
    1. jw

      Honestly, this sounds a bit more like what I would expect.


      Reply
      1. Philippe Marchal

        Indeed, but I did not over react, a lot more could be written with cooking examples :)


        Reply
    2. Darryl Ballantyne

      Hi Philippe,

      If you have direct licensing deals with the publishers whose work you display, you should not have anything to worry about. The NMPA checked with us (and musiXmatch) to see who we have licensed; they may not have checked with all publishers for direct deals. You would not have been contacted by us for licensing as our rights do not extend to karaoke uses.

      If you want to drop me a line at darryl@lyricfind.com, I can help you clear this up with the NMPA.


      Reply
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  15. Bobby

    Yes, lots of lyric websites and showing top one my favorite website is rapegenius.com. I know it will be the number one among them because they have quality info and also popularity as well and hope that they will keep their position in near future also. Thanks for giving this superb ratings. http://www.topratedtrumpets.com


    Reply
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