Thursday, 19 January 2006

Teaching A Riff To A Friend Declared Illegal

In the latest battle to paint music publishers as ever more desperate money grabbing parasites the MPA (Music Publishers' Association) has scored a new victory:
MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.

He said unlicensed guitar tabs and song scores were widely available on the internet but were "completely illegal".

Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".

And you can imagine the conversation with your new bunk mate in jail:

"Hey man, what you in for?"
"Ah you know, drugs, murder that sort of thing. You?"
"I scribbled down a Dylan lyric and randomly put G,C and D over it then posted it on the Internet"
David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers' Association, added his concerns.

"Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing," he said.

He really, really means that.

Last night I took my guitar down the pub and played "My Ride's Here" by Warren Zevon. I used a tab that I'd printed off from somewhere. This is almost exactly the same as if I'd coshed the barman and took all the money from his wallet (some would say what I did was worse, but they are music lovers).

Actually, perhaps I might have cost Alfred Publishing some lost revenue, except for the fact that I've just ordered that book anyway and would have had it sooner, but it took Warren to die before anyone thought about cashing in on his loyal fans.

You would think, though, that people looking for tabs and chords are people who are looking to play a version of some song in front of other people, which, I would have thought, amounts to free advertising for the people who wrote and/or performed the song. I don't know if I've created any more sales in Austria for the Drive-By Truckers by doing Dead, Drunk and Naked (some would day the opposite, damn music lovers again), but I've created a small awareness of the band that wouldn't have been there otherwise and given that I'm still a beginner guitar player I wouldn't have been able to do that without help from a website.

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