Friday, December 09, 2005

Post Song Lyrics, Go to Jail

The Music Publishers Association is going on the offensive to protect its ancient business model, selling sheet music. It wants jail time for folks putting up lyrics and guitar chords on the Internet. The false logic behind their offensive begins with this quote: "The Xerox machine was the big usurper of our potential income."

Revenue stream is not guaranteed in copyright, any more than new technologies guarantee the business models of the past. Revenue stream in a free market is based on market demand and actively supplying that demand. People that look at lyrics websites online are generally not the folks who would buy sheet music. If we accepted this logic that folks who don't buy sheet music are "stealing", we are saying that people who no longer use kerosene lamps (now that they buy lightbulbs) are stealing. People that stopped paying for horse whips are stealing (now that they buy cars). Granted, having lyrics online is not a new business. People have been sharing lyrics as long as there have been songs to sing.

There is nothing stopping the Music Publishers from offering a legal, online method of selling PDF files of sheet music in far better condition than the freebies. Sueing the free sites instead of innovating is lazy and un-capitalistic. But thanks to ridiculous misinterpretation of copyright, they can make more money suing and throwing potential customers in jail.

Can you imagine a society where it's illegal to sing songs to children without payment or permission first? Would you call this a Democracy? A free culture?

Whatever you call it, we're getting closer to it everyday.

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posted by Brian at 6:57 AM

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