EFF: DeepLinks :: My Morning Jacket Offers Its Own Recall and Lyrics Browsers, iTunes and Copyright Law

My Morning Jacket Offers Its Own Recall

December 13, 2005

While Sony BMG has only offered a patch for the MediaMax’d CDs that have a serious security problem, a recent Rolling Stone article notes that the band My Morning Jacket is offering its own recall of the MediaMax’d discs:

Mike Martinovich, manager for My Morning Jacket, says that even before the revelation of MediaMax’s security problems, his company had been mailing burned, unprotected copies of MMJ’s new album Z to fans who complained that MediaMax prevented them from transferring songs to their iPods. “It should have been enough that fans are annoyed,” he says. “But this should be the final reason.”

They are not alone in their concern for fans. Damian Kulash of the popular band OK Go wrote a cogent editorial against DRM last week in the New York Times, and wrote an even more detailed blog post that concludes that “We are lucky that we won the debate with our label, and our record is not stricken with DRM. To my knowledge, we are the only band to have ever won that battle.”

More info on the Sony BMG litigation.

Update: In an MTV News article, Martinovich says My Morning Jacket has so far sent out more than 100 DRM-free copies of their album to friends and fans.

Thumbsup to My Morning Jacket and OK Go for their forward thinking regarding DRM, and to the EFF for making this information available in one place.

Finally some positive information about this DRM crap.

Also some mixed news regarding Lyric sites, browsers, iTunes also at EFF:

Lyrics Browsers, iTunes and Copyright Law

December 13, 2005

When I buy a CD, I look forward to having the lyrics printed in the liner notes. That’s part of what I expect in exchange for my money. If the record label omits the lyrics, I feel I’m entirely within my fair use rights to listen closely to the recording and copy down the lyrics. Similarly, I’m within my fair use rights when I use a search engine to find the lyrics of the music I’ve legitimately purchased. And thanks to Apple’s iTunes software, I now can add those lyrics to the digital copies of the music I’ve purchased and have them appear when the song plays on my iPod.

Apparently, at least one music publisher thinks that makes me a music pirate. Yes, annotating music I’ve legitimately purchased with lyrics makes me a pirate, according to music publishing giant Warner/Chappell.

Warner/Chappell sent a cease & desist letter last week to the developer of pearLyrics, a piece of software that automates the process of adding lyrics to iTunes tracks. (For more details, see the MacWorld review.) The developer is apparently located in Austria, and I cannot comment on how Austrian law might apply.

But Warner/Chappell doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on here in the U.S., and EFF is sending an open letter to them today to caution them from using their legal threats to chill American software developers and music fans. (Text of the letter below, after the jump.)

Much of the commentary on the pearLyrics controversy has been focused on unauthorized, commercial, ad-supported lyrics websites. The legal status of those websites, however, has nothing to do with legal threats aimed at software like pearLyrics, which plainly do not induce or contribute to the activities of those websites (in fact, to the extent that pearLyrics eliminates the ads, music publishers should support it!). Instead, Warner/Chappell’s threats are premised on the notion that pearLyrics is secondarily liable for the activities of music fans who use pearLyrics. In other words, their argument is premised on the idea that it’s illegal for me, the individual music fan, to add lyrics annotations to my legitimately acquired music.

I guess we’re all supposed to pay extra if we want to know what the words are?

More here in the EFF article including the letter to Warner/Chappell Music Group Ltd.

BetaNews reports on this as well with the good news and the bad.

The push to make song lyric sites and programs illegal has cooled — at least on one front. Walter Ritter, creator of the popular PearLyrics lyrics program, and Warner/Chappell announced that they would work together to allow the program to continue being offered.

Music publishers said earlier this week that they plan to go after “unlicensed” guitar tab and music lyrics sites in 2006. The head of the MPA has even advocated jail time as a punishment for running these sites, and to act as a deterrent to others considering launching such a service without prior permission and licensing.

Ritter thanked Fred von Lohmann from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for his open letter to Warner/Chappell, which he credited with helping to shift the opinion of the music label.

More in the article at BetaNews.

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Comments on: "EFF: My Morning Jacket Offers Its Own Recall and Lyrics Browsers, iTunes and Copyright Law" (2)

  1. I’m trying to find the actual C&D letter to Pearlyrics to quote for an article I’m writing tomorrow AM. Anybody have a link? Thanks!

  2. I would suggest you talk to the developer at walter at pearworks dot com or contact the EFF.org.

    I did not see it on the developer’s site: http://www.pearworks.com. The Slashdot initial article: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/08/0020238&tid=141
    and the outlaw.com article or any other link I could find has it either. Nor does the BBC, The Register or any other site I can find.

    However, apparently, the developer is in negotiations with Warner/Chappell and the letter is not on the site:
    http://www.pearworks.com/pages/pearLyrics.html

    From your website, I understand you are a musician (a drummer) as well as an attorney who focuses on copyright law, and a journalist too?

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