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8/21/2006
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Napster Redux: Music Publishers Take Aim At Web Sites For Copyright Infringement

Here we go again. The music industry is targeting Web sites that allow users to share music. This time it's not recordings, but helpful hints on how to play the guitar.

Here we go again. The music industry is targeting Web sites that allow users to share music. This time it's not recordings, but helpful hints on how to play the guitar.Industry groups representing music publishers in recent months have intimidated guitar tablature sites such as Olga.net, GuitarTabs.com, and MyGuitarTabs.com with copyright lawsuits if they don't shutter their offerings that let guitar players exchange tips on how to play songs, according to a report, "Now the Music Industry Wants Guitarists to Stop Sharing," in The New York Times on Monday.

The publishers complain that tablature sites post parts of copyrighted sheet music without paying royalties to composers. "People can get it for free on the Internet, and it's hurting the songwriters," Lauren Keiser, president of the Music Publishers' Association, told the Times.

But the publisher of Guitar Tab Universe contends sites like his promotes guitar playing and, in turn, propels sales of sheet music. "The publishers can't dispute the fact that the popularity of playing guitar has exploded because of sites like mine," the Times quotes Robert Balch. "And any person that buys a guitar book during their lifetime, that money goes to the publishers."

I feel a compromise is coming, with guitar tablature sites paying some type of royalty. These sites draw lots of traffic, which then attracts advertisers. The paper cites a study by comScore Media Metrix, an Internet statistics service, showing that Ultimate-Guitar.com attracted 1.4 million visitors in July, twice the number from a year earlier. There's just too much money at stake for both sides to not allow these sites to operate.

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