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Threat To Free, Legal Guitar Tablature Online 223

Posted by kdawson
from the you-would-prefer-piracy? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recently Hal Leonard Corporation, the world's largest songbook publisher, sent an email to the music publishing and copyright community urging them not to license guitar tablature for free, advertising-supported use online. The email includes a number of factual errors and was potentially very damaging to the potential for a free, legal, and licensed destination for guitar tab online. Musicnotes and MXTabs have posted the full letter along with their response."
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Threat To Free, Legal Guitar Tablature Online

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  • Infuriating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robgig1088 (1043362) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:38PM (#19140459)
    One thing i cant stand is big companies taking "legal" action against free services just so they can charge the user money. Infuriating.
    • FUD FUD FUD (Score:2, Interesting)

      When SCO pulled their FUD moves some while ago, that triggered a rash of FUDding through various industries. Various patent trolls etc woke up and started sniffing about.

      The latest MS vs Linux FUDding is very widely reported in the popular media. Perhaps that's triggering another run of this behavior through various industries.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hpavc (129350)
      Hey when the RIAA claims earnings from music they are not holding contracts for and if you write a song and provide the tabs for free and you get a SAD order it is infuriating.

      Its just a 'machine' like spam, it just gaming the largest distribution of cheap opportunities and attempting to get a few hits. Its also maximizing any other opportunities it can along the way that may come of it, charging more for licenses, and creating markets for DRM.

      Some day they will make a 'legal' mechanism against this 'racket
      • by gmack (197796)
        There is. It may not mean much to you but if someone ever sent something to my ISP to have something I legitematly put up taken down it would harm my buisness dealings with my ISP since I contract with one of my ISPs adn have mutal buisness agreements with my other. The loss of reputation would cost me signifigant income and would be very actionable.

        I'm sure I'm not the only person in this situation and all that needs to happen is for the RIAA to send a C&D to someone in the same position as I am.
    • Re:Infuriating (Score:5, Interesting)

      by enharmonix (988983) <enharmonix+slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @01:11AM (#19141531)

      One thing i cant stand is big companies taking "legal" action against free services just so they can charge the user money. Infuriating.
      It's not even the money that bothers me, it's that it flies in the face of the whole intent of copyright: that by temporarily granting limited monopolies, society benefits. I imagine the following scenario:

      A young guy picks up a guitar and messes around with it. He can't play a thing, and isn't really interested in investing the time to take proper lessons. He discovers OLGA. He downloads a few simple tabs of Nirvana songs. He works his way up to Metallica, Alice in Chains. He eventually realizes his technique could use some improvement. He starts downloading Bach, Beethoven, etc., because they present more of a challenge. Eventually, he is playing complex works like Leyenda and Capricho Arabe.

      Eventually, he notices there is something fundamentally different in the approach modern music takes from classical music. It "moves" differently. He starts to pay attention to the notes, chord changes, rhythms, and eventually decides that the IT career that he never really cared for just doesn't compete with the idea of learning and perhaps teaching music. He signs up for music theory at his local college. It turns out his technique is good, and he has a knack for music theory, he has perfect pitch, and has such a knack at piano that he has gone from barely being able to read a staff to playing Bach Preludes and Beethoven. All in all, a promising student. He has a 4.0 GPA and a letter of recommendation to one of the most prestigious music colleges in the US where he will study music theory.

      Not so far fetched, that's me. I wouldn't be going for a masters in music theory (or composition, I haven't quite decided) had it not been for OLGA helping me learn that I have quite a knack for music to begin with. If I had to stick to public domain stuff, I probably would have given up. I simply didn't expect it to be anything but a hobby I did when I came home from programming all day. But OLGA got me started enough to realize that, for me at least, it was worth the investment.

      Society benefits from the free and open spread of information. Copyright is just a means to that end: provide incentives for artists to continue creating. But IP is not Freedom of Speech or Habaeus Corpus - it is not a fundamental right. The DMCA hurts society, and I hope to God that somebody important pays attention to the fact that it is being used to shut down educational sites.

      In fact, now that I think about it, nothing that was copyrighted after I was born will move into the public domain before I die of old age... That goes for me, you, my kids, anybody born within the past 20 years. Do you remember when it came out? Then you will never see it in the public domain. But no, apparently we need even tougher copyright controls, can't have people learning how to make the music that got you rich enough to buy the politicians who keep sponsoring idiotic legislation like the DMCA in the first place. Idiots. /rant
      • Re:Infuriating (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @02:09AM (#19141823)
        Thank you. The spread of information benefits society in general, while its restriction benefits the inviduals who hold the keys.

        Communist countries may forget that society does not function without individuals, but America seems to have forgotten that individuals operating outside of society can bring it down.

        BTW, congrats on your new career. I wouldn't call it a common path, but that's besides the point. Nothing like discovering what your true love is.
      • by zotz (3951)
        "In fact, now that I think about it, nothing that was copyrighted after I was born will move into the public domain before I die of old age..."

        Indeed and so, these days, copyrighted works (certainly those without a Free license) actually pollute your brain. I know it is a bit of an odd thought, but I have been kicking it around for a while now and it does sort of fit.

        all the best,

        drew
      • Not so far fetched, that's me.

        According to Wikipedia, you had a 1 in 10,000 chance of having perfect pitch, so you beat some serious odds. Good for you. However, I think 1 in 10,000 odds does make it a little "far fetched". You are the exception, not the rule. The Wikipedia article does have a citation for this number, so it's not a case of someone writing an article and pulling a number of the air. People without perfect pitch can have successful musical careers, but your gift did make you unusually
      • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @09:55AM (#19144579) Homepage
        Two centuries from now I think there's going to be a big dead zone in cultural history. I refer to the bulk of 20th century art, which it will be difficult to preserve and keep relevant as long as *all copying without permission is illegal.

        Millions of great pieces of pre-Gutenberg literature were lost because of inadequate technology. Millions of pre-Internet pieces will be lost because of politics.
      • I wouldn't be going for a masters in music theory (or composition, I haven't quite decided) had it not been for OLGA helping me learn that I have quite a knack for music to begin with. If I had to stick to public domain stuff, I probably would have given up. I simply didn't expect it to be anything but a hobby I did when I came home from programming all day. But OLGA got me started enough to realize that, for me at least, it was worth the investment.

        You treat your conclusion as if it were a fact and based

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      They would have the right to defend themselves if the tablatures were taken from their books and published on the Internet for free. But anybody can just sit down with a guitar and a PC and create a tablature on his own. That's not their concern and they shouldn't claim rights on work that was done by others.

      I have used OLGA a lot. The tablatures there are pretty low-quality, but just to get some hints I find them good enough. I have bought score books because I needed high-quality scores and the publis

      • They would have the right to defend themselves if the tablatures were taken from their books and published on the Internet for free. But anybody can just sit down with a guitar and a PC and create a tablature on his own. That's not their concern and they shouldn't claim rights on work that was done by others.

        It would be so nice in this case if this were true, but it isn't.

        When you create a tab as you describe, you may well have copyright on it, but it is also a derived work, and covered by the copyright on
        • by daem0n1x (748565)
          Well, as far as I know, it's not the artists the ones making all the fuss...
          • Well, as far as I know, it's not the artists the ones making all the fuss...

            In this case it would be the song writers making a fuss. They do by means of an organisation acting as their agent.
          • by honkycat (249849)
            No, but Hal Leonard's letter is simply urging those who own the rights (on "behalf" of the artists, HA) to get in on the fussing. That'd be fine, except that they did this by lying through their teeth. Makes me wonder if MXTabs/Musicnotes would have a case for libel.
    • Re:Infuriating (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @08:35AM (#19143631)
      It's been four years now since I bought any music, if I'm of a mind for some I tune a radio in or browse the many indie sites that offer free or cheap music. Frankly this whole music industry Jihad is pissing me off.

      Time was I used to buy albums every couple of weeks, I must have spent thousands. I was so offended by their criminalising kids for doing what kids do, share, recommend stuff to each other, and have a laugh without understanding the 'consequences' (what kid ever does?). Now they're criminals, advised to drop out of college and wreck their futures as an example to others.

      Bullshit. Nothing produced by an industry like that is of interest to me.
  • Make music illegal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syousef (465911) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:41PM (#19140477) Journal
    If things keep progressing at this rate, and if they do start enforcing these fucking insane laws, it'll only be a matter of a few years before owning music is undesirable as it would be difficult ot prove any music is legit and could have you thrown into jail at any moment.

    Why not just cut out all the BS and just make any kind of music ownership illegal. Musical instruments could be covered by the DMCA too since they can be used to copy (read play) a tune.

    Oh that's we can't skip the BS right, because rich greed assholes can a make profit for a while this way.

    Owning/buying music is quickly becoming no different morally to owning/buying blood diamonds. Hell, if they make musical instruments illegal perhaps the penalty for owning one could be that they cut off your hands.

    IP law? It's just fucking entertainment. Get a grip!
    • by soxos (614545) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:03PM (#19140675) Homepage Journal
      Once again, Frank Zappa was unbelievably precient

      This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER...
      it is my responsibility to enforce all the laws that haven't been passed yet.
      It is also my responsibility to alert each and every one of you to the potential
      consequences of various ordinary everyday activities you might be performing which
      could eventually lead to The Death Penalty (or affect your parents'
      credit rating).

      Our criminal institutions are full of little creeps like you who do wrong things...
      and many of them were driven to these crimes by a horrible force called MUSIC!
      Our studies have shown that this horrible force is so dangerous to society at large
      that laws are being drawn up at this very moment to stop it forever!

      Cruel and inhuman punishments are being carefully described in tiny paragraphs so they
      won't conflict with the Constitution (which, itself, is being modified in order to accommodate
      THE FUTURE).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Docboy-J23 (1095983)
      Why hasn't anybody anywhere mentioned fair use? In the comments beneath the response from MXTabs.com, folks were talking about Weird Al's parodies, and the legality therein. If, in order to parody a song, copying the music is legal, MXTabs.com's business model should be legal as well. Al parodies a song, the artist gets the negotiated (or compulsory) royalties for the use of the music. Al gets the royalties for the words. All of this can happen whether or not the artist approves, but Weird Al asks ever
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Kierthos (225954)
        Okay, here's the thing with Weird Al's parodies.

        1) He doesn't have to obtain permission to do the parody under Fair Use. However, he always asks permission from the artist anyway. If the artist doesn't give permission, Weird Al doesn't put the parody on the album. (Yes, there was the whole Coolio thing, but that was some serious miscommunication.)

        2) His band-mates are pretty accomplished musicians, considering the wide variety of genres of music that they play for the parodies, and they actually learn the m
    • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @02:21AM (#19141873) Homepage
      I can't wait until I take a guitar lesson, and the instructor tells me that he isn't allowed to teach me, for example, and Warner music, because he only has a Sony license.

      Just wait. It'll happen.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Didnt they do this in nazi germany? Only 'state' music was approved of?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:43PM (#19140501)
    Back in the day. This was a non-commercial use for educational purposes and they killed it, so screw them.
    • by 222 (551054)
      Out of sentimental reasons, I had to reply. Back in the day, guitar tabs were literally the first thing I searched for.

      OGLA was a good source, as were a number of other sites. It struck me as odd how I had been paying 20+ bucks then (more than the album cost!) for a book that contained tabs.

      This was essentially the first time I realized the power of information sharing that the internet possessed.
      BTW, OLGA was the Online Guitar Archive...
      RIP, OLGA.
    • by lanswitch (705539)
      Some bands publish their own tabs as part of their promotion. You might want to check out http://www.blacklabelsociety.net/modules.php?name= Tabs_and_Lyrics [blacklabelsociety.net] . Zakk doesn't care about tabs or bootlegging, since he really makes his money by touring. Most musicians do.
    • by warrior (15708)
      OLGA taught me, too. This is so sad. I wonder if we can bring this to the attention of any rockers that would help bring it back so future generations of guitar players can have it as a learning source? I bet Rush would back OLGA, maybe The Boss would, too. I'm thinking Geoff Tate and Co might rally behind OLGA as well ( besides, all the QR tabs on OLGA were baaaaaad, no offense to the authors). Luckily www.ultimate-guitar.com is hosting most of the old OLGA content, don't know how long that will last.
  • Already Killed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:45PM (#19140513) Homepage Journal
    The Harry Fox Agency, which got its rights to "mechanical reproduction of music" by getting monopoly control over the piano roll market a century ago, has already taken down most tablature from the Web on its flimsy pretext to copyright (and its big lawyer and lobbyist payroll).

    Tablatures are interpretations of the music as heard by someone. They're not even the public performance of music that whistling your favorite song as you walk down the street would be. But once public places are comprehensively wired for sound and video, Harry Fox will be sending you a bill for every time you do just that.

    These insane government monopolies on content already part of folklore, from which folk activity they get nearly all their current value, must end. They are justified in the Constitution as a compromise with 1700s economics only "to promote progress in science and the useful arts". Instead, they now prohibit that progress. Copyrights must end no later than after a human generation of publication, shorter for media other than songs and books, and probably earlier than when 10x their registered production investment is recouped.
  • just pick up your guitar and play.
  • by weighn (578357) <weighn.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:49PM (#19140553) Homepage
    IANAL but this is a valuable aspect of freedom of use.

    I began playing guitar in 1995 and discovered OLGA [wikipedia.org] early on. Hal Leonard (the person) was a great teacher. The Corporation OTOH ... once again knowledge & your right (Hal and many of the great teachers used to call it an obligation) to pass it on once again comes up against the almighty dollar.

    I spent a couple of years teaching in the late 90s. I'll try to avoid waxing lyrical about the philosophy of teaching but music is a LIVING thing. If you restrict it, less will find it and it withers. With regard to learning music (and any other discipline outside of Scientology and ITIL) information wants to be free.

    • by d3matt (864260) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:45PM (#19140999) Homepage
      I agree! OLGA was a great resource for learning how to play guitar. Art is 99% derivative. Olga was where guitarists spent time transcibing notes by ear in much the same way painters make copies of the Mona Lisa trying to learn their style and method. In my opinion, it is only a further honor to have your work meticulously copied down. Oh well, I'll probably have to tell my kids about the good old days when we were allowed to talk to each other over the internet about how to play riffs.
    • Very well said. The ITIL reference made me laugh out loud. The company I work for recently restructured the entire IT dept to be in line with ITIL. Nobody knows what they do or how they do it anymore. It's like ... alchemy for the information age. Or opium. Your choice.

      This is why many real musicians operate outside of the music industry (Zappa, many jazz greats, and groups like Thievery Corporation). Babylon is just way too oppressive. First, to the musicians, and now to their customers. Brilliant
    • by enharmonix (988983) <enharmonix+slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @01:37AM (#19141659)
      IMO music is withering, and it started right about the same time a guy named Sonny Bono sponsored legislation to extend copyright terms. Musicians with real talent can't be faked or manufactured. It takes years and years of study, practice, and dedication. Unless you control a society's access to music so much that you can convince the public that utter garbage deserves a gold little trophy called a Grammy, the best music flourishes because ... well, there's yet to be another Bach. With the way things are set up, it's just a system of controlling the public. "We manufacture it. You will buy it." Sorry, I probably better quit posting. This has me pretty upset. (P. S. I'm following in your footsteps in terms of teaching music, hoping to get a Masters, but it's hard work. Cheers.)
      • Dude, he didn't sponsor the legislation, it was named after him because he happened to get himself killed acting like a moron at the right time.
  • Is this not a threat to U.S. Constitutional rights. A person should have the ability to tell others about a way (s)he learned to play something extremely similar to a song. It is not actually the song, as most tabs are not 100% accurate. Therefore it is just a song the themselves made up, but is heavily based on the song they were trying to copy. Even if there isn't enough of a difference to distinguish one from another, the tab is still the fruit of their labor, and thus should be shared at their own will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Guitar tabs should be free to share, yes.
      But if guitar tabs for any given song are even based on the original song, that makes those tabs a derivative work. The original copyright holders are given some say on how derivative works are published--or in this case, not published.
  • Self defeating? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adona1 (1078711) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:51PM (#19140581)
    And I wonder what this will do to the next generation of musicians? Back when I began learning how to play guitar, much of my progress was because of the availability of free tab, which allowed me to play along with CDs. It would be grimly appropriate if the industries pushing this kind of litigation were shooting themselves in the foot when the talent pool in 20 years has shrunk down as a result.
    • by weighn (578357)

      It would be grimly appropriate if the industries pushing this kind of litigation were shooting themselves in the foot when the talent pool in 20 years has shrunk down as a result.

      this is spot on ... isn't their game "maximizing profits"?

      if they tighten the belt too much it stifles learning and enjoyment of music. If you don't enjoy it, you are less likely to buy.

      The conspiracy theorist in me says that they are not this stupid and their end goal is to have some sort of nazification of the Arts. Wanna own/play a guitar kid? You'll need a license. What are you playing? License. Playing in public? Upgrade your license. Singing a protest song? Jail.

    • by ameoba (173803)
      Do you think American Big Business really cares about things like the "long term" anymore?

      Look at the IT industry - they're regularly outsourcing the jobs that used to serve as entry-level positions. In 20 years, are they going to have a domestic talent pool to rely on?
    • Re:Self defeating? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bky1701 (979071) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @01:30AM (#19141637) Homepage
      Shoot themselves in the foot? No, not at all. What you described is what the recording industry always wanted. If only authorized people can play music, and they are the only people who can authorize, then they control the market completely.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dominious (1077089)

      And I wonder what this will do to the next generation of musicians?
      well, it will be like back in the 70s when they didnt have the internets to check for tabs.
      to be honest, removing tabs would be like filtering out all those non-talented musicians who would give up learning if they can't LISTEN to the music. ofcourse the RIAA wants to remove that as well.
      • And I wonder what this will do to the next generation of musicians?

        well, it will be like back in the 70s when they didnt have the internets to check for tabs.

        (Applause) Yours is about the only sensible response in this discussion. The younger folks seem to think that if "it aint on the interweb, it doesn't exist", which is patent nonsense. Not to mention that the existence of guitar greats who had niether tabs nor formal lessons serves as existence proof that niether are required.

    • That's not the point (Score:3, Interesting)

      by haraldm (643017)
      The point about the management of modern corporations is they want to control the whole thing. They don't care about whether a new generation of musicians can eventually play an instrument or not because in their mind, it is they who generate new musicians. Waiting for somebody to step up and play is too unsafe because no business plan can cover that. This is where talent shows and retort bands come into play. Nobody seriously wants to hear them but for the management they are plannable. Somebody who happen
    • yeah, right.

      ain't no artists who kin write
      ain't no more songs that have bite
      pop music today it just blows
      stuff bout shooting 'n' bitches 'n' ho's

      stuff today gets me depressed
      more 'bout showing off yo' breasts
      public enemy said "fight the power"
      You wanna say that
      gotta pay lawyer by the hour
  • Nothing New Here... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alicat1194 (970019) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:57PM (#19140627)
    Lots of the larger tabs sites have had takedown messages sent to them (example here [guitartabs.com]), which, quite frankly, sucks if you're trying to learn to play.
    • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @12:43AM (#19141377) Journal
      Yes, and ironically...is anyone going to their local music store to buy all the Hal Leonard tabs? Anyone? Someone? Yeah. Didn't think so.

      Here's what you'll do: you will get with a more experienced player and learn from him, go to the library, or *gasp* learn it by ear (which how the old school musicians did it).

      It's not such a smart move to criminalize your would-be consumers. It's called shooting yourself in the foot. Especially considering the target audience for guitar tabs: teenage and twentysomething guys. Not exactly the most forgiving lot, especially for these kind of shenanigans.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <`ten.suomafni' `ta' `smt'> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:58PM (#19140633) Homepage

    Nine years ago, I was interviewed for this article [augusta.com] about the original OLGA kerfuffle.

    Nine years. You'd think that after that long, the traditional music publishing industry might have learned something from their complete inability to stop the spread of on-line guitar tabs [google.com].

    Hey, publishers: It's over. You lost. You're not going to get to stop people from talking about how to play music. Quit whining, join the world in the 21st century, and you might yet find a way to profit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by epee1221 (873140)

      Hey, publishers: It's over. You lost. You're not going to get to stop people from talking about how to play music. Quit whining, join the world in the 21st century, and you might yet find a way to profit.

      I don't get what they're so afraid of. Call me old fashioned, but I strongly prefer to work with music printed and bound (not inkjetted and stapled). I will even pay for public-domain scores, especially if they include some nice program notes/commentary. Unfortunately, pretty much all I run across most pla

  • torrents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:02PM (#19140671) Journal
    so this means to get tabs i go to piratebay and snatch a massive .RAR or every song i could possibly want to play, right?
  • by madbawa (929673) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:04PM (#19140689) Journal
    If I have spent my own time trying to figure out the tabs/sheet music of a song, why shouldn't I share it with millions of others who may want that song's tabs?? Just because it takes business away from some other people doesn't mean they can put restrictions on my freedom and willingness to share my effort. Its not as if I have stolen the tabs from someplace where they were being legally sold. Its my time that I've spent. So whats the solution to such a problem? Or does this end up as a stalemate? These people are curbing the free flow of information and knowledge. I myself have learned guitar by looking at countless tabs from OLGA and other sites.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TFloore (27278)
      If I have spent my own time trying to figure out the tabs/sheet music of a song, why shouldn't I share it with millions of others who may want that song's tabs?

      I bought this audiobook, and wanted a written version of it, so I listened to it a bunch of times, and transcribed everything that was said in there. I spent my own time making this transcript, why shouldn't I share it with whoever wants it?

      Doesn't make quite as much sense that way, does it? But it's a pretty close equivalent. The (significant) diffe
  • by DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:11PM (#19140749) Homepage
    Wait, you mean these sites Musicnotes and MXTabs feature BARELY LEGAL examples of rubbing and stroking and vibrating TIGHT thin little stringy things, all in a series of Web pages that have been deemed TOO REVEALING and EXPLICIT by the leading moral authorities?

    And we can get all this too-racy-for-the-Web content for free right now for a limited time only in the privacy of our own homes, and it will help us learn to "play" like rock stars?

    Hott.

    Wait, what were talking about again?
  • Silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:14PM (#19140775)
    All of OLGA can be zipped into like a 40mb file.

    The music industry can't stop me from downloading a 300mb album.

    The movie studios can't stop me from downloading an 1.4gb XviD.

    The software industry can't stop me from downloading an 8gb ISO.

    Who are these people kidding?
  • IP landgrab (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palladiate (1018086) <palladiate AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:17PM (#19140811)

    You will see companies battling for information controls for a good while. We are living in the IP landgrab. Current speculation is that information is property, and probably far more valuable than goods. An ear of corn is pittance to the knowledge of the process of raising, harvesting, and distributing corn. 1000 years ago, you couldn't restrict someone from telling their neighbor or son how to do any of those. Today, we have patents, copyrights, patent-copyrights (for software), process patents, plot patents, etc, etc.

    We will see new instruments of IP control before this is over. The current consensus among MANY think tanks, blowhard economists, and business leaders is that if it has value, it should be owned and exploited. In that case, expect to see the future demotivator poster and lolcat memes protected. Memes have value, specifically cultural value. You may even see a day in which safety and consumer protection information owned and protected.

    In the dark past, we had to band together to form libraries to preserve our knowledge and culture, and to share it. Today, we are the librarians, and we MUST do our jobs to protect our collective knowledge and culture, and to make sure it is freely sharable. All we are is flesh and knowledge. We cannot let either be subject to trade.

    As an aside, when did capitalism become about giving trade rights to those who can charge the most? Shouldn't that argument fall on its face? Capitalism is a method to efficiently manage resources, in which those who must charge the most are the least efficient, and those that are more efficient are rewarded with the most or all profits. The most expensive price is the red-headed stepchild of capitalism, not it's pinnacle. The capitalist hero is not the whiny John Gault, it IS the busy looter or pirate. The pirates are the ones that realized a far more efficient method of production or distribution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EzInKy (115248)

      1000 years ago, you couldn't restrict someone from telling their neighbor or son how to do any of those. Today, we have patents, copyrights, patent-copyrights (for software), process patents, plot patents, etc, etc.


      The strangest part of of all this is they have to know that no matter how many laws they pass they will never stop people from sharing simply because it is a natural survival trait that enables humans to pass knowledge and culture from one generation to next.
    • by hxnwix (652290)

      In that case, expect to see the future demotivator poster and lolcat memes protected. Memes have value, specifically cultural value.
      Yes! You may have our technology, our software and our right to think,

      BUT YOU WILL NEVER TAKE
        . . .
      OUR LOLCAT!
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:27PM (#19140875) Homepage
    I can't play guitar by ear, so I am totally fucked if I want to learn to play a song that I can't get the tabs for legally. And the best part is?... I CANNOT BUY THE DAMN TABS EVEN THOUGH I'D PAY GOOD MONEY FOR THEM!!!

    Part of the copyright law should be full sheet music and tablature for all music submitted to the library of Congress. That wouldn't hurt the songwriters, who'd probably be able to make even more money because all you'd have to do to get their work is go to the Library of Congress, download it and pay them their royalty. It'd only hurt the companies that selectively publish tablature.

    And it would also benefit bands because it would encourage them to do cover songs, which would be yet another stream of revenue.

    But no, a songwriter and band really benefits by shutting down the only way I could have gotten tabs for their music, without providing me any legal way to do it.

    Morons. I hope the welfare office runs out of money for them and their families when they go bankrupt.
  • by tjr (908724) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:29PM (#19140893) Homepage
    Hal Leonard claimed that the tabs are inaccurate, made by kids. If the tabs are really inaccurate, then I would think that the users of the tabs wouldn't be happy with them, and this alleged tab black market would disappear.

    The tabs must, on the contrary, be reasonably accurate for Hal Leonard to be noticing any loss of business, which, as TFA explains, they probably aren't.
  • Greed is Blind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qengho (54305) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:34PM (#19140929)

    It astonishes me that the morons at Hal Leonard can't see that MXTabs is analogous to the iTunes Music Store: a different-yet-profitable delivery system. The letter refers to the easy availability of digital sheet music, ignoring the fact that a single song typically costs US$5.00, far more than it's worth to garage musicians. Licensed tabs that are ad-supported or reasonably-priced will generate revenue.

    Equally astonishing (well, not really) is that the *AAs haven't realized that tablature is useless without a copy of the song it represents. Basic tablature doesn't completely specify a work in the way that standard notation does, so someone who downloads a tab will need an audio file. And not all of those audio files will be pirated, as recent studies indicate. It's a gain for music sales in general.

    Morons.

    • The letter refers to the easy availability of digital sheet music, ignoring the fact that a single song typically costs US$5.00, far more than it's worth to garage musicians.

      This is exactly why the last sheet music I bought was purchased over 8 years ago. At fifty cents a copy, I would have collected all my favorite pieces and been learning them.

      Instead I work with MIDI files. Sequenced files can be printed if they were properly created. Too bad sheet music publishers are pricing themselves out of the m
    • by digitig (1056110)

      It astonishes me that the morons at Hal Leonard can't see that MXTabs is analogous to the iTunes Music Store: a different-yet-profitable delivery system.
      Why do you think that they can't see it? As far as I (and some of the commentors to the RA) can tell, they see it all too well, and see it as a serious threat to their previous-century business model. So they've started FUD-slinging.
  • by WatchTheTramCarPleas (970756) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:35PM (#19140937) Homepage
    Considering this company is capitalizing on the old Real Book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Book [wikipedia.org] an illegal book (songs in there were unlicensed) used by jazz musicians for decades, I am curious as to where they intend to go with this. For a perspective on a similar experience in the past, back in the day jazz musicians could only find the standard songs in the lead sheet format (Chord chart and melody line) through illegal means, the most prevalent one being the Real Book. They were difficult to find though and were only available through word of mouth (though the internet helped a little). Recently however Hal Leonard has published "New Editions" of the three main volumes of the Real Books which I have found to be quite good, but unfortunately missing many of the standards that the original Real Books had. The biggest advantage these new Real Books have is that they are extremely easy to find. One of the biggest differences here however, is the Real Books were completely unlicensed and illegal, there was no consent by the authors of the songs. Though many of them probably owned the illegal books themselves and may have benefited by the fact their songs were now standards. It seems that with this online database however, with the intent to hold only licensed songs and an easier to find product, they stand on better grounds than the Real Books of old. It may be a battle of who can provide a better service, and if Musicnotes and MXTabs can keep persuading artists to release their tabulature freely. With the record store going away, I don't know how long the printed music store will be able to hold out against the internet.
  • Libel? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:44PM (#19140991) Journal
    IANAL.

    It looks to me like MxTabs would have a good chance of winning a libel suit over this (and possibly other stuff like 'interfering with a business relationship' or something.) The letter repeatedly claims they are publishing illegal music, when in fact it is all authorized. Indeed, the letter is trying to convince people not to grant permission to MxTabs, which would be utterly pointless if MxTabs were illegally ignoring permissions. (Other bits might also be libelous, but this is the stand-out obvious one.)

    However, the likelihood of winning in court does not guarantee that there is a good business case for suing.

    Is there a lawyer in the house who might like to comment?
  • Feeling the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward (668736) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:47PM (#19141007)

    I very much miss easier access to tabs. They have taken down so many sites already. OLGA, of course, is most missed. I donated to several sites over the years, including OLGA. Figured it was like teaching someone a new dance. Who knows if Dance Dance Revolution will be going after people who imitate their dance steps 10 years from now.

    The problem with the guitar tab situation has been that it is a difficult situation to explain to non-players. Everyone knows that almost all great rock players have openly admitted for 40 years that they learned by imitating records, writing down what they knew, and sharing it.

    First it was the lyrics, now the tabs are gone. Not only will they ultimately hurt the music publishing business, but the instrument business as well. God knows how much money I have spent on guitars/music toys ONLY due to the existence of tabs.

    On the next cool evening, I shall be burning any Hal Leonard books I own in the pit outside.
    • by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @12:20AM (#19141239) Homepage Journal
      Okay. You are losing access to guitar tab transcriptions because of the activities of Hal Leonard Inc. Your response would be to burn the books from that place that you already own and lose access to even more guitar tabs?
      Be sensible. Post the contents of your Hal Leonard books on your website (preferably behind password guards) or on the Pirate Bay, where anyone with technical skills can find them. Surely that would be more fitting a punishment.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tatsh (893946)
      Who knows if Dance Dance Revolution will be going after people who imitate their dance steps 10 years from now.

      Konami, the producer of DDR, keeps a very close watch on the open source project StepMania [stepmania.com] (not GPL), which has enabled all players to play their copyrighted songs AND the copyrighted steps on their computer all for free. Konami is also trying to protect the concept of DDR, which they have a patent for. They already are suing one company who based their game off StepMania and so far nothing has hap

  • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:51PM (#19141031) Journal
    Ok, so published tabs are under fire. People will do what they have always done: learn popular songs and teach other people and maybe put the tabs online. Seriously: apart from guitar mags, who buys tabs? I think I bought two tab books during my teenage days (one for Metallica and one for Soundgarden Superunknown). That's not much.

    The real problem is that sites like olga.net get taken down because of OCILLA [wikipedia.org], which is ridiculous. I mean, how is posting tabs to popular songs bad? It's no different than what people did before the net, that is, teach other people how to play songs. It's not as though anyone learning songs from TAB is going to put the original musicians out of business (it's TAB!!! for goodness sake!). Besides, one of the biggest honors a band/songwriter can have is legions of cover bands playing their music.

    OCILLA is just another example of the GREEDY MAFIAA stepping on musicians, both professional and amateur. I am sure you could count on your hand the musicians who oppose kids/cover bands playing their music, so this is obviously the suits. Sad. Don't they have more no-talent losers to ink deals with like Britney and Jesse McCartney?
  • by B_SharpC (698293) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @11:53PM (#19141041) Homepage
    These Hal Leonard folks are pretty music illiterate. I have used their junk. How can you copyright crap?
     
    I will post a guitar B Sharp cord (B# = C) lol. I dare almighty Hal 9000 to censor it!
     
      Censor This HAL!

    _______________
      E A D G C E
      | | | | O |
      | | O | | |
      | O | | | |
      | | | | | |
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Standard tuning is EADGBE. Maybe Hal Leonard has a point about that accuracy thing...
  • In addition to TAB, the ABC [plus.com] format is also being threatened by Hal Leonard Publishing. ABC is probably more of a threat to their revenue stream because it can easily be translated into midi and into sheet music. A lot of traditional musicians use this format and the many ABC readers that are available online. Many prefer this to published books not just because it is free, but because the music is closer to the way the songs are really played.
    • No. Hal Leonard must not be allowed to wipe out the abc format. If they're not using it or anything resembling it, then they shouldn't get to wipe out the notation. Especially not for songs in the public domain!
  • There are potentially too many potentialities in the summary.
  • I'm running Kubuntu 7.04 and Firefox 2.0.0.3 and I tried to access a song on MusicNotes.

    "We're sorry, but we are unable to show you this digital sheet music. That would require our Viewer plugin, which is not yet available for your current web browser and/or operating system."

    They ought to consider using open formats like MusicXML [wikipedia.org] and running the picture||PDF generator for the browser to show on the server-end.

    Beyond that, why do web authors continually insist on fixed width pages where upped font siz

    • That would require our Viewer plugin, which is not yet available for your current web browser and/or operating system."


      Even worse, it's DRM'ed. Read the part about viewing the tabs on another computer other than the one used to purchase a song.. It's bad. Read the FAQ. It is full of bugs and has a whole laundry list of bugs and possible fixes.
  • ... is Woody Guthrie spinning in his grave so fast it's affecting the Earth's orbit.
  • by ikekrull (59661) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @04:15AM (#19142381) Homepage

    If I was to write down, for example, the button sequences you press in guitar hero to perform a song from the game, would that infringe artist copyright?

    e.g. does:

    'green green yellow red green green green green green green green green green green green yellow green red green' infringe an artist's copyright? If so, whose? and why?

    and, if i wrote down:E E G B E E E E E E E E E E E B G A# F#, does that infringe an artist's copyright? If so, whose? and why?

    and if i wrote down:

    ------2------------------------2---1---
    0-0-3---0 -0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0---3---2

    does that infringe an artist's copyright? If so, whose, and why?

    And if i was to assign a number to each note, who's copyright does:

    001001003026001001001001001001001001001001026004 0025002 infringe?

    I just don't see where the infringement comes from? Who am I copying here? Am I copying at all, or did I just make that riff up?

  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @04:49AM (#19142511)
    A songbook publisher doesn't like the idea of guitar tabs made available free.

    No kidding.

    In related news, Turkeys are said to be very concerned about the celebration of Christmas and US-based turkeys have expressed concern over thanksgiving.

    Furthermore, the Pope shits in the woods and bears are generally catholic.
  • Porn? No. Tab! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Colonel Angus (752172) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:57AM (#19143331)
    The very first thing I did when I got online was not rummaging around for porn (there would be plenty of time for that!), it was a search for all of the Primus bass tab that I could get my hands on. It was the reason I wanted to get the 'net. I was at a friend's place and he went to WebCrawler and did a search for me. I was awed that there was such a resource potentially at my disposal. I was surfing the net within a week of that day.
  • Quality... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:09AM (#19145651)
    They do have a good point on the quality side of things...

    Very, very few tabs on sites like Olga come even close to the quality of a decent tab book.

    F5, A#5, G5, C5 may well be the chords to the main part of Teen Spirit but tells me nothing about strum patterns, rhythm, which strings I should be missing on certain strums, etc. It tells me nothing about C and F notes that chime out afterwards.

    Ironically, for all the claims of "I'm not good enough to figure out how to play a song by ear..." - to use most online tabs, aside from getting pointed in the right direction, you really do need to have an ear for rhythm, an ear for when exactly the chord changes happen, what the strum patterns are, when to use up vs. downstrokes, etc.

    There is a major problem in the printed music world that only better known artists merit the expense of producing a good tab book and that most of those books are only available via special order. Still, when they do exist, when you can find them (this is starting to sound like the A-Team), the world of difference between them and the average tab is astronomical.

    I'm caught in the middle: I'd hate to see high quality publishing disappear but I also don't see low quality, text based tabs (that often have five different, all disagreeing, version) really being that much of a threat.

    Then again, in a world where record companies are trying to shore up CD sales, about about including a DVD with video files of exactly what the artists' hands did when playing the songs, lyrics and scores included? Given the choice between iTunes' $0.99 a limited song and $1.29 an unlocked one, I'd rather drop $15 on an album that'll teach me how to play its content as well. Sure, on a one-off basis, those costs would be huge but if it were done for every album, economies of scale could turn it in to a day's filming, a quick editing job and a day or two of a cheap person transcribing it.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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