In case no one knows, the OLGA archive is currently offline with legal issues.
In addition, I tried three other sites who had also posted that they received letters from the NMPA requesting that the sites immediately stop disseminating free guitar tab.
I found the letter that they received:
( From site owner):
Today I received a certified letter from Moses & Singer LLP, a law firm in New York City which asserts that they are acting as counsel for the National Music Publishers Association and The Music Publishers Association of America. They have stated that guitar tablature hosted on my site violates the copyrights of several of their clients.
I have long been of the understanding that an original, by-ear transcription of a song, which is a duplicate of no copyrighted work and which generally deviates substantially from the work on which it is based is the property of its transcriber, and not the original composer of the song. The NMPA and MPA clearly disagree, and are threatening to send a DMCA letter to my host, as well as pursue other undisclosed legal actions in the event that I were to fall short of full cooperation with their demands.
I have not yet decided what response is appropriate. This site has been a part of my life for ten years now, and I honestly believe that what I'm doing is neither illegal nor harmful to the music publishing industry. My site generates interest in playing music, which can only lead to more purchases of licensed sheet music. In addition, I have referred tens of thousands of dollars in licensed sheet music sales to my affiliates over the years. The notion that a musician serious enough to spend $30 on a sheet music book would instead settle for a by-ear tablature interpretation seems unlikely to me. Whlie highly paid laywers may easily be able to use corrupt, recently-manipulated and poorly-tested copyright law to suggest that I am violating the law, the argument that I have actually damaged their industry in the process seems ludicrous.
I have not had a chance to scan the letter yet, but I have typed it out. Please excuse any typoes I have made in haste.
( Actual Letter):
Dar Mr. Allen:
We are counsel to the National Music Publishers' Association ("NMPA") and The Music Publishers' Association of the United States, Inc. ("MPA"), not-for-profit trade associations of music publishers. Many NMPA and MPA member publishers create and distribute printed sheet music and guitar tablature products for educational, concert and recreational purposes. These products often account for a significant portion of the publishers' revenues, revenues which are shared with composers and songwriters.
It has come to our attention that your website, Guitartabs.com, makes available tablature versions of copyrighted musical compositions owned or controlled by members of the NMPA and MPA, without permission from the publishers. A representative listing of those compositions and the publishers who control the copyrights is attached as Schedule A. Examples of the compositions infringed include "Beautiful Day" written by Clayton/Evans/Mullen/Hewson and administered by Universal Music Publishing, and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" written by Lennon/McCarthy and administered by Sony/ATV Tunes LLC.
The versions of these publishers' musical works that you post on your website are not exempt under copyright law. In fact, U.S. copyright law specifically provides that the right to make and distribute arrangements, adaptations, abridgements, or transcriptions of copyrighted musical works, including lyrics, belongs exclusively to the copyright owner of that work. Many, if not all, of the compositions on your website, including the works listed on Schedule A, are protected by copyright. Therefore, you needed, but did not obtain, permission from the copyright owners to make a tablature version of those songs and to post them on your site. Under the circumstances, both the transcriber of the compositions and you as the owner of the website are copyright infringers.
We have been asked by the members of the NMPA and MPA to take all appropriate steps to remove unauthorized sheet music and tablature versions of the publishers' copyrighted works from the Internet.
In so enforcing the rights of the creators and publishers of music, it is our intent to ensure that composers and songwriters will continue to have incentive to create new music for generations to come.
Enclosed herewith is a copy of a notice we intend to send to your service provider, EV1Servers, unless you remove all infringing material from your site voluntarily within ten (10) days from the date of this notice. In accordance with the provisions of the Digital Milllennium Copyright Act ("DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 512, the notice details your infringing activities and demands that EV1Servers take down your website because you have not removed the infringing material, or itself face liability for copyright infringement.
IN short, we ask that you promptly remove all unauthorized copyrighted material from your website and confirm its removal to us in writing. We anticipate and expect your cooperation in this matter. However, in the event that you choose to ignore this request, we shall press our demand that EV1Servers take down your site. The NMPA and MPA, and their respective members, also hereby reserve all of their rights and rememdies under the copyright law with regard to your infringing activities.
We hope that you will choose to respect the rights of the creators of musical works and that no further action will be necessary. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (number withheld) or my associate, Michelle Zarr, at (number withheld) if you have any questions.
Ross J. Charap