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Where Did The Guitar Tabs Go?

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Posts: 794
Prominent Member Admin
Topic starter

You may have noticed some of the guitar tabs have been removed from our lessons. What's going on here?

On February 11, 2010 we received a letter from lawyers representing the NMPA and the MPA instructing us to remove any content displaying guitar tablature and lyrics of copyrighted musical compositions. We are, at the moment, complying with their request although we feel that Guitar Noise does not infringe upon the rights of copyright owners, nor does it damage the potential earnings of songwriters or their publishers.

You can read a longer explanation of the situation here:

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Posted : 20/02/2010 1:33 pm
Posts: 356
Reputable Member

It is time to host your servers in a foreign country - out of their reach.

It is mind boggling to see them go after a site like this when there are so many pirated music, and related sites out there that actually may be causing financial loss to these performers and songwriters.

It is sad when they go after a site like this that is promoting the art of performing and learning music.

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Posted : 20/02/2010 1:50 pm
Posts: 794
Prominent Member Admin
Topic starter

Even though I live in a foreign country I 'd rather not be a fugitive from justice. :D

Most of our traffic comes from the United States and it makes sense to keep the site there. No other country can offer a comparable level of speed and service at the same price. We'll work this out.

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Posted : 20/02/2010 1:55 pm
Posts: 4921
Illustrious Member

It is mind boggling to see them go after a site like this when there are so many pirated music, and related sites out there that actually may be causing financial loss to these performers and songwriters.

Different set of lawyers. NPMA and MPA handle publishing rights (printed music and online reproductions) - pirated music has to deal with the RIAA, which controls recorded music.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

Posted : 20/02/2010 2:12 pm
Posts: 157
Estimable Member

This same thing recently happened over at He still has videos up but the associated tab has been removed.

Interview guy: What is the source of your feedback?
Neil Young: Volume.

Posted : 20/02/2010 2:30 pm
Posts: 5381
Illustrious Member

Funny, I think we should be charging them for each new guitar player/potential customer we help along.

If there is no one to buy their music, they'd be out of business.

Posted : 20/02/2010 2:47 pm
Posts: 6348
Illustrious Member

unfortunate situation. you did the right thing by complying. why run the risk of damaging
such an excellent web site, guitarnoise. to comply does not mean that you agree with their side.
guitarnoise policy is stated rather clearly. I personally see no conflict and support your disagreement with the
threatening parties.
so many times have I witnesses blatant plagiarism on other sites; youtube and soundclick as two examples.
perhaps the offenders are eventually removed, but I never hear.
it's funny. for six months or more now I have been trying to get a response from publishing rights companies, BMI, Harry Fox, and another. I wrote them in regards to getting permission to cover songs so I could legally post them, or sell them via download.
I have not received a response. small fish? too busy?
I don't get it.hang in there guitarnoise!!!!!!!!!!

Posted : 20/02/2010 4:14 pm
Posts: 3995
Famed Member

Here, the SGAE (our equivalent association) is getting money from centers for elder people, family meetings and other potential dangerous and out of the law activities such as charity gigs and amateur open-air theater.

Posted : 20/02/2010 4:16 pm
Posts: 4338
Famed Member

Well, that certainly sucks!

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

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Posted : 20/02/2010 4:48 pm
Posts: 1089
Noble Member

I think their actions are unconscionable, plain and simple. I'll bet this stems from the rise of sites like and, both are sites where you pay for published sheet music you download. And even then the sheet music is often horribly wrong. I'll be d***ed if I'll pay $6.95 for a sheet that is nowhere near even being in the right key.

The only way around this, though it doesn't do many people a lot of good, is to put up the tabs of the chord progressions only. You can't copyright chord progressions, only lyrics and melodies. And unfortunately to simply post lyrics isn't covered by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, since the internet is not protected by it.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.

Posted : 20/02/2010 4:54 pm
Posts: 3709
Famed Member

With all the problems in the world today leave it to lawyers to screw inocent people just trying to have fun and learn an instrument. Does everyone realize the number of so called guitar music that was sold in my younger days that wasn't even close to being right yet they took our money for that no problem. I'm talking wrong keys, transcriptions for piano passed off as guitar music because they had a few chord charts over top of it and every darn chord the wrong voicing I might add.

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Posted : 20/02/2010 4:58 pm
Posts: 1089
Noble Member

Without arousing the ire of any lawyers watching, I'll paraphrase and not directly quote Don Henley in "Get Over It" when he commented that Old Billy was right and we should kill all the lawyers tonight, referring to William Shakepeare's comment that we begin by killing all the lawyers (disclaimer: I do not advocate violence or murder, just referring to literature :roll: ).

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.

Posted : 20/02/2010 5:03 pm
Posts: 5480
Illustrious Member

Is this an ongoing process, or have you taken down everything thing that you think is covered under their umbrella? I still see an item or two when I glanced a few minutes ago. Are there specific instances or specific types of music that appears, or is it even chord sheets with lyrics?

And out of curiosity, what kind of money are they (the organizations that are represented by the law firms) asking for as far as liscensing for our educational (or free use) site? No need to answer if you don't want. I was just curious.

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

Posted : 20/02/2010 8:49 pm
Posts: 98
Estimable Member

This is from Lee, using Jon's account (I can't remember my user info right now).

I don't understand why using the guitar tabs as you do does not come under Fair Use as dictated by U.S. copyright law.

This site's use of guitar tab appears to meet all the qualifications necessary. Especially when only parts of songs are used for teaching. I see the issue if people can easily download entire tab for a song, but otherwise, you should have the law on your side.

Wikipedia is not a bad place to read about this:

"Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. "

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."

I suspect the associations that sent you the letter went after every site possible using such material. They are probably betting most people will comply to avoid being shut down, or that they can sue and the sites will cave.

I'd check with a lawyer who specializes in fair use. Maybe you can get some free help if there is a member here with such knowledge. At least enough to know if you have the right of Fair Use. I believe you do. Maybe EFF?

Which I learned about when reading works by Cory Doctorow...

Good luck!


In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble.
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Posted : 20/02/2010 8:59 pm
Posts: 794
Prominent Member Admin
Topic starter

Funny, I think we should be charging them for each new guitar player/potential customer we help along.
Good idea. I should send them a bill.

A couple other things.

Lee, the fair-use argument doesn't seem to work. Other websites have tried it before. A bigger problem is that we are not being threatened with legal action, the legal threats are sent to the companies that host our website and the search engines that link to us. This is an effective way to take the site offline. Who's going to go to court on someone else's behalf?

As for licencing, sites with videos are okay. had to remove the tabs but the videos were left alone. The NMPA and MPA are only concerned with the guitar tabs and lyrics. They can probably see that the video lessons actually help them sell more music.

Teaching popular songs with video probably requires a licence from another organization: ASCAP. This particular organization seems to be on the ball and even has information about getting a license right from their website. The music publishers' organizations, on the other hand, have very outdated websites that provide little in the way of useful information. If they can't increase their sales in these times of rising consumerism, maybe their business models are also outdated, and they should fail.

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Posted : 20/02/2010 11:54 pm
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