Another Tab Site Threatened
I wouldn't mind paying some small fee either. trouble is, it won't be a small fee if they ever get around to doing it. MusicNotes charges $5.00 for their sheet music and what you get is something that you print off yourself. So one one hand you have the convenience of getting it right away but what you get is a cheap printer copy of what you want. At least when you buy sheet music you get a real printed piece with a cover that you can keep for a long time,
It's interesting - there's only one online source for legal sheet music, and that lets them set monopoly pricing. Downloads weren't much different - four or five years ago, they were $2-2.50 per tune, and the trade magazines were full of grumbling from the labels that the prices were too low! $5 figures were floated from time to time.
ITunes broke the dollar barrier, and became hugely successful. I'm not exactly sure how they broke into the market and snapped the monopoly structure (but I think I'm gonna look into it!)
Recently I read Richard Branson's autobiography. He talks about opening a mail order record company, and having to go to retail when there was a postal strike. But he was discounting - so the labels all refused to sell to Virgin. He ended up striking a deal with a small shop, adding his orders on to theirs, and paying a 5% commission.
After a couple years went by, he was up to something like 14 stores, and the labels and distributors still wouldn't sell to him. He ended up having to take them to see the scene at the small shop: rows of trucks delivering cases of records in the front door... Virgin employees doing a bucket brigade thing to take them out the back door... and loading them into rows of trucks for delivery to his stores.
When intellecual property is all you've got, you'll price it as high as possible and defend the high ground. But I think there's a huge opportunity out there for some entrepreneur to create a delivery system for sheet music that accurately reflects the cost of digital distribution - probably 20-30% of what it is now.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
weighing in on this one : thirty plus years ago, i heard a great song by a new english band with a funny name - a friend of mine was a good guitar player and showed me how to play the intro. i was hooked. then, i found out that i had to learn how to read sheet music before i could learn how to play whole songs.. bummer. gave up. became a roadie instead.
moving on to five years ago : while a friend's home, i hear the same song intro being played by his 8 year old son. That's when i was introduced to TAB. it was all i needed. GAS has lightened my wallet by more that $ 7000 CDN, i play for myself at home, and i have no intent to go on the road again. somewhere in all this is the point that, because TAB is so universallt easy to learn, it generates enormous revenues for guitar makers, amp manufacturers and other assorted suppliers. i wonder what their opinion of this legal action would be ? "Do I sell 10,000 high-wattage rigs each year to pros, and lose the sale of 400,000 units of those cute 30-watters to all those eight-year-olds ?"
** plays intro to "Communcation Breakdown" and curses specific legal beagals**
The earlier discussion of intellectual property law notwithstanding, I'm still puzzled by this attack on TAB sites.
I've been a songwriter and professional musician for 25 years. As I understand music copyright for popular music, there are two main areas of copyright protection:
1. The "song" -- the lyrics and the melody. This copyright is owned by the publisher.
In this area of copyright, the chords and rhythms are not protected. Many songs can have the exact same chord changes, and even the same grooves and riffs. And, one could argue, any guitar solo that's made of recycled blues/rock riffs and licks would likewise not be protected, simply because those licks are in the public domain, and appear in so many other songs by other artists.
2. The "recording" -- the actual sounds captured on the CD (or whatever). This copyright is owned by the label.
In order to use the recording (for a commercial, for a sample in a rap song, etc.), you have to license it from the owner (the record label). But if you re-record an *exact copy* of the original, then you don't owe the label a dime. You *would* owe the publisher something, because they own the song itself.
Notice that it's not the labels (who own the sounds) who are cracking down on TAB, it's the publishers, who own the *compositions* (the lyrics and the melodies).
But most TAB doesn't contain the lyrics or melodies of songs. The "composition" isn't there. So, what grounds do publishers have to claim any copyright infringement? The chord changes aren't protected. The riffs aren't protected. The solos are anything but "original."
In my opinion, TAB does not infringe the publishers' copyright at all. "Fair use" and all that are beside the point. TAB *rarely* includes the lyrics or melody of a song, which is all the publishers really own in the first place.
Tab's pretty useless if it doesn't include the melody, surely?
The melody that the singer is singing.
For example, take a classic song like "Take the A Train," first recorded by Duke Ellington.
That song has countless recordings. The publisher of the song gets a cut for every one, because they own the song. But the different labels own the individual recordings of the song. So if Snoop Dogg wanted to use the horn break from, say, a Miles Davis recording of "A Train," then they have to pay Columbia Records a licensing fee. Or, he does a sound-alike to get around that little snag.
Now, take a song by Green Day. The publisher owns the lyrics and the melody that the singer sings. They don't own the chord changes, the riffs, the guitar solo, etc. In fact, the label doesn't own those things either -- they only own their *recording* of those things.
So, if the TAB doesn't include anything that the publisher actually owns, how can they claim infringement?
I can't see that what applies to vocal melody wouldn't apply to guitar melody - not for want of hoping. Rhythm parts maybe, chords almost definately, but a solo is just as unique as a vocal melody. (Usually more so even, as lyrics can be used to distract from an otherwose repetitive melody). What am I missing?