MPA Hates Sharing Guitarists

The MPA has a new public enemy: guitar players. Yes, those scurrilous knaves who share how to play popular songs through secret code, called “tablature.” These heinous n’er do wells notate songs or copy them from song books and share them online. For free. Shudder.

Sites like Olga and GuitarTabs are among the sites targeted.

“People can get it for free on the Internet, and it’s hurting the songwriters,” said Lauren Keiser, president of the MPA.

People playing their songs and sharing their joy with other people, yes, all that free publicity and fan-base building must hurt like the dickens. (Thanks to Stephanie!)

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  1. AcilletaM says:

    Damn. I need to be careful. I’ve been humming Rosenrot all morning and I know other people heard me so that has to be like stealing from artists.

  2. AcilletaM says:

    Oh, and it’s the MPA. MPAA doesn’t want you stealing movies.

  3. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    The MPAA has had their eye on tab sites for a while now. I remember my surprise when one of my favorite tab sites removed about 90% of their tabs due to lawsuits brought upon them by the MPAA. What’s left of the tab on that site is mostly the incorrect interpetations which end up sounding like crap.

    I can understand the case where someone has taken a copyrighted song book and directly scanned it’s image up onto the web. But most of these tabs come from some guy sitting next to his CD player and transcribing the song on his own. Most the time they aren’t even complete. I really don’t see where the loss in revenue comes from. How many people who browse tab sites would buy the song book if they weren’t there? I guessing not many. I know I personally use tab sites to save myself half an hour of figuring it out on my own.

    If they cease to exist I’ll just figure the song out myself like I used to. I’m certainly not going to shell out $20 for a song book for every catchy tune I’d like to play.

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    the really shitty thing about this (and the RIAA suits, the MPAA suits and others) is that it’s not the artists getting all pissy about people ‘stealing their music’ (except Metallica, but they’re a bunch of no-talent whiners these days anyway) it’s the companies that make the money from the artists. These shitbags who already leech too much money from successful artists and chalk it up to “PR” or “Recouped advance money” just can’t seem to slake their thirst for green. They have to go after every possible avenue for revenue. Artists don’t make that much if anything from songbooks, it’s the publishing companies that do. In fact a lot of artists will give them the wrong music, or change it a little so that you’re not learning it right (ala pearl jam, and others)

    Maybe, if music wasn’t such a multi-billion dollar industry, and was more of an artform like it should be, there wouldn’t be so much drama going around about stealing music. It’s there to be heard and enjoyed, not made money from.

  5. He says:

    I’m curious to see how many pro musicians pay for the sheet music and/or tab to do the cover songs on their albums. I’m guessing zero.

    Now, does a text description of a song’s recipe piss them off? Bob Marley’s Redemption song goes G-A-B-G-C-E-D-B–G-A-B-D-C-B-A-G(major chord). Another way of saying it, is that just a few notes from G and C chords. So simple, so illegal.

  6. Triteon says:

    When I was a kid I taught myself a simple version of the Star Wars theme (by ear) on the piano…I’d better send John Williams a check.

  7. Jesse Lee says:

    And how far is this from charging guitar teachers royalties for teaching kids to play?

  8. mactbone says:

    Let’s not forget that there are some people who make their money from arranging music. I understand that most of this stuff should be free, but I’m loathe to say that all sheet music should be free to copy. Composers and arrangers do have a job that they should get money for. However, any educational institution or group that doesn’t allow the musicians to make a copy of the sheet music to practice from – instead of risking the loss of an expensive part of an arrangement – is plain dumb.

  9. GenXCub says:

    Here’s the deal, I’d gone onto Olga for the first time many years ago (it’s the On Line Guitar Archive). For those who don’t play guitar, tablature is not the same as sheet music. It is a notation of where to put your fingers on a fret board, not the actual notes you play, nor the volume or tempo.

    The reason that I believe tablature to be a red herring in this story is that for someone to actually play a song using tablature, they need to have heard it many times, or actually have a copy of the song in their possession so that they can compare what they’re playing to the actual song.

    To me, this is akin to me humming a song I just heard on the radio to a friend, or even recording my hum onto disk and emailing it.

  10. Paula says:

    It’s amazing that the recording industry goes to such lengths to alienate the people who like (and buy!) music the most. I just don’t get it.

  11. “What’s left of the tab on that site is mostly the incorrect interpetations which end up sounding like crap.”

    The time-honored way to semi-legally publish covers is to change one or two notes in the “arrangement” you publish, thus either making it difficult to sue for stealing the music entirely, or ensuring you only owe royalties to the original composer (or maybe lyricist) but not arranger. Most jazz musicians will be familiar with “The Real Book”; almost every song has a note or two wrong that’s easy to pick out and correct as you go.

    Sometimes I think “Big Music” is out to create a generation of musical illiterates. They’ve already pulled vast quantities of sheet music, made it difficult for people to do arrangements, etc., and now they’re pulling tablature. All that will be left to play anything in copyright (i.e., everything on the radio these days!) are rich kids whose parents can afford lessons and expensive music books (and who doesn’t love suburban angst music?) and the few talented folks who can learn by ear or by watching a video of a particular musician over and over until they memorize the finger movements. Next thing you know they’ll be training new rock guitarists in a secret bunker outside Burbank and brainwashing them to love DRM schemes.