Earlier this week, the bros behind the lyric site Rap Genius, along with 49 others, were delievered take-down notices from the National Music Publishers Association. One of RG's co-founders, Ilan Zechory, was quick to legitimize the content on Rap Genius as more than just a despository for pilfered hip-hop verses. In an email to the New York Times, Zechory said that because of the crowd- and artist-sourced annotations, the site is an exception because its "layers of context and meaning transform a static, flat lyric page into an interactive, vibrant art experience created by a community of volunteer scholars." But it's been reported today that the guys no longer have to cop pleas, at least not for Sony/ATV artists. The label chairman and CEO Martin Bandier issued a statement to Billboard to announce the a licensing deal with Rap Genius, noting that the site uses a "new and exciting way" to bring musicians and their fans together. According Tom Lehman, another Rap Genius co-founder, the Sillicon Valley-funded startup is in other licensing conversations, aiming to expand their relationships with publishers and songwiters.
The NMPA noted on Monday night via press release that they're only aiming to shut down websites "that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which significantly impacts songwriters' ability to make a living." These licensing deals should help to exempt Rap Genius (and, presumably, Rock Genius) from potential copyright infringement lawsuits.