A quick Google search will prove that there's no shortage of lyric websites. But you probably didn't know that a lot of those sites are violating copyright law. LiveUniverse owned a number of them. The company, owned by Myspace co-founder Brad Greenspan, has to pay $6.6 million to music publishers for posting song lyrics without permission.
Peermusic, Bug Music, and Warner Chappell Music, music publishers with the rights to hits that include TLC's "Waterfalls" and Greenday's "Wake Me Up When September Ends," compiled a list of 528 songs that had their lyrics published on LiveUniverse's lyric websites without license. The U.S. district judge agreed and ordered Greenspan and LiveUniverse to pay $12,500 fine for each song listed in the suit, resulting in a staggering $6.6 million judgement.
It could have been worse. The music publishers wanted Greenspan to pay $100,000 per song, but the judge reportedly wanted to avoid a "ridiculous disproportionate damage award." We're not sure of Greenspan's financials, but seeing as how he made hundreds of millions when Myspace was sold to News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million, this shouldn't be too bad of a hit.
Despite this victory, the fight against unauthorized publishing of lyrics still has a long way to go. The Net is still teeming with websites running unlisenced lyrics. But the stiff LiveUniverse judgement should get the message across: Get the proper publishing licenses or risk major penalties.