The National Music Publishers' Association is none too pleased with a report by Camper Van Beethoven member and University of Georgia researcher David Lowery that called out lyric websites as garnering profits from copyrighted material.
Lowery says that "The lyric business is clearly more valuable in the Internet age," and that lyrics websites have constant traffic daily which strengthens his argument that their content is desired and possibly guilty of copyright infringement.
To determine the severity of the lyric sites, Lowery used what he calls the "lyric website undesirability index," and cross referenced it with a database released by LyricsSeal to see if the sites had a license to display or post song lyrics without permission.
Of the 50 sites he names on his report, popular lyric site RapGenius.com was singled out as the least desirable. RapGenius founder Ilan Zechory retorted to these claims in an email to The New York Times:
The lyrics sites the NMPA refers to simply display song lyrics, while Rap Genius has crowdsourced annotations that give context to all the lyrics line by line, and tens of thousands of verified annotations directly from writers and performers. These layers of context and meaning transform a static, flat lyric page into an interactive, vibrant art experience created by a community of volunteer scholars.”
In a press release put out in conjunction with their filing, the NMPA has requested that the websites in question remove the infringing content or be subject to further legal action. NMPA president and CEO David Israelite maintains that the filing isn't an attaack on blogs or websites but a bullseye on websites "that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which significantly impacts songwriters' ability to make a living."