The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Monday, June 11, 2007

Legal Rant

This concerns the current legal quagmire that sites offering tablatures are facing now from the MPA (Music Publishers Association). To the MPA, I have only one thing to say: suck my balls!

The MPA claims that sites offering tablatures (see my previous post on tabs) are illegal. I can see how one may make such a case, but the argument does not hold water. Here's why:

Tablatures are almost always the interpretation of a song by an amateur guitarist. The said guitarist will listen to a piece of music and then, using Word or Notepad, transcribe what he thinks he has heard. The tab is then posted on a website with the disclaimer that it is an interpretation to be used for private or research purposes, and that it is disseminated without profit.

Keep in mind that tablatures are different from sheet music. On a piano, for example, you can only play one note in one way. Middle C, for instance, can only be played on the note so designated, whereas on a guitar, you can play a note or chord in several different ways. Thus the potential for incorrect tablatures is increased. In fact, most tablatures out there are terrible: some include a few mistakes while some are not even in the correct key!

I can understand the MPA's position if, and only if, someone has reproduced an "official" tab or piece of sheet music online, which would be similar but not identical to reproducing a copyrighted article online.

Following the MPA's logic, then, if I showed a friend how to play a song, then I have similarly executed a breach of copyright. In fact, I will tell you right now that the first two chords to "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music are Bb and Eb, based on nothing more than my ear and my judgment. By the MPA's logic, I have just breached copyright. Absurd!

Hopefully this issue will resolve itself to the benefit of amateur guitarists around the world. To sum up quickly: if an amateur guitarist has produced a tab based on his/her own judgment and disseminated it on a website without profit, I simply can't see anything wrong with it. I can understand why some sites have shut down (temporarily), feeling threatened by the MPA, but if this goes to court, I can't see how the MPA can win.

(If some of this makes no sense, I would be happy to elaborate).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Playa Haters,
If you cross me,
You will die,
Don't let playa haters bring you down"

Wise LeBron

6:08 p.m.  

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