More people screwing up the Internet

More people screwing up the Internet

If any of you aren't familiar with guitar tablature, it's essentially digital sheet music. It's usually represented by 6 lines of dashes "-" which make up the 6 strings of a guitar with numbers denoting which fret should be played at which time. Here is an example.


The piece that I selected for my example is the opening line of Johannes Brahms’s Wiegenlied: Op. 49, No. 4. (More commonly known as Brahms Lullaby.) The reason that I selected this piece is because it is still generally available on the internet because it was published in 1868 and is therefore public domain.

Generally speaking, tablature or guitar chords to popular songs have been readily available on the internet for sometime now. My entire endeavor to learn how to play guitar so far has come from guitar tablature on the internet. But now, the people over at the National Music Publisher's Association (NMPA) want to stop people from being able to create and publish guitar tablature on the internet. They have served a "take down" letter to telling them that they have violated copyright laws and that they will be sued if they keep displaying guitar tablature. So, until this legal dispute is settled, one of the biggest sites for guitar tablature is unavailable to average people out there who want to learn how to play their favorite songs by their favorite artists.

Is it just me or is the music industry really reaching here? First, you have the Napster issue. Now you have them working on tab sites. As Jerry Holkins (a.k.a. Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade) put it when describing one of the music companies:

"They imagine that their industry is not, as you might have thought previously, merely a conduit for a specific type of product. Rather, they believe that their industry is the avatar of music itself"

It is exactly this kind of thought process that provides the impetus for associations to ruin great things for millions of people.

What actually bothers me the most is that this isn't like Napster. At least with file sharing, there was the process of someone having to actually go pay for this crap, put it in their computer, transfer the data from one medium to another, and then make it available for you to listen to. With guitar tablature, what happens is that some talented (usually) person listens repeatedly to a particular song with guitar in hand and writes down the lyrics and attempts to mimic what they hear. Guitar tablature is the creation of the people who go through this process of listening and writing, not just some jackass with a CD-R/W drive and the entire Metallica collection.

I believe that the reason why this association is doing this is because they say that it cuts into their profits. Having been a musician since I was 12, I appreciate printed sheet music. It's nice. It's usually easy to read. It's generally very accurate. But it's also expensive as hell and not everything that you want is available. Also, it takes them quite a while to get out current songs.

You never heard horse merchants trying to get cars banned when they were invented. They simply realized that they were outclassed and that horses were going to be a niche market. The same thing needs to happen with music publishing.

What I suggest is that each and everyone of you got to the NMPA website's "Contact Us" page found here, and send them a message telling them what you think about their preventing the free expression of artistic talent simply so that they can make more money.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:27 PM  


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