AirTalk for November 21, 2013

Music publishers want websites to stop posting song lyrics

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

LA Rapper Kendrick Lamar is one of many artists whose lyrics are deciphered by fans on Rap Genius.

The National Music Publishers’ Association, a trade group for music publishers and songwriters, has recently sent out takedown notices to some 50 sites that post song lyrics online for copyright infringement.

One of the sites embroiled in the legal battle is Rap Genius, which doesn't just post hip-hop lyrics but invite fans to annotate them, to add backstories and cultural references particular lines in a song might signify.

The site is so popular its frequent contributors include famous rappers and last year, it allegedly secured $15 million in funding from a venture capital group. Fans say Rap Genius shouldn’t be lumped together with other lyrics sites given it provides a value-added service and that instead of exploiting songwriters, it helps fans connect to their work in more intimate ways.

But critics points to its fundraising success as evidence that Rap Genius is financially benefiting from other people’s intellectual property.

Is Rap Genius different from other lyrics sites? Does it hurt artists or encourage fandom?

Guests:

Illan Zechory, co-founder of Rap Genius

David Israelite, President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association


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