Before you act: there’s no point in writing comments like: Where’s the zip file? I want the zip file. Can you please send me the zip file?
well well… What can I say? Several people have sent me links to this and other similar news reports, concerned about what is going to happen to dylanchords.
I understand the concern — I share it, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.
On the one hand: I don’t want to go to jail, and I can’t afford a 500,000$ lawsuit. Those are two good reasons to shut down the site right now.
On the other, I keep telling myself that I don’t have much to worry about: all the lyrics are already freely available from bobdylan.com; all the tabs are my own interpretations and “intellectual property” in some sense of the word, I haven’t copied them from anywhere, and god knows I haven’t cast so much as an eye on the official chord books — heaven forbid! (in fact, had the publishers done a decent job on those, I would never have started this site); to my knowledge, chord charts in the form and with the contents you will find on dylanchords.com have not been copyrighted; etc. All in all, if I were the judge, I couldn’t really say that the site is much of an infringement.
Then again, I ain’t the judge.
The Australian Copyright Council writes:
If you own copyright in a musical work or lyrics, you are generally the only person who can:
- reproduce it: for example, by recording a performance of it, photocopying it, copying it by hand, or scanning it onto a computer disk;
- make it public for the first time;
- perform it in public;
- communicate it to the public (including via radio, television and the internet);
- translate it (for lyrics); or
- arrange or transcribe it (for music).
That would mean that I would need Dylan’s permission to arrange the songs, even though the “arrangements” (i.e. tabs) are my own.
Unless a special exception applies, copyright is infringed if someone uses copyright material in one of the ways set out in the Copyright Act without the copyright owners permission. The special exceptions include fair dealing with copyright material for research or study, or for criticism or review.
The disclaimer about “research, study, personal use” etc. is a standard mantra in headers of tab pages, which I’ve never really taken seriously, and I doubt that anyone has — especially not the publishers and copyright holders. Whether or not a use is fair depends on four factors, listed in the US Copyright Act:
• the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
• the nature of the copyright work;
• the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
• the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
I’d say I score a point on #1, but I lose on the other three.
All in all, the situation is too unclear for me to see through it, but also to just sit and wait. I have therefore decided — actually while writing this — to take down the potentially offensive parts of the site until the situation has become clearer. There will be a solution, I’m sure, but until then: have patience! This is not a goodbye, but a “We’ll meet again”
And — not that I think it will have any effect whatsoever, but there’s a petition one can sign at http://www.petitiononline.com/mioti/petition.html