“Song sites face legal crackdown”

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Song sites face legal crackdown

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.
However:

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


405 thoughts on ““Song sites face legal crackdown”

  1. Too sad we can not consult this site the way we used to. It was so much fun to use. It clearly helped understanding Dylan’s art, whether as a guitar player or a music lover. If I can reveive the zip file, I would greatly appreciate.
    Many thanks for the great work.

  2. This is by far one of my favorite sites I have ever visited. I was extrememly sad to learn that the site’s tabulature section had to be closed down. Thanks for all the work you have done compiling all of them together. You have shed some light on some of my most boring days. Thanks for the entertainment and enlightenment.

  3. Hello
    I read the blog, can you please send me the zip file. This is the best tab site and i would like a copy of the tabs.
    Thanks

  4. I went away for a trip and then came back and the site was gone… its very stupid that you would have to shut down a pefectly legal site for this reason. If you know any other good sites for dylan songs, please write me back or put a comment on here, and if you know the chords for the song “Man on the street” it would be appreciated if you could tell me :S. Thanks a lot. Much Support. Brydan

  5. please can you send me the zip file as im learning guitar and i am a massive dylan fan i had access for a couple of days to the chords and they were fantastic thanks very much

  6. This site was godly, it’s a shame ‘the man’ is getting on your case. If you have the capabilities to send me the zip file, please do. If not, I await the re-opening of this site in all of its former glory!

  7. This site the the BEST – and the ONLY source for all practical purposes for accurate and informative dylan tab – and loads of other information. I’ve depended on it over the years and wouldn’t be enjoying playing the music as much as I am. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to figure something out with some other crappy source only to find it here and say “yes – that’s how he does it!”. I sure would appreciate the zipped file so I can keep this going. They don’t want us to learn and sing his songs? Isn’t that what it’s all about?

  8. he didnt live in the village at that time. go read the wasteland. you’re closer than nazis. and certainly no one can make a claim on what it means, not even dylan. a collection of images, a gathering of joyous noises.

  9. I appreciate all your hard work on this, the harmonica stuff blew me away because I couldn’t find any of it anywhere. Please send me the zip.

  10. Thanks for putting up this site. I’ve learned a lot from it and you should be proud. I wish Dylan would figure this thing out and permit it.

  11. Eyolf,

    I am deeply saddened by this news. As it was for many, I too was inspired by Dylan to learn guitar. I worked hours every day, listening to recordings and looking up every song on every album I owned on this very site. It was you, Eyolf, who helped me to become a decent guitarist. It was this site that encouraged me to buy the very albums they wish to protect. I tell you this, without this site I would not be where I am today.

    Using the tabs on dylanchords my friends and I would go busking in downtown Iowa City (USA) playing every song we knew from Leadbelly to Guthrie to Bob himself. Sure we didn’t make much, but the experiences and friendships formed were worth every hoarse voice or numb finger. I recall when I found a bunch of bootlegs my father had stored away and found the tabs to them here on the site. The sheer joy at being able to exactly replicate the sound of his voice or the licks on the guitar brought me lasting satisfaction. Using the simple chord structures laid down by generations past I began to write my own things, beginning with “Song to Bob” a tribute much like his first.

    The MPA has a legal claim to do what they have done. I am deeply sorrowful that this has come to pass. I feel in my heart that you have done a great service to this world Eyolf, but I am torn. I also understand the value of copyright. I know how much intellectual property means to a writer. I am sorry I haven’t got anything else to say, just that I know that Bob wouldn’t give a damn about any of it. He realized he could become greater than Woody, he used him as long as he needed and when he moved on he thanked him in a song. If anyone wants to be stuck playing covers of Dylan their whole lives, go ahead, I say, it won’t get you as far as you need to go.

    Thanks again for everything you have done to help me and the rest of us Eyolf.

  12. Dude I left a comment last year, just checking back to see if things had returned to normal. Please send me the zip file if you can, the Lennon and McCartney stuff is missed to.

    Cheers, Keith

  13. this is adamn shame i’ve spent hours upon hours learning songs on this site. me a friend used to compare which sounded better this sites or the official chord charts and this sites always sounded better.

  14. For the past year or so, I have been a regular visitor to this site and have learned a great deal. I have also recommended this site to a few of my friends who were also learning to play guitar. This site was by far the most comprehensive collection of songs (that was) on the net. Thank you Eyolf for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us for so long and hope for the best in the future.

    p.s. Bob, please help us!!!

  15. I had learned numerous dylan songs from your site and couldn’t believe it when I saw it had changed. Thank you for all your hard work and I would love a copy of the zip file. Thanks.

  16. Thanks Eyolf, your site has always been excellent, and very helpful when it comes to checking my own transcriptions. I wish the music industry would return to supporting great artists and publishing interesting music, like they once did, rather than taking legal action against tab sites.

  17. I just found this disclaimer at the foot of every tab on a Grateful Dead Tabs site.
    ‘This File contains merely an interpretation of the represented musical piece.
    It is not intended to replace any commercially available publishing, nor is it
    guaranteed to represent an exact transcription of any commercially or otherwise released
    piece.’

    I don’t know if it holds water legally, but their site is still up. Maybe it would be worth contacting them and putting your heads together.
    The site is – http://www.rukind.com/

  18. Thank you for all the work you have done. I often forget songs and when i have a woman over and need something to impress your site helps out. lol :) thanks again

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  20. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to pull the tabs. You deserve a lot of credit for all the work that you’ve done to let us accurately reproduce BD’s unique guitar style.
    If the record industry really wants to shut you down,they are not only morally wrong, they are hurting themselves financially. I suspect I’m not the only one to buy a BD CD after learning a song on your site!
    Good luck getting the tabs back on line. Maybe BD will intervene. (Maybe not.)
    Could you please send me the zip file.

  21. Now who was it who said “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”??!?!? Which is the bigger crime – ripping musicians off by selling music scores and books that are just plain wrong or providing accurate chords, tunings and transcriptions for musicians enjoyment? I’ve learnt so much from this site and it has greatly contributed to my musical abilities. Where else (ie books) do you find accurate transcriptions of Blood On The Tracks songs? Nowhere.

  22. I really feel that this site is the only one on the internet that had really good and accurate tabs of bob dylan’s music. Since there are many other sites wich carry much more material than this site did and are still active. I really hope that you will make these tab’s awailable again as soon as possible.

    That being said I would still like to thank you for giving me a lot of help in learning the songs of the master!

  23. bummer, I love this site. Since I have all of bob dylan’s albums and all the extant song books ever published, and all three of the lyric books, I don’t really know what else I can buy.

    I would love to have the zip file if any one can send it. brunsvold@earthlink.net

  24. this sucks. all day at work i was waiting for 5 so i could come home and learn as much of another side of; as i possibly could. there goes my evening. it really sucks your tabs are gone. especially considering all my dylan books are pretty wrong. i couldn’t even imagine dylan beginning to care that his tabs are on the net.
    thanks anyway for the site, it’s been a great help for not just learning the dylan songs i love, but pushing and developing my own style.
    thanks.
    ben.

  25. I signed the petition. I humbly think that these legislators are ignorant. They don´t have an idea of what rock music is, they ignore the specificity of it. They seem to ignore that it always has been a popular music, and that is only commercial, obviously if they want to sell some object. The interpretations of music, and tabs are really interpretations, do not steal any element of that physic object that carries the musical product. It is obvious that they are unfamiliar with the reality of all this. I somewhat unwillingly admit that there is some manoeuvre of commercialism. If that is so, probably the best thing to do is to be idealistic, and fight on.

    I would appreciate if you could send me the zip file. s_petersburgo@yahoo.com

  26. It’s been waay to long since this site’s been down. I can’t take it anymore. I need “One Too Many Mornings”, “I Shall Be Free” and so many others. It would be greatly appreciated if somebody could send me the zip file. jefftemes@gmail.com

    thanks for the awesome site.

  27. Thanks for the innumerable hours I spent on this site. You’ve brought me many good times and allowed me to play along with the songs I love. This is too sad. I would obviously also love to have a copy of the zip file, but I don’t know if you’re sending it. You did some amazing work and those of us less talented really appreciate it. Also, if anyone has received it and can forward it I would appreciate it and continue to spread it around. Thanks again for your efforts over the years.

    cnoblet@excite.com

  28. i’m without words. this website was great. i improved my guitar skills, fingerpicking and stuff like that…i was going step by step to appreciate all the production of bob.
    i’m italian. i just started working as a lawyer.
    this situation is absolutely insane…there is no any reason to close this website. everything was here it came from your mind.
    so…should they forbid also concert on dvd?….people might be able to see the left hand of the guitar player….and music sheets wouldn’t be sold.
    ridicolus.
    now the selfish part….i really need the archive. i think by asking this in public, it’s a form of support. it’s thank to your work, that i bought 3 bob’s cds and the dvd no directions home.
    i’m with you in this fight.
    my email address is max.balbi@gmail.com
    grazie, thanks.
    max

  29. Does anyone have a tab of the ‘forever young’ solo from the letterman show?
    It is amazing, looks like he improvised it too (the way he looks at Robbie and shrugs as if to say “whatever”) (im not sure of the date)

    n_o_f_x___@hotmail.com

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