“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.

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. i loved this site, it is the one and only site that i could referr to w/ complete confidence that the information would be 100% correct. Tis truly a sad situation, and I look forward to the day that my eyes may rest upon that mile long alphabetical list of all that is dylan. thank you for everything in the passed, and yes, we shall meet again.

  2. I liked this site very much.
    I discovered song for song, many songs are open to do!
    Thanks to You, Eyolf, for your fantastic work.
    I wish You the best,

  3. what the fuck has being gay to do with anything?! considering he’s not gay it’s just plain stupid. you’re obviously missing out on a lot. I feel sorry for you.

  4. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask for the zip file. :-)

    Just wanted to thank eyolf for this outstanding site and all the work he put in to it; what little talents I have on the guitar I owe in large part to the fantastic transcriptions available here; there’s nothing more encouraging than learning from an accurate tab. Thank god I printed off my favourites. Cheers eyolf, you’re a star.


  5. This is one great loss of pleasure. I alsways enjoyed thinking of an old song or hearing an album and going to the dylanchords site. I have “official tab” books that are not even close. I could always hear the real thing on this site. I would love to be zipped, I would appreciate it. Hopefully that will capture alot of the info, but the changes that went with this site will be gone. I want to thank-you for all of your hard work and the years of pleasure this site has given me. Ken Roberts

  6. Its unbelievable but that was true for many other things that happened. Things on this matter seems to get worse. Will music (and other other intellectual stuff) really get ruled by money? Yes, more and more. There is an interesting argumentation for bootleg music that says: The artist has the right on the CD, but if he performs live, he transfers rights to the public, they paid and they heard it (will industry burn out their memories? They would if they only could!). Another approach may be something like open source, just search for “open source beer”. Anyway, something is happening: Music gets in the hand of marketing people and lawyers. There is no room for living this music by playing or understanding it, its just about consuming. No, wait, its just about paying.
    Eyolf, you gave me insight in songs I would not have got and I thank you for that. And Bob Dylan may not take any notice of it, but as somebody above said: He would vote to keep this site up. Because he knows that music DIES when nobody plays it beside DRM-secured high-tech-players. Maybe the Basement Tapes need to come back – bringing back the music.

    You’ve been with the professors
    And they’ve all liked your looks
    With great lawyers you have
    Discussed lepers and crooks
    You’ve been through all of
    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
    You’re very well read
    It’s well known

    But they think they have a dominant strategy and for now this is true. But this music has survived more than one storm and it will stay. c

  7. Just another Bob fan wanting to thank you for the site. The support shown here is really impressive. I had only just recently discovered it, and was enjoying your commentary in addition to the great tabs. Who knows where Dylan himself would stand on this issue – it seems he could learn a song the moment he heard it. Bottom line, I agree with the others who have commented that it makes him more money from increased interest in his music than it would ever cost him from lost sheet music sales. Until there’s some resolution, although I’m disappointed, I support your decision. Thanks again.

  8. I miss this site, I hope all this crap gets sorted out and they see how harmless to them and how useful to everyone else your site is.

  9. Thank you so much for your immense work and also for your great blog! Please hear what I have to say.

    Being a great fan of Dylan and owning 50 records of him I knew this site for a while.

    However I used to play saxophone and didn’t work with the chords so far I just got my hands on a guitar on christmas to even dive more into these great songs. My plan was to get back to this site and learn the songs one by one. But now..

    Now I’ m feeling deeply sorry that you had to move away your chords. I understand why you took them down but still I regret this situation very much.

    If there is any possibility to get hold on the zip file please send it to tronics@gmx.at

    Peace and love,

  10. I simply must put my two cents in- this is an amazing site I have been using for years. Its a disgrace for anything to be taking it down. Fight the good fight.

  11. Hi Eyolf
    I have enjoyed your site for years. In fact one of my guitar instructors took a song from your site site published it for the class. Clearly giving you in writing credit for the words / music. Even did a further re – arrangement. Anyway, did you shut down the site with actual lyrics and music – I no longer can find it. Can you send me a zipped file if of your work ? I must say you were/are a god send to many Dylan followers who needed a little bit of help to get started. I hope your site gets reinstated, or you just post it under another domain.

  12. again a huge thanks for the great work you have done globally in support of Bob qand his / her practicing musicians. Please send the zipped file if you can.

  13. This sucks donkey balls. You’re tabs were SO spot on, it’s so fucking whack that this site is now down. I just got Dylan’s first album too, and I wanted to know how to play some songs, cuz you always get it right. Sheeit.

  14. Is dylan apart of this legal action? I don’t think he would give a rats A$$. I love dylan and he wouldn’t care that people would want to learn his stuff. I’d appreciate a lot if you sent me the zip file. Bill.Buescher@gmail.com

    Viva Dylan!

  15. I’ve been a Dylan fan since the 60’s and have found your chord charts to be a wonderful connection to Dylan’s music. I’ve found chords to bootleg versions that are not available in books. I hope you are able to get the chords online again soon, and would appreciate it if yo sent me the zip file.

  16. This is probably the best tab site I’ve ever used. The site’s helped me so much over the years. With this site closing down and altcountrytab.com, it makes you wonder what all this copyright crap is about. They always wanna take it away from the music lovers.

  17. Hello,
    thanks for a great site and thank you for all the work spent makin’ it. It’s a shame the way the US laws are banning cultural expressions like these (makes you think of old Soviet Union).

    If possible, please send me the zip-file so I can continue keep on rockin’ in the FREE world!

    /Magnus, Gothenburg, Sweden.

  18. I sat down at my computer, guitar in hand, expecting to dig around my favorite website. I haven’t struck a chord.

    I guess we took this freedom for granted. I’m sorry your work can’t be shown here. It is surely missed.

    You think I could I have that there zip file?

  19. I just got interested in Dylan one year ago, and this Web site alone cultivated my interest. I wonder how many years until Dylan songs just become part of the common canon and we can chuck all this copyright rubbish. To live outside the law one must be honest. Is anybody hearing that right now? I’d be honored and indebted if I could receive that zip file.

  20. Eyolf –
    Words cannot express my thanks at getting closer to Dylan’s art. I’ve grown as a musician exponentially because of your site, not just the chords but everything else. Thanks so much for all the hard work – truly a labour of love. And if someone out there has a moment to send along the .zip file to gregmoverley@eastlink.ca I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!

  21. Hey Eyolf, the world keeps getting darker, and it’s getting there. You site was an oasis of light, I remember rainy days when I would pick up my guitar and pick one of Bobs songs on the site and everything would be easier after that, the rain seemed less annoying (I live in Vancouver BC by the way, there’s lots of it…) and the day would take me somewhere after all. Than…once again, some suits in tall buildings getting back at us for trying to see beyond this world full of lies…
    If anybody was wiser than me and managed to zip the site, I would sing a song for them. God bless. virgil@roatis.org

  22. I love this site; I spent countless hours looking at the tabs, trying to learn all the Dylan songs I could. I would really appreciate if, despite the large number of requests, you could send me the zip file as well. Thank you and good luck getting the site back to its old self.

  23. hi eyolf.
    i sent you some e-mails years and years ago about some dylan song information…(can’t remember what it was, now) anyway, i organize a yearly dylan tribute in ann arbor, MI, U.S.A. and I used to tell everyone who asked about this guy named eyolf who had this brilliant dylan site that had boat loads of information, and the tabs were always done very well. sorry to hear about this. you know, i just remembered…it was something about “Deep Elum”.
    anyway…i, too would like the zip, if you’re not to burdened with requests.

    i signed the petition, hope it does some good. it’s nice to see such an outpouring of kind words about your hard work. let me know if there’s anything else i can do.

    eric kelly

  24. This is a great site you’ve built, congratulations!
    I don’t know if you have that zip file you and everybody talks about but if you do, could you please send it to my email? (I’m not posting it but I entered it)

    I’m particularly interested in learning the fingerpicking styles of songs like Girl of the North Country or Boots of Spanish Leather (which we agree, are pretty much the same) or faster paced songs like Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

    Thanks for any help,

    Kind regards,

  25. It’s hard to argue with something like itellectual property law; in many ways we should be grateful for it. Regardless, your site was incredibly well-constructed and truly conveyed the essence of each and every dylan recording out there. Maybe a publisher will buy your tabs someday and we can enjoy them once again. -Duncan Martin, Vancouver

  26. Hello eyolf,

    I was shocked and saddened today when I came to your site to learn Visions of Johanna. This was the one place where a beginning acoustic guitarist like me could come and try to work out the mysterious songs of Bob Dylan and to learn a little bit about the man.
    This place is much more then a “tab site.” I especially like all the background info on the songs and when they were recorded. You put alot of work into this site and I truly hope things work out for you and everybody who enjoys it. And of course I would love to have a Zip file if possible.

    Kevin- Los Angeles

  27. Probably a good thing for the moment, i can now try to work out songs for myself.however ur guidance was valuable, i know now he’s either capoed on the 2nd using G or the 4th using C lol most his songs are easy to find out this way i swear to god.

  28. Just a note of thanks. Your site helped me a lot, both in playing guitar and at the same time enjoying a close reading of BD’s lyrics, which are even more enjoyable to muse over in light of what I learned reading C. Ricks’ book ‘Visions of Sin’. I do hope your tabs are allowed to come back someday. Thanks again.

  29. You sure have put a lot of hard work into these tabs to have this happen to you. I, as everyone else, was very disappointed to see the only great Dylan chord site gone the way of the dodo. These chords were an immense help to a beginning guitarist; I assume I’ll have to now find them elsewhere. Unless that zip file is floating around somewhere…

  30. What in the hell is going on here?!?! I trying to learn how to play some Dylan songs (i mean realy play, not just the open chords!) and i happen on the best site i could ever hope for on dylan’s music. i mean, if you could find a site like this for all the old greats wouldnt you be more than thrilled? and then, right as i start playing, the rug gets ripped out and i find to my amazement, my absolute shock, that this person is getting in trouble for posting TABS!!! i mean, how in the world could tabs be infriging on copyrights?! at all?!! in even a samll way? i cant see how you might be profiting at all (at least monetarily speaking)…are you selling dylanchords tee-shirts or something? if that were the case i’d have two things to say: that still should’t be all that bad since othe tabs site do(how come they’re not getting busted?), and where can i get one?
    but seriously, thanks for all the work you did do and if it ever comes back in the end i’ll be waiting. and thanks a bunch for all the uptight losers for ruining the show. jerks.

  31. Hi everyone. I’ve been awaiting the return of the site for over a month now….doesn’t seem like it’s going to come back as easily as I thought. Anyways, I, like the rest of you am a musician and Dylan Freak that lived off of this site. I know I’m only the 600000 person to ask but if any of you have the zip file PLEASE be kind enough to forward it to me via email. I promise i’ll pass it on to anyone else that wants it afterwards.
    My fingers are still crossed for you to come out on top Eyolf.
    In Dylan we Trust

  32. Peace out. I loved your site. Anyone copy the entire site yet? Willing to put it on a bittorrent site of some sort? Those retards in the music/money industry don’t understand that music is more than a commodity to the millions of fans who made them rich as hell. Music is the BEST. It’s a religion, and salvation, these creative artists who move our emotions are not product to be manufactured and micromanaged. I am pissed.

  33. This is unbelievable. I did not think they can stoop to these levels! This was a great great site. I am very unhappy that you guys had to take the tab section down.

  34. For those who hadn’t already downloaded the zip file (luckily I had): the tabs are still available through Google’s cache. Just type in: site:www.dylanchords.com and the name of the song. Click on the “Cached” link of the correct result.

  35. Just a note, for those saying “Bob Dylan probably doesn’t care anyway”; even if he was a stringent supporter of the site, the MPA would still be going after people – doesn’t matter what the artist thinks – AT ALL. — I say, leave the president alone, impeach the MUSIC INDUSTRY…

  36. Hey,thanks for all the work you did putting the site together, it was great and I used it alot, definatly the best place for Dylan tabs. Its interesting to think that Dylan started his career by learning other peoples songs, and probably not from books from the publishers, but from other people who showed him the chords and from records. It seems all you were doing was showing us the chords…

  37. Hey,

    Why are musicians not allowed to share info with each other ? You are really helping keep the Dylan thing alive especially for the youger gerneration who soon will only have Dylan as one of those “historical” people like John Lee ore Robert Johnson then we will probably still have to fight the greedy mony mongers for whats left of the legacy .They probably cannot even play let alone sing! Ps. if you ahave a zip file please send it


    Rob Germany

  38. I can’t believe they can take away all the hard work folks have gone to with Dylan’s songs. How do they figure that someone figuring out chords to a song is not OK?

    Please send me the zip file so I can continue practicing!
    Thanks for all you’ve done!

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