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Old 04-20-2005, 09:13 AM   #46
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darryl - why is it so difficult to license lyrics for online use?

PS - i would very much doubt hottestlyrics.com has a license..
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:27 AM   #47
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Essentially, because it's an administrative nightmare.

To license lyrics, you need to get permission from the music publishers. Unfortunately, the music publishing industry is very diverse; most people who have been involved in the music industry (or have had good advisors) know that the way to make money as an artist is by owning your publishing rights (that's why the lead singer who writes the songs flies first class, but the rest of the band is in coach). As a result, though, everybody in the business has a publishing company - there's about 30,000 (maybe more, now) in the US.

Plus, publishing rights get split up. A large portion of songs aren't entirely owned by one publishing company - in some cases, there can be as many as 20 different companies each owning a piece of the song, so you have to get permission from each of them. This happens because artists will collaborate on songs (each of whom have a different publishing company), or will cover a song but change it clightly (think Britney's cover of "My Perogative", which she changed from a male to a female point of view, and thus changed the publishing credit). The list goes on and on.

Not only that, there's no central licensing body for lyrics licensing, as there is for performances (PROs), mechanicals (HFA, CMRRA), or other types of licensing - so you've gotta negotiate all those contracts yourself.

One last bit of fun - many of the publishing companies didn't include rights for mass lyrics licensing in their contracts with their songwriters, because they didn't see this coming. Traditionally, lyrics were only licensed in very small quantities for specific purposes - a book of Beatles lyrics (which are owned by Michael Jackson...maybe he'd be willing to part with them these days), a CD booklet, a quote used somewhere, etc. - so they didn't worry about it. That means that even if you get a license with the publishing company, they still have to go back and convince their songwriters to give up those rights so they can include their content in the license to you, which is not necessarily an easy task.

Sounds like fun, eh?
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Old 04-20-2005, 11:37 AM   #48
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Not sure if the guy that owns hottestlyrics.com has a license or not and that is not my problem after we sold him our database. I guess what this comes down to is that is you are not comfortable being in the lyrics business then don't get in it.
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