I’m a musician, and I’m pissed. As a self-taught guitarist of many years, I pride myself on what little knowledge I’ve gained, and I am proud to represent an art form that helps to bridge gaps between sectors of humanity, allowing us all to enjoy life a bit more. That enjoyment is being infringed upon.
For years, six-stringers like myself have gathered to share their licks, techniques and bond as brothers and sisters of something greater than all of us. through discussion and hands-on learning we perfect our craft, laboriously listening to recordings to glean what we can from the masters of the day. Eventually a system was worked out, in parallel to traditional written music, to annotate guitar method on paper. Known as tablature, this system acts as an aid for the many play-by-ear musicians, and as a written system specific to the instruments evolution and it’s impact on musical theory. Many string effects developed within modern music cannot be rendered in traditional sheet music. thus, guitar tab is an intrinsic part of musical development for millions of aspiring players.
Until now. Tonight, I peruse the online tab archives to find them all shut down from fear of litigation. GuitarZone.com has this to say:
The company which owns this website has been indirectly threatened (via our ISP) with legal action by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) as well as the Music Publishers’ Association (MPA) on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement.
Apparently, the NMPA/MPA believes that the Internet may be on the foul side of the legality line they would like to draw here. For me, I see no difference. It’s teachers educating students and covered as a ‘fair use’ of the tablature. The teachers here don’t even get paid nor do the students have to pay this website to access the lessons.
Due to recent controversy regarding the legality of free guitar tablature on the Internet, MXtabs is temporarily unable to display this guitar tablature. We hope to be able to offer guitar tablature again in the near future.
Music publishers are having a tough time thanks to Internet technology. From RIAA to NMPA, the traditional controls on music production and distribution are being subverted. Truth is that music companies are parasitic - they must rely upon the gifts of others to survive. Only through the means of reaching the public do they have anything to offer the aspiring pop star or diva. There are other means now.
What the music industry is experiencing is a natural progression. Market shifts brought on by emerging technologies is a fundamental part of a market-driven culture. Ask the railroad industry how that works. Unfortunately for the music tycoons, their well is drying up fast.
So they turn to another parasitic industry to aid them: Lawyers. somehow, by forcing lawmakers to reinvent existing laws in their favor (or so they hope) they attempt to stem the tide of progress. Lawyers are more than eager to comply, they make money no matter the outcome. and since their clients are so stinking rich, large fees can be expected. Unfortunately for musicians, our current administration is confused about what is good for Americans. Often industrial perks offered by lawmakers supercede actual benefits for consumers.
In the end, though, traditional music industrial tactics will fail. musicians will leverage consumer power whenever necessary to force the companies to comply with new needs. that is how capitalism works. Too bad for the likes of the RIAA, but their time is over. Give them time, they’ll figure it out.
Meanwhile I’ll have to do without guitar tablature. Future musicians and the next generation of pop stars will just have to work harder.