Riportiamo un lungo comunicato della MPA, The Music Publishers’ Association of the United States, Inc., in merito alle azioni che l’associazione sta intraprendendo contro la pubblicazione abusiva di spartiti e tablature in Internet.
The Music Publishers’ Association of the United States, Inc. (MPA) is the oldest music trade organization in the United States. The MPA is a non-profit association. Many MPA members are music publishers who specialize in producing printed sheet music products for educational, concert and recreational purposes. Accordingly, the MPA is particularly concerned with legal and business issues affecting the printed sheet music industry.
The members of our Board have received numerous e-mails in response to media reports that the MPA is embarking on a campaign to shut down web sites that make sheet music and/or guitar tablature of songs available to the public. We greatly appreciate hearing from those members of the music community who have taken the time to write to us or to our Board members. Although we regret that we may not be able to reply to each inquiry individually, all inquiries are read. Most of these e-mails express similar concerns and those issues have been discussed by the members of the MPA Board. We ask that you take the time to read our explanation of our position that follows, and thank you for your interest and consideration.
In December, the MPA Board decided to take action against web sites that post unauthorized sheet music and tablature versions of our members’ copyrighted works. We are doing this to protect the interests of the creators and publishers of music so that, the profession of songwriting remains viable and that new and exciting music will be continued to be created and enjoyed for generations to come.
As with any event that has been reported in the press and discussed among the public, a certain amount of inaccurate information has been circulated. To be clear, neither the MPA nor its member publishers will take any action to shut down any legitimate web-based business that is authorized to distribute our members’ music. Rather, MPA is concerned with those web sites that offer music without the permission of the creators and owners of that music.
Our members are in the business of creating printed sheet music and tablature products and making them available for sale in music stores and on line.. Our members pay substantial sums to the creators and owners of the music we represent for the right and privilege to bring this music to the public in authorized sheet music products. Our members also put tremendous effort and incur significant expense in arranging, engraving, editing, marketing and distributing those products. Our members work closely with the creators and their musical representatives, to ensure that the finished products accurately represent the music as the creators wrote it..
Our members take great pride in the products they create and sell, and in their relationships with the creators and owners of the music they publish. Moreover, the creation and distribution of legitimate sheet music and tablature products is how our members and their employees feed their families, and it is also how music retailers and, of course, the creators of the music earn a living.
Many of those who have written to us have expressed frustration at the possibility of losing access to free guitar tab files that have been posted on various web sites. While it is true that tablature for some of the songs on these sites have not yet been produced legally by a music publisher, it is the presence of the unauthorized free product that is largely to blame for that situation. Accurate and complete notating of songs, whether in traditional sheet music format or in tablature, is a time-consuming and expensive activity. It is very difficult for a music publisher to make the investment needed to produce and sell an accurate, high-quality tablature version of a song when an unauthorized competing tablature version can be downloaded for free on numerous illegal web sites, even if the illegal tablature often is not accurate.
Moreover, it is simply wrong and unjust that many illegal web sites are able to make money, whether from selling advertising, other products or by other means, by giving away music that does not belong to them. Remember, unlike legitimate music publishers, these unauthorized web sites do not pay the creators of the music. It is like a store giving away stolen merchandise to attract customers to buy other things in that store.
Many of those who wrote to us seem to be under the impression that the guitar tabs (or lead sheets or other similar works) posted by individual players are the personal interpretations of the songs by the person who made them and therefore are not subject to copyright. Nothing can be further from the truth. The U.S. Copyright Law specifically provides that the right to make and distribute an arrangement, adaptation, abridgement, or transcription of a copyrighted work such as a song belongs to the copyright owner of that work. Virtually all of the songs on the tab and other music web sites are protected by copyright. Thus, any player, whether an amateur or a top professional, needs the permission of the copyright owner of a song to make an arrangement or a tab version of that song and to post it on the Internet. Otherwise, the arranger and the web site are infringing that copyright.
We have also heard that it would be too expensive to purchase legitimate tablature or sheet music for all of the songs that a player may want to learn. We are sure that these same individuals would not feel entitled to steal a sheet music book or a guitar from a music store simply because they want it but cannot afford it. Yet, anyone who patronizes these illegal web sites is stealing just as if he or she walked out of the music store with sheet music or a guitar. And by doing so, those people are taking money from the creators of the music they say they love.
The MPA is taking action to protect the rights of the creators and owners of music against people who would take the value of their music for their own commercial purposes without compensation. Our members are ready and willing to work with any web site owner who wants to build a legitimate on-line business to make music available to amateurs and professionals while providing compensation to the people who create and own that music. We look forward to developing new ways of distributing our products through the Internet for the benefit of everyone in the music community.
We hope that your reading of this message has left you with a better understanding of our position and that we have been able to clarify some of the myths and misinformation regarding the distribution of copyrighted music on the Internet and our members’ position. We are always interested in hearing the views of the music community, and would welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Mr.) Lauren Keiser
Music Publishers Association