From Billboard via BoingBoing, a little good news from the front. A guy named Walter Ritter created a free application called Pearlyrics, which displays the lyrics of the song that’s currently playing in iTunes. If there are lyrics in the mp3, it displays those, otherwise it searches a few lyrics websites and saves what it finds. It’s a pretty good idea, and it certainly doesn’t sound like it should be illegal. Nonetheless, Warner/Chappell sent a cease and desist letter, and Ritter pulled it from the site to avoid any legal entanglements.
The EFF posted an open letter to Warner/Chappell, pointing out that since the software is only doing what any user could legally do with their hands and an internet browser, it’s not in fact an infringement of US copyright law. They also suggest that making legal threats against the makers of such software might expose Warner/Chappell to federal liability. Yesterday Warner/Chappell apologized to Walter Ritter, who has a nice post on the Pearlyrics site about it.
I’m so happy I could buy a CD. I think the high-profile Sony disaster has made content owners a little more careful about throwing their weight around – nobody wants to come across as dumb and anti-consumer as Sony did. It’s also nice to know that some actual grown-up lawyers like the ones at EFF are looking out for our interests.