Well, this is my first FAQ, and certainly not the deep, meaningful question I thought I would ask, but I was curious about your opinion on something.
http://www.greenplastic.com is a site dedicated to the band Radiohead, and a very good one at that. The site is currently being ordered to take down its lyric and tab archives by Radiohead's record company, Warner Chappell, citing "copyright infringement". [You can read the letter sent to the webmaster at http://www.greenplastic.com/news/dusty/000575.php]
So my question is this:
Do you, as a professional writer, or just as a music fan, think that it is indeed copyright infringement to post lyrics on the internet? Or do you think that fan sites such as greenplastic.com do more good than harm?
Thank you for your time (anf for being an amazing person),
Do I think it's copyright infringement to post lyrics on the internet? Not if you own the lyrics, or have the permission of the people who do.
But copyright is about who has the right to copy something, or to publish it...
Beyond that, one of the problems with copyright laws for the person who owns the copyright is that you need to vigorously defend your copyright in order to hang onto it, to stop your work tumbling into the public domain and being owned by everyone or nobody.
And one of the problems with people who post lyrics and poems on the Internet is that they get things wrong, or that they feel they have a right to post things they don't own.
I'll occsionally send e-mails to people saying "please take down this story/essay/poem/novel of mine". In several worrying cases I've had to send e-mails saying that such and such short story wasn't a mysterious anonymous thing in the public domain, but was written, and is owned, by me.
I think fan sites do more good than harm. Much more good. But I think that if anyone is going to post the songs, or the lyrics (or in my case, the essays, novels, short stories) it should be the person who owns them or someone with their permission. It's not like linking is difficult, or asking permission is hard. (I remember a Tori Amos fan site asked if they could put up the "Strange Little Girls" stories I wrote for her tour booklet, and I was happy to say yes.)