Tablature sites are not copyright violators
A few months ago, one of the biggest influences to my growth as a musician and guitar player was murdered by the Evil Music Industry (letís call them ďEMIĒ for short).
You may not believe me, but take my word for it as I tell you my background story.
When I was 16 years old, I decided to learn how to play guitar. One of my best friends was a good guitar player, so he was my logical choice as a teacher. After my first lessons with my friend, I was pretty much on my own, as we didnít see much of each other since he was in college. So a chord chart became my new teacher. When I could thread a few chords together, I wanted to play songs. I had never played a musical instrument before, so I had no sheet music. Real guitarists donít use sheet music anyway, so I turned to the Internet. I found dozens of wonderful sites that had thousands of chord progressions from my favorites such as Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Petty and the Wallflowers. For those who are unaware, these sites are powered by fellow guitarists from around the world who write down how they think songs are played and submit them. There is no Esteban on the other end somewhere deciphering all of the worldís music, so that he alone can teach the world guitar. Truthfully, most of the online tabs have errors, but thatís ok. It divides the players who blindly mimic these tabs out from the ones who have good ears and meticulously listen. You may not remember, but this column was about the Evil Music Industry (EMI) killing someone. The tablature Web site was that someone. The EMIís defense is that online tab sharing violates copyright laws, even if the tabs are erroneous. Because, you know, people canít teach other people how to play a song. Thatís against the law. We all remember the EMI putting 80-year-old men in jail along with 12-year-old girls for downloading Bing Crosby and Britney Spears. Even though I found the whole ordeal annoying, I understood the rhetoric. Musicians do put bread on the table and Ferraris in their garage partially from the sales of their songs, so in that sense, free downloading is like stealing. The EMIís music downloading saga made major headlines, but somehow, despite being much more idiotic and tragic, this story fell under the radar. Those Web sites were around simply to provide a forum for fellow musicians to teach other musicians how to play certain songs. I never once saw official copyrighted music online. Besides, most copyrighted sheet music isnít completely true to how the artist played the song in studio. I donít even know what you can copyright in a song, other than the words. EMI, Can you copyright a drumbeat? Can you copyright a chord progression? No, you cannot. That would be ridiculous. Just like using lawsuits to keep people from teaching others how to play a song. How far do you take it, EMI? Since I could potentially teach others how to play Dylanís ďPositively 4th StreetĒ are you going to shut down my ears, hands and voice? Well maybe. I guess with enough money, you can buy anything. Iíll give you my ears and hands for a billion dollars. However, Iím keeping my voice. Erich is a senior studying art. Source: http://www.ndsuspectrum.com/opinion/Spring07/2_27_07_opinion_copyright.html
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