today in "Burn, Hollywood, Burn" news

PearLyrics is a program that displays the lyrics of the currently-playing track in iTunes: it gets the lyrics from the ID3 tag in the MP3 file, or if they aren't in there, it searches for them on a few different web sites, and then saves them into the MP3s.

It's very handy: I managed to use it to download the lyrics for almost half of my music collection in one fell swoop.

Except that the author got a "Cease and Desist" letter from Warner/Chappell Music, who seem to think that his program -- which is, basically, nothing more than a specialized web browser -- is somehow in violation of their copyrights.

But, the author doesn't have the time or money to risk a lawsuit, so he panicked and pulled it.

Update: fiyin has a mirror of it and a torrent on his site. There's another mirror at And another here. Another list of mirrors here. If you know of more mirrors, please let me know.

Update 2: Some press (which is almost entirely cut-and-paste rephrasery from Pearworks -- a gem of journalism, really): Music giants bear down on lyric search apps.

Update 3: More press, mostly about the attack on the lyrics sites themselves:

    "The Xerox machine was the big usurper of our potential income," he said. "But now the internet is taking more of a bite out of sheet music and printed music sales so we're taking a more proactive stance."

Update 4: The PearLyrics site now says that Warner/Chappell has "apologized" for the "tone and substance" of their take-down letter. But that means nothing, because the software remains unavailable. Once you can again download PearLyrics from the developer's site, I'll believe that their apology means a damned thing.

Update, 2013: I wrote my own.

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17 Responses:

  1. bodyfour says:

    The sad thing is that it probably wouldn't be a frivolous lawsuit. If we presume that the bulk of the data on the lyrics sites were there illegally then I think under the latest MGM/Grokster ruling might not be good for them. Buf of course IANAL (thankfully)

    The truly ridiculous thing is that the lyrics site are a pure money factory for the music industry. There's been lots of times where I've found what song to buy by typing a few remembered lyrics into google... and I'm sure I'm not alone in this. These lyrics sites cost the record labels a total of zero dollars and yet they create millions in revenue for them. Yet of course they have to shut them down simply because the music industry is evil and insane.

  2. skington says:

    The PDF of the letter the record company sent the guy is password-protected in such a way as it doesn't display under Mac OS X's Preview application.

    I do hope that the PDF was provided by the record company themselves, rather than generated from the Word document they originally sent, by the author of said freeware app.

    • jwz says:

      As far as I can tell, the pearLyrics author password-protected both of those letters himself; I don't know why, maybe he's afraid they'll sue him over that too...

  3. mattstratton says:

    Wow. I just downloaded it this morning, based upon a review in MacUser.

    Of course, I set it up to start crawling my library, and when I came home, it had stopped, and google was insisting that they couldn't serve up searches for me anymore because "my computer was infected with spyware".

  4. otterley says:

    Except that the author got a "Cease and Desist" letter from Warner/Chappel Music, who seem to think that his program -- which is, basically, nothing more than a specialized web browser -- is somehow in violation of their copyrights.

    They're probably relying on the third-party "active inducement" theory which premiered in the Grokster decision last summer. For better or for worse, third-party liability theories are stronger than ever days.

  5. korgmeister says:

    Fantastic business model, that. Pissing off your customers and harrassing them with lawsuits.

    Yeah, the music industry sure are essential and relevant.

    • beerfrick says:

      the amusing part is that it probably won't hurt their sales a single bit

      they do it because they can

      • korgmeister says:

        This itself, no. But as part of a larger policy of treating customers like dirt I think it will have a negative effect on revenue.

        Naturally of course, it will be blamed on piracy, due to the corporate tendency towards groupthink, one of the primary axioms of such being Bad Things Are Not Our Fault.

  6. fiyin says:

    I'm mirroring the image at
    It'll be gone in 6 hours.

  7. Note to developers everywhere:
    If you think you're going to be frivolously lawsuited by Hollywood, release the source!

  8. ibneko says:

    Yay~ Mirrors! I read about pearLyrics in MacWorld, and went hunting, and was shocked to find it gone, due to stupid companies.

    Making a post. Will have yousendit links for a while, until I find some other solution. Mayhaps adding a .txt extension to the dmg, then shoving it onto yahoo or something.

  9. Google is an amazing thing, I think.

    After I bought my iPod Video today, I was excited to enable lyrics just for kicks. And then the same day Pearlyrics gets a slap in the face and I didn't even get to download the application (only had the widget)

    Thanks to google, I was able to find your journal and links of mirrors. The power of blogs is pretty great.

    Thanks a bunch.

  10. valentwine says:

    FWIW, this Dashboard lyrics widget did not get taken down.