Lyrics Websites
September 10, 2004 11:30 AM   Subscribe

How come many lyrics sites try to install virii?,, and so forth all suggest you download their dubious-sounding "plug-in".

It's not that I'm at all surprised certain sites wish to install spyware, I'm just wondering why lyrics-related sites specifically seem to take advantage of users like this.
posted by dhoyt to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
Because lyrics sites are low-maintenence. All you have to do is throw up a database and let people submit the lyrics on their own. Anyone who puts up yet another lyrics site is no doubt corrupt in intent in some way; there are far too many already.

A smaller-scale version of this theme is when people set up what are essentially Wikipedia or Everything2 mirrors but set it up so all the links go to Amazon affiliate links to the search page for that phrase. There's a lot of interest at any opportunity for a site that makes money by itself.
posted by abcde at 11:37 AM on September 10, 2004

Ever noticed that 6 different lyrics sites all have the same mistake in the lyrics? This is just a personal impression, but I think they all copy each other. The record company owns the copyright to the lyrics, but they allow people to republish them because it helps market the album. So basically, what you have is an opportunity to run a website with content people want, and all you have to do is cut and paste it all. Get it from another lyrics site! They don't own the copyright, after all. With a couple of notable, honorable exceptions, the sites seem entirely founded on thinly-veiled thievery, a quick-and-dirty effort to get some kind of content up so they can slap ads or whatever onto it. It's no surprise they'd also resort to spyware installs, etc, to make a buck. It's a loveless sector.
posted by scarabic at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2004

where do they get the lyrics? i've honestly thought about starting a "clean" lyrics site, but i don't know where they get the lyrics.
posted by o2b at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2004

Those sites are all basically huge copyright infringement databases. As such, I imagine their morals regarding malware is pretty low. Plus they probably "stole" most of their data from usenet posts, fansites, and each other.

Waaaaaay back in the day, there was a site called which I believe was user supported (a la imdb) which was eventually shutdown (I seeem to remember the kid got his house raided and equipment taken)
posted by gwint at 12:13 PM on September 10, 2004

Actually, I've wanted to start up a totally ad-free/malware-free community-edited lyrics site for a while. I even own I'll get round to it one of these days.

I wouldn't see any issue with 'seeding' it from the already-established databases; after all, they don't own the lyrics, do they?
posted by reklaw at 12:54 PM on September 10, 2004

True, reklaw, but neither do you. Think of lyrics as poems-- you couldn't just create a website of copyrighted poems without compensating the poets or their publishers, right?
posted by gwint at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2004

Oh, please. As scarabic points out, the labels don't care because they help sell records. Besides, it's not like labels are out there selling books full of lyrics. The lyrics aren't the product, the music is. </derail>
posted by jpoulos at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2004

Here's an old article on the shutdown. I doubt that the music companies' position has changed, but if you don't mind running the risk of having your morning shower interrupted by the police, go right ahead & start your own server.

Alas, We hardly knew ye.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2004

They're not trying to install viruses. They're trying to install trojans.
posted by majick at 2:23 PM on September 10, 2004

More nostalgia: SongMeanings. A community lyrics site, with message boards on each song discussing the meaning. Was up a few months ago, but appears to be down again.
posted by ALongDecember at 3:44 PM on September 10, 2004

As scarabic points out, the labels don't care because they help sell records.

That's simply not the case. I wish it were.
posted by rushmc at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2004

The lyrics aren't the product, the music is.

Well, to split hairs, the music isn't the product either. The plastic, silicone and magnetic tape is. The music is the enticement to buy the little plastic things.

But the point is the same, and I actually (pace, rushmc); the lyrics sell more product than they take away, and despite any official statements to the contrary, the major labels have figured that out.
posted by chicobangs at 4:41 PM on September 10, 2004

The record company owns the copyright to the lyrics, but they allow people to republish them because it helps market the album.

Heh. This is so false it's laughable. The record companies will sue you for publishing their lyrics. The RIAA will be all over you. Did you see what happened to the guitar tablature sites a while back? And the legitimate lyric sites?

This is why all of the lyrics sites are slimy - we legitimate, law-abiding publishers won't go near the field because we know it would be a short-lived experiment before we were sued out of existence.

The publishers of lyrics sites know this too, so they load them up with all of the ads they can (including the slimy ones) to make a buck before Cease-and-Desist time.

(I'd love to hear that they've figured out that the lyrics sell product, but I'm pretty sure the RIAA hasn't been on the receiving end of any clues lately.)
posted by mmoncur at 4:47 PM on September 10, 2004

Putting lyrics on the web is, as far as I'm concerned, fair use. Especially if it's not-for-profit, and people can discuss them (like you used to be able to at songmeanings). I swear, I'll do it, I'll put into action. Heck, maybe I'll even do it tomorrow.
posted by reklaw at 5:35 PM on September 10, 2004

Putting lyrics on the web is, as far as I'm concerned, fair use.

"Fair use" doesn't just mean "I think it's fair," it's a specific legal term. Lyrics sites are not fair use: they quote far too much of the original work (fair use covers excerpts) and add little or no value to the original work, and their purpose is not an allowed one (comment/criticism or parody).

Quoting a single line of a song in a novel requires permission, and to get that permission you'll probably have to pay (the better known the song, the more you'll pay). This is why most books don't quote songs but rather mention them by name or artist and hope to evoke them this way. A legitimate lyrics site would likely require the payment of billions in royalties.
posted by kindall at 6:01 PM on September 10, 2004

Besides which, sometimes it's the royalties from lyrics that are the only thing many recording artists ever receive for their work.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:40 PM on September 10, 2004

Use Evil Lyrics. It automatically searches and saves lyrics by scraping those sites, as you listen. Highly recommended, and has versions for most major media players.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2004

I am aware of the specific legal meaning of "fair use". Since the site would be noncommercial, educational and allow comment/criticism, it meets the requirements three times over, does it not? And it's hardly like setting up a lyrics site would deprive anyone of any royalties.
posted by reklaw at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2004

No, you don't put up the lyrics first and then hope someone will post some comment or criticism. Fair use is intended to allow critics to quote what they're critiquing -- not to allow you to create a lyrics site and have strangers come along later and critique songs.

And, as I said, quoting the whole lyric is far too much.
posted by kindall at 11:46 AM on September 16, 2004

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