Hold on to your britches because I have a feeling this is going to be my first good solid rant since I started this blog.
You see, I’m an amateur bass player… on hiatus. I’ve been focused on learning and improving my .NET skills for the past 2-3 years so the bass has been gathering dust in a closet. It’s because of this that I only now discovered what has been fact for well over a year: in December 2005 the Music Publishers’ Association (aka MPA, or NAMBLA) decided that posting tablature on the internet violates its members copyrights.
If you’re not familiar with it, tablature is like sheet music for morons. They look similar, but instead of traditional musical notes the fret number is printed on the line representing the string to be played. Tabs eliminate the need to understand sheet music. They literally allow anyone to pick up an instrument and start playing recognizable tunes in minutes. I still can’t read sheet music and don’t really have a desire to. I’m perfectly happy with snagging the tab for my latest favorite song because I enjoy being able to play along.
Yes, it’s true. It is their position that transcribing a tab by ear and posting it on the internet for others to learn is a violation of the artist’s copyright. Think about that carefully. Have you ever gone online to find the lyrics to a song you liked? Did you feel like you were violating the artist’s copyright? Under this interpretation you were. Don’t you feel like a cheating bastard now?
Seriously, what the hell is going on with intellectual property rights in this country? Copyrights used to be a defense serving the interests of artists’ livelihoods and ultimately the livelihood of all those who create. Now they’ve become offensive weapons used to obliterate anyone who dares mention even the title among close friends. It’s sickening that our system of justice has allowed the pendulum to swing so far from sanity.
Issues like these are why I decided to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They’re a coalition of lawyers, volunteers, etc. that work to protect us from the prick bastards at organizations like the MPA and the RIAA. Since those organizations have clearly demonstrated that there is no such thing as overreaching when it comes to protecting copyright, I think it’s money well-spent. At least I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m doing my little part to fight back against the subhuman pieces of shit that are hellbent on killing off music as we know it.