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Hi yall,

I recently visited (AKA "Guitar Tab Universe") because I wanted to play "living on my own" (by freddy mercury) and needed the tabs.

To my amazement, all the tabs and chords have been removed from the website due to a threat by the MPA to sue them for copyright infringement.

Rob Balch, the owner of the website wrote to the visitors:
When you are jamming with a friend and you show him/her the chords for a song you heard on the radio, is that copyright infringement? What about if you helped him/her remember the chord progression or riff by writing it down on, say, a napkin... infringement? If he/she calls you later that night on the phone or e-mails you and you respond via one of those methods, are you infringing? I don't know... but I would really like to know. If anyone has information on this, please email

I totally agree with Rob and have no doubt that learning to play other bands' songs does not constitute copyright infringement! Isn't this ridiculous?? what are the MPA going to do next? sue bands who play cover versions of songs in gigs?
I cannot see how tabbing songs and putting them on the internet infringes on anything. This is happening on several tab websites i've found recently and i really can't understand it.

A tab is an interpretation of a song that someone has worked out on their own based on the song. If anything the rights to the tab surely belong to the person who tabbed it! (not saying by any means that they have any claim to the song, just their interpretation of it).

Tabbing takes nothing away from the artists who write the song, if anything it gives them greater exposure. If there is a tab of a good riff on the net then there are bound to be people who are just looking for good tabs to play and stumble across it. They then think "ooh i havn't heard this song before, it's realy good, why don't i go buy or download it" (legally of course!).
If you need tabs, is still up.
I used to get very accurate, complete tabs from, they still have the tab editor for download, but all tabs have been removed due to this so called copyright infringement.

Are they doing the same to sites with lyrics sites? It amounts to the same thing does it not? (and lyrics would tend to be more accurate, though I don't see any way they could make money from them in they way they do with tab books...)

The MPA states something like: tab postings, even if they are inaccurate, are protected by copyright laws because they represent “derivative works” related to the original compositions.
I [cencored] hate the [cencored] who shuts tab sites down! I will just torrent pdf.'s of the book though... if i can find it.
it if by far the stupidist thing... they shouldn't be worried about a site where people submit tabs.... they should worry about child pornography phishing and all that.
And I am sure they will try to make it illegal to learn songs by ear as well.
apparently, most of the major tab websites have also been shut down!! I've done some searching lately and a lot of sites I used to visit no longer contain tabs.

PLEASE... I wonder when will it ever stop?? what makes are the record companies so damn greedy??? I've never heard of the van gogh museum threating to sue artists for having been influenced by him! If the record companies feel that this is the right way to make money then I don't even have a moral problem with downloading free music from emule.

The record companies rip off most of the artists (for whom the main income is from performing), and kill all the fans' enthusiasm by ripping us off too.
totally unreasonable..

maybe they will sue us for playing covers on gigs.. then might as well don create music when they restrict us to be inspired..
I think clubs/pubs pay for a licence to play music (live or recorded), So no need to worry about that just yet molif.

Have any of these websites that refused to take down the tabs been taken to court? I would be interested to know the outcome of such a case.
Clubs, arenas, and even radio stations in the USA pay one or more of the three "performing rights organizations." The organizations are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. These organizations collect license fees from these places and distribute them fairly to the artists they represent. It's much easier to get a check from ASCAP than to have to go to every radio station in the country and ask for one!

The original topic, regarding guitar tabs, does not have much to do with the RIAA or record companies, it has to do with music publishers (a very different branch). They are represented by the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association), who has been sending "take-down" letters to guitar tab sites, threatening lawsuits over copyright infringement. Other sites that have been taken down include, (in negotiations to keep some of their tabs), and a few others. Ultimate-Guitar is rumored to be ignoring the take-down notice and taking the NMPA to court, while other tab sites have simply rolled over and died.

The main thing to realize here is that it is not the record companies trying to make more money for once, it is the music publishing companies. While these may be one and the same, it is a very different industry.
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