Mac users might remember (or still be running) a funky little application called pearLyrics that goes out and finds the lyrics of songs playing on your iTunes. Over a year ago, its creator, Walter Ritter, fell foul of the industry’s crackdown on lyric sites. Citing infringement of copyright, the US publisher Warner-Chappell sent out a cease-and-desist order. Not having the resources to fight a legal battle despite the fact that pearLyrics was nothing more than a specialised search engine, Ritter complied. As numerous people and bodies rushed to Ritter’s defence, Warner-Chappell eventually sent an apology and opened the door to working together. All sounds cosy, doesn’t it? So what happened next?
So one year later, what has happened? Nothing. Warner-Chappell has since done a deal with Gracenote for licensing lyrics to the web and pearLyrics is in a legal limbo. “For me as a little freeware developer this whole experience was stunning and frustrating at the same time. On the one hand it feels a bit strange if your freeware app is shared on filesharing networks (of course, this is perfectly fine for me), that an application so small and unimportant captures so much interest. On the other hand it’s a sad world, where money decides who is on the right side of the law. There is simply no way I could risk a law suit, even if I’m absolutely sure that I’m doing the right thing. I’m a software developer, not a law expert after all. This incident made me think twice before releasing any new software.”
To read Ritter’s full statement, click over to pearLyrics.