February 8, 1999 11:25 AM PST

Lyrics site negotiates copyright issues

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Representatives of the International Lyrics Server are negotiating with the private U.S. agency that last month shut down the Swiss Web site for alleged copyright infringement, both sides said.

A meeting that took place last week in Europe lasted "several hours," said Ken Sunshine, a spokesman for the Harry Fox Agency, the licensing arm of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which represents copyright holders. A second meeting is expected to take place this week, Sunshine added.

"We hope to work out a licensing agreement," a message on the International Lyrics Server (ILS) said. Sunshine declined to comment on the negotiations, except to say that Harry Fox hoped to resolve the copyright issues.

As reported, the Harry Fox Agency sued members of the ILS in late January, alleging that the site, which claims to carry the words to more than 100,000 songs, infringed the copyrights of a number of NMPA members. As a result of the complaint, Swiss police raided the site's Internet service provider, as well as the homes of two of the site's operators, and confiscated materials related to the lyrics servers.

Defenders of the ILS noted that the site is a nonprofit venture and that its display of song lyrics constituted "fair use" under copyright doctrine. But Harry Fox claimed that ILS's posting of lyrics was far too broad to constitute fair use, and that the activity cut into sales of sheet music and lyrics of its members.

 

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