Aug 27, 2008

The War Against Guitar Tablature

Some of you may already be familiar with this, but regardless - I need to address it. As of recently, the music industry has been cracking down on guitar tab sites and I've been reading about it everywhere, and just about every guitar blog imaginable has covered it, so I chose not talk about it since its like a beating a dead dog. However, it is truly nagging at my soul and I can't help but address it from my own perspective.

So what is going on?

Well, the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) and the MPA (Music Publishers Association) have been targeting infamous guitar tablature sites, making claims of copyright infringement. Sites like OLGA and are examples. I'm not saying that those sites have come under fire yet, nor would I ever make that claim, because I don't really know where they are sitting in all of this, but many tab sites are getting torn apart.

My thoughts

First of all, I have talked about for a long time now that tablature is great, but that it is also a quick fix to something that should be explored by the aspiring musician. Guitar tabs cannot do for you what training your ear and transcribing can. So, from my perspective it doesn't affect myself, because I have never been fond of learning music by way of guitar tabs. This could be looked at as a gateway for mental, musical evolution. To be more specific, it could definitely force a lot of young guitar players to have to use their heads, which is truly the ticket to musical enlightenment.

A matter of ethics

So now we must ask ourselves the questions that revolve around the ethics of this interesting situation. It would seem that the only reason that the NMPA and the MPA are claiming that these are acts of copyright infringement is because it takes away from sales of sheet music or song books. They are surely justified in this accusation to a certain degree, but it still feels like a weak foundation to build a case from. If I were an attorney I would not touch this with a ten foot pole. I would however love to be in a position to defend the need for guitar tab sites. The truth of the matter is that there are so many millions of songs out there by solo artists or bands that are insanely underground and do not have the street cred to have sheet music carried at stores or distributed by way of online shops. Yet those same artists have a massive following of unique listeners, which means that a lot of these listeners will truly want to learn to play some of these songs using guitar tabs, and so tab sites are the only true resource for this ever growing populous.

Its also really quite senseless considering that organizations like this tried to silence Napster, when years later we have even more ways of accessing and downloading complete albums. For me personally, downloading an album off of the internet is not for me, because I also would like to support the artist, but I do not judge others who do this, because in the name of learning - a musician will not let anything get in his or her way. I say all of that, because no matter how hard the music industry attempts to put a stop to these things, the resources will continue to prosper. The music industry is only fighting with itself, because the more they push, the more audiences despise them and revolt.

A lot of guitar teaching sites like this one have had to abandon teaching songs to people through their sites. It just goes to show how much of an effect this new tribulation can have. Now think a little further. Take me as an example. What if I were to say "Ok, I won't show guitar tabs for other songs anymore, but I will continue to teach my viewers by way of video." This means that by their own standards, me teaching you a song through a video lesson could be constituted as copyright infringement as well. Which also means that the music industry is promoting the message that if I were to have a little studio set up and were teaching a student, in a one-on-one setting an AC/DC song, that they could take me to court. That is an extreme scenario, but one thing leads to another and that is exactly what they are saying, because the similarities of those three methods of teaching a student guitar are so close together.

Hurting themselves

Unfortunately the industry still does not seem to realize that they are constantly moving in a direction of smootherment of future artists. If they continue this route, then there will be nothing left for future musical creation, which translates to them as future dollar signs. Its especially offensive to individuals like myself, whom teach guitar by way of their own songs. I share with all of you my own tricks, passages and approach to playing and encourage you to steal it in order to make you a better musician, and I ask for nothing in return.

How does this affect GuitArticles?

It doesn't. I could care less. The music industry is out-numbered by shear passion. My advice to them would be to first locate their souls and then look deep inside them. They are simply out of their minds and have lost touch with what they call reality. Apparently the word reality has been replaced with the word, legality.

How does this affect us as guitarists?

It doesn't. You can teach yourself. I will show you. Others will show you. There will always be tab sites out there. Its a lot like the stock market. It is controlled by whether or not people perceive it to be good, or perceive it to be bad. Eventually, people will get so sick of the industry's whining, that their voice will die away. Its all irrelevant since no one likes the idea of a police state, anyways.

It goes both ways

They say "it doesn't matter that you think its ok to get free tabs, we say that it isn't" and we say "it doesn't matter that you think its wrong to get free tabs, we say that it is acceptable and there are more of us".

I am not condoning anything illegal in this article by the way. I due have the right to freedom of speech after all. This is my opinion and since it seemed to me that there are so many ways of addressing the ethical issues of this movement, I thought that I would bring up some other things to take into account. Who knows? maybe I am off of my rocker and am completely unethical. Regardless, I would love to know what everyone else thinks. So many sites are reporting the news of this, but not offering their own opinions and perspectives. I had the notion to start that.

Watch this video..

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