Monday, April 2, 2007

This Summer: The Return of LEGAL Guitar Tablature!

While the vast majority of net-citizens are aware of the current battle of the RIAA against peer-to-peer networks and illegal downloading, few people know of the MPA's (Music Publishers Association) analogous crackdown on guitar tablature.

Over the past two years guitar tablature sites like and have been hit with DMCA notices from MPA attorneys (and, in some cases, representatives of specific artists such as Metallica), leading to a drastic decline in educational resources for musicians worldwide. (For more background on the MPA's actions against tab-based websites check out this article from Ars Technica posted last year, or this Chicago Tribune story.)

However, recent news has opened up the possibility of a legal method of creating and sharing guitar tab online.

As reported by Ars and NYT, Wisconsin-based company "Musicnotes" has entered into a licensing agreement that would allow for the rebirth of guitar tab on the web. Via Ars,
... under a new agreement reached with Musicnotes (one of the largest publishers of sheet music), Harry Fox will allow the company to offer tablature so long as it splits its advertising revenue with the music publishers. The new service will launch this summer at, which Musicnotes recently acquired.

"Musicnotes proves the viability of a copyright-friendly, ad-supported guitar tab web site," said Gary Churgin, the CEO of Harry Fox, in a statement. "HFA has expanded its licensing and royalty distribution capabilities to support this kind of service, and we will continue to adapt to new licensing opportunities and models such as this to provide the most comprehensive service for our publishers."

The New York Times adds,

Shar VanBoskirk, an analyst with Forrester Research, said tablature sites could also join other online publishers and anonymously track the Internet travels of their users. The budding guitar players might somehow show that they were shopping for a car, for instance, or other expensive goods. Suddenly, she said, “these users are really valuable targets for sellers of all kinds.”

Lauren Keiser, the president of the Music Publishers’ Association, and the chief executive of Carl Fischer, a music publisher in New York, said he would offer the MusicNotes proposal to his board this month to gauge their reaction. “As a publisher, I want to see this baby walk,” he said. “And we’ll see. There might be a whole bunch of other deals coming out of this."

As a long-time player, I think I speak for every current or aspiring guitar enthusiast when I say that this is great news. We can only hope that everything goes according to plan and that this project comes to fruition.


Alex Johnson said...

Damn so that is what happened? As a guitar player, the lack of tabs has always been a killer. Always seemed stupid since most tabs are horrible and are used for education anyway.

Tom said...

i really don't see what the big problem was anyway. i'm glad mxtabs is going to be up and running again but are there going to be any restrictions?

Ganesh said...

I agree with Tom ^^
This is good news - the Return!


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