• Will The "Copyright Police" Finally Come for Apple?

    Among the new iPhone music apps that has people talking is the "Sing Along With…" application from a company called Apptism. Minus the real artist names in the app title, each variation offers the full collection of lyrics from the stars’ back catalogs, according to an article on MusicAlly. One example given is that of "Sing Along With the Canadian Country Star," which includes a plethora of Shania Twain lyrics (see above image).

    Other examples:
    ‘Sing along with the Caribbean Queen’ (Rihanna)
    ‘Sing along with the Genesis star’ (Phil Collins)
    ‘Sing along with Curly and the boys’ (N-Sync – we like this title especially)
    ‘Sing along with the Poker Face singer’ (Lady Gaga)
    ‘Sing along with the ‘Rockstar’ band’ (Nickelback)
    In response to the app's release, some are wondering if Apple could ultimately be slapped with some sort of copyright violation lawsuit as a direct result. While the legal-eagles in Cupertino are always on call to guard against anyone else's potential copyright infringements against Apple, it will be interesting to see what will happen as claims begin to surface that the shoe is now on the other foot.

    The correct band/singer names are all in the App Store blurbs for these apps, it’s just the titles they’ve been not-so hidden in. Whether this is a cunning plan to avoid the copyright police is unclear – the app blurbs make it clear that they’re not officially connected (and thus presumably not officially licensed) with the artists.
    As far as anyone knows, neither the developer nor Apple has provided any sort of payment for use of the copyrighted music/lyrics. And therein lies the problem. Yet it isn't merely the developer of "Sing Along With…" that appropriates the copyrighted work of others. A host of applications approved and available in the App Store similarly usurp lyrics for which compensation has not been provided.

    Kind of makes you wonder if there's a gigantic loophole in Apple's approval process that should be patched up quickly before a multi-gazillion dollar legal battle erupts. For now, it appears that Apple will only act if and when the holder of any such copyright becomes personally aware of and outraged by the use of their material. Hardly seems like a smart policy for Apple to maintain.

    It seems like a recipe for discord with Apple’s music industry partners to us. It’s possible that the apps above are fully licensed, of course, but we wonder if rightsowners need to start scanning the App Store’s virtual shelves more carefully, in the same way that they’ve monitored unlicensed lyrics websites in the past.
    Image via AppShopper
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