The sites were identified in a report by University of Georgia researcher David Lowery as being unlikely to have the correct licenses (or, indeed, any licences) to publish lyrics. His report points to the potential of lyric sites to generate large profits from digital advertisements that appear on their sites. The notice, issued on Monday (November 11th), demands that the websites either obtain the correct licenses or remove copyrighted lyrics from their site.
Rap Genius co-founder Ilan Zechory spewed some guff about how his company had not heard from the NMPA, but that they "can't wait to have a conversation with them about how all writers can participate in and benefit from the Rap Genius knowledge project."
David Israelite, Chief Executive of the NMPA, said that his organisation was only targetting websites with a commercial imperative, rather than fan sites or lyric sites with the correct licenses. Instead, the NMPA are going after websites that partake in what Israelite, not one to mince his words, calls "blatant illegal behavior." He added that copyright infringement lawsuits would be filed against sites that do not adhere to the takedown notice.
Rap Genius – which received a much-publicised $15 million investment from venture firm Andreessen Horowitz last year – notably does not host advertisements on their site, so it's uncertain whether it'll go much further than a takedown notice.