Tag Archives: ultimate guitar

Legality of online tablature sites

We all want something beautifulWas having a conversation with @patrickyiu about the legality of guitar tab – after all, it straight out makes use of someone else’s copyrighted material, most of the time, even if it is someone’s interpretation of it… For the uninitiated, guitar tab is musical notation for dummies for guitars (probably for most stringed instruments, but most commonly available for guitar, bass and… drums online) – a series of dashes and numbers indicate which string you need to depress and which fret of the guitar  you need. All that’s needed is a knowledge of the song and you can use this system to learn entire songs.

I remember in the early days of the net, finding great pleasure in discovering the Online Guitar Archive – OLGA – which saved me a fortune in music books and eliminated the need for me to learn how to transpose musical notation – which I’d learned from piano lessons – to the guitar.

OLGA, however, was shut down following disputes with the record labels. In the past decade, however, other forces have arisen, including the Ultimate-Guitar site, creator of that iPhone App I mentioned the other day. Curious about how this could possibly be legal, I delved through the bowels of the Internet, finally arriving at Wikipedia (Ok, it might have bent he first place I went) – where I read about the rise of legal tablature sites.

Turns out they share ad (and presumably app) revenue with the labels, which is rather clever. Here’s to new business models on the Internet and me finally learning how to play a few songs in their entirety…