On 14 January 1999 the Swiss government seized the computers of the
International Lyrics Server (ILS), an Internet site based in Basel,
Switzerland, which offered the words for more than 100,000 popular
tunes. The seizure is the result of a lawsuit filed in Basel in
November 1998 by the [American] National Music Publishers' Association,
Inc. (NMPA) and its licensing subsidiary, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc.
The NMPA, which represents more than 600 publishers, was concerned
because ILS wasn't paying any royalties to the copyright holders.
Pascal De Vries, the ILS proprietor, says that he was just acting as a
conduit for text contributed by readers, at the rate of 200 to 300 each
day. He says that he never intended to make a profit, he only wanted
to cover his costs, and, he pointed out, "they weren't getting a penny
from the lyrics alone anyway."
The litigants are discussing a settlement and the web site may be per-
mitted to resume operation offering the official lyrics under license
-- an improvement on the current system where contributors often pass
on incorrect words they thought they heard.
Thanks to MMDer Claus Kucher for his web research. :)