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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yahoo Lyrics Live

Yahoo Music went live with a lyrics search engine. Just select “Lyrics” from the music search box and enter a part of the song you remember, say, “don’t know much about a science book.” Yahoo will then show you the artist (if found – their database contains hundreds of thousands of songs from the provider Gracenote, and misses some hits) and the relevant snippet. Click on it and you’ll then see the album cover, you can play a sample from the song, buy the music, and read the full lyrics.

This is a nice feature, though it should be a kind of onebox on top of a normal web search. I don’t want to have to remember which search engine fits which search type best, and rather be lazy and enter everything into a single search box... and then have the search engine figure out what to present to me.

Also, what seriously limits this special music search is the fact that Yahoo won’t let you copy the text, but protects it by displaying an image instead of real text. (When you’re searching for lyrics in a normal web search, you get lots of irrelevant data, but at least if you find the song lyrics, you can copy them.) It’s likely this is a defense mechanism to battle mass-screenscraping of a third party aiming to set up their own lyrics engine, but I can imagine many perfectly fair uses of wanting to copy song lyrics... say, because you want to quote a part, or because you want to print it in another font for a greeting card to give to a friend. Also, by storing an image only, this is a search engine apparently inaccessible to blind people using text-to-speech tools. It’s the same problem with other kinds of “digital rights management” approaches; by trying to fight off some infringing uses, the vendor is also limiting many fair uses.

[Via TechCrunch.]


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