Hi... well, without saying to much, i'm trying to program an application for smart phones and computers that involves tabs. I wonder,, does anyone know if I can use tabs publicly available ? I'd like as much information as I can about the distribution of tabs. I googled about 200ish sites and didn't find the right information! Bye
It sounds very much like you are doing research into developing an application that would be in competition with some of Ultimate-Guitar's services. Bye.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
What do you mean by publicly available? Do you mean you can access them for free like on UG, or do you mean that they're in the public domain?
"I googled about 200ish sites..."

Strong life. Bye.
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So it is written.
You can make them freely available to the public only if they are in the public domain - that is different for different countries. You can not distribute tabs of copyrighted work.

In most countries the work is under copyright restriction for 50 - 70 years after the authors death. In some cases it has to do with the publication date. (US is 70 years after death, or it could be 95 years after first publication or 120 years after creation depending on when it was published).

So most, if not all, of the work you are thinking about using is subject to copyright law and that copyright covers tabs of the songs too. You can tab a song out if you want but you can't share that tab publicly.

A lot of the early tab sites back in the 90s got shut down. I remember OLGA (the online guitar archive) which was a non profit archive of user submitted to tabs - similar to UG but a lot simpler (no forums, no lessons, columns, no sign ups, no user profiles or members etc - just a tab database) there was no advertising and no cost which means there was no profit being made by anyone.

They got sued for breach of copyright and shut down. A lot of other tab sites were shut down for the same reason as they have come into existence.

UG was started in Russia and so was out of reach of some of the same laws. Further, (according to Wikipedia) UG pays royalties and has agreements with the Harry Fox Agency to license tabs and lyrics etc. and so "plays by the rules".

So if you plan to use tabs of any songs made by authors that were alive after 1943 or that was first published after 1918 then you will most likely be in breach of copyright law and shut down.

Im not a lawyer though, I just know how to use google properly. I did two searches and got ALL the information above. I don't have much faith that your app would actually be any good anyway given you have trouble getting a basic search engine to return the results you want. But best of luck.

If you want to see a database of work that is publicly available check out IMSLP.ORG.

It's a giant legal hassle. UG has an advantage of being based in Russia, but it still had to get legal rights to show tabs without getting taken down, even so, some tabs are unavailable to users from some countries.

Basically, you're dealing with someone's intellectual property, so have to get permission to use it.

Also, UG has an app for tabs and better resources than you.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^

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Last edited by rockingamer2 at Jul 4, 2013,