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Swiss Web Site Catalogs Song Lyrics

Identifying a song known only by the verse that’s been stuck in your head since lunch is one of the chronic ailments of music fans.

The traditional cure is to bug your friends by singing said lyrics to them until someone recognizes the tune.

If, however, alienating your acquaintances isn’t a priority, the International Lyrics Server (http://www.lyrics.ch) is a better solution.

This site, located in Switzerland, has the words to over 48,000 songs squirreled away in its archives, searchable by song title, artist name or the full text of the lyrics themselves.

The server gets those lyrics from other lyrics archives and, increasingly, direct submissions from visitors to the site. This chaotic process works but has its limits.

For instance, Tori Amos’ “Humpty Dumpty” is included, but Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance” is not. The site’s existence is a bit of a fluke, given the unfriendly legal climate for online listings of lyrics. The server was founded after an earlier archive, hosted at a University of Wisconsin site, folded after record-label complaints of copyright violation.

Lyrics Server founder Pascal de Vries reports that the site already has received several “aggressive” e-mails from an unnamed U.S. record label but says, “It’s legal (at least according to Swiss law) to reproduce lyrics for non-commercial purpose(s).”



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