Hi there all UG-transcribers!
Yesterday, I rediscovered this old blog of mine. I realized that I had grown older and my thinking had grown more nuanced, and that I ought to rewrite the thing. So here goes!
The headline asked the question: Can you "steal" someone else’s tab?
The answer back then was: No, tabs cannot be stolen. Tabs are pieces of free knowledge, and these should be shared altruistically with the entire internet-connected world. If anyone regarded your tab as something worth "stealing", you ought to be proud and appreciate your work being shared.
Today, honestly, I think this sounds naively self-effacing. At least more self-effacing than I could tolerate myself. Being subject to plagiarism is only fun and games until it happens to you.
Therefore, today my answer to the question is: Of course you can "steal" someone else’s tab! If you submit someone else’s work solely in your own (profile)name, you’re wrongly alleging your "new" ownership of the work. And, if anything, that is stealing! To be more precise, I think a fine line can be drawn at crediting the source.
Crediting the source:
If someone made a great tab, and it is unfortunately only available at one of the many tab sites around, I see no problem in anyone submitting it other places – if that anyone remembers to credit the original source. That is proper sharing. ("Here is a piece of candy. I'm not the one who brought it, I also just got it from that guy over there.") In my tabs, I always write a signature line in the very bottom, so if anyone would like to copy my tab, just let that signature line be.
A problem arises around outdated versions: Say, if a tab is resubmitted by someone else, on another site out of reach of the source, and if the source updates the tab, it won’t be updated on the other sites. Hence, the source stands credited for something, which now outdated. A dating in the bottom of the tab does not really solve it, since it does not refer to the update. So, online-practically speaking, this problem seems pretty unavoidable.
Rating a "stolen" tab:
The initial thought for this discussion actually emerged from this dilemma:
Someone had "stolen" someone else’s tab (that is, submitting it without crediting the source). Although the tab was perfect, a third person rated it 1 star (lowest rating) and argued that is was "stolen goods".
Indeed, the tab was stolen. But it was also a perfect tab worth a 5 star rating. The rating systems of these tab sites are of course designed to rate the quality of the tab, where it is rather the purpose of report-button to report stolen goods. So, this guy should have rated it 5 stars and reported the tab for being "uncredited goods".
I hope this little blog has been informative to you! Remember that this only represents my opinions, and that you are just as entitled to yours.
Of course, worth mentioning is the broader consideration, whether the tab sites themselves pay their due royalties to the artists. I believe that it is meaningful to discuss notions of stealing and proper crediting within such an overall legal framework. But that is a story for another time.
Jon S. Frederiksen