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Rap Genius unveils licensing deal with music publisher Sony/ATV

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No rap feud here. The Silicon Valley-backed lyrics site Rap Genius says that it has a licensing deal with Sony/ATV, the biggest music publisher.

News of the deal comes just days after the National Music Publishers Assn. sent takedown notices to 50 sites, including Rap Genius, over using unlicensed works of songwriters.

Rap Genius' website invites users to contribute song lyrics and annotate them with interpretations and amusing tidbits, and it also has pages for news and poetry. It has received some attention from backers such as the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has infused it with $15 million.

The Sony/ATV deal was finalized earlier this year, a spokesperson for Rap Genius said, though it had not been revealed until Thursday.

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"This partnership has already been magical for both sides, and the symbiotic relationship between Rap Genius and artists will only grow stronger as more publishers board the 'Rap Genius Love Train,'" Rap Genius said in a statement. 

With the Sony/ATV deal, which was announced through Billboard, Rap Genius is not out of danger, said David Israelite, the NMPA's president and chief executive, because it still publishes other lyrics without a license. "I am hopeful it is a first step toward becoming a fully licensed site," Israelite said. 

Rap Genius said it is in talks with the other music publishers. Other big publishers include Universal Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music and Bertelsmann. 

Rap Genius is only one of the many sites targeted by the NMPA, but it is one of the best-known. Others include Lyricsmania.com and Lyricstranslate.com.

Israelite said he does not want the sites to be shut down completely.

"I think this is going to lead to a good resolution with many of these sites becoming business partners with songwriters," he said. 

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