Hip-hop lyric sites across the Internet could be at risk of being shut down.

The National Music Publishers Association has sent out take-down notices to 50 lyric sites, including popular site Rap Genius. The notices claim that the sites do not have the publishing rights to post lyrics. If the sites do not take heed of the notices, the NMPA will file copyright infringement lawsuits against them, according to NMPA representatives. If it comes to that, the NMPA may have a good chance of winning; last year, a group of music publishing companies and record labels won a $6.6 million judgement against LiveUniverse, a company that owned multiple unlicensed lyric sites.

Lyric sites in recent years have played a large role in hip-hop culture. Fans use them to find out what their favorite rappers are saying, which is not always easy to do based on audio alone. Rap Genius took the concept one step further by adding definitions of lyrics and songs. It's unclear how much money it would take for companies like Rap Genius to gain publishing rights for all the lyrics it posts.

[Via Billboard]