Yahoo has reached a deal with Gracenote which has already allowed it to launch a free – and completely legal – song lyric website, and Apple isn't far behind, reports claim.

The lyrics from 400,000 songs from BMG Music Publishing, Peermusic, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Famous will be incorporated into Yahoo Music using Gracenote's lyric's database.

Gracenote has been working for two years to reach deals with hundreds of music publishers to enable it to offer song lyrics legally, unlike many existing lyrics websites which offer the words without a license, or royalty.

The company is understood to be in discussion with numerous online music firms to offer lyrics through their services, with Yahoo being the first confirmed legal lyric distributor.

Legitimacy offers another advantage, too – it means the lyrics are accurate.

"You mean Bob Dylan isn't actually saying 'The ants, my friend, are in a bowling pin?'" Ian Rogers, general manager of Yahoo Music, asked rhetorically. "Finally, a free, legal and definitive way to settle a bet with the guy sitting next to you at the bar who is certain the Ramones' most famous anthem declares, "I wanna piece of bacon.'"