Tracking and Demoscene discussion.

Legalities of tracking a midi file?

Legalities of tracking a midi file?

Postby Harmony » Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:22 pm

There's a midi file from an old 1990's SNES game that I want to rewrite in Renoise and release as a free mp3 but I'm not sure of the copyright issues involved... does anyone know if that would be legal??
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Postby Sonicade » Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:01 am

I can't say that I know for a fact but the likelihood of anyone pursuing legal action against you for a 90's SNES midi are pretty slim. :)
Thats generally my approach to covering songs. If your releasing it for free and just on your website, not necessarily printing thousands of CDs then it's not really worth anyone's effort to sue you. When you have a plan to use the track in a commercial way is when you want to start looking into clearing copyright permissions.
Just have to remember not to forget that you covered the track if you decide to put an album together or license your music to someone. :)
In the event that someone actually complains about your track, since you haven't made any money off of it I would think there would be no real damages that they could claim. They might just request that you take it down.

My 2 cents.
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Postby Harmony » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:51 am

Very true, thanks Sonicade! I wondered if it might fall under the category of remix, but since it will be more of a remake than a remix I wasn't sure. That sounds about right now, especially since the use would be non-commercial.
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Postby organic io » Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:12 pm

also i dont know about aus , but here in the us i have heard that you cant copyright a melody, only an arrangement...
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Postby groovyone » Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:54 pm

have a look on http://www.vgmusic.com/ there's plenty of people who have redone Midis of game music. As long as it's non-commercial it's fine to release. They're only worried if you start using music commercially without a getting copyright or performance license.
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Postby Harmony » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:24 pm

Cool, thanks Groovyone! Checking it out now :)

dj io - That sounds pretty accurate, actually it must be if you think of the Britney Spears over Backstreet Boys mp3s where the melodies are identical, and that Chilli Peppers track which is a direct ripoff of a Tom Petty tune.
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Postby RobWilliamsJnr » Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:52 pm

turn your inner paranoid cynic on:

well, i think it's ALL copyrighted.

when i've played in festivals, every single song that we performed was written down (and argued over) so that royalties could be paid. when the trumpet player played some other melody during 'Hello Dolly' - because whatever she played was the same chords as HD, we had to pay the royalties for that too - as it was recognisable. and these were songs written in the 1920s.

one third of the songs we played were 12 bar blues - it's the melody that defines them.

copyright can be really strange, the 'American Pie' movies paid an undisclosed sum to Don McClean to use the name - because of how well know his song is! and it is totally unrelated.

comedy / paraody shows will do a version of recognisable melodies with obvious mistakes... 'The Simpsons' get the 'Star Trek' fanfare wrong on purpose - they don't want Paramount chasing them.

http://www.prs.co.uk/musiclicence/ <- if you are a hairdresser or a pub playing music that people are listening too - you need a licence. the same applies(ed) in Australia - i was involved in a theatre company that got busted playing a bad CD ($2 shop) of movie themes.

where's the MIDI file from? is it ripped from the game? is it a fan's arrangement? how much are you going to use this file?

you've got to make it very clear that this is fan based work - and if possible credit everything original as much as you can - and have links asking for who WAS the author then?

ok. paranoia fading...

vision returning to colour...

but - you're not making money... are you?
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Postby Harmony » Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:07 pm

No I'm not making money, it's just for fun and will be released for free with the original composers name, the game details and probably something like "released without permission" or "fan music".
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Postby groovyone » Tue Jul 04, 2006 4:04 am

Luckily I've not had to worry about copyrighted music becuase most of the stuff I get asked to remix or re-write is by the copyright holders anyway, so I get to re-write stuff with the blessing of the legal people! :)

Besides, I'm only work for hire, not selling my music so that helps too. IT's not my problem, I just write what the client wants and they deal with the legalities of it.
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