Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

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Doomfest
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Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#1 Post by Doomfest » Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:34 am

A few lines down, I saw a thread mentioning about using music from other games. Now, I did know it's illegal to use copyrighted music, but will it still be illegal if I use the sheets, but play it myself? What about with changes in the song?
Dysfunctional Systems
Juniper's Knot
Cradle Song, a visual novel in development
Memo, a visual novel

[02:49] <Komi> How is Dysfunctional Systems coming along?
[02:52] <Doomfest> have you seen prince of egypt
[02:53] <Doomfest> do you remember that scene with the storm of bugs
[02:54] <Komi> I know what you are talking about, but I can't remember the scene.
[02:54] <Doomfest> that is what it feels like
[02:55] <Komi> Personality conflicts on the team, I take it?
[02:56] <Doomfest> no
[02:56] <Doomfest> just bugs
[02:56] <Doomfest> storm of bugs

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#2 Post by Jake » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:47 am

Doomfest wrote:A few lines down, I saw a thread mentioning about using music from other games. Now, I did know it's illegal to use copyrighted music, but will it still be illegal if I use the sheets, but play it myself? What about with changes in the song?
As I understand it, the answer is more or less the same - if you create a recording from sheet music, then your recording is a derivative work of the sheet music (or more specifically, the original composition, which the sheet music is merely an encoding of); you own the copyright on the recording itself, but you require the additional license of the sheet music copyright owner before you can publish it.

I believe that some sheet music is distributed with a royalty-free-style license, meaning that you can create recordings and do what you want with them without worrying about compensating the sheet's copyright owner, and of course some sheet music will be out of copyright one way or another, but I'm pretty sure you still need to check. Even if you have a piece of music by Beethoven in sheet form, which ordinarily would be out of copyright because Beethoven's been dead for ages, you may find that actually the sheet music represents a modern arrangement of the original for a particular instrument, which would have its own corresponding modern copyright.

But of course, I'm not a lawyer, just someone who has an interest in copyright law. If you want a reliable answer, consult a reliable lawyer. ;-)
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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#3 Post by Doomfest » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:18 am

I see. Then i'll make my own arrangements >:D
Dysfunctional Systems
Juniper's Knot
Cradle Song, a visual novel in development
Memo, a visual novel

[02:49] <Komi> How is Dysfunctional Systems coming along?
[02:52] <Doomfest> have you seen prince of egypt
[02:53] <Doomfest> do you remember that scene with the storm of bugs
[02:54] <Komi> I know what you are talking about, but I can't remember the scene.
[02:54] <Doomfest> that is what it feels like
[02:55] <Komi> Personality conflicts on the team, I take it?
[02:56] <Doomfest> no
[02:56] <Doomfest> just bugs
[02:56] <Doomfest> storm of bugs

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#4 Post by papillon » Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:29 am

If you make your own arrangement of a tune that's long out of copyright (consult a classical music collection, or better, a renaissance music collection) you should be clear - your own arrangement of, say, the Zelda theme is not so simple. :)

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#5 Post by Doomfest » Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:12 pm

If I change the tune itself (improvise to the point of not being the song anymore), it won't be an arrangement now, would it? >: D But then, that's a lot of work...
Dysfunctional Systems
Juniper's Knot
Cradle Song, a visual novel in development
Memo, a visual novel

[02:49] <Komi> How is Dysfunctional Systems coming along?
[02:52] <Doomfest> have you seen prince of egypt
[02:53] <Doomfest> do you remember that scene with the storm of bugs
[02:54] <Komi> I know what you are talking about, but I can't remember the scene.
[02:54] <Doomfest> that is what it feels like
[02:55] <Komi> Personality conflicts on the team, I take it?
[02:56] <Doomfest> no
[02:56] <Doomfest> just bugs
[02:56] <Doomfest> storm of bugs

dreamer

Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#6 Post by dreamer » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:12 am

I think there was this eight-note rule for copyrighted music. If you copy from another piece, you cannot copy more than eight continuous notes.

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#7 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 21, 2007 10:49 am

dreamer wrote:I think there was this eight-note rule for copyrighted music. If you copy from another piece, you cannot copy more than eight continuous notes.
I'm not particularly au fait with music-related law in particular, but that strikes me as far more of a guideline to be used in determining judgement in infringement cases than a rule, to be honest. I mean - what if my melody is only eight notes long? The Final Fantasy accomplishment fanfare is exactly eight notes long, is it not copyrightable? Can people copy it with impunity? What if some thrash metal musician has a track with a thousand successive repetitions of the same chord, does that mean nobody else can use that chord more than eight times in succession before they're infringing his copyright? Does the same melody played in a different key count as the same notes or a totally different piece of music? If your music doesn't have any notes, can you still claim copyright?

There are common-sense answers to all of these questions that anyone could answer, of course - except perhaps the John Cage one - I'm just posing them to demonstrate that it's probably quite a bit more complex than that. It strikes me that the safest way to not infringe on someone else's copyright is to not directly base your piece off of existing music. ;-)
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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#8 Post by dreamer » Sat Jul 21, 2007 12:26 pm

for that eight-note thingy. I'm not sure if it's really a law. I just saw it on some random filipino blog about a local band ripping off a foreign song and how they evaded suit by copying only 7 notes instead of eight.

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#9 Post by Doomfest » Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:38 pm

There have to be some specific laws out there ;_;
Dysfunctional Systems
Juniper's Knot
Cradle Song, a visual novel in development
Memo, a visual novel

[02:49] <Komi> How is Dysfunctional Systems coming along?
[02:52] <Doomfest> have you seen prince of egypt
[02:53] <Doomfest> do you remember that scene with the storm of bugs
[02:54] <Komi> I know what you are talking about, but I can't remember the scene.
[02:54] <Doomfest> that is what it feels like
[02:55] <Komi> Personality conflicts on the team, I take it?
[02:56] <Doomfest> no
[02:56] <Doomfest> just bugs
[02:56] <Doomfest> storm of bugs

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#10 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 21, 2007 4:27 pm

Doomfest wrote:There have to be some specific laws out there ;_;
I wouldn't bet on it, to be honest. After all, there's not really enough definition as to what constitutes 'copying a tune' and what doesn't. The John Cage thing is probably the most obvious problem with writing specific laws around this kind of thing; I know serious and talented musicians who will tell you that 4'33" is a piece of music. Faced with that, combined with the necessity of allowing other pieces of music to intersperse silence throughout without infringing, how does one go about writing a law which says how similar one piece of music has to be to another to constitute a copy?
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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#11 Post by Doomfest » Sat Jul 21, 2007 11:49 pm

Hmm, true. I guess I'll be better off composing them myself, then, huh...
Dysfunctional Systems
Juniper's Knot
Cradle Song, a visual novel in development
Memo, a visual novel

[02:49] <Komi> How is Dysfunctional Systems coming along?
[02:52] <Doomfest> have you seen prince of egypt
[02:53] <Doomfest> do you remember that scene with the storm of bugs
[02:54] <Komi> I know what you are talking about, but I can't remember the scene.
[02:54] <Doomfest> that is what it feels like
[02:55] <Komi> Personality conflicts on the team, I take it?
[02:56] <Doomfest> no
[02:56] <Doomfest> just bugs
[02:56] <Doomfest> storm of bugs

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#12 Post by Radhreni » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:44 pm

Just look at George Harrison and "My Sweet Lord," and the legal battle that followed (he lost). Frankly, I don't think the two songs sound enough alike to merit the result, but if he got in trouble for that, it's probably best to avoid copying bits of songs altogether, just to be safe.

That may be where the 'eight note law', codified or unwritten, stems from.

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Re: Can I use music from other games if I play it myself?

#13 Post by Doktor Per » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:26 pm

Just contact the members of Press Play on Tape, they've covered the theme from Cannon Fodder with the original composer and tons of other video game songs.

They know the lowdown.

NINJA EDIT: http://www.pressplayontape.com/

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