The Nightmare of Copyright

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MagicMagor

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The difference is, they're not going to waste their time going after someone who's not profiting off it.
I don't know about this one. There is a huge "industry" around going after people who illegaly share music-file on the internet. Some companies may be a bit more liberal towards using their material for non-profit-reasons (like fanfiction), others aren't.

And the big music associations and labels are clearly in the later set.

Better be safe than sorry. (Especially when you are selling your game - because then you want people to notice you)
 

tpasmall

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I meant if you're using the music in game, obviously peer to peer sites are a whole different animal. I doubt WMG is going to sue someone for having a Beatles song in one of their free games on an rpg maker site, especially if the game is encoded. Unless the game gets huge, but still, it'd be a waste of resources. Unless the RGP maker world became a guise for distributing copyrighted music (like WMG has hit youtube with), I don't see any real legal action coming out of it.

Obviously, your best bet is to not risk it at all (besides, RMW doesn't allow it anyway), but I wouldn't lose sleep over it if you did.
 
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Mouser

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It's just as illegal to use it for non commercial games as it is for commercial. The difference is, they're not going to waste their time going after someone who's not profiting off it.

Recordings never enter public domain, so regardless of how old a recording is, you have to pay to use it. (There are 'royalty free' recordings where you pay a fee up front for a license to use it without paying additional royalties. The music and lyrics themselves are public domain if they were originally written prior to 1922. This just means you can make your own recording of it without paying royalties to the original composer. You cannot use the recordings themselves though.
This pretty much nails it. There are recordings released under "Creative Commons" or other "Copyleft" licenses. They may or may not be used in commercial works depending on the exact terms of the license (it's usually pretty clear), and there are enough of them out there to make them worth mentioning. You also have the option of licensing commercial music. For live performances, I know you generally go through the Harry Fox agency (google it). I don't know exactly how it would work for games though, but it wouldn't hurt to check it out. If a band is a true "indie" band (ie: not signed by a label), then you could contact them directly about using their music. They may be happy to get their songs out there with nice sized credit lines given in the game, or at least not charge an arm and a leg for their use.

One last caveat - be sure what you think of as 'traditional' music really is. You can look up the story of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' to see how that can go wrong.

If it is really out of copyright, there's plenty of software where you can enter the sheet music, note by note, and the computer will "play" it for you with whatever instruments you tell it to. The quality varies by program of course, but any of them are capable of better quality than the old 8 bit Atari games. Personally, I use ProTools for music editing and recording - I don't remember what the standard "free" program is. A quick search should find it for you - I want to say Audio-something or other. A lot of people use it (sort of like the Gimp vs Photoshop).
 

RyanA

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You mean Audacity? That's free, but very limited. You can add a few effects, change levels, change audio files a bit and record into it, but that's about it, can't play anything in except with exterior devices :3 It's a good program though! Great if you want to record your own Fus-Roh-Dah's and Nyan Cat covers! :D
 

Mouser

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I meant if you're using the music in game, obviously peer to peer sites are a whole different animal. I doubt WMG is going to sue someone for having a Beatles song in one of their free games on an rpg maker site, especially if the game is encoded. Unless the game gets huge, but still, it'd be a waste of resources.
I wouldn't bet on that - and "free" doesn't make one whit of difference. They have a ton of people on salary scouring the internet for infringement who can fire off DMCA takedown and C&D letters at the push of a button. Do you really want your game pulled off websites without your knowledge and you having to go through the trouble of changing your game and redistributing it for a song that you shouldn't have used?
 

tpasmall

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I just really don't think they are going to bother downloading games made in rpg maker that are free and playing through them to see if there is an encrypted song under copyright on it. It just wouldn't be worth the resources when there are way bigger copyright violaters out there. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm not saying go ahead and use the songs, I'm just saying if you do there is probably very little real threat of a legal action if you do in a free game with small distribution.
 

Shaz

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They don't have to download them to know. All it takes is for one person in one forum to say "hey, isn't that ... that you've used in the closing credits?" and tomorrow it shows up on their Google search.

In addition to their ordering the game taken down, do you want to risk the trust that your distributors place in you? It's trouble for THEM if they have to take a game down, then field all the questions from their fan base about why it was taken down, where it is now, when it's going to be back up. So it's not just YOU that's inconvenienced by it. And when you have a new game that you want them to distribute, they're not going to go out of their way to do you any favors.
 

tpasmall

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Who has distributors for non-commercial/hobby games? Unless you count making a game thread or starting a blog, I don't think any non-commercial games are really widely distributed.
 

Mouser

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Who has distributors for non-commercial/hobby games? Unless you count making a game thread or starting a blog, I don't think any non-commercial games are really widely distributed.
Do you use a web hosting service?

I'll give you a real world example. If you have three copyright infringement claims against you for videos posted on Yahoo, your account is suspended. It doesn't matter whether the claims were valid or not (though if you can prove they weren't valid you may get your account reopened).

They are far from alone with having a policy like that. It's just something that they (meaning any hosting company that deals with many accounts) don't want to deal with. It's easier to just kick the troublemakers out (rightly or wrongly) and let everyone else (meaning management) live in peace.

You need them a lot more than they need you. I've done the private hosting bit, Had the two DNS servers and my own slot of real IP addresses and everything. Never want to go through that headache again.
 

tpasmall

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Comparing a game that has a song encoded into it that takes hours of gameplay to possibly come across is way different than outright posting the same song onto a website. It's like comparing apples to grains of salt. Like I said, I'm not condoning illegal use of music in games, but hunting down small, non-commercial hobbyists who encode a song into a game that maybe, if you've made a good game, 100 people will hear, only if they make it to a certain part of the game, is not something big corporations are going to waste resources on. It's not that they don't care, it's just such a small issue in comparison with actual piracy and illegal commercial usage that they would rather spend their time pursuing something they can make money off of.
 
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Shaz

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Comparing a game that has a song encoded into it that takes hours of gameplay to possibly come across is way different than outright posting the same song onto a website.
No, it's really not. There is no difference between taking a song that you don't own and sharing it online, and taking a song you don't own, putting it into a product, and sharing the product online. How long it takes to get to the song has nothing to do with whether it's okay to use or not.

You're assuming small-time devs are too much trouble for the big companies. But you have nothing to base this on other than your opinion. Is it a risk you really want to take? It'll be much less painful for them to find you and send you a "cease & desist" order than it will be for you to take it down from everywhere you've posted it, remove the stolen material, then post it up again at all those places. Isn't it just better to leave it out in the first place and not risk the hassle?

Let's also remember, we are discussing copyright with regard to commercial games (check forum name), so theories on what might be okay, or worth the risk, for free games, has no bearing (even though there's no difference). We're talking about what is legal and illegal, not what people think they can get away with.
 
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tpasmall

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I never said that it was the right thing to do, I'm just saying it's probably not going to have any recourse.

You're assuming small-time devs are too much trouble for the big companies. But you have nothing to base this on other than your opinion.
I worked in the music industry for about 5 years doing reviews for all kinds of record labels, including Universal and Sony. I'd get albums months before they came out. They drilled me with all kinds of anti-piracy stuff. RM is nothing compared to the actual threats out there. A non commercial hobbyist isn't any more of a threat to big time record labels than a kid doing a presentation in school. I couldn't name one case where someone has been asked to take down a non commercial RM game (by a record label) for having commercial music in it.

Let's also remember, we are discussing copyright with regard to commercial games (check forum name), so theories on what might be okay, or worth the risk, for free games, has no bearing (even though there's no difference). We're talking about what is legal and illegal, not what people think they can get away with.
It's just as illegal to use it for non commercial games as it is for commercial.
Isn't it just better to leave it out in the first place and not risk the hassle?
Obviously, your best bet is to not risk it at all.
 

Shaz

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Yet you seem to be saying there's such a low risk, that it's not worth even worrying about because nobody's going to chase you up :)
 

tpasmall

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It was a follow up response to this question:

And for a non commercial game, would the same copyright issues be issues, or would it be like writing fanfiction.
Fan fiction is technically illegal too. It's just if you're doing it not-for-profit in a small community, odds are you're not going to be sued over it. So in my opinion, yes, non commercial games in this setting, when the music is encoded, runs about the same risk as making a fan fiction game as is less of an issue than making either into a commercial game.
 

MagicMagor

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I think the problem is you are assuming hunting down illegal songs is something that costs the companys money and they do it only to protect themself.

I don't think that is always true.

I don't know about other countrys, but in germany if someone is caught illegaly sharing music online, they not only get an order to stop doing this, they also get a heavy bill. (Laywer costs and such.. don't know the correct english terms for them) Most private people don't have the time and money to fight this in court, so they pay.

End result? There is actually something like an industry growing out of this. Finding people who illegaly shared music, and getting them to pay. It is not something that costs these companies/laywers money, it is something they make a profit out of. It doesn't matter how many songs are shared (well ok the more songs, the bigger the bill will get) or if they have been actually downloaded by other people. Just the fact that they are made avaible is enough.

--------------

In regards to your comparison to fanfiction. The important part is, it soley depends on the company wether they hunt this or not. And music labels have been in the past everything but liberal about this.

You know, the hoster of a big german rpgmaker-site recieved a complaint about the music used in the games hosted on that site. All games there were non-commercial and used lot of copyrighted material from SNES-games. But it was the music, that forced the site to action. End result is, all games have been taken down.

As a hobbyist creating non-commercial games you can get away with a lot of copyright infrigment, as long as it isn't music.
 

Mouser

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It was a follow up response to this question:

Fan fiction is technically illegal too. It's just if you're doing it not-for-profit in a small community, odds are you're not going to be sued over it. So in my opinion, yes, non commercial games in this setting, when the music is encoded, runs about the same risk as making a fan fiction game as is less of an issue than making either into a commercial game.
If you're going to work in this industry, at least brush up on IP laws.

Fan fiction is generally guilty of Trademark infringement, not copyright.

As for music - how much of a "threat" to the music industry is some kid filesharing a few songs from a CD? (it wasn't too long ago the record execs were saying radios with tape players built in were going to kill the music industry). But they go after that kid anyway. The cases almost never go to trial because the defendants can't afford the lawyers (these are civil proceedings so the state is not required to provide one), so they get settled for around $1,000 a song.

In the case of sharing a song directly it means stop uploading (and downloading) said songs. In the case of a game it means stop distributing it. Find everybody else who may be distributing it (yes, this is your responsibility) and get them to stop distributing it, and then decide if it's worth the trouble of rewriting your game, if your web hosts decide to even continue to deal with any more.

The risk may be small, but the consequences are not. And that's before you even look at monetary damages (and again, all that - including monetary damages, apply equally to "free" and "commercial" games).

Edit: But as content creators, copyright is on our side. It's what protects our games from being distributed without our consent, whether commercially or not.

Copyright is not evil (it's implementation may be screwed up with the length of time involved), but without it, anybody could take your game and start selling it themselves - again, whether you released it commercially or "free".

Learn the rules and follow them. They're really not all that complicated - both in what to do to protect your own work (read the FAQ I linked to) and in what to avoid using..
 
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NO!

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I think the reason that people tend to believe in this "myth" of poor man's copyrighting, is that the documents enclosed in the sealed envelope will provide the evidence needed. So say if you were to get some extremely secure packaging, that would be extremely difficult (or even impossible... if possible!) to open without leaving any evidence of it being opened, then when that is presented to the court as evidence (obviously having been stamped and dated at the post office), the judge would open it to find the documents, which should also be dated.

When I used to study music technology, we were told that if we were to do this, with the documents being the song lyrics and a disc or memory card with the track, or even the sheet music, then it should hold up.

Basically, the whole idea of it is to have evidence that you made something and having the proof to show that it was dated before someone went and distributed it as their own work.

I guess it could work if the person ripping you off presented these liscences stating it was copyrighted at a certain date, and then you present the enclosed documents, which were in the sealed and stamped envelope which is dated prior to their license. I wouldn't entirely depend on this, though, as there very well could be a large number of ways that someone could get around it.

...

I hope you see my point here. :D It's basically a matter of contradicting someone else's "evidence" with real evidence of your own.
 
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I'd like to add in that several artists in DA also get asked (mind you, asked nicely first!) to stop sales of their fan art, if they have prints available of the pieces. Fanart (or copyrighted material) is not an issue as long as it is not profited from, same logic could be expected to apply on games too.

Here is one example:

http://browse.devian...on age#/d3lp5sk

The thing is, people can easily report you to the company. Even your customers might do that. Usually the company contact you or distributor (your site host or BFG or some other portal you have your game on) to take it down or stop sales at least, before any law suit. This is actually nice from them and also this takes not very much effort or money from their side. I doubt though they'll look you very kindly, if you refuse though. But as Shaz already said, this will backfire you since the distributors have to take the game down anyway, if the sales need to be cancelled. It seems that in many cases the company does not mind though continuing the distribution for free.
 
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amerk

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PC RPG Maker games have been using ripped songs since as far back as the PC RM's beginning, more than a decade. Chances are slim they'll go after a non-commercial game developer. Can it happen? Sure. Does it phase anybody? No. I for one won't lose sleep over worrying about it. They can come for me if they want, and I'll give them the $2 I'm probably worth, since I don't have much of anything else of worth, other than my family.

The bigger question is why do you even need to use ripped music when the internet is chalk full of people who are giving their music for free (at least for non-commercial games)? I get that VGM may have that one special SquareEnix Final Fantasy song you've been dying to have that's already been ripped and used in countless other games, but wouldn't a unique track by one of our community members such as Theodoric or Aaron Krogh be better?
 

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I'm popping in one more time then I'm done with this thread.

I've posted the FAQ from the PRIMARY SOURCE (short of SCOTUS) for Copyright information in the United States. "Poor man's copyright" (the mailing thing) doesn't work because proving you own the copyright isn't enough. I have a notebook on my desk that I scribble all my ideas in. I own the copyright for every page in that notebook. I cannot bring an infringement suit against anyone who copies the words out of it though, unless and until I register said material with the copyright office. The best you could hope for by the mail thing is stopping somebody else from launching infringement suits on copyrighted material that you actually own the rights to.

As for using copyrighted material (whether songs, pictures, whatever) you can rationalize what you do all day long, but the amazing thing to me is that the people who justify using 'ripped' material in their games (or other 'projects') tend to be the ones who scream the loudest if someone uses something they released for "free" in a commercial project (legally, there is no difference between the two).

We are a community of content creators. We should be grateful copyright exists and try to keep it strong - within reason - I also believe in a strong "fair use" policy - which a lot of 'fan art' falls under (a 'homage' is one criteria for "fair use"). Copying a whole song (almost) never does.

And I'll say it one last time - you may perceive the risk to be small, but take a good hard look at what the consequences will be if you are challenged. And make no mistake, the **AA's are hiring more and more people to scour the internet looking for this stuff every day. Are you really willing to have all the copies of your game pulled off the internet, you having to deal with all the websites that now have you on their watch list with a strike against you (not to mention the **AA's now going over everything you've ever released with a fine toothed comb) and going back and redoing the game trying to find other music or art of the same approximate length and mood to replace what shouldn't have gone in there in the first place?

Oh, and with the new "six strikes" policy ISP's are moving toward getting one step closer to having your internet access terminated.
 
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