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Song Remix Limits


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#1 Shade.   Members   -  Reputation: 199

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:24 AM

Hello everyone. I'd like your opinion on certain questions regarding indie game music. 

 

At what point would you consider a song inspired by another song a different song?

Is a song that uses the same chords and tempo of a song but different lyrics still the same song?

If you recreate a song from scratch to sound like another song and use your own vocal samples instead of the original and change the lyrics is it still the same song? 

Would you dislike a good song because it got it's chords and structure from another song? 

 

My reason for asking is because for much of my music I take certain parts of songs that I like and then make up the rest to fill in for the parts of the original song I didn't like. 

 

Two examples of my dilemma can be found here:

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

My Version: BB

https://soundcloud.com/shade-15/bb

 

Original Song: Bullet Ballet (Armored Core 2 Another Age Soundtrack)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0To1HgYpGs

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

 

My Version: Autobahn Runway

https://soundcloud.com/shade-15/runway

 

Original Song: Autobahn (Armored Core Nexus)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB0pALJZ6wY

 

Do you think I would get in trouble with my songs? Would you consider them remixes? Or different songs? 

 

Thank you for your time!

-Shade-


Edited by Shade., 31 October 2013 - 12:12 AM.


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#2 N.I.B.   Members   -  Reputation: 1195

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 03:40 AM


Is a song that uses the same chords and tempo of a song but different lyrics still the same song?

There are tons of songs that use the same chord and tempo as other songs, and they aren't considered a ripoff. See this.

 

 

 


If you recreate a song from scratch to sound like another song and use your own vocal samples instead of the original and change the lyrics is it still the same song?

I'm not a lawyer, but yes. The music is copyrighted as well.

 

 

 


Would you dislike a good song because it got it's chords and structure from another song?

No. 'Hotel California', 'We Used To Know' and 'Stairway To Heaven' all have the same chords and progression. I like all of them.

 

 

 


Do you think I would get in trouble with my songs?

If you'll ever be famous, then yes, someone will come after you (especially since you admit that you rip-off songs). If it's just a hobby, probably no one will care. Youtube is filled with such remixes.


Edited by satanir, 30 October 2013 - 03:40 AM.


#3 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4352

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:55 AM

Simply put, and I'm also not a lawyer, chords and rhythms cannot be copyrighted. Lyrics and melodies can. This applies to made-from-scratch songs. So in that regard, you'd be fine. But if you're using actual recordings (i.e. samples) of songs, much like hip hop does - then you would be in trouble if you didn't get a license to do so. 


Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#4 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4352

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:00 AM

Referencing your example from the Amored Core 2 OST - the two songs sound VERY similar, especially at the start. Down to the type of samples being used in some of the parts. What I'd recommend is to mimick songs you enjoy and apsire to create while honing and learning your craft. Then once you're wanting to release tracks publicly, take the things you learned and make more original tracks.


Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#5 Shade.   Members   -  Reputation: 199

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:25 AM

Not that I plan on getting famous, but just hypothetically, lets just talk about the first song, what do you think I would have to change in order for me to be able to safely say, it's a different song? 

 

And Nsmadsen, I agree with you. I am trying to learn to make music by starting with remixing my favorite songs, and then I hope to make my own completely original later. 

 

On a second thought. Is it safe to say that as long as I don't sell my game, I can use a remix of another song in my game and not worry about people trying to sue me? Assuming the game happens to become famous-

 

Thanks again,

 

-Shade-


Edited by Shade., 30 October 2013 - 11:26 AM.


#6 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4352

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 12:38 PM

On a second thought. Is it safe to say that as long as I don't sell my game, I can use a remix of another song in my game and not worry about people trying to sue me? Assuming the game happens to become famous-

 

Any time you use something that you don't have a license to use (or don't own) you run the risk of legal action. How much risk? Well, that differs from IP to IP and company to company. Some companies are really strict while others are more lenient. Even if your game was completely free, simply distributing it is still a violation of copyright. The game doesn't even have to be "famous" to have companies send you a cease and desist letter.  


Edited by nsmadsen, 30 October 2013 - 01:48 PM.

Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#7 Shade.   Members   -  Reputation: 199

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 08:48 PM

Alright, so I can totally understand the second song "Autobahn" getting me in trouble for sounding too similar. What about the first song? You said Rythms and chords cannot be copyrighted right? Well the only part that sounds similar is the beginning, which is essentially just a rhythm. The rest of it, I just picked notes that were in the same key signature, but I don't feel like I copied the melody. 

 

What do you think?



#8 ChrisHurn   Members   -  Reputation: 232

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:15 PM

I think you're looking at this at the wrong angle. This is a great way to learn composition and remixing and all of that stuff -- but you're sort of looking at it from a 'what do I need to change' angle, as opposed to, how can I take what I've learnt here and write a new peice inspired by these ideas? I think you should start getting into that habbit - of doing these things as excersises, then completely going off and writing your own piece in the style of, or inspired by that music, but not thinking about taking the progressions and everything with you. Copyright technicalities aside, it will just leave you frustrated and in a bit of trouble IMO.

 

 

 

You said Rythms and chords cannot be copyrighted right? Well the only part that sounds similar is the beginning, which is essentially just a rhythm.

That's a very general/blanket way to look at it. By themselves, sure, you can't copyright a chord or a rhythm but it's more about the context they're used in than the individual subjects.

 

Sure, many pop songs share our good old friend the I IV VI V progression or something similar, but the treatment and context is often pretty different, and even when it's not, that's a pretty understood, generic progression these days that usually is surrounded by enough difference to be seperate things. Like a standard 4/4 rock beat. It's a device, that obviously can't be copyrighted - but it's used within a different context.

 

In your case you've got a lot further than just 'using the same rhythms', the first track sounds dangerously similar to the example you posted -- you'd surely have to call that a remix and give credit...I don't consider yours to be a completely different track at all. You have to be careful saying 'it's just a rhythm', when it's a distinctive one that uses the exact same sort of synth sound then you're running into trouble, especially when using a lot of the same harmonic material. You're not just copying the rhythm in this peice.


Edited by ChrisHurn, 30 October 2013 - 11:34 PM.

ChrisHurn.com, film & game composer.
@chris_hurn on twitter

#9 Shade.   Members   -  Reputation: 199

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 12:09 AM

I see your point, and I definitely agree with it. I usually very proudly tell people where I get the original and made the remix based off of it. And if I do post songs that are obviously remixed off another then I'll continue to put that up front. I'm probably not going to sell the game that uses these tracks, and I highly doubt it will get very famous. But on the off case that it does, I am ready to take them out of the game or make something to replace them. 

 

Thank you everyone, you've definitely helped me to learn where the lines are between an original song, remix, and a song inspired by another. I have already gone back into my "soundcloud" and explained that those two songs are remixes of the original and credited the original developers-

 

-Shade-


Edited by Shade., 31 October 2013 - 12:12 AM.


#10 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4352

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:20 AM

Just one other point to make - even remixes require licensing if you're going to sell them. Heck, even if you're just distributing them can get you in trouble. Again, it's not a sure fire thing but some artists are fiercely protective while others are more easy going. A good buddy of mine runs RightsFlow which specializes in this very thing: http://rightsflow.com/

 

In the end, the absolutely BEST way to get legal advice on copyright and such is to talk with a lawyer. Forums, while great, don't really stand up in court and cannot protect you! :P 

 

Glad you found the thread useful! 

 

Nate


Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios




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