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Is it legal to use someone elses music in a non profitable game you are creating. Also, I read somewhere that it was illegal to convert a midi to a wav. God Bless Robert

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It is not illegal to convert a midi to a wave, unless you got the midi illegally. And I don''t know the answer to your first question... it probably is illegal, because if it is distributed, you are distributing copyrighted music.

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I am using music from an old game in the 80's. Someone updated the music into a midi file. I then converted it to a wav. That person (likely) didn't get a profit for it.

Also, I got the music off one of the gaming fansites that have all kinds of sound effects on them. Would the situation be helped if I mention where i got the music from or give credit to the person who made it?

[edited by - dr_slash_uh on January 14, 2004 12:05:00 AM]

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Profit or not you still have to have permission from the orginal author (which includes if the music was released under a license which allows distribution) to distribute the music.



Drakonite

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Are you tellin me that all of the homemade games I have played, many peope created who are in this forum have illegal music in them? If I was a big time company, I would hang out here and try to catch unsuspected victims who use there sounds. I am sure there is a clause. Not knocking anyone. I am going to look up more information.

Thanks

God Bless

[edited by - dr_slash_uh on January 14, 2004 12:43:17 AM]

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quote:
Original post by dr_slash_uh
Are you tellin me that all of the homemade games I have played, many peope created who are in this forum have illegal music in them?



Probably, unless they wrote the music themselves or had a friend write it for them or whatnot.

quote:

If I was a big time company, I would hang out here and try to catch unsuspected victims who use there sounds. I am sure there is a clause. Not knocking anyone. I am going to look up more information.



I''d imagine they have more important things to do then to sue every minor copyright infringer; but, all the same, it''s probably not a good idea to test their limits.

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quote:
Original post by dr_slash_uh
Are you tellin me that all of the homemade games I have played, many peope created who are in this forum have illegal music in them? If I was a big time company, I would hang out here and try to catch unsuspected victims who use there sounds. I am sure there is a clause. Not knocking anyone. I am going to look up more information.

Thanks

God Bless

[edited by - dr_slash_uh on January 14, 2004 12:43:17 AM]


No there is no clause. You have to get permission to use some copywrited material, period.

There reason why you see a lot of hobby games using this music is that attornies aren''t free. It cost money sue somebody and their is no profit in sueing some who cant pay. Another reason is that they don''t konw.

If the copyright holder finds that you made any money at all from the game, expect a lawsuit. If you didn''t make any money, they will likely send a cease and desist letter.

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quote:
Original post by dr_slash_uh
Are you tellin me that all of the homemade games I have played, many peope created who are in this forum have illegal music in them? If I was a big time company, I would hang out here and try to catch unsuspected victims who use there sounds. I am sure there is a clause. Not knocking anyone. I am going to look up more information.

Thanks

God Bless

[edited by - dr_slash_uh on January 14, 2004 12:43:17 AM]


Copyright violations are a bit different than just "breaking the law" You don''t call the cops on a violator and wait for go to jail. Instead, you have to gather evidence, hire a laywer, and sue them.

After all that trouble usually the most you could hope for if you win against a hobby game developer who has distributed a small number of copies for no profit is to force them to stop distributing.

It comes down to if anyone really cares that you are using their music enough to ask you to stop, or to take you to court.


The good news is that there is a lot of composers who write midi type music and don''t care if it is used for non-commercial purposes. If in doubt about some music you have found, ask the author.



Drakonite

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As mentioned, it''s copyright infringment, but, as many homebrew/hobby/fanmade games out there show, usually most companies aren''t willing the effort to pursue every small hobby developer who write a little game using some of their assets.

Of course, some companies are *really* picky about this, and you should take care to not mess with them (aka: try to avoid popular stuff).

But you should worry more if you''re using material from non-gaming sources.

An example: Capcom is pretty lax when it comes to homebrew/hobby/fanmade games using their graphics and sounds. Search for MUGEN sites and you''ll see plenty of Capcom characters avaliable, all using ripped sprites. But once, someone made this very, very cool shockwave version of X-men Vs. Street Fighter. It ran in a browser and had an online versus mode, that became quite popular.

But they received a cease-and-desist letter... from Marvel Comics, not Capcom. Marvel Co. recently became *VERY* picky on any unauthorized website with any of their copyrighted materials, be it wallpapers with Marvel characters, image galleries and such stuff, so that cool online game had to go down.

So, if you''re gonna infringe copyright, take care, and keep it as private as possible.

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Well, I remember a story from another community I am involved in. Someone created a game that included either images or music (I can''t remember which, its been a few years) from an old Hasbro game. Unfortunatly for the author, the game became quite popular (!?!), which brought it to the attention of someone at Hasbro. Once they clicked that some of their copyrights were involved, they immediatly emailed the author of the game, demanding that he pull the game from his website! They threated legal action if he refused!

The moral of the story is that its really better not to run the risk if you can avoid it, you really never do know where your game''ll end up.


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What about Fan-Games? When you say at the start of the game: "This is a Tribute to Monkey Island" and play the Monkey Theme with it? I mean, sure its copyrighted but it would be advertising for Lukas Arts, too. Did someone had experience with that kind of copyrights?

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that kinda thing depends on the ppl who hold the copyright, they might not be bothered and would be happy enuff for you to do it, or they might come down on you like a ton of bricks.

At the end of the day, as someone said, its often better to not chance it, if you REALLY want to use it then ask for permission and state clearly you''ll be making no money from it, then they might allow it.

Sometimes the fact you aint going to make any money off it doesnt even come into it, there were a number of HL mods which got shut down for that reason iirc

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I am writing a simple game where I am using Quake 2 MD2 model files, and Doom Midi music files.

Coincidentally both are from id Software.

As a hobbyist, am I allowed or not allowed to eventually say "Hi all, check out my game", here at gamedev?

I.e. am I allowed to use their md2 models, skins, and music in my game or not? I did a scan of their web site for their licensing info and "commercial exploitation" documents, but nothing really related to hobby programming. It seems that you must not use their stuff for the purposes of making money.

I certainly cannot afford to pay for model files or music, but I wonder if I am not allowed to use their stuff in my "released" free game demo..

Just so everyone knows, I primarily use these files for "place holders" in the game. My longer-term objective is to release my demo here at gamedev, then ask for help on music and models so all the media is "royalty free" (of couse I would credit everyone who participated in "lending" me media-content").

Any comments?

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quote:
Original post by Flogo
What about Fan-Games? When you say at the start of the game: "This is a Tribute to Monkey Island" and play the Monkey Theme with it? I mean, sure its copyrighted but it would be advertising for Lukas Arts, too. Did someone had experience with that kind of copyrights?


If your game is crap, though, they won''t want that advertising.

There is a certain amount of protection afforded to people by Fair Use laws, IIRC - the same laws that prevent parody makers from being sued by the owners of the thing being parodied.

IANAL. If I were you, I''d just play it safe and create my own music. It''s not like it''s that hard - if there are particular themes or motifs that you like, then you can lift them (''remix'' it, say); provided it''s not so similar to the original that people would get confused between the two, then the only thing you would be guilty of is plagarism. And while that might not be morally sound, they don''t have laws against it, AFAIK.

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Or simply steal sounds and images from a game that you know stole it from someone else. That way, you can just blame it on them

[edited by - leedgitar on January 15, 2004 11:26:32 PM]

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quote:
Original post by johnnyBravo
how about you steal sounds and textures from small game mods, then they can''t do anything about it


technicaly speaking if they wanted to they could.
If they created the gfx/sound/whatever then they own the copyright on it, useing the stuff without their permission is copyright infrigement and thus punishable.

quote:
Original post by leedgitar
Or simply steal sounds and images from a game that you know stole it from someone else. That way, you can just blame it on them



Stealing the sounds and images from someone else who stole it from somewhere else also wont get you off the hook, in the eyes of the law ignorance is no excuse

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quote:
Original post by Flogo
What about Fan-Games? When you say at the start of the game: "This is a Tribute to Monkey Island" and play the Monkey Theme with it? I mean, sure its copyrighted but it would be advertising for Lukas Arts, too. Did someone had experience with that kind of copyrights?


Ever heard of "Troops"? It was a short Fan-movie spoof of "Cops" set in the Star Wars universe. The makers even put a little disclaimer in the credits for Lucas not to sue. The word on the street is that he got a kick out of the movie and didn't take any legal action.

I think the bottom line is this: If you are cutting into someone's profits in any way, either by degrading their product with your crap or stealing something you need to license, you are going to get busted.

That is why a no-name game gets no attention, but suddenly gets attention when people start playing it. It is becoming profitable, so the copyright owner wants their piece of the pie.

Most companies probably don't care if you do something that never sees the light of day or is never used by more than a few friends. They usually (depending on the company) won't care if you do something that gives them free advertising. See http://settlers.cs.northwestern.edu/ for a great example. SoC online is a very fun (despite the crappy graphics) game that gives no profit to MayFair games, but advertises for them as well. Most players there do buy the board game.

[edited by - jeeky on January 15, 2004 11:40:02 PM]

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by the way, PARODIES are safe, but FAN STUFF is not ... there are some little twists in copyright law for historic reasons -

Parodies are considered protected free speech, because they come out of a time when Satire and Parody Plays WERE political speech .. but fansites are not considered politcal or parody in nature, so they are pure infringement. You can set up a fansite talking ABOUT anything you want, and mentioning the name and details of the thing ... but you cannot post any copywritten images, sounds, texts, etc ... and certain companies do sue ... EXPECIALLY LUCAS ARTS ... Lucas arts did not, and does not, pursue legal action against little artistic parodies and spoofs - because they would likely loose, and gain nothing ... but they do issue cease and desists to places using their actual canned material OR ANY GAMES which are in their world ... because they are HEAVILY in the games market ... and they must insure they have control over the franchise ...

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Another issue that muddies the water somewhat are games where you don't actually supply the copyrighted media, even though your game depends on it. Something like FreeCraft or FreeCNC for example. FreeCraft uses original media data of WarCraft, but they never sought permission from the author. This is because they never actually distributed that media, but rather relied on the user to (legally) own a copy or (illegally) download the data from somewhere. (FreeCraft did have its own media project going, but the game was also designed to be able to use the originals.) FreeCNC is similar, relying on the original data files that you can get from the CDs to work. (FreeCNC currently has no alternate media project.)

Does that sort of thing classify as copyright infringement? You could argue that since those games require the original media they are using copyrighted material without permission. However you could also argue that since the user has (in theory) paid for their copy of the original game this sort of thing should come under "Fair use" and should be allowed. I personally side on the latter.

But, of course, distributing material to which you don't hold the copyright for is asking for trouble. Do it at your own peril.

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[edited by - Doc on January 15, 2004 12:31:33 AM]

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It''s probably already been said, but you cannot use copyrighted music in a game, unless you got the music legally, and you are not distibuting it to others.

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related to Doc''s post:

the use of those MUSIC and IMAGE files is perfectly legal, because USE of copywritten material is not limited, just distribution and copying. If USE was illegal, phillips wouldn''t be able to sell CD players , and as far as the images and sounds go, all FreeCraft and such are is just really complicated "viewer" programs.

now of course those programs may (and probably do) violate some rights of the original company, realated to the GAME .. but not the media. But luckily it is a very grey area, because games are idea, and therefore not copywritable, only the actual source code is copywritten ... so ONLY if the writters of the game have had access to the source code would they be infringing the copywright - this is how copywrite differs from patents .. in patents, you can violated them without ever knowing they exist at all, in copywright, they must show that you had access to the original work (or that you easily could have), or you have not commited infringement.

For instance, if I redraw a famous paiting I''ve seen, it''s infringement (violating the dirivative work section)... but if somebody in the Amazon jungle who had never seen the orginal, drew the same exact thing, it is not.

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Just to clearify the above post. You might be able to use it in a game for yourself but if you distribute it then you are breaking the law.

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