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Songs written by pro. musicians

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We're wanting to use a Sufjan Stevens song for the ending credits on a game that we're planning on selling. I'm sure we would, but I'm just woundering if we'd have to get permission from that artist... and how would you go about doing it? [Edited by - 44cll on October 1, 2007 4:13:31 PM]

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You need to research who owns the rights to that song, contact that person or company and ask them if you can use it for your game. If you get written consent back, then you're completely in the clear. If not, then you can't use it at all.

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A chance to get a licence to use a song of a known artist in commercial product for free is close to zero, but it's worth to ask a proper person (it doesn't have to be its performer actually)

- Piotr

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There is a lot of misinformation in this thread. I have been working in music publishing for years and it is my area of study at a university level. Here's the breakdown.

First thing is that you must remember you are dealing with two separate copyrights; the SOUND RECORDING (SR) and UNDERLYING COMPOSITION. These are almost always controlled by separate parties in the case of popular/commercial music. Rarely is the songwriter or performer the person you actually need to speak with. In a typical situation, a publishing company controls the rights to the composition, and a record label controls the rights to the sound recording.

The Harry Fox Agency does not deal in sound recordings. They deal in negotiated mechanical licenses for the underlying composition. Additionally, not all publishers work with HFA. However, you do not need a mechanical license in this case, because you are not recording and distributing the composition on a CD (or via digital download, etc). Instead, you need a synchronization license for the composition. Video games are considered audio/visual works, and the right to synchronize a piece of music to video in some fashion is exclusive to the copyright holder.

Thus, you will need to find out who owns the rights to the Sufan Stevens' song you are interested in (once again, we are talking about the underlying competition) and request a synch license. Chances are you will need to talk to a publishing company directly. It is unlikely they will grant one for free.

Additionally, you will need to approach Sufan Stevens' record label directly and ask who holds the sound recording copyright for the song you want. In all likelihood, that label will own it. If that is the case, you will need to ask for a master use license to use the sound recording for that particular song. This is essentially what is meant by "asking for permission". An email saying "sure, you can use it" is not sufficient. You need a non-exclusive license for the master use rights to the recording to use in a specific context.

Hope that helped.

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If you're still determined the simplest way to approach this seems to be:

1: Find out who the publisher of the song is
2: Try to contact the publisher and speak to someone about your wish
3: They will tell you what to do next

Be prepared for a long and potentially costly process of contract negotiations.

It might actually be cheaper to find a composer or band and pay them to record something original for you exclusively, in the style you want.

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This topic is 3719 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

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