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AudioUnity

Is it legal???

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Hi all, Is it legal to take screen captures or cut scenes from existing games to add in your own music for demo purposes? If so, what do people use for tools to capture and split the audio from the video etc? I am running on an Intel Imac. Thanks for any information! Best regards, Rick www.audiounity.com

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Is it legal to take screen captures or cut scenes from existing games to add in your own music for demo purposes?


I'm not a lawyer, so don't take what I say as absolute truth but I've seen many young(er) composers do this. I haven't heard of anyone getting in trouble as long as you make it very clear that this is just for promotional and demonstrative purposes only. It also might be a good idea to provide original credits and/or copyright.

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If so, what do people use for tools to capture and split the audio from the video etc?


I've seen people use Fraps for this kind of work, but I'm sure there are other programs as well. Final Cut Pro is a pro-level application that can capture and render video.

Edit: Let me be clear- it is more understandable if a composer removes the original content and replaces it with their own, original content. This wasn't made specific in my answer (partly because it was pointed out in the question) however I certainly don't want some readers to misunderstand the point I'm making. Now is it legal??? That I cannot answer with 100% assurance.

Hope that helps,

Nate

[Edited by - nsmadsen on January 19, 2009 7:49:03 PM]

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Original post by nsmadsen
I'm not a lawyer, so don't take what I say as absolute truth but I've seen many young(er) composers do this. I haven't heard of anyone getting in trouble as long as you make it very clear that this is just for promotional and demonstrative purposes only. It also might be a good idea to provide original credits and/or copyright. I've seen people use Fraps for this kind of work, but I'm sure there are other programs as well. Final Cut Pro is a pro-level application that can capture and render video.

Hope that helps,

Nate

Nate I am very surprised you say this. If I were to make a game demo and rip a song of yours and put it on top, would this then be legal?

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It is not necessarily legal, but it may fall under the Fair Use Doctrine depending on the character and intent of the work:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law#Fair_use_and_fair_dealing

Your counter example, CmpDev, if you are making the demo for promotional purposes, may not be valid.

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Oringal post by CmpDev
Nate I am very surprised you say this. If I were to make a game demo and rip a song of yours and put it on top, would this then be legal?


You misunderstood what I meant. What you're suggesting is completely different because you're asking if I'm okay with you ripping one of my songs and using it on something I didn't do. This is not proper, definitely not legal nor is it okay by me.

What I was saying is it is more understandable for a composer to replace the original music with his own ONLY for promotional and demonstrative reasons only. I also suggested giving proper credit and making a disclaimer as to what has been altered and why. This is totally different from what you're suggesting.

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Oringal post by AudioUnity
I hope "young" means young to composing in general and not to actual age :)


Yep, you got it. :)

Update: Upon further reading of this I think I understand CmpDev's point a bit more. Its a hard call because a composer-sound designer completely new to the industry will more than likely not have video games to show off any scoring abilities. This process is one way someone with little industry credit can show off abilities but it is probably not legal. I would resort to it only as a final option. When I was starting out I didn't have any of my music set to commercial videos. I didn't have any videos at all. :) I certainly wouldn't want to encourage someone to rip off work done by others.

A good option would be to approach the creator(s) of the game or media. Let's say it is an indie film trailer or small indie video game project. Perhaps the creators would give permission for you to replace the music with your own for certain terms? It might even be possible to impress the creators of that content and land a job.

[Edited by - nsmadsen on January 19, 2009 7:02:22 PM]

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Hi All,

Thanks for the input...I would prefer to do the right thing and if that means not using any videos etc without consent I wont. It seems like a gray area so far...

I'll take all the advice under consideration and figure out what to do next, thanks again...

You folks are a big help.

Best regards,
Rick

www.audiounity.com

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What I would suggest, AudioUnity, is taking a video that exists, if possible by permission, and keeping your sound replacement as part of your private portfolio only.

Additionally, maintain that the video is for demonstration purposes only and disclaim any ownership or legitimate right over the video. Do this by writing a subtitle in during the video.

Taking other people's promotional videos is your best bet since they are often released with the expectation that the user public will use, view, and even expound on them.

It's why Blizzard doesn't kill youtube remix videos, because they don't harm the game, if anything they promote it.

Your distribution of such a video may be legitimately subject to a C&D down the line, but honestly, it is the burden of the copyright holder to keep people from infringing.

If you're not mass distributing it, and you're not claiming ownership, then it's likely they will never care.

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If you're not mass distributing it, and you're not claiming ownership, then it's likely they will never care.


That's really the heart of the matter. I think the worst you could expect would be a letter asking you to take down the material, you take it down and that's that.

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I don't know if this would be helpful for this thread, but there is a wealth of open source film/video available at archive.org it's all free and yours to do with as you please.

of course, i realize this is not the same as video game material, but it may nevertheless be useful for getting comfortable working with some kind of visual cues.



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A few things to consider, again, not a legal expert:

Better Situations:
-You are not making a profit with the media in question
-You are not distributing without solicitation
-You are not giving 'easy access' to reproduce the media
-You are limiting distribution to interested parties only (portfolio, applications)

Bad Situations:
-You distribute the media actively
-You charge money in order to make revenue


Other things:
It is becoming a common understanding that sometimes 'sharing' media in a controlled environment online is similar to sharing media in your own home. If your website is private, it's as private as your own living room. Watching a movie with your 8 friends in the basement, for instance, is becoming similar to showing a music clip to your 8 friends online, when it's a controlled environment... meaning, the media (music, video, game, anything) is not being reproduced.


Again, I'm not a legal expert, but I believe my suggestions help you avoid criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, if you contact larger companies about using a video clip to write music over top of, they're likely to just ignore you. When you start making money off someone else's work, then it becomes a big deal.

Ask yourself, if you were the owner of the media you're going to utilize, would you feel like you lost money if you ripped yourself off?

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