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Video Game Sheet Music Website

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I play piano and I believe that video games have some of the most unique and nice sounding music. So sometimes I make sheet music for Video games and play it on piano. I have lots of sheets that I have put togeather for music from video games. I would like to put up a website that has this collection of sheet music on it.

All of the sheetmusic on the website would be either made by me or other gamers no offical sheet music (which they don't really make anyway).

My question is, is there anything illigal about this. How much can I include on the website?

I was thinking maybe each sheet would have the following:

  • Picture from the game it's from
  • Name of the game it's from
  • Offical company/composer information as well as the arrangers name
  • Songs name

    How much of that am I not allowed to use?

    Can I get around (c) laws somehow because it's fan made as opposed to offical?
    Can I use a games cover art somehow?

    Here is a very outdate song book I made for Super Mario 64:

    Here are 2 older pages doing pretty much the same:

    Oh! Most important! I will not put any of the sheetmusic on the site as myself.
    Basically it will be a Video Game Sheet music sharing site.
    Meaning that origonally there will be no sheetmusic on it, users will be responcible for uploading PDF's and filling in information and supplying the img url for cover art. The only thing stored on my website will be the actual fan made sheet music not the (c) images.

    I will also have a "Report Issue" or "File Complaint" button or something too. incase an origonal author or company does see something offical and want's it removed.

    Any thoughts are appreciated.


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An image from the game would be covered by copyright; it may or may not be considered Fair Use, but only a judge can make that decision, at which point you would have already been taken to court.

The music itself is definitely protected by copyright and definitely isn't fair use; unless it's been explicitly released into the public domain you shouldn't do this.

The law is definitely against you for this idea, and the best you could really hope for is avoiding legal action by taking everything down as soon as requested - at worst you could go to court and lose a lot of money.

The fact that this is a "fan project" has no legal standing and would almost certainly not help you.

In short, I wouldn't really recommend proceeding, but if you're willing to take the risk and happy to promptly remove the content upon request that's your decision to make.

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Yea, sadly jbadams is spot on.

Posting sheet music for games is an open and shut copyright violation case, unless you have gotten permission from the copyright holder. It's making an unauthorized copy of material and posting it.

If you want to pursue this, one possibility might be to contact the composers directly (who may or may not hold the copyright, btw), and ask specific permission before posting. In some cases, they may be happy to have you do this.
But for the most popular games (think mario, etc.), my hunch is you'll get no response-- in most cases, there are already various approved, legally purchasable versions of videogame sheet music for piano from established music publishers. (for example: http://www.alfred.com/Products/The-Legend-of-Zelda-Series-for-Piano--00-38634.aspx)

Along a similar line, a few years ago, the "Music Publishers Association" went after sites that had "Guitar Tabs" (tablature transcriptions of various songs).

That all said, it's often the case that companies go easy on fan-created sites-- typically if they care, they will ask you to take down your site-- if they do that, it's best to comply, because you'll almost certainly lose if they take you to court.

Incidentally, if you do in fact have a large library of high quality "piano" versions of video game musics, it might behoove you to do some research, see what music publishers have deals with what game companies and approach them to see if they're interested in your arrangements ...

Brian Schmidt

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