Royalty-free samples and midi (or applying melody/dynamics to other instruments, etc.)?

Sampler and Sampling discussion (techniques, tips and tricks, etc.)
Ou_Tis
KVRist
179 posts since 10 Jul, 2018

Post Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:41 pm

When I buy royalty-free samples, does the license generally extend to using midi generated from them (for example, using Melodyne) to generate music? And more general use of the melodies, rhythms, etc. in my songs (for example, I buy a royalty-free flute melody, then have another instrument repeat the same melody)? So it's not just a license to use the sound recording itself, but also the melody? Or if it is the sound recording itself and alterations to the sound recording, does converting it to midi count, or does it only apply to audio files?...

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BertKoor
KVRAF
10920 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Royalty-free samples and midi (or applying melody/dynamics to other instruments, etc.)?

Post Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:15 pm

You'd better ask to whoever is selling these.
Your answers may vary...
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SoundPorn
KVRist
481 posts since 24 Jul, 2018

Re: Royalty-free samples and midi (or applying melody/dynamics to other instruments, etc.)?

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:05 am

You're way overthinking this why do you care? What do you think is going to happen? Whose gonna even notice? How do you think this works? You can't copy protect notes bro. This is till somewhat unexplored territory but my advice is just to make music. If ur lucky enough to get rich off of something then maybe you double think about it.

Ou_Tis
KVRist
179 posts since 10 Jul, 2018

Re: Royalty-free samples and midi (or applying melody/dynamics to other instruments, etc.)?

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:32 pm

SoundPorn wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:05 am
You're way overthinking this why do you care? What do you think is going to happen? Whose gonna even notice? How do you think this works? You can't copy protect notes bro. This is till somewhat unexplored territory but my advice is just to make music. If ur lucky enough to get rich off of something then maybe you double think about it.
The optimistic take might be that they'll only bother to take legal action if a song is very successful, or generating enough publicity.

But streaming services now have algorithms automatically detecting potentially infringing audio content. They err strongly on the side of copyright holders, to the point of clear abuse, with the automated system even claiming copyright violations for performances of public domain classical music and white noise:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/arti ... ilters-are

https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/0 ... copyright/

I don't think that's been extended to melodies with different instrumentation yet, but I'm not sure, and it easily could be in the future.

Melodies are copyrighted in the United States and EU, provided they are sufficiently original. The copyright for the melody is distinct from the copyright for the audio recording.

"The smallest appropriation from a musical composition ever held to be infringing was a phrase consisting of six notes. In that case, the two songs before the court were "considerably different, both in theme and execution, except as to [the] phrase, 'I hear you calling me.' " This phrase, and the music accompanying the words, in both compositions, were "practically identical" and the court held that the use of the phrase was a copyright infringement, because the phrase, despite its brevity,
had what "causes audiences to listen, applaud, and buy copies in the
corridor on the way out of the theatre." Nevertheless, samplers should
take note of a more recent case in which a court determined that the
use of a four-note phrase, together with three of the words accompanying those notes, would have been sufficient to constitute infringement."

(Kohn on Music Listening---published in 2010)

(Worth noting that having the same words was an important part of the six-note ruling.)

Most of these cases are settled out of court, though. The bass line for "Ice Ice Baby" only uses two different notes, the root and the fifth, and is only 7 notes total; yet that was enough to lead to a law suit that was settled out of court.

But if the license to use a musical sample, in audio format, in a musical composition didn't include the license to use the melody or rhythm in that composition other than in the sample itself, then its usefulness in the musical composition would be strictly curtailed... so it seems plausible that the license to use a sample in a musical composition tacitly includes the right to repeat the melody in that composition with another instrument. Similarly, the audio sample can be altered so that it sounds like a different instrument with the same melody, which gives the same end result as translating it into midi and then running it through a virtual instrument.

Even for cases where the pitch values of the notes aren't sufficiently original to be copyrightable, as in the bass line for "Under Pressure", the specific rhythm may be. And that could also extend to the specific velocity, which midi captures. (Many sources for midi of public domain music explicitly claim copyright over the midi. The arrangement---which might include specific note velocities---may be ruled to be under copyright, if a court deems it sufficiently "original"---or a streaming service decides that the possibility of an even remotely plausible law suit, or cease and desist letter from a company with lawyers on retainer.)

SoundPorn
KVRist
481 posts since 24 Jul, 2018

Re: Royalty-free samples and midi (or applying melody/dynamics to other instruments, etc.)?

Post Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:40 am

Just transpose the key and change the bpm. Unless its the exact same notes in the same key at the same bpm of a song registered to SongTrust ... And if its a blatant rip off the loop hole is just to title it as a "cover song"
Ou_Tis wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:32 pm
SoundPorn wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:05 am
You're way overthinking this why do you care? What do you think is going to happen? Whose gonna even notice? How do you think this works? You can't copy protect notes bro. This is till somewhat unexplored territory but my advice is just to make music. If ur lucky enough to get rich off of something then maybe you double think about it.
The optimistic take might be that they'll only bother to take legal action if a song is very successful, or generating enough publicity.

But streaming services now have algorithms automatically detecting potentially infringing audio content. They err strongly on the side of copyright holders, to the point of clear abuse, with the automated system even claiming copyright violations for performances of public domain classical music and white noise:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/arti ... ilters-are

https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/0 ... copyright/

I don't think that's been extended to melodies with different instrumentation yet, but I'm not sure, and it easily could be in the future.

Melodies are copyrighted in the United States and EU, provided they are sufficiently original. The copyright for the melody is distinct from the copyright for the audio recording.

"The smallest appropriation from a musical composition ever held to be infringing was a phrase consisting of six notes. In that case, the two songs before the court were "considerably different, both in theme and execution, except as to [the] phrase, 'I hear you calling me.' " This phrase, and the music accompanying the words, in both compositions, were "practically identical" and the court held that the use of the phrase was a copyright infringement, because the phrase, despite its brevity,
had what "causes audiences to listen, applaud, and buy copies in the
corridor on the way out of the theatre." Nevertheless, samplers should
take note of a more recent case in which a court determined that the
use of a four-note phrase, together with three of the words accompanying those notes, would have been sufficient to constitute infringement."

(Kohn on Music Listening---published in 2010)

(Worth noting that having the same words was an important part of the six-note ruling.)

Most of these cases are settled out of court, though. The bass line for "Ice Ice Baby" only uses two different notes, the root and the fifth, and is only 7 notes total; yet that was enough to lead to a law suit that was settled out of court.

But if the license to use a musical sample, in audio format, in a musical composition didn't include the license to use the melody or rhythm in that composition other than in the sample itself, then its usefulness in the musical composition would be strictly curtailed... so it seems plausible that the license to use a sample in a musical composition tacitly includes the right to repeat the melody in that composition with another instrument. Similarly, the audio sample can be altered so that it sounds like a different instrument with the same melody, which gives the same end result as translating it into midi and then running it through a virtual instrument.

Even for cases where the pitch values of the notes aren't sufficiently original to be copyrightable, as in the bass line for "Under Pressure", the specific rhythm may be. And that could also extend to the specific velocity, which midi captures. (Many sources for midi of public domain music explicitly claim copyright over the midi. The arrangement---which might include specific note velocities---may be ruled to be under copyright, if a court deems it sufficiently "original"---or a streaming service decides that the possibility of an even remotely plausible law suit, or cease and desist letter from a company with lawyers on retainer.)

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