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View Full Version : how much trouble could I get into?



sadkkf
03-27-2008, 01:41 PM
If I animated a character either singing or playing an instrument from a song, and put it on my site to attract new business, to show off, to expand my portfolio, and for a hundred other reasons, what kind of legal issues do I run into?

I'm not profiting from it, but I am, technically, making a copy of the song, but I see that all the time in other animated works and especially on YouTube when someone has a slideshow with a song.

My original concept was to have a character jam along to Boston's Foreplay/Long Time, but after only recently learning about Brad Delp's suicide, the project seems less appealing.

Then I looked to creating a song on my own with Acid Pro, but not really knowing how to play an instrument, I wouldn't know where to begin animating the fingering of a guitar, for example.

Any thoughts?

animotion
03-27-2008, 02:00 PM
The short answer is don't do it. you don't want to be the one they pick to make an example of. And as with any good movie magic, look at reference footage of guitar players and fudge it.

Matt
03-27-2008, 02:18 PM
You could probably get away with judging by the amount of music in videos on YouTube, but it is against copyright law.

Why not try writing to the artist / record label to ask, if it's a small label they might, big ones probably won't.

Steamthrower
03-27-2008, 02:21 PM
Regardless of the legal issues, to animate the fingering of the guitar you can search Youtube or Google for "How to play Such-and-Such" and you'll get some handy videos of guys playing the song with perfect close-ups of their fingers.

Regarding the legal issues...I bet you'd be able to slide under the radar, but I'd never risk it personally. It is illegal...since technically you ARE profiting from it.

sadkkf
03-27-2008, 02:27 PM
Yeah, you're right. It's not worth risking it. Thanks.

sadkkf
03-27-2008, 02:40 PM
There's too much gray area here. I know copyrighted materials can be used for educational purposes and talking with copyright lawyers they kind of roll their eyes back when they talk about using materials in demo reels.

Ideally, I'd like to make a guitar solo or something and animate that. The next question is how do I get it right? Acid Pro doesn't print sheet music or tabs so I'd need to ask a real player to learn it and let me tape him/her playing it.

Life shouldn't be this difficult.

Weetos
03-27-2008, 03:43 PM
A whole lot of musics are in public domain ... dunno if this could help

Also, you might learn how to read guitar tablatures (tabs), those are guitar parts where the fingers position is explained, by specifying the positions of fingers on the strings. You can find those tabs everywhere on the web.

Hope that helps

Red_Oddity
03-27-2008, 03:49 PM
Copyright law is a mess, you don't really make money of the product in a direct way, if you use a clip less than 30 seconds you might even be able to pay the fees, under 15 seconds it might even fall under the fair use domain.
Problem is, nobody really knows, every country has other rules, and not one person anywhere not at the top of the food chain within a music publishing firm will give you the rights to use it (yes, running the world on fear does wonders for the social aspect of it)

grey_matters
03-27-2008, 03:51 PM
I say talk to the band the music comes from. Someone animated (done in max) the drums from Rush's song YYZ and apparently it's all good with the band since the video is all over the web. It's even on the drummers official website - http://www.neilpeart.net/movies/yyz_vid.html

No harm in asking right?

CoryC
03-27-2008, 05:09 PM
If you plan on using a fair amount of music, look into Sonic Fire Pro and the SmartSound library (www.smartsound.com). Once you buy the music disc, you can use the music as many times as you want. The newer libraries allow all kinds of customization so you can vary the tracks. I know they have a few guitar related discs. If this is a one off, take a look at some of the smaller licensing libraries. Avoid BMG/Killer tracks unless you license a lot.

As for copyright infringement. Avoid doing it. Most of the info I have seen posted on forums about what you can and can't do legally has been wrong, at least in the U.S. There is no set length for "fair use". The courts use a sliding scale of 4 criteria to determine fair use. Use for promoting your business will pretty much never be considered fair use. I remember one case where a commemorative plate company commissioned an artist to do a Wizards of Oz scene for a series they were doing. They decided to not use her painting and she put it in her portfolio. The movie studio sued her and won for violating their copyright of the Wizard of Oz by using the painting in her portfolio.

Steamthrower
03-28-2008, 08:53 AM
What you could do, Sadkkf, is browse around on www.purevolume.com and find some minor bands that have decent music. Email them and ask them if you can use their music. All they want is recognition anyway, I'm sure they'd flip out in happiness if you asked.

They'd probably even film themselves playing it for you.

BeeVee
03-28-2008, 09:15 AM
There is a shadowy thing called "Fair Use" where you are allowed to use snippets of copyrighted material. However, pinning down what constitutes fair use is very difficult. Here's an amusing take on it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJn_jC4FNDo).

Wrap
03-28-2008, 09:30 AM
What you could do, Sadkkf, is browse around on www.purevolume.com and find some minor bands that have decent music. Email them and ask them if you can use their music. All they want is recognition anyway, I'm sure they'd flip out in happiness if you asked.

They'd probably even film themselves playing it for you.

I agree.

It strikes me that it can only be publicity for the band and only the larger labels are likely to have issues with that.

caccipergolo
03-28-2008, 09:47 AM
Ask at the band the autorization first, if you obtain it, then start to work on your movie...
or change the song, and use some free (under gnu license for example) music.

Bee vee i think fair use is we you use only a portion of the song (in italy something like 5-7 SECONDS), so it will dont work for his work

Daniele

Steamthrower
03-28-2008, 09:54 AM
I actually specifically asked a lawyer friend about music copyrights. To my surprise, it is NOT illegal under American law to copy music and distribute it...no matter how long. What IS illegal, however, is to profit from it in any way. So technically (whether ethical or not) it is perfectly fine to torrent ripped CDs. But, in no way can you use any copyrighted music (bought or stolen) without permission to make money for yourself.

This would include demo reels. The whole point of a demo reel is to make money. So.

sadkkf
03-28-2008, 01:11 PM
Wow--lots of great replies. Thanks to everyone for his/her input.

I have looked into free music from smaller bands and that's a serious option. If I find something I really like, I'll pursue it.

I've also thought about contacting some bands just to see what happens. In the past, my inquiries have gone unanswered so I'm hesitant to think now would be any different, but still worth a try.

Maybe my best bet is to write a song or a solo of some kind and find a way to translate that to video. This would promote not only my animation skills, but music abilities as well. Again, I'm no musician, but can create some ambient music for corporate vids and such. Also, I can mix it into Dolby 7.1.

Hey, maybe I can use a smoke machine on stage to mask the details! :)

Thanks again for all the input!

RollerJesus
03-28-2008, 01:38 PM
I actually specifically asked a lawyer friend about music copyrights. To my surprise, it is NOT illegal under American law to copy music and distribute it...no matter how long. What IS illegal, however, is to profit from it in any way. So technically (whether ethical or not) it is perfectly fine to torrent ripped CDs. But, in no way can you use any copyrighted music (bought or stolen) without permission to make money for yourself.

I've released a few records and worked with some music attorneys in the process and, from what I've been told, this could not be further from the truth.

For instance when I release a record for a band, that album becomes my intellectual property, while the band retains the right to perform their songs, as the actual composition remains their intellectual property.

Section 106 of the US Copyright Law (Title 17 of US Code) states that:

...the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
...
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

Subpart (4) is what is relevant to the thread however, where you are not allowed to perform publically, someone elses copyrighted musical work.

If you want permission, ask the record label, not the artist, because they don't have the say, unless they are unsigned.

Rob79
03-28-2008, 04:33 PM
Hi all

I had a friend in a band that would do song for me but the band broke up
my point is if you have a friend or know some one who does try talking to them
bands want publisity remember if its on your demo reel or web-site there on it to to be seen and heard also with the right people it is a win win

my 2 cents hope it helps
:)

righteous
03-28-2008, 05:08 PM
I do a lot of free lance editing and this is a constant pain in my life. The last job I did they wanted a Whitney Houston song to go along with it. I told them to give me a billion dollars and that should cover it :)

I tend to go to placed like freeplaymusic.com and http://www.akmmusic.co.uk/copyright-free-music.php

They are reasonably priced and there is some good music in there.

Steamthrower
03-29-2008, 08:59 AM
I've released a few records and worked with some music attorneys in the process and, from what I've been told, this could not be further from the truth.

Yeah, definitely don't quote me on that to any in the music industry. It's a grey area for me, and it's grey enough that I just decided to not pirate any music. I am now 100% legal music (I'd only downloaded one album anyway...so I decided heck, I like this, and so I bought the CD).

Jockomo
03-29-2008, 02:06 PM
So technically (whether ethical or not) it is perfectly fine to torrent ripped CDs.

Hmm, Not so sure about this. I think the RIAA lawyers would probably disagree.

The bottom line is, are you worth suing? Unless you get singled out by the RIAA so they can test some section of the law, using you as their human sacrifice, you likely won't get bothered with anything more than a nasty letter saying take it off the web.

If it turns into "the annoying thing" (google it if you don't know the reference) and you try to license it or sell it, that will be a different story.

Oh and btw, www.sounddogs.com has alot of decent stuff to choose from and the licenses for what you are doing are like $5-20.

Red_Oddity
03-29-2008, 02:40 PM
There is a shadowy thing called "Fair Use" where you are allowed to use snippets of copyrighted material. However, pinning down what constitutes fair use is very difficult. Here's an amusing take on it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJn_jC4FNDo).

exactly, it's all very relative, just like a client wanting to adjust things (like say, color) 'a bit', or 'some',

sadkkf
03-30-2008, 08:05 AM
Thanks for sharing all the resources. In the past, I've used this:

Muisc Bakery (http://musicbakery.com/)

Nice quality stuff.

A customer of mine years ago wanted some music from here:

Uniqe Tracks (http://uniquetracks.com/)

IMHO their music was not very good. Good quality, but just bad.