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releasing vgm covers on bandcamp legality or licensing


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#1 Zoast

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 05:41 PM

I was looking to put some of my covers and arrangements on bandcamp, and make more.

 

I know people on here have released this stuff for sale, and also on bandcamp.  So I'm just wonder what yall's experiences or methods are.  What steps or legal precautions need to be taken?

 

Here's one interesting statement I found while looking for info about this:

(" If you're covering video game music, the song you're recording must have been released in the form of an audio soundtrack in order to be considered a cover song. It's not enough that the music has been made available as an element of the game experience. " ) according to https://soundrop.com...over-songs.html

 

 

Thanks!


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#2 ErichWK

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 06:19 PM

I have never had an issue with putting VGM on bandcamp. no one stops us.


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#3 thecreeper

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 07:01 PM

Until Alberto Gonzalez shows up at your door with a lead pipe
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#4 pingosimon

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 07:13 PM

 

Here's one interesting statement I found while looking for info about this:

(" If you're covering video game music, the song you're recording must have been released in the form of an audio soundtrack in order to be considered a cover song. It's not enough that the music has been made available as an element of the game experience. " ) according to https://soundrop.com...over-songs.html

 

Oh weird!

 

I wonder if Soundrop even checks, then.  Or if there really has been a soundtrack release of Choujun Sentai Jetman Area A.

 

The answer to this is always "it's a legal gray area, but you'll probably be fine".  Let's use Bit Brigade as our early-warning canary.


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#5 Demonstray

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 08:34 PM

Until Alberto Fucking Gonzalez shows up at your door with a lead pipe

FTFY
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#6 Katamari

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 10:17 PM

I have been talking to musicians about this for half a decade trying to figure out what and what not to do.

 

Back before Loudr and others made it easy to get licenses, people just put everything up on iTunes or whatever the format was at the time without licenses and every single person I've talked to said they have never received any legal issues. A local vgm musician near me I've spoken to about this has continued to do this for the past however many years hes been in the scene (12+), and they still rake in quite a bit of cash from digital sales for a band that isnt around anymore. His new releases are done the same way, through TuneCore. Never paid a cent in licenses. Understandable back in the day, when you would literally have to email a game publisher and try to arrange licensing, which wasn't feasible for an album with 10 different games.

 

It is a grey area. If you ask Sam the Neon Orange Knight (or any lawyer), s/he will tell you that you absolutely NEED to get licenses for the songs to even think about releasing them.

 

It's kind of a scary thought, that you might get sued to oblivion for making/releasing artwork that you put a lot of yourself into. I've never put up my WASD covers on any market besides Bandcamp because I thought I would get "found out" or something, that someone would all of a sudden say "hey you need licenses for that! I'm calling the police!!!!!1!". The only people who have gotten into any big trouble with game music is artists/groups that are doing crowdfunding, and im talking thousands of $$$ [cough OCR cough]   (although actually I did remember hearing about this guy a few years ago, a more concerning example). Though I don't think anyone has gotten outright sued for money, they would still be able to leverage their power against you to take down the offending work.

 

But really, in what way is Bandcamp different from any other digital storefront? You still receive money from fans (sometimes more than on iTunes etc). What about CD sales?

 

Another band I play in ( redacted ) has gotten both of our releases licensed through Soundrop (formerly Loudr) for digital distribution. I emphasize that because we sell physical CDs at every show we play, but we definitely do not have mechanical licenses for that, partly because it's crazy hard to track, and because we spent so much dang money on the licensing already (not that that is really an argument to lawyers, but we just cant shell out 50%-100% extra when we order CDs so that we can receive some number of intangible licenses for them).

 

There is a tiny 1% of cases that stand out and make this seem like there is a problem to dance around, but if you browse the literal thousands of video game covers and musicians on YouTube you'll see that the little guys can get away with it, while the big boys who are pulling in a decent chunk of YouTube ad revenue probably cover their asses with licenses because a) they get enough revenue back to support it and b.) they are under more scrutiny from big game publishers due to their popularity.

 

TL;DR: fuck it, put them up. make a couple bucks like the rest of us. dont worry about the licenses. if someone sues you, go play the lottery, because you will be struck by lightning at any moment. excuse me while I go dump my wasd songs onto itunes


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#7 joe.distort

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 10:49 PM

If you record it, post it. All sorts of bands in all sorts of genres post cover versions of various sorts*. Don't see how this would be a real issue, and yeah, asking a lawyer will probably net you some 'well you need permission' stuff but lots of people are putting out stuff for the love of it and make like no money so just do it if you want. If you are really worried than post it for free, then there's not much recourse anyone could even take on you besides a take down notice

*I know this isn't a 'cover' issue but it basically falls under that umbrella, no slight intended to any sick vgm
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#8 ErichWK

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 11:13 PM

Until Alberto Gonzalez shows up at your door with a lead pipe

Haha he personally messaged me and said he loved my album. He eve. Sent me a happy birthday song to my birthday a few years ago!


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#9 Spookmeister C

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 07:59 AM

Hi Zoast


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#10 DiscountBabyJam Mike

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 08:11 AM

Bit Brigade has covered and released music for two games from one of the most notorious IP hounds, Nintendo.

 

- full Metroid and Zelda albums, available digitally and physically through record label websites, Amazon, Bandcamp and more

- usage of Metroid and Zelda artwork and font on albums and merchandise including clothing, cold beverage coozies, stickers, pins and much more

- charges admission to play the Metroid and Zelda games live in front of concert audiences

 

Each time someone asks about licensing is raising the threat level index for interns at Nintendo or other game companies whose only jobs are to Google random shit all day and find ways to make money or make people mad/sad. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.


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#11 jmr

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 08:35 AM

Everyone seems to be going for the "it's a grey area" and "they'll turn a blind eye" argument. If that's not good enough for you, it's still possible to put licensed covers on bandcamp - you're just responsible for obtaining the licence and paying the fee for every copy you sell, the same as you would for a physical CD. That's how we're able to sell our Timeline EP on bandcamp (on a related note, I'm pretty sure Sebastian over at the Materia Collective is a wizard).

 

Here's one interesting statement I found while looking for info about this:

(" If you're covering video game music, the song you're recording must have been released in the form of an audio soundtrack in order to be considered a cover song. It's not enough that the music has been made available as an element of the game experience. " ) according to https://soundrop.com...over-songs.html

I'm pretty sure it's still possible to get a mechanical license for songs that haven't had a soundtrack release. My understanding is that the process just becomes much harder and the $9.99 per song that Soundrop charges (or ~$15ish if you're using Loudr) won't cover that. 


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#12 norg

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 11:19 AM

in case it wasn't covered earlier in this thread, the legality has to do with releases in the united states if you are based in the united states and attempting to license the material that you did for sale and full legality.

 

the process for licensing music that has been released in other countries is extremely difficult (and in a couple of cases like Namco and Nintendo, from what i understand, deliberately impossible which is why you rarely ever see CD releases in the united states).  your mileage will vary.

 

licensing your stuff is a good idea and legal protection.  

 

not everyone does it.  most people don't, in reality.  i don't know if that makes it RIGHT but it makes it what it is. (:


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#13 Robby V

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 07:03 PM

Never respect licensing laws. And that’s coming from me - a guy who decided that I own Mickey Mouse.
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#14 Jace

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 07:43 PM

It's actually not that complicated. In spite of the commercial nature of the works, what we all do is essentially "parody" and protected under fair-use doctrines. Basically, we're as legal as Weird Al (whose work is totally legal.) Bit Brigade has been featured in Nintendo Power twice, because NoA is savvy enough to recognize that *at worst* we provide their products with cool, free promotion.
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#15 nEwT

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 07:44 PM

fu** the police
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