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Topic: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

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  1. #1

    Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    There's a few sample libraries around that are specialising in the 'atmosphere/drone/weird sound/fx' category like 'Atmosphere', 'Altered States', 'Morphology' etc.

    The license agreements talk about these being licensed for 'musical compositions' usually with specific mention given to computer games where I guess the concern is that these samples will be used for 'sound effects' rather than 'music'.

    Computer games often have these 'ambient beds' of noise in the background that may be interpreted as 'musical compositions' or 'sound effects' depending on your point of view (so do films and TV shows for that matter).

    So, where does ambient sound effects / sound design (which is not allowed in the license agreements) end, and ambient musical composition (which is allowed as far as I can see) begin?

    Is there a straightforward way to interpret these license agreements, so that it's easy for users to be sure they are within the license agreement, and don't have to be worried every time they use them in a vaguely 'ambient' context?

    Steve

  2. #2

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Hi Steve, most developers are fine with you using beds and sounds etc, to help build your sonic landscape. The objection usually comes if you are using a straight out sound in isolation, say for an onscreen menu.

    Here is a reply I received from Spectrasonics a couple of years ago when I inquired about using their sounds as building blocks for sound design;

    "Hi Scott,

    As long as you are creating a new sound, you can use our instruments and
    libraries as elements of that sound. If you want to use the original sound
    from one of our products by itself then that would require a separate
    licensing agreement.

    Best regards,

    Brent Chun
    Technical Support
    "


    Hope that helps. FWIW, I hear portions of the Distorted Reality libs, SOV, Metamorphosis and Bizarre Guitars in games ALL THE TIME.
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  3. #3

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Scott,

    Thanks for that, it makes a lot of sense, and seems very fair. I'll drop and e-mail to Zero-G and see if they can give some sort of similar clarification about their license agreement.

    I'm guessing it's not allowed to use these sounds however much they are filtered, layered or otherwise processed for specific sound FX though?

    Steve

  4. #4

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rees
    I'm guessing it's not allowed to use these sounds however much they are filtered, layered or otherwise processed for specific sound FX though?

    Steve
    Hi Steve, actually, that was my whole point for emailing them. (Sorry, I should've explained more clearly.)

    Effectively I was asking if I could use Spectrasonics products for out-and-out sound effects. The answer is yes, provided that they are used as one element of the overall sound, not just selecting patch 47 and saying "this is my gun firing"
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  5. #5

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cairns
    Hi Steve, actually, that was my whole point for emailing them. (Sorry, I should've explained more clearly.)

    Effectively I was asking if I could use Spectrasonics products for out-and-out sound effects. The answer is yes, provided that they are used as one element of the overall sound, not just selecting patch 47 and saying "this is my gun firing"
    Yaaay! Thanks for that Scott. That's actually very generous of them. I'll ask Zero-G for some feedback with regard to their license agreements too.

    Steve

  6. #6

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Our policy on this type of music is the same as Spectrasonics - you can use Zero-G products for out-and-out sound effects provided that they are used as one element of the overall sound. - Ed Stratton (MD, Zero-G Ltd)

  7. #7

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Stratton
    Our policy on this type of music is the same as Spectrasonics - you can use Zero-G products for out-and-out sound effects provided that they are used as one element of the overall sound. - Ed Stratton (MD, Zero-G Ltd)
    Hi Ed,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. Having spent a few days listening to the material available in 'Morphology' and 'Altered States', it's good to know that these hugely impressive libraries samples can be put to a wide range of creative uses.

    Steve

  8. #8

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cairns
    "Hi Scott,

    As long as you are creating a new sound, you can use our instruments and
    libraries as elements of that sound. If you want to use the original sound
    from one of our products by itself then that would require a separate
    licensing agreement.

    Best regards,

    Brent Chun
    Technical Support
    "
    This is so absurd! It is like having a piano library and having to pay for each note you use in your composition. This behavior has nothing to do with copyrights and license agreements, I can see only ganance here.
    Everybody should stop buying libraries subjected to these conditions!

  9. #9

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    I think it's a very fair policy.

    For games in particular, sound effects are usually delivered in a form that is easily isolated and could be re-used by someone who didn't buy the library. They just don't want someone taking their sounds and putting them straight into a game where they might be be ripped off easily. It's not that hard to use the sounds as building blocks rather than just taking the unaltered sound and using that.

  10. #10

    Re: Ambient music, sound design and license agreements

    Yes, but if someone decides do rip the sound, the user of the library has nothing to do with it. Besides, requiring an adicional license will not prevent this kind of abuse, it will only charge the user twice for the use of the same library!
    Last edited by Guga Bernardo; 10-06-2004 at 10:28 AM. Reason: wrong typing

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