I have what could potentially be a problem and would like to know what you would do. I've been working on opening credits for a movie that I'm working on. Everything has been ok'd by the director/producer. This all sounds like great news and it is, but there's more...
A few nights ago, hubby bought a new video game (Ghost Recon 3). I was sitting there watching him play the game when my jaw hit the floor . The cue that started to play was very similar (in my opinion) to what I have been working on. Remember, I've just heard this cue for the first time a few nights ago and have been working on my score on and off for a few weeks now since time isn't an issue at this point. Hubby swears that they aren't that similar. He says that here and there they are, but not as a whole. I don't want to tarnish any reputation that I may have by having people think that I ripped it off. What do I do? Should I continue working on the piece and the rest of the score or scrap it all together? Please help. What would you do? Thanks for your help.
p.s. - I've tried to buy the score to get a better listen, but it isn't available yet. There's so much noise (gunfire, explosions etc) in the background that the music isn't as clear as I'd hope for me to know for sure.
Last edited by Stephanie Pray; 04-14-2006 at 10:48 PM.
Reason: typos and spelling errors
I believe the phenomenon is quite common. I don't think it would be much of an issue unless the copyright owners of Ghost Recon music somehow heard your music, agreed that is sounded similar, and decided to sue you, which I think is extremely unlikely. If I were the composer, I would probably feel safe to go ahead with what I've written. After all, if I hadn't heard the music of Ghost Recon I wouldn't have noticed any similarities and my chances of being sued would remain the same: very slim or perhaps non-existent.
On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable continuing to work with something that will forever remind you of Ghost Recon, and you feel you can write another theme that the director/producer may like even more, it's a good chance to take (however, if it were me, I would not tell the director/producer why I decided to change the theme, except for maybe I thought it was better).
In reality I suppose a composer could be sued if his money-making music sounded like something written before even if he'd never it, and there's really nothing any composer can do about that.
There are many examples I can think of in which music composed by one composer sounds extremely like music by another composer (especially in cinema and video games). In fact I'd argue that almost any piece of music (tonal, at least) sounds at least somewhat like some other piece of music by a different composer, simply because as composers we learn and are shaped by what we have heard and liked in the past. (And sometimes this is what directors want anyway, since they may say "I'm looking for a Thomas Newman sound" or something.) You may not have heard the music of Ghost Recon before, but the composer of the Ghost Recon music and you have probably heard some similar music in your pasts.
I do see where you're coming from and I do agree mostly. I'm less worried about being sued as I am about ruining my reputation (the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny one that I have) right out of the gate. I'm so new to all of this and I know that people talk. I don't want to jeopordize my future career over a movie score that I'm probably not going to get paid for. I wouldn't want to even if I were being paid the mega bucks. It's all so frustrating. I agree, that certain people write certain types of music which has been influenced by what they've listened to and were moved by in the past. I think that I'm rambling most likely due to the sleep that I've lost over this. This has been bugging me for days. Thanks Sean!!
If your film music were to sound very unique it would probably be uniquely bad. Even if someone did say "boy, that sure sounds a lot like Ghost Recon" I doubt it would tarnish your reputation. My guess is that a film composer's ability to sound familiar (not too familiar that it sounds like plagiarism of course) is probably a good thing in the film world considering how often directors themselves desire a familiar sound. Also, I've heard complaints of many of the famous film composers themselves (John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore) sounding like pre-existing music many times, so if someone really wanted to complain about your music, or mine, or almost anybody's, they probably somehow could. And of course their reputations aren't tarnished much at all. After all, I personally feel each of them still has a very distinct style, and from hearing your music, I would say you do too!
Thanks again Sean, I know what you're saying. It's the plagiarism part that I'm afraid of. Maybe I'll be brave and post the mp3. It's just in such a stage that I'm almost embarrased to let anyone here hear it . The thing is, unless you have the game, you wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about. I think that the guys that you mention are mostly accused of plagiarizing themselves. Heck, I plagiarize myself every now and again too. Maybe I am just thinking about this too hard. I just wonder if I was made to hear it for a reason - I feel so uncomfortable continuing with it, and it's a shame becuase it's really good (IMO) Thanks again, Steph
There's no worse feeling than to have a great idea in the works, and then to see it realized by someone else earlier.
It happens very often in art... Certain ideas, images, sounds can trigger a natural creative progression.
... And i would also not discount the probabilities of lawsuits either.... especially when it comes to corporate areas where people/lawyers want to cash in. Disney probably has multiple lawsuits at any given moment.
Firstly i would run this issue by your client and see what they think... If they feel the similarities is not an issue, then at least you're comfortable in the legal area.
As for your reputation dilemma, I would ask friends, fellow co-workers to have a listen and see what their views are. They may feel that there is little similarity.
But For your own piece of mind, perhaps you could modify your work slightly (if time permitted)
In fact, revision work can often be a great catalyst for new creative ideas!
Not sure if this helped, but either way, i'm certain it will work out terrific.!
Thanks Jeff! You did help, don't worry. I am running it by friends (what better group than the folks here ) I asked hubby to start the game over, so that I could hear it again tonight. There's a few similarities, but in the GR3 cue, some of the chords take the major route where mine go the minor way. Still very very close as far as I can tell. I just wish that I could hear it without all the racket going on in the background! (I guess the music is supposed to be in the background... ) Anyways, I'll see what the majority of people say, and then I'll stew on it a few days. I won't be working on it this weekend anyway with the Holiday. You are very right as far as corporations go, and I want no part in ruffling there feathers right now. You're also right about the revision process. Maybe that will help. Thanks again! Take Care, Steph
Thanks Sean, I'm listening now, I did just go look at the jacket for the game, and I was calling it the wrong thing It's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much for your help! Steph
p.s. - I posted a thread in the Games section of the forum and found out that Tom Salta did the score. The names didn't register, I'm sorry. I really need to sleep. It isn't on his site yet.