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Legal question: Sampling of instruments


nentwig

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Hello,

 

I am building a free (noncommercial) software synthesizer using sample playback (http://millisampler.sourceforge.net).

Now I want to record the individual keys of a keyboard and put them on the web for download.

My question is: Is there a chance that this violates the copyright of the instrument's manufacturer?

I can think of both cases, where this would seem to be legal (for example Rhodes EP), and illegal ('samples' taken from any sample CD).

Where's the line? Are there any example 'cases'?

Any help is appreciated.

 

Regards

 

Markus

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To my opinion each instrument is made to be recorded.

Weather the recording is digital or analogue doesn't matter.

 

I don't think you violate copyrights in sampling a synthesizer.

To take samples from a sample cd could be a different story, but that will be depending of the terms of the cd publisher.

:keys: My Music:thx: I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
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If it is illegal to sample the OUTPUT of a hardware synthesizer, then the list of lawbreakers is very long!

As long as you're not for example slicing piano samples off of a Giga CD and dropping them in your sampler then distributing it. But I'm not a lawyer so personally I would advise for musical purposes as well as being absolutely safe legally simply to avoid exact replication of any ROMpler or sample set, but it seems that you're already doing that.

 

I like your site and am glad to see more audio programs beingmade for Linux.I'm writing from SuSE/Windowmaker

on a PII 350/256 and my stripped-down Win98SE PIII 1k/512 audio computer is like a farm wagon compared to the luxurious "feel" of this setup. It's eerie.

Unfortunately, Samplitude is only available for Windows. Even though it behaves very un-Windows, I get the feeling that it's fighting an uphill battle against bullshit OS's. I daydream of a Linux Samplitude as beautiful women in skimpy penguin outfits dance a chorus line...but it probably won't happen.

 

Have you ever used Ardour? Even though installing and tweaking Linux and Windows are no problem, I'm still too "end user" for where the sequencer is at presently and would like to hear something about it as I keep an eye on its development.

 

Anyway more power to you,

 

-CB

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I installed an expansion ROM last week in one of my keyboards and noticed the copy write. It expressly forbids sampling the instruments sounds for the purpose of reselling those sounds. In other words, you can sample loops or passages and sell those loops, but you cannot sample the pure sounds and resale them so those sounds can be used as samples in another instrument. They develop the product to be sold to people who want those sounds, and recording those sounds to be sold again is no different than recording someones CD and reselling it. I never thought about it before but it makes perfect sense. If you invested the money necessary to record piano, guitars, drums, etc. and packaged it into the memory of a keyboard or ROM, would you protect your work or would you allow someone to record your samples note by note and resell them? Notice that most sample CDs of keyboards are usually either discontinued keyboards, keyboards that do not use samples, or the patches that are sampled are designed in such a way that the basic instrument samples within the ROM are heavily processed by effects, filters or modulation.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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This is an interesting and complex question. Remember, what you're getting back from us are opinions and a layman's interpretation of legal issues (meaning, if you're really concerned, ask a lawyer with expertise in this field). So anyhow.

 

I think sampling for commercial use falls into several categories:

 

1) I don't see how the sampling of acoustic and electro-mechanical instruments could ever be illegal. The same goes for digital physical modeling instruments (VAs).

 

2) The waveforms from PCM-based synths and samplers are probably protected under the same copyright laws as other types of recordings.

 

3) You might also make a case that the programming of the synth (the patches) are protected under the same copyright laws as, lets say, computer programs.

 

Roland, in particular, wants you to ask permission before sampling their stuff (PCM-based or otherwise). I would advise staying away from sampling Roland equipment in general, based on emails/posts I've seen from the company on this issue. Probably the best policy is simply to ask permission from any company. At NAMM, I asked Bob Moog if he had any objection to sampling the Voyager for commercial release (I did this as a courteousy). He thought about it for a moment, then said no. He found the notion of sampling a synth like the Voyager is a strange thing to do anyway. What's the point?

 

If the synth manufacturers are serious about protecting their waveforms, then they should make specific reference to this in the documentation that accompanies the synth. I have looked, cover-to-cover, at my synth manuals and have never found any kind of language that would specifically warn against sampling. There is nothing like the break-the seal-you're-entering-into-a-contract that you find with computer programs or many sample CDs. The first time I've noticed this legal language is in the Roland SRX expansion board docs.

 

Busch.

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that is a good question. if a company makes a piano sample of a steinway or rhodes they need permission, but if i do it for personal use it's okay? what if i give the samples to all of my "friends" on the net?

 

hey nentwig, when does the mac vst plug version come out :D

 

[ 02-17-2002: Message edited by: wager47 ]

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The law of copyright protects original "expressions" of ideas. You breach copyright if you reproduce a "substantial" part of an author's original work. If you only take a snippet (ie, which could possible be a sample for your purposes) for the purposes of your own work, then that would be considered "fair use" and, hence, you don't infringe copyright. The policy behind the law is that everyone should be able to draw upon other people's original works, to a certain extent, to create new and better ones.

 

Bear in mind, the fact that you're not making a profit doesn't mean a lot to the Intellectual Property lawyer.

 

I trust this assists.

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You should be careful in the naming of the waveforms and programs. You'll notice that a lot of synth programs (especially Alesis') never come out and say they are samples of a B3 or Rhodes, because they are both trademarks of Roland. That's why you get the misspelled "roads", "wurli" or "leslie". Abbreviate "Mini" instead of "minimoog", "OB" instead of "OBX", "Matrix" instead of "Matrix 12".

 

All sample-playback synths sample each other. Every synth has a sample of the DX-7 E Piano, D-50 Calliope, Minimoog Bass, etc. I remember an interview with the Art of Noise laughing about all of the samples of their 8-bit Fairlight snare. They said that it would keep being sampled and sampled until one day it would cease to exist.

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Originally posted by synthetic:

... All sample-playback synths sample each other. Every synth has a sample of the DX-7 E Piano, D-50 Calliope, Minimoog Bass, etc. ...

 

 

I am not sure about the D-50, but the DX-7 and MiniMoog are not sample playback synths, so you are not sampling a sample.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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I am fairly certain that my Roland and Alesis synths have samples of a Fairlight, D-50, M1, Phil Collins "Susudio" drums and a Wavestation. They are even labeled close to that, without hitting the nail on the head. "Wave strings", "Fair Voices", etc. You're only doing what every other manufacturer does. I guess since they all sample each other, there's a gentleman's agreement betweenthem. Also, I thought that you could legally sample up to 1/2 second without clearence, right? Kloppy, you out there?
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There have been lawsuits regarding sampling the performance of individual snare samples (Jan Hammer).

 

Roland had to pull their XP Dance Expansion card for using "Black to Black" samples.

 

Lots of Lawsuits, lots of gray areas, lots of misinformation.

 

There may be a distinction between a sample of a sample, and a sample of an accoustically or algorithmically produced waveform.

 

-Blips

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I thought the Jan Hammer suit was due to the conga player's over-zealous lawyer suing Jan because no one understood sampling at the time. The lawyer thought that the conga player wrote the song or something, and it was embarrassing to both sides.

 

I'm not saying that you should rip off someone's sample library, but that sampling a synth is OK. There is plenty of precedent.

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Interesting...

 

Well, here's my take on it. You defintely cannot use any samples from a sample library without the authors permission. Sometimes you can license sounds from them though but that usually costs money so... for freeware you are probably not going to go that route. I would not try to take some stuff off of a sample library because there are very strict laws about it in the license agreements. That is pretty much known by most.

 

The gray area is really the keyboards. I know that you are safe if you sample a real rhodes, B3 or any analog synths, fm or physical modeling synths. PCM synths are probably okay if you are sampling the patch and not the raw wave set. It would probably be safer- or at least nicer- if you programmed or at least tweaked the patch. This also depends on the sound too. If it's generic or popular such as that M1 organ sound or the D50 fantasia patch then you are probably fine. But, if you take all the acoustic instruments from one synth and put it in your freeware, not only is that not right but it's also risky legally.

 

We just did our own synth plug-in workstation (sorry it's not free) and we had to use our own samples of the acoustic instruments for the wave set in it. We sampled a load of analog synths and even some physical modeling and FM. But, we didn't just sample the raw wave set of the Triton and call it our own. Of course, we do this for a living and this is a commercial product. But, we did it in a way that wouldn't get us into any trouble with regard to these sort of concerns.

 

To be honest, if you are going to have realistic instruments- like orchestral, acoustic etc- in a freeware synth it has to be sort of risky because your only options most likely are to snag them from something else. If you were to go out and sample real string players and all the rest, I can assure you that your plug would no longer be free ;) However, if you stuck with analog, FM and PM and a few of your own acoustic samples or some patches from a few things then that would be safer for you and would offer people something unique as well. Who needs a second generation sample of a Proteus anyway.

 

Incidentally, one of the cool things about having this in software is that the sounds can be larger than what is in those hardware keyboards anyway! Our software synth has sound set that is over 2 gigs (compare that to the 32-64meg sets in most hardware modules!). So, sampling the hardware synth is also not as good as using larger original samples of your own that you can do....just not for free.

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This is the wording in the documentation that accompanies the Roland SRX ROMs that fit inside your Roland XV synth.

 

=====================================

IMPORTANT NOTES

 

When you purchase the SRX-01 expansion board from an authorized Roland dealer, the included sounds and samples are licensed, not sold, to you by Roland Corporation and Spectrasonics, for commercial use in music production, public performance, broadcast, etc.

 

You may use any of the included phrases and/or samples in a commercial or non-commercial recording without paying any additional license fees. However, you must strictly adhere to the following crediting guidelines on any music recording that utilize material from the SRX-01 (interesting note is that they never specify any crediting guidelines).

 

Reproduction or duplication of this collection or any of the sound recording contained in the SRX-01, either as they exist on this expansion board or by means of reformatting, mixing, filtering, re-synthesizing, processing (another intersting note, these are the exact things Eric Persing of Spectrasonics is known for with products like Distorted Reality) or otherwise editing for use in another product or for re-sale, is strictly prohibited without express written consent for Roland. All unauthorized giving, trading, lending, renting, re-issue, re-distribution, or re-sale of the sounds included in the SRX-01 are expressly prohibited.

 

In Plain English: Be creative in your application of the SRX-01 sounds, and keep this library for your use only. DO NOT COPY IT.

 

Roland constantly monitors other Soundware releases to check for copyright infringments, and will prosecute all piracy and copyright violations to the fullest extent of the law. (final intersting note, based on BrittanyLips' post, seems like everyone else should be monitoring Roland's Soundware as well).

 

THIS LIBRARY IS GUARANTEED TO BE 100% COPYRIGHT CLEAN.

 

=====================================

 

It makes no mention of a 1/2 second rule, fair use or anything other execptions. I read it to mean that copying so much as a single cycle waveform from this library is copyright infringment. I also don't think you're safe in assuming that other sounds found in the ROM on your Roland PCM-based synth are safe to copy, even though there is not a specific warning in the documentation. And just because other synth companies aren't as agressive as Roland in this regard, doesn't mean they don't have the legal right to go after you if they so choose to do so.

 

What I believe to be important here is that samples or PCM-based synths are protected under copyright law specifically because they are sound recordings. You can make a sound recording of a speech, birds chriping or a car crash. These are all protectable, copyrightable.

 

I go back to my original recommendation, ask permission, especially if it's sample-based.

 

Busch.

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I think this might help. Here is an excerpt of a post from Jerry Kovarsky of Korg USA, on the legalities of sampling. We were discussing using Virus and Yamaha VL patches to create sampled banks for all the Triton users.

 

>1) Sampling finished "factory" presets from a synth product >and offering them for use on another hardware system is >certainly "questionable", and is likely legally actionable >IF the company chooses to do so.

>

>2) Sampling the complete waverom of a synth product for >recreation in another system has been proven to be illegal >and defendable by a synth company.

>

>3) Sampling parts of a waverom for use in another system is >also likely "actionable".

>

>But taking a synthesizer and making you own sounds using >some or all of its capabilities is a free action that you >the user are entitled to do, for free, for profit or >anything else. And then making samples of those self-created >sounds is also a free and legal action. So as long as the VL >or Virus sounds you make are your own creation you should be >free and clear.

>

>How could any synth manufacturer make a sampled waverom if >the rules were so strict?

>

>

>So it seems to me that self-made sounds from ANY synth would >be free and clear to be sampled and shared on this group.

>

>But if any of your sounds are so close to a factory preset >as to be undiscernable to the human ear (even if you can >show that a few parameters have different values) then you'd >be treading a fine line, as we say.

>

>Hope this helps,

>

>Jerry

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Assume a workstation has a piano sound you like. The sound in the upper registers is full and bright but the lower register is a bit soft and thin. Your right hand cuts through the mix but the left hand does not fight the bass, it just hangs in the background. This sound becomes so popular that everyone wants it. It would be illegal to sample this piano from the workstation's output and sell the ROM. It would not be illegal to take your own sample, process the various ranges of the sample to mimic the qualities of the patch that is so famous in the said workstation. Then you can give it a name that implies the patch in your sound set is like the famous patch that everyone wants.

 

So if you see a patch with a name like Piano M1 or Triton String, I don't know that it is a sampling of those keyboards or just an emulation created by clever processing and programming.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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