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Guitar Hero World Tour Won't Allow Copyright Infringement 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-be-expected dept.
1Up did an interview with two of the developers for Guitar Hero: World Tour about the process of creating the game. One of the interesting things they mention is that they won't be putting up with people who use the song creation tools to make covers of existing songs. "We'll be actively monitoring the site. And, obviously, if the copyright holder complains, Activision will pull it down immediately. We can't condone people putting up covers of music. It's really there for original content." We discussed the creation tools themselves recently. Since then, Activision has announced that they'll be including a MIDI sequencer to assist with making your own tunes.
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Guitar Hero World Tour Won't Allow Copyright Infringement

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  • I mean, you could probably make a fairly successful song if you sampled an old live Rolling Stones concert and played the main hook backwards over and over.
    • by philspear (1142299) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:54PM (#25199743)

      If memory serves me correctly, there was that song "bittersweet symphony" back in the 90s that sampled part of a rolling stones song. The guy who owned the rights to that song (not the rolling stones, I think it was a manager type who screwed the stones out of the rights to their song) sued them and eventually gained rights to that song as well. He promptly whored it out to nike or some other large corporation, against the wishes of the guys who actually made the song, in addition to keeping every last dime of profits. And you could argue also ensured the song would be overplayed, annoying, and that The Verve would be a one hit wonder everyone was sick of 3 months later.

      Certainly a strong argument against the status quo.

      Anyway, I'm assuming if given the chance, that particular asshole would try to sue activision for all they're worth if you did.

      • by Cow Jones (615566) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:28PM (#25200001)

        The song that the violin sample is from is the Andrew Oldham Orchestra's version of The Last Time. What really bugs me about the lawsuit is that the Verve actually did clear the sample! They had the right to use it in their song, but in the copyright holder's opinion (and the court's), they used too much of it. Go figure.

        Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_Sweet_Symphony [wikipedia.org]

        CJ

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Forrest Kyle (955623)
        Let me get this straight: Because one man wanted to be a jerk and make tons of money, The Verve will never be heard from again?

        Buy that man a beer! He deserves our gratitude for saving us from having to spend another five minutes listening to crappy bands like The Verve.
        • by Wescotte (732385)

          They released a new album recently.

        • Dude, the song was like 3 minutes long. Why are you listening to it 1 and a half times?

        • Let me get this straight: Because one man wanted to be a jerk and make tons of money, The Verve will never be heard from again?

          i hope we won't hear from them again, what a shitty copycat band they were anyways

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by halcyon1234 (834388)

        It's true. Turning to the Ongoing History of New Music transcripts [ongoinghistory.com] (which, for some reason, are bizarrely out of format...):

        If you're a fan of The Verve, you obviously know the song 'Bittersweet Symphony' from their 1997 album, Urban Hymns. It was the biggest hit of the band's career and the song that helped The Verve sell millions of albums around the world. However, you may also have heard that Verve didn't make a cent on 'Bittersweet Symphony', that is absolutely 100% true. The problem lies in a six-sec

      • This is a pretty common outcome. Often musicians will sample copyrighted recordings and either hope no one notices, or clear the sample with the rights holder after the fact. Often the price of clearing the sample outweighs the entire of the income brought in by that song, so the new song gets transferred to the rights holder to avoid having to pay the balance. James Brown is the single most sampled and one of the most litigious artists in history, and as such, owns a crap load of other musicians' works.
      • by DeskLazer (699263)
        hey man, Urban Hymns was actually a decent album. but yes, Bittersweet Symphony was overplayed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Blackwulf (34848)

      You can't record on the vocal track. You have to use the in-game instruments only - no external samples.

  • I wonder if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by megamerican (1073936) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:42PM (#25199651)

    I wonder if "covers" of songs made with Mario Paint [youtube.com] ever get DMCA take down notices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Poltras (680608)

      Seriously, this is the best I've seen in a while.

      Dude. Dude! Dude, dude... I guess you have a point.

      • It was not my original intent to "Rick Roll" people. I simply typed "mario paint" into youtube and that was one of the top links. It worked out for the best.

        • by Poltras (680608)
          And you just wasted it :P it's not a rick roll anymore if you say it's a rick roll....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sparton (1358159)
      What I want to know is what will happen when people start remixing video game themes from Mega Man, Halo, Metal Gear, etc. For me, one of the largest selling points for this game is being able to arrange my own versions of these prominent video game compositions.
    • Actually, to be pedantic, that particular song isn't made in Mario Paint, but a clone of it named Mario Paint Composer that someone created for Windows. It doesn't have someone of those "pesky" limitations like not being able to use sharps/flats and having a limited song length.

  • Go Old-School (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant.j.warkenti ... om minus painter> on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:49PM (#25199687) Homepage Journal

    Lame. Companies need to understand that fan-made content extends product life and popularity, and keeps their product selling off the shelves.

    Guess the kids are going to have to be old-school guitar heroes, playing their real guitars along to illegally downloaded MP3s of their favourite songs. Maybe they'll even develop real talents of their own, instead of making burned-out has-been rock star geezers [rollingstones.com] even richer.

    • by westlake (615356) on Monday September 29, 2008 @09:23PM (#25200365)
      Maybe they'll even develop real talents of their own
      .

      and maybe if they had talent they would be performing their own material.

      the geek's notion of creativity seems to begin and end in imitation - when he writes, it's fan fiction. when he plays music, it's a cover.

      give him a video camera and his first thought will be to recreate an episode of Star Trek: TOS.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Most guitarists at least start out imitating what they've heard other people play. You need to learn how to play the instrument before you can start writing your own music on it.
      • by WCLPeter (202497)

        the geek's notion of creativity seems to begin and end in imitation

        Barring dumb luck, creativity in a specific skill can only be exercised once you have a working knowledge of how that skill works.

        Building upon, or imitating, prior knowledge and endeavors gives a person the technical skills they need to exercise their creativity.

      • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday September 29, 2008 @11:51PM (#25201211) Homepage Journal

        Actually my first thought with a video camera was to record the girl next-door. Then to immediately record me killing a black widow with a stun gun.

      • by Haeleth (414428)

        maybe if they had talent they would be performing their own material.

        Nonsense. Performance and composition are different talents. There's a reason why "singer-songwriter" is a category of its own. There's a reason why some of the all-time great songwriters, like Dylan, have been rubbish performers.

        the geek's notion of creativity

        Hang on, where do geeks come into this? We're talking about Guitar Hero World Tour here, not Cantina Band: Mos Eisley. We're talking about a mass-market game aimed squarely at p

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          Cantina Band: Mos Eisley

          Dude, I'd *SOOOO* play that.

          Do-do-Do-do-D-d-dooo-doooooo

          Layne

          • But there would only be two songs.

            Level 1: Do da-do. Do da-do. Do da DODODODO-do. Do-da-Do DO DO DOO da DO DO DO da da DO DO da na do. do DA NANANA do DANANA.....

            Level 2: DoDAdoDAdoDADA do na dananananananana-na.

            Of course, the Sy Snoodles and the Max Rebo Band expansion would have slightly more content....

          • Thank you we are the Cantina Band. If you have any requests shout them out.

            (Throws voice) Play that same song again.

            Same song, here we go.

          • by zehaeva (1136559)
            Thank you, now i'll be hearing that damned song echo in my skull for the next 5 hours. /sob
      • and maybe if they had talent they would be performing their own material.

        If I write a song, how do I know that somebody else hasn't written the same song a decade ago? See Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music.

      • Because when I was learning to play guitar, I never once covered anything.

        Come on, of course the first impulse is to imitate, how else does one learn? And to be fair those hobbies you list all belong to Nerds. When a geek writes, it's in codes that spell naughty words on the calculator. When they play music, it's through the most awe inspiring audio system known to man EQ'd to perfection. Give them a video camera and their first thought will be to recreate an episode of Star Trek:TNG

        Ok, you got it sort

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:51PM (#25199715)

    Happy Birthday!

  • But I wanted to be a Guitar Hero with my own personal versions of Stairway and Enter Sandman.

  • Yes but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Performances are allowed under copyright. So how is this copyright infringement?

    • by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Because that isn't performance, that's distribution.

      If you're talking about cover versions as listed in the article, it's because the legal situation would be very complicated. Basically, you and/or Activision would be obligated to pay 9.1c or so for every download of the song... but if you're giving the song away for free, where are you getting the money from?

      IANAL so this may be inaccurate, but this is my guess.

    • As above reply points out, you playing the track would be a performance, uploading the track to Activision for other players would be distribution.

      You can't distribute it, due to copyright. You also can't perform it, at least according to Gibson.

      Gibson owns a patent on technology that simulates a musical performance, and Activision and Gibson are semi-battling over it and how it applies to Guitar Hero et. al. http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17844 [gamasutra.com]

      Even stranger, is that GH I,
    • Performances are allowed under copyright. So how is this copyright infringement?

      Published performances of cover songs require licenses. See e.g. this article, or consult Google, which knows all.

      This is really no different than writing out sheet music for someone else's song and then trying to distribute that. Definitely copyright infringement if you don't have a license.

      • by bitrot42 (523887)

        It seems to me they are missing a golden opportunity. Instead of policing and preventing use of copyrighted material, why not link to an online music store so you can BUY the songs to use with the charts?

        Am I missing something here?

        • It seems to me they are missing a golden opportunity. Instead of policing and preventing use of copyrighted material, why not link to an online music store so you can BUY the songs to use with the charts?

          Am I missing something here?

          The GH3 site [guitarherogame.com] has links to iTunes to buy the original tracks, but that's not what you need to distribute cover versions - you need permission from the songwriters.

  • ... you insensitive clod! :(

    There's a legal way to do this ... c'mon Activision!

  • Who Cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:05PM (#25199823) Journal

    The music creator doesn't even allow for any sort of vocalizing. That instantly makes it pretty darn lame, and inherently limited/shallow.

    • by DeathElk (883654)
      Try telling that to John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius..... Stanley Clarke, Stanley Jordan,.....Tommy Emmanuel, Ravi Shankaar,....Jan Hammer, Joe Satriani,......Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Jerry Goodman, Pat Metheney.... I could go on for weeks.
      • Re:Who Cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by skam240 (789197) on Monday September 29, 2008 @10:09PM (#25200673)

        Yeah, instrumentals are obviously huge based off your long list of (mostly) fringe artists with extremely popular instrumental songs. I can't turn on the radio without hearing instrumental after instrumental.

        Wait, no. I can't remember the last time I heard an instrumental on the radio without tuning into a classical station. Now, I'm not saying a taste for instrumental rock (or any other instrumental music) is bad or anything but it is far from mainstream. Most people playing guitar hero are looking to play music with some relevancy to popular music.

  • Get the PC version (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rtechie (244489) * on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:41PM (#25200113)

    They're just MIDI guitar tracks, widely used with FretsOnFirehttp://fretsonfire.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net].

    There will almost certainly be a way to work around this on the PC, mainly because NOBODY is going to use the PITA creation tools on the 360 and PS3. It's almost infinitely easier to do it with a MIDI sequencer.

    Annoyingly, it looks like the MIDI songs will only be usable on the PS3, not the 360. It is probably due to their tools being MIDI-to-USB. The PS3 is pure USB so that's why it works on that platform.

    This is highly annoying for me, because I was going to get the 360 version and I wanted to import my own MIDI tracks. Looks like I'm going to HAVE to go with the PC version now. Does anybody know if the 360 instruments are the same as the PC instruments?

    • by Bageloid (1131305)
      The 360 doesn't have MIDI... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XMA_audio_format [wikipedia.org]
      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        Correct. They obviously are using a custom MIDI sequencer and player. Your point is...?

         

      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        Oops, my bad. I was puzzling over your post and trying to figure out what you were getting at without looking at what you were responding to. Although I'm still not sure what the link to XNA has to do with anything.

        My guess is since the Xbox doesn't have a true USB port, they can't implement a standard MIDI-over-USB protocol, and as such can't handshake properly with a computer or other USB MIDI device (most modern keyboards and such implement USB MIDI now).

        • by EvilIdler (21087)

          Sure, the Xbox has a weird USB-like port..but the Xbox 360 has a regular USB port. I don't think the problem is a technical one.

      • Seems to me that it wouldn't be overly difficult to add a software MIDI processor. Don't many cheaper soundcards skip internal midi processors and do it all in software anyhow?

        • Don't many cheaper soundcards skip internal midi processors and do it all in software anyhow?

          Yes, and they often sound like deep-fried ass, and are partly responsible for the continuing reputation of MIDI as "cheezy sounding", despite it being the same technology used for most of the soundtrack work we hear every day.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Yes, and they often sound like deep-fried ass, and are partly responsible for the continuing reputation of MIDI as "cheezy sounding", despite it being the same technology used for most of the soundtrack work we hear every day.

            That's just because they use crappy MIDI synths with crappy samples. (MOst just used the Microsoft provided MIDI synth, which comes with a tiny sample library).

            One of the better MIDI soft-synths around is Timidity [sourceforge.net] (GPL!). Couple that with some of the more humongous patches/soundfonts,

    • by CSMatt (1175471)

      The Guitar Hero Xplorer guitar is the same for both the Xbox 360 and Windows version of Guitar Hero III, so I imagine that the same will be true of the drums as well.

  • Too far? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday September 29, 2008 @09:01PM (#25200245) Homepage
    I'm not one of those people who say "go buy a real guitar" but I have to say, when you're at the point where you're midi sequencing stuff to play in guitar hero, you're also at the point where you're ready to start looking into making your own music. Particularly when you're restricted from emulating copyrighted songs.
    • when you're at the point where you're midi sequencing stuff to play in guitar hero, you're also at the point where you're ready to start looking into making your own music. Particularly when you're restricted from emulating copyrighted songs.

      If Guitar Hero was around back when George Harrison was alive and making records, how would he have caught himself emulating "He's So Fine" [wikipedia.org]?

    • I played too much Rockband so I bought a drumset. My downstairs neighbors don't like it though... so I've been drumless over the last month :(
  • My impression about what is so cool about this is that it allows you to simulate a real electric guitar sound. That's not something I've seen very often (I think a premium version of Fruity Loops had it but thats it, and it was kind of limited). If done right they've entered territory that really hasn't been seen much before, if at all. Ultimately, this could at the very least be a tool to help create real music, as it may allow you to flesh out how something should sound before you figure out what tabs to
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Khyber (864651)

      MIDI does all you need - you just need GOOD SAMPLES. I've recorded my Jackson distorted and used sound forge to put loop tags in the right spot. I replayed a few songs using my electric guitar soundfont and it made worlds of difference.

      • Also, Native Instruments Guitar Rig is well worth a look for simulated effects/cabinets/heads.

        Particularly if you actually own a guitar.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          Ahh, but NIGR (that's a BAD acronym right there,) has LAG, even with ASIO. My SBLive! does guitar FX in hardware without lag. I use the sound card particularly for its pitch-shifter, which beats out every dedicated guitar pedal I've ever owned or tried. For amp modeling, my Digitech comes with two outputs - straight to amp, and straight to mixer (Amp Emulated) and it does pretty well.

          Basically, NIGR is too much money for software when I could pay the same for a piece of hardware to plug in and do it all nat

          • Need the right hardwareand/or the right coniguration of the software, it sounds like.

            I've got a fatality platinum (the input is just too handy, and the price was right) and have no noticeable latency whatsoever; it's good enough to play live with other musicians.

            The default settings were completely inadequate and my latency was terrible, but a little googling showed me where i was going wrong and now i'm pretty happy.

            only gotcha is ive got vista x64 (4GB ram, still have free slots) and there's STILL not dri

            • by Khyber (864651)

              If you have access to the EAX controls in Vista x64 then you should be able to directly access the FX setup and use that natively. My only complaint is that I can't actually apply the effects while recording, they only affect live playback. I'd have to run a line out to another computer to record it as it's being processed.

    • by gknoy (899301)

      It sounds a lot like the .mod files that people would compose (e.g., in Impulse Tracker and so forth). It'd be interesting if Guitar Hero inadvertantly brought that creative culture more towards the public limelight. (Not saying it's a good thing -- I'm not part of the scene, so can't really speak for it -- but they cetainly seem like a creative bunch.)

  • "It's really there for original content." Isn't origional content copyrighted by default? So as soon as you create something it is copyrighted and illegal to use with the game.
    • So as soon as you create something it is copyrighted and illegal to use with the game.

      I'm pretty sure that by uploading your original work, you grant a license to use it with the game. Read the terms of service once it's released. But one thing that can get in the way of a valid license is if you accidentally create something that someone else created a decade ago, which can happen and notably has happened by accident: search for the "My Sweet Lord" lawsuit on Google.

  • Is this even an issue?

    The way I read this, they will police their website for what you upload. Likely to cover their asses against the *AAs who would inevitably sue their asses into the ground if a 3rd party started doing covers of songs they didn't have licenses for.

    I think this is a big CYA on behalf of the game maker, not some infringement on your rights. I mean, someone could put up Happy Birthday and then the company would get sued by Time Warner.

    Obviously, nobody can stop you from making your own co

  • i thought it would be fun if someone would bring into guitar hero expired-copyright old original blues songs that were the inspirations for many of the most popular still-copyrighted songs.

    frankly, you have to go back to the first recorded blues generations at all to find anything not still under copyright. charlie patton, blind lemon, etc. the great chicago-era bluesmen like howlin wolf and muddy, inspiration to the british invasion, are still too "young" to be. (and frankly, little else makes me feel more

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