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  #1  
Old Feb 12, 2019, 05:27 AM
mmMike mmMike is offline
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Default Arranging, Licensing, how do others do it?

Hi!

I’ve been wondering for a very long time how it would be possible to release video game music you have arranged on platforms such as Spotify? What is the kind of licensing involved? Do musicians who have their songs on Spotify such as Flyrule (or albums such as “chrono trigger: Music for 25 games”) get permission? Are they just uploading their songs regardless? What would the kinds of penalties involved be?

I’ve always wanted to release some of the arranged themes I’ve worked on, but have just not known how to do such a thing. Would it be likely that releasing an arranged song, say from a game such as Lufia, carry penalties, especially if it was on a platform such as Spotify? There seems to be so many artists on Bandcamp who do this very same thing, with physical copies of albums/vinyl sold.

What’s the verdict on doing something like this? Is it just risk it and hope for the best?

I really appreciate any help with my question, I just felt this would be a great place to ask it and I’m sure some people have asked this before.

Thank you!
Michael
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  #2  
Old Feb 12, 2019, 10:18 AM
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Jazz Paladin Jazz Paladin is offline
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Get the licenses from easysonglicensing.com

Then I usually distribute via CDbaby.com

Pretty easy these days.

I have caught a few people who "cheat" and upload content to a distributor who then circulate content to places like Spotify without paying properly paying the Royalties--so this in particular is frustrating given that I see these VGM songs getting millions of streams, and a lot of revenue. Worse is that I see people uploading non-original content to Spotify and getting paid for it. For example, I found someone uploading Streets of Rage original game rips onto streaming platforms, and there is no way in hell that any one would grant a license for that. Cover songs are totally fair game if you jump through the right hoops and pay the appropriate fees through easysonglicensing.com.

There is risk if you decided to go through and not pay royalties. I really have no firsthand knowledge of anyone having had content removed from Spotify, etc, for not paying the appropriate fees once discovered, nor original IP owners suing violators, but it could in theory happen. But I have reported instances of fraud like this whenever I can, it really robs from the composers that musicians supposedly "admire" enough to derive a work from.
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Old Feb 12, 2019, 12:53 PM
mmMike mmMike is offline
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Hey, thanks for your response!

So easysonglicensing.com would allow me to attain the licence for most video game music (in the sense of arrangements?) In the case of video games, who generally is considered the owner? The original composer or the company that owns the rights to the original game?

So for example, I am looking to use the theme from the song ‘The Abysmal Depths Of The Ocean” from “Lufia II: Rise Of The Sinistrals”, I would go to easysonglicensing.com, add the song title and composer, pay for said licensing and then release the music?

If so, seems relatively easy!

Thanks again,
Michael
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Old Feb 12, 2019, 01:48 PM
GermanSeabass GermanSeabass is offline
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Hi Michael! I co-founded Loudr, and I run Materia.

With the disclaimer of not being an attorney out of the way: you'll likely need a mechanical license to distribute or sell any covers. Services like Easy Song Licensing, or Harry Fox's Songfile make it easy and accessible, although you'll have to pay for units up-front.

Materia's on a special deal, and we license either directly from copyright holders/composers, or via Loudr.

Feel free to DM/email me - depending on the project, we might be able to help out with any logistics.

Cheers!
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  #5  
Old Feb 12, 2019, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmMike View Post
Hey, thanks for your response!

So easysonglicensing.com would allow me to attain the licence for most video game music (in the sense of arrangements?) In the case of video games, who generally is considered the owner? The original composer or the company that owns the rights to the original game?

So for example, I am looking to use the theme from the song ‘The Abysmal Depths Of The Ocean” from “Lufia II: Rise Of The Sinistrals”, I would go to easysonglicensing.com, add the song title and composer, pay for said licensing and then release the music?

If so, seems relatively easy!

Thanks again,
Michael
Yes, pretty easy via EasySongLicensing.com. Although Harry Fox was just mentioned, I highly discourage it for VGM covers, they are much more difficult to deal with in this regard.

Usually in this context the company that made the game (say for instance Square Enix) owns the IP and rights to music that was made for it, but you still have to list the composer. A tricky distinction sometimes, but this is sort as long as you list both entities you will be fine. Easysonglicensing also does a great job of researching and making sure the money gets to the right place if a company merges or goes dead/changes names , such as with Squaresoft going to Square-Enix or Hudsonsoft being bought of by Konami, etc...

Your description of Lufia is pretty much it, with the added exception that you still need to pay a 3rd party aggregate like CDbaby to release the music. So there are fees for licensing and separate fees to distribute the music. You provide proof of licensing obtained to the aggregate before they release the music for streaming and digital downloads.
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  #6  
Old Feb 14, 2019, 05:04 AM
mmMike mmMike is offline
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Hey,

So if you were to get this response, “Cannot license, not available for compulsory” that would mean that said song would not be able to be covered/arranged and released unless you directly contact the song owner via other means?

Does this happen often with vgm?

Thanks
Michael
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  #7  
Old Feb 14, 2019, 05:12 AM
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TerraEpon TerraEpon is offline
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From what I gather -- and I will grant I know very little about it -- that would only happen if the music were never released commercially before. Once something has been published you should be allowed to make a cover of it.
But I could be wrong on that.
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Old Feb 14, 2019, 06:32 AM
Jimby Jimby is offline
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The crucial part of what TerraEpon is talking about is that the music needs to have been published in an official capacity in your part of the world. If we’re talking the US here then, so long as the music has been officially released in the US, a compulsory mechanical licence can be obtained.

For your specific example, this isn’t the case, as Lufia II’s music has been released officially in Japan only. Not sure on the machinations from there but chances of success may be variable.

Last edited by Jimby; Feb 14, 2019 at 07:31 AM.
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Old Feb 14, 2019, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Jimby View Post
The crucial part of what TerraEpon is talking about is that the music needs to have been published in an official capacity in your part of the world. If we’re talking the US here then, so long as the music has been officially released in the US, a compulsory mechanical licence can be obtained.

For your specific example, this isn’t the case, as Lufia II’s music has been released officially in Japan only. Not sure on the machinations from there but chances of success may be variable.
Interesting...I was thinking he was referring to the first right to publish, and being unable to release a cover song prior to the song's performance/release Kinda the same thing, I guess, just a different slant/angle on it.

I'd forgotten about the licenses being US exclusive though. Would be interesting to see how covers of games not released in the US end up on Spotify, etc given that if the covers were produced outside of Japan, licenses should not be granted in theory. So either Licensing agencies are giving out permissions that they shouldn't, the music isn't being reported as a cover song by the creator, or 3rd party aggregates aren't caring enough to look into things before hitting the "GO" button on releasing material.

Another thing that could be happening in theory is that the original creator is not registered in the US as a music creator via something like Sound Exchange, money that is collected for streaming/licensing fees is retained in their name until they can claim it. In certain other respects this is the protocol, so it may just be so in this case as well.
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  #10  
Old Feb 14, 2019, 03:09 PM
mmMike mmMike is offline
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it’s all so confusing... especially when you consider worldwide distribution/licensing. Oh well, the search continues

Michael
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  #11  
Old Feb 14, 2019, 04:16 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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1) Each country has different copyright law, and different rules for mechanical licensing. No copyright law is international.

2) The US does have very strong and user-friendly mechanical licensing scheme which make the user to skip to contact the copyright owner for the payment (compulsory mechanical licensing). However this is only for the case, IF the record/CD in digital or physical has been officially distributed in the US. That normally means, official US version of the record in either digital or physical, must exist. Exports of Japanese versions, as far as most of the Japanese game companies consider, are not US distributed records. Under this mechanical licensing, you are only allow to distribute your record in the US.

There are some countries, which does have similar compulsory mechanical licensing scheme. For example, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, have such licensing rule, but you might not automatically obtain the permission to arrange like the US copyright law grants.

3) US agencies like the US copryright office and HF only give you license to distribute in the US.

4) If you are considering worldwide distribution, then your best chance to go to the copyright owner or their representatives directly.

5) Streaming may require different licensing from physical records, or permanent-download-based digital record.
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Old Feb 15, 2019, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
1) Each country has different copyright law, and different rules for mechanical licensing. No copyright law is international.

There are some countries, which does have similar compulsory mechanical licensing scheme. For example, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, have such licensing rule, but you might not automatically obtain the permission to arrange like the US copyright law grants.


4) If you are considering worldwide distribution, then your best chance to go to the copyright owner or their representatives directly.

5) Streaming may require different licensing from physical records, or permanent-download-based digital record.
I would be curious as to why , if this is the case (and I know that it is, I did research on this before creating covers years ago) why it is that large corporations like Spotify, Amazon.com , etc automatically start selling and distributing this music on a world-wide bases then, even though the music is digitally marked as being a cover, and records from the licensing agency would show the music was granted a compulsory license from the States. As far as I can tell, there is no control that the artist has over which territories the music is sold in once it hits distrubtion via whatever channel the artist used as a sales tool.
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Old Feb 15, 2019, 02:15 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To Jazz Paladin

Since I have not read any agreement between Amazon or Spotify with any artist (or should I say any record producer), I cannnot comment on the matter exactly.


But I can guess.

Amazon and Spotify are platforms, and not record producers. And as such, getting correct license is responsibility for a record producer.

I assume any record producer will have to agree to use Amazon or Spotify platform that their records are legal and properly made to fit or be accepted whatever the distribution service provided by such platforms.

As far as my past experience with Amazon (or iTunes) goes, there have been always tools or setting which we could put certin regional restriction.

One might feel "they automatically do," but the fact is there would always be an agreement before any action or service by any of big platforms. Most of people don't read the agreement carefully.
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Old Feb 15, 2019, 03:27 PM
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Jazz Paladin Jazz Paladin is offline
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Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
To Jazz Paladin

Since I have not read any agreement between Amazon or Spotify with any artist (or should I say any record producer), I cannnot comment on the matter exactly.


But I can guess.

Amazon and Spotify are platforms, and not record producers. And as such, getting correct license is responsibility for a record producer.

One might feel "they automatically do," but the fact is there would always be an agreement before any action or service by any of big platforms. Most of people don't read the agreement carefully.
This is where, in my experience at least, I am inclinded to disagree with the methodology you have described. Again, this may be a function of what aggregate and licensing company one uses, they may be different.

But I do know that I have purchased licenses. They are indeed in theory for US purchase and distribution only , but in real life applications, that is not how things have ended up going, in spite of efforts to control things--there is no "North America" only option I have seen in terms of any of the distribution methods I've personally used.

For example, when I use CD baby as the aggregate, they typically have users put a check box on the platforms to distribute on. So I choose Amazon.com (not amazon.ca, nor amazon.uk). I select Spotify as a streaming platform. Etc. The only unique terms of service that is available to read when making these selections is pretty much iTunes, the rest of them are primarily just a check box.

So with that being said, if I select Amazon.com, it is inevitable that these eventually end up on Amazon.uk, amazon.jp , etc... There really never was an option to opt out of international partners on my end.

So these are muddy waters. Probably further muddied by a lack of clarity on some levels, or just plain bad information. But for what it's worth, a few years ago, when I tried contacting CD baby to ask what to do about sales I was pulling in for international downloads for music I only had licenses to sell in the US (I think the sales were made via iTunes), I was pretty much told that I didn't need to worry about the license and fees, and it was explained to me that since it was an international sale, the fee was already levied in the country of sale--and it reflected in the payout, as it was definitely a bit less than I would normally expect for a digital album sale. And note that I was inquiring about this because I am keenly aware of and document the number of licenses I have available.

So who knows what sorts of arrangements big corporations have within their vast international networks? It is beyond me, I just know what I was told in this one instance. Take it for what it's worth.

All I can say for sure is that everyone needs to do their best to jump through all the legal hoops they can.
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Last edited by Jazz Paladin; Feb 15, 2019 at 03:41 PM.
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Old Feb 16, 2019, 06:28 AM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To Jazz Paladin

In your case, have CD Baby asked if you have licenses cleared? If no, then I assume they assume you've done so when you enter into their term of service.

But in anycase, Amazon or CD Baby are not liable for any copyright infringement, because they are not the one who are record produers (one to reproduce copies in a record form) nor one to "distribute" the copy (they do it on behalf of you).
The copyright/licensing responsibility always stays at the record producers.

The platform might have some agreement between PROs around the world to make record producers' work easier like YouTube. But you are still liable for licensing of any works which are not coverd by PROs, and any "arrangements" if copyright law in your juridiction doesn't provide such examption.
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Old Feb 16, 2019, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
To Jazz Paladin

In your case, have CD Baby asked if you have licenses cleared? If no, then I assume they assume you've done so when you enter into their term of service.

But in any case, Amazon or CD Baby are not liable for any copyright infringement, because they are not the one who are record producers (one to reproduce copies in a record form) nor one to "distribute" the copy (they do it on behalf of you).
The copyright/licensing responsibility always stays at the record producers.

The platform might have some agreement between PROs around the world to make record producers' work easier like YouTube. But you are still liable for licensing of any works which are not coverd by PROs, and any "arrangements" if copyright law in your jurisdiction doesn't provide such examption.


Sure, platforms can be respnsible for infringement--Spotify has already gotten in loads of trouble for deliberately withholding royalties through a conveniently mismanaged system.

Regarding licensing, here is the thing. Licensing agencies are advertising "Worldwide" licensing for cover distribution. It is pretty common if you look around. If people are obtaining licenses through such agencies, one could only assume that once the compulsory mechanical license(for the US side of things) is obtained , proper proceedings are then dealt with the appropriate PRO's for the "Worldwide" components. Otherwise, this would be false advertising. Cursory research of some of these licensing agencies does seem to indicate that at least on some level, PRO's are contacted as a part of this process. The exact process for supposedly ensuring this "worldwide" licensing is never really explicitly detailed on any of the sites I have seen though.

While I have never used CDbabys licensing directly, they too, are as a part of their "distribution plan" offering licenses for "Worldwide cover distribtution". If you were a consumer doing research similar to MMmike, would you assume that this would cover licensing for all avenues of distribution they provide to? If it were the case that they subsequently distributed to someplace they shouldn't have while they were the ones giving out the licenses, sure they could be liable...


There are all sorts of things they could be responsible for. A habit of improperly encoding metadata for example. Or improper distribution. For example, a few years ago I released an album, but only wanted to pay for some of the songs for digital release. I emailed them the licenses I had. I showed and told them that I only wanted digital downloads for SOME of the songs. They went ahead and released just the songs I wanted on their own platform, but I later noticed the songs I wanted omitted available elsewhere. I requested these songs be pulled a few years ago, but they are still circulating.

I don't know what the laws are like in Japan, but if someone else mismanages data like that and I have a clear record of communication / purchases showing that it was never my intention to distribute a product, sure, they can be held liable here.

Please don't think I am trying to pick a fight with you or anything. Trust me, I want to ensure that all composers get what they are entitled to. But the way that the internet has brought about such rapid change has ensured a lot of confusion and mismanagement that can make it more difficult to determine how to best approach to handle the scope of proper royalty payment,
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Last edited by Jazz Paladin; Feb 16, 2019 at 11:11 AM.
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Old Feb 16, 2019, 02:16 PM
GermanSeabass GermanSeabass is offline
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Hi, I'll jump in here for some additional clarity. (Hi Kentaro Sato, nice to see you here!)

The music industry worldwide does not have great methods in place for royalties in buy-out situations. For example, a lot of AAA game soundtracks, or those composed by in-house composers for game studios, are buy outs, and this complicates many licensing flows.

The most important part to mention is that there are two copyrights to consider: the musical composition (theme, motif, melody, chord, structure, lyrics) and the record of this composition. These can be owned by different parties. Different laws apply to both, and different royalties exist for different usages.

For example, a sale of a digital song on iTunes results in a master royalty (paid to distributors/labels), and a mechanical royalty (which should go to music publishers/song writers). (That's the cover song royalty.)

In the United States, the mechanical royalty is passed on to the label, and they label has to pay it to a publisher or rights-holders.

However, outside the US, music rights are collectively managed. In Japan, Germany, and elsewhere, mechanical royalties are paid to PROs (Performing Rights Organizations), who collect and retain those royalties. It is the responsibility of rights holders to come forward, register their songs, and claim these royalties. Claiming periods also expire, so in some countries, if rights holders are negligent and do not claim their royalties, the royalties expire after 2, 3, 5 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazz Paladin View Post
As far as I can tell, there is no control that the artist has over which territories the music is sold in once it hits distrubtion via whatever channel the artist used as a sales tool.
Most DIY distribution companies do not allow territory carve-outs. Professional label distribution companies do allow this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
Amazon and Spotify are platforms, and not record producers. And as such, getting correct license is responsibility for a record producer.
Yes, Amazon and iTunes are directly responsibility for many rights. They need to have licenses in place with PROs, publishers, and other legal entities to be able to sell or stream music in each territory. For example, LINE Music does not have licenses in place with rights holders in the United States, and therefore cannot stream music in the US yet.


To wrap it up:
  • Cover song artists are required to have their own licenses to distribute cover songs in the US.
  • Platforms and storefronts are required to have licenses to sell/stream content in all territories
  • Publishers and rightsholders are responsible for claiming and collecting their rights, delivering catalogs to appropriate agencies, and making sure they are paid for all uses.
  • In all cases is it appropriate and sensible to ask composers and rights holders for licenses. Unfortunately, not many game companies are interested in licensing rights to individuals, do not have an understanding of the music world, or do not have time to fulfill their obligations on an international level.


It is indeed a very complicated world. I have extensively spoken at panels and tradeshows, and have spent the last decade educating the video game music community on these rights, in the hopes that more composers are paid accurately and fairly.

( If any of you are at GDC, come to my panel on music rights! https://schedule.gdconf.com/session/...t-panel/860237 )
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Old Feb 16, 2019, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by GermanSeabass View Post
Hi, I'll jump in here for some additional clarity. (Hi Kentaro Sato, nice to see you here!)

The music industry worldwide does not have great methods in place for royalties in buy-out situations. For example, a lot of AAA game soundtracks, or those composed by in-house composers for game studios, are buy outs, and this complicates many licensing flows.



However, outside the US, music rights are collectively managed. In Japan, Germany, and elsewhere, mechanical royalties are paid to PROs (Performing Rights Organizations), who collect and retain those royalties. It is the responsibility of rights holders to come forward, register their songs, and claim these royalties. Claiming periods also expire, so in some countries, if rights holders are negligent and do not claim their royalties, the royalties expire after 2, 3, 5 years.



Most DIY distribution companies do not allow territory carve-outs. Professional label distribution companies do allow this.



Yes, Amazon and iTunes are directly responsibility for many rights. They need to have licenses in place with PROs, publishers, and other legal entities to be able to sell or stream music in each territory. For example, LINE Music does not have licenses in place with rights holders in the United States, and therefore cannot stream music in the US yet.


[*]Publishers and rightsholders are responsible for claiming and collecting their rights, delivering catalogs to appropriate agencies, and making sure they are paid for all uses.[*]In all cases is it appropriate and sensible to ask composers and rights holders for licenses. Unfortunately, not many game companies are interested in licensing rights to individuals, do not have an understanding of the music world, or do not have time to fulfill their obligations on an international level.[/LIST]

It is indeed a very complicated world. I have extensively spoken at panels and tradeshows, and have spent the last decade educating the video game music community on these rights, in the hopes that more composers are paid accurately and fairly.

( If any of you are at GDC, come to my panel on music rights! https://schedule.gdconf.com/session/...t-panel/860237 )

Thanks for chiming in as well, was hoping you would have something to add to the discussion!

So would you call CDbaby a DIY distributor then? What would you make of their marketing that they offer "Worldwide Licensing" (via Eashsonglicensing, I believe). I am just curious as to whether the reasoning behind the fact I could never select territories may be the result of their supposedly obtaining this kind of licensing...It certainly seems this may be the case since they once explained to me that something sold in Europe or something had automatically had a fee levied...which again, makes sense. My understanding is that Sound Exchange is NOT a PRO in the way it handles royalties, and much of the burden of getting royalties dispersed resides with the copyright owner actually opening an account and claiming their property--the process is more automatic outside of the US from what I gather...

Glad to hear about what you have to add on Amazon, etc having added responsibilities in this regard, though it does make sense now that you mention it. Otherwise, people filing DMCA complaints would have no way to really put pressure on them to remove content if you think about it. As I previously mentioned, I have seen cases of neglect in reporting (such as uploading content without consent) that should really not be the burden of the artist when they have tried to be outspoken about cover fees not being appropriately applied, etc...Sadly, it seems to be the cases that many publishers are quite explicit when they state that once the content leaves there hands, there is little they can do about changing things, it all rests with the platform itself to deign it has the time and ability to deal with seemingly "small" matters such as content removal...

One thing I DO wish were true is that non-copyright holders had some capacity to report illicit use of copyrighted material. I see so many instances of this going on, and due to the aforementioned reasons you offered (companies not having enough time to prosecute or seek the removal of the content), it is frustrating seeing so many people raking in big dollars while not having to pay any royalties to VGM composers at all. Internet policing takes its toll in too many ways, it seems there is just not enough time in the world to see certain matters dealt with appropriately...

Thanks again for chiming in, and making a positive contribution to educating the community!
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Old Feb 16, 2019, 08:04 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To GermanSeabass

>>In Japan, Germany, and elsewhere, mechanical royalties are paid to PROs (Performing Rights Organizations), who collect and retain those royalties. It is the responsibility of rights holders to come forward, register their songs, and claim these royalties.


Unfortunately, this is not the case in Japan.
If one wishes to "distribute" a record in Japan, it is the record producer's responsibility to pay the royalty directly to the copyright holder if the piece in question was written or controled by non-PRO member.

Japanese PRO, such as JASRAC, will not collect the fee on behalf of non-member (and many Japanese video game companies are non-member).

There is a special exception like the US compulsory licensing, but he needs to follow the governmental application and pay the royalty to the Ministry of Culture before he distribute/stream a record in Japan.

Additionally, besides the royalty, he still have to contact the copyright owner, and get the arrangement permission (if you are to arrange) and the moral right permission. This is because one doesn't get an arrangement permission for recording automatically like the US, and the "moral right" part is VERY strong in Japan unlike the US.

If one didn't follow this, one might be sued. He or she could be sued 20 years after the fact.




>>Cover song artists are required to have their own licenses to distribute cover songs in the US.

Yes, in Japan.


>>Platforms and storefronts are required to have licenses to sell/stream content in all territories

If the platforms and storefronts are the record producers, then yes.
If the piece to cover is by a PRO-member, then yes. But if you have not get an arrangement permission, then prepare to be sued in Japan.
If the cover artist (the record producer) did use the non-PRO member's work for such, prepare to be sued in Japan.


>>Publishers and rightsholders are responsible for claiming and collecting their rights, delivering catalogs to appropriate agencies, and making sure they are paid for all uses. In all cases is it appropriate and sensible to ask composers and rights holders for licenses. Unfortunately, not many game companies are interested in licensing rights to individuals, do not have an understanding of the music world, or do not have time to fulfill their obligations on an international level.


They are not responsible. Many video game companies in Japan are non-PRO member by choice.
It is their wish to control the licensing and performance by themselves, and they are perfectly allowed to do that.


All and all, I do wish they joint to a PRO, but they have not done so for good reasons, and would not do so for the same reasons in future, I guess...

Last edited by Kentaro Sato; Feb 16, 2019 at 08:48 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 01:10 AM
GermanSeabass GermanSeabass is offline
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Thank you for your insight.

It is my understanding that Spotify, iTunes, and other DSPs pay JASRAC and NexTone mechanical and performance royalties.

If this is not the case, I am happy to hear more about this. Where can I find more information?
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 02:34 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To GermanSeabass.

I have checked with JASRAC and their answer regarding the music streming/shop was stated this page (in Japanese):
https://www.jasrac.or.jp/info/networ.../platform.html

In summery, it stated the following;
JASRAC does have an agreement with iTunes and other major music streming or online music shops. If a cover artist is to use a piece controled by JASRAC, the shops are the responsible payer of the royaly.

However, even in such a case, JASRAC strongly reccomends to contact the publisher or the copyright owner of the piece in question to get an arrangement and the permission regarding the moral right to avoid any violation regarding these aspects.
-------


The case with non-member's work was not stated, but in my past experience with JASRAC tells they don't collect fees for non-member nor give permission for non-member works, since they don't have any right or power to do so. This is true for both live performance and mechanical.

In Japan, for non-member works, or so-called orphan works, the organization which might be able to collect the fee and give the permission to the user is the Ministry of Culture, as it was stated in the copyright law.

Last edited by Kentaro Sato; Feb 17, 2019 at 02:36 PM.
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
To GermanSeabass.

JASRAC does have an agreement with iTunes and other major music streming or online music shops. If a cover artist is to use a piece controled by JASRAC, the shops are the responsible payer of the royaly.
Thanks for sharing that tidbit. It certainly jives with the response I heard about how a few international iTunes sales of mine had already had a fee deducted for royalty upon a sale...
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 03:13 PM
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Kentaro Sato,

In getting back to the main question of the thread from mmMike , it sounds like he wanted to license something from Lufia II which was unreleased in the US...

Do you have any idea what would happen if he were to try to obtain a license from a Japanese licensing/publishing website, providing his contact information from the United States? Or is the purchase of a license itself only possible from within Japan?

The second question would be if it is indeed possible to get the license directly within Japan (let's say this is just digital downloads), what what would happen from an iTunes/Streaming standpoint given your understanding? Would this somehow be (automatically) released to worldwide or even a US iTunes market (with a traceable identifier for PRO/royalties) once it hit iTunes in Japan, even though the song itself was never released in the US officially?
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 06:34 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To Jazz Paladin:

Before answering your question, here are my assamptions.

1) Assuming the music from Lufia II (Estpolis Senki 2, and its remake?) was never officially released in the US as "a record," you will not be able to utilize the US statutory licensing.
2) Assuming the music was governed/controled by the copyright owner only, and the owner is not a member of any PRO.

Now...
You can contact Japanese licensing/publishing website/organization (like JASRAC) as a foreign individual or entity. But, since the music is not controled by JASRAC, you will not be albe to get license from them.

You can contact Japanese Ministry of Culture and follow the process to triger "compulsory licensing" as described in the copyright law in Japan. But this license is only applicable in Japan, and will not be able to use this as the international license. Unfortunately, no copyright law is international.

Additionally, even if you get the license in Japan using this process, you are STILL required to get an arrangement permission... (Here I think, the US copyright excels.)


Your second question is a bit tricky to answer, to be honest. For this example, I use iTune.
First of all, if you get the license in Japan, you can of course, sell and stream in Japan by iTune Japan.
iTune SHOULD NOT sell or stream at iTune US, or other iTunes around the world, as it is the violation of license.
If iTune automatically start selling or streaming at iTunes around the world, then I have to reccomend not to use such service, as YOU are liable for unlicensed reproduction and distribution of music.
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
To Jazz Paladin:


Unfortunately, no copyright law is international.



iTune SHOULD NOT sell or stream at iTune US, or other iTunes around the world, as it is the violation of license.
If iTune automatically start selling or streaming at iTunes around the world, then I have to reccomend not to use such service, as YOU are liable for unlicensed reproduction and distribution of music.

Thanks for getting back. I am just curious as to whether or not there may be a legal solution for mmMike.

I usually listen to random streaming of VGM music on Spotify, and came across a tune that sounded interesting last night. I looked at the title, and it was apparently from Mother 3, which was never released in the US. So it got me wondering if this is just a case of an unscrupulous arranger who decided to go ahead and release the music to the public, or there was indeed a legal method that was employed.

However, it does seem (based on what I have experienced, and also in your previous description that there are at least SOME circumstances in which it seems iTunes itself is directly obtaining (seemingly appropriate) licenses for international cover songs. You metioned "If a cover artist is to use a piece controled by JASRAC, the shops are the responsible payer of the royaly."

Have you ever checked on iTunes or any other foreign websites to see if anything of yours has shown up? Just curious if you would find anything indicating that some things are happening without your approval , especially if it means that royalties are not being collected.
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Old Feb 17, 2019, 07:27 PM
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For what it's worth, Easy Song Licensing does offer licensing for international songs under their "Custom Licensing" tab. https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pa...ic-rights.aspx

Though of course that still only applies to distribution in the U.S.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 11:54 AM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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To Jazz Paradin:

>>whether or not there may be a legal solution for mmMike.

I reccomend to get a permission directly from the copyright owners or their representatives.

If the 3rd party licensing services like some wrote in this thread could help, then using them would be helpful, I am sure. But I do suggest to check what they do is legal and appropriate.

I did look the easysonglicensing, and it was not clear on the front, but they were perfetly honest to state that their custom licensing would not gurantee to get a permission/license.
https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pa...r.aspx?faqid=5

If they money-back-gurantee for an unsccessful attempt, I'd say I would try using those service.


>>o it got me wondering if this is just a case of an unscrupulous arranger who
>>decided to go ahead and release the music to the public,

I strongly assume, this would be the case...

Again, iTunes and Spotify are, I assume, ultimately NOT responsible for any illegally uploaded materials, just like a bookstore is not responsible for selling a book with a plagiarized content. That responsibility stays at the record producer (the cover artist).


>>your previous description that there are at least SOME circumstances in
>>which it seems iTunes itself is directly obtaining (seemingly appropriate)
>>licenses for international cover songs.

Yes. Not all vgm were made or controlled by non-PRO members. For example, Koichi Sugiyama, the composer of Dragon Warrior series, is a notable figure in this category.



>>Just curious if you would find anything indicating that some things are happening without your approval


I am a member of PRO, so my works has been "pre-approved" in a sense. I have let things go in the past, and I did make some moves for those commercially-oriented illegal activity.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentaro Sato View Post
To Jazz Paradin:



I reccomend to get a permission directly from the copyright owners or their representatives.



I am a member of PRO, so my works has been "pre-approved" in a sense. I have let things go in the past, and I did make some moves for those commercially-oriented illegal activity.

Hopefully easysonglicensing has a way to make this viable for mmMike then. Although it does seem pricey, seems it may be the only way to go.

Going directly with the copyright owners does seem like it would likely fail, for a few reasons. For example , a few years ago ,before I became aware of compulsory licensing and how that works, I tried contacting Konami in Japan for licenses, and willing to pay fees. Ultimately, and as you and others described early, the response was very much "we do not grant individuals licenses", presumably because many companies are fearful of treading in those waters when it comes to being aware of all the legalities with music licensing. But also , there was the added complexity of having a big language barrier in our communications...

I do disagree to a certain extent that sales outlets are not responsible--in many cases they have been forced to remove items or materials that are unlawfully sold--if it can be proven that they are knowingly allowing illegal materials to be sold, whether it is music or contraband, they are in trouble...

Again, a big problem is that is is very hard to have bad content removed when A) Only the copyright holder can request the content removed and B) Not everyone has the time or capacity (or even language barriers not knowing that their the songs are being named in English, Japanese, etc) to police the internet for their content.

It is sad to seem situations like the one you describe where in the past you have "just let go" of instances where your content was being abused. But this mirrors a lot of what I hear among a few circles of audio producers I am friends with--as sad as it sounds, they are aware of what is going on, but eventually resign to the conclusion that it can actually do more harm than good in some instances policing everything (alienating fans, and what can in some of their examples be seen as "free" advertising). But I digress.

Like I said, it is horrible seeing the many loopholes I have seen for the VGM industry as a whole. Lately, I have seen quite a few instances where it seems people are getting around the fees by essentially changing the name of the song to something else such that it won't raise any red flags with the publisher, but sure enough when I hear the tune show up on Spotify, it is something from Chrono Trigger, etc, with an entirely different name...

Sad, sad, sad...
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 09:16 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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>>if it can be proven that they are knowingly allowing illegal materials to be sold,
>>whether it is music or contraband, they are in trouble...

If a law in a certain juridiction was set to force the platform liable, then your assamption is correct. But as I wrote, the main violation comes not from the platform but from the record producer (the cover artist).

If the platform was sued for the damage, then I think the platform will sue the record producer next to cover the damage.


The main difficulty of vgm licensing comes from the fact the many video game company treat their music like a patent, and not like normal "music." And they are perfectly fine to do so (to a certain degree as the law permits).
However considering the nature of music or "performing arts" in general, I do feel more easier licensing would be preferable for mechanical, internet broadcast and live performance.

Unfotunately, I don't think the improvement comes soon as the major international treaties have been set and created the current situation.


As far as the licensing goes, Japanese video game companies usually only work with companies. If you approach it as an indivisual, it is almost impossible to get an license.
It is just easy for them to deny than to work something out.

Last edited by Kentaro Sato; Feb 19, 2019 at 12:56 AM.
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Old Feb 19, 2019, 03:37 AM
mmMike mmMike is offline
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Thank you so much for the replies, this has been super informative! I really appreciate the insight from these detailed answers. However, it seems that this is just something that is almost impossible for a sole individual willing to create these kinds of arrangements.

In theory, licensing the music through easysonglicensing.com seems the most accessible route, but 1) not all songs are available (such as my Lufia II example, being a record that was never officially released) and 2) it still seems a little muddy, and international distribution may carry more complications than first thought.

There are so many arrangement albums that I listen to through Spotify, as the originals are very rarely found there (way to go Capcom for dropping so many OST's this past week!), so I figured doing something myself, a collection of SNES RPG/synth style arrangement themes would be in the realm of possibility. I guess most just do it without asking the right questions or without caring for the correct procedures, or the legal implications.

Does this then still apply to covers/arrangements you release for free? I presume it still would cause a problem as you are giving away music that you essentially don't own. If it didn't apply to this, I would just drop my music somewhere for free and as long as people were listening and enjoying, that would be all that would really matter to me.

I hope there's a platform that makes it easier and much clearer in the future, but alas, I fear this may never occur.

mmMike
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