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Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

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Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby voiceoverchap » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:28 am

HI

I need to create some adverts using a very old traditional nursery rhyme (the song itself is out of copyright). So, can I use a MIDI file (rather than creating the arrangement myself) to create the track without any usage restriction? I would still be choosing the sounds etc from my own instruments, software etc.

Thanks.
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Re: Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:59 am

Oof! Suspect you're going to need a proper copyright lawyer for that one. It will probably come down to the case law wherever you're based.
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Re: Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:10 pm

Copyright questions are always questions of detail, so the answer is nearly always 'depends'.

If the MIDI file is not your own and can be identified by the style of the arrangement, then the answer is No!
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Re: Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:24 pm

Can you not get the sheet music and create your own MIDI tracks using that as a base?
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Re: Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby voiceoverchap » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:37 am

It is a difficult one, I know. For example if a covers band doing gigs in clubs use Midi files as backing tracks, should they be paying a usage royalty to both the composer AND the MIdi file creator?
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Re: Midi files: can I use music created using one of these commercially for an out of copyright song?

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:46 am

If the composition is in copyright then the no matter how original the arrangement, the copyright still belongs the composer. If the work is out of copyright then an arranged version may well contain copyright elements. Unfortunately some publishers will make a prosy piano version of a folksong and the put a copyright sign on the whole thing, implying the folksong itself belongs to them - which it does not.

If it is a nursery rhyme then I would do my own arrangement. If you don't want to for some reason, then you could always pay an arranger, or a keyboard player to produce a midi file. If you arrange music in notation software e.g. Finale, that can also be exported as a midi file.
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