Flattering Request

March 8, 2012 7:01 PM

Someone heard one of my tunes here and wants to use it in a video game.

He says, and I have no reason to disbelieve that he is writing this game for fun, and profit is not his motive, nor is he even headed that way.

I am inclined to say yes, if I get credit for the song, and if I can rescind my permission, with some notice (knowing that the song will be out there anyway).

Is there is quick and simple way to copywrite it? Should I even be concerned with that>
posted by Danf (4 comments total)

By merely creating the song, you are protected by copyright. If you want to give him permission to use the song, though, I highly recommend that, even if you do not plan to charge him any money, to have him sign a licensing agreement. You agree to license his use for this song in this game in X format(s), without charge, but he is not allowed to use the song, or re-recorded variants or excerpts thereof for any other purposes (i.e. advertizing, re-using it in another game, etc). His signature on that agreement preserves and even reinforces your copyright to the song. There are actually quite a few different licensing agreements around that a quick google can help you with.
posted by chimaera at 1:30 PM on March 9, 2012

Chimaera is right: you need a very specific licensing agreement. Start with googling for example agreements you can modify. Look into whether Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts will help you review the agreement for free.

It's not too likely he'd be okay with an agreement that would let you rescind your permission in the future (with notice or not), because that would put him in a very impractical position. So consider whether that's a must for you (and if it is, be prepared for it to be a dealbreaker).

Yes, you are automatically protected by copyright without taking any action. If you do want to formally register your copyright, and if you live in the U.S., it is quick and simple, although it's $35. Googling will be useful here too, as you decide for yourself whether to register this song and other songs formally.
posted by kalapierson at 10:05 PM on March 15, 2012

For the question about copyrighting things, this (very famous) book offered a very witty and simple way to protect your songs (this was back in the day, when mp3s were not as ubiquitous): to burn a CD with your songs, send it to yourself over the mail and keep that package closed. That way, if your work ever became the subject of a dispute, you had a closed package with a federal stamp, containing a first version of the work.

Things have changed a lot since, but perhaps if you store a digital copy in a server that's not likely to go away (perhaps even in your e-mail account), and if courts admit that, you could prove that since you have the first version of the work, you are the author.
posted by micayetoca at 3:44 AM on March 19, 2012

The package in the mail thing is fun but a canard, sadly. If you really want to do it the old fashioned way and have it stand up in court, you deposit a notarized copy with a lawyer.
posted by unSane at 7:34 AM on March 19, 2012

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