I’ve tried looking everywhere for a flat answer for this because I’ve been wondering if it’s allowed: Is using songs from VGMusic allowed with credit? In the FAQ, it says to ask the original composer for the midi but it’s impossible to get into contact with most, if not all, of the people on there. Is it still permissible even if there’s no way to get the artist’s say? Also if I missed a way to contact them, please let me know.
Thank you very much for the response! I wanted to use some for a rom hack I’m working on, but I wasn’t sure if it was allowed.
Where are you getting this information? Because the site clearly states
We ourselves don't have a problem with it [using the files]. Then again, we don't actually have any kind of true claim to the files themselves. We're just providing the archive services, the files (For the most part) were not made by us and are not ours. So, if you want to use one of the files you find here, you'd better ask the person who made the file. (Securing the permission of the sequencer is VERY important.)
Some people having decided it’s fine to ignore that doesn’t mean it’s fine to ignore that.
Sorry, my bad
Thank you for the clarification. Is there any way to get into contact with the sequencer who made them? Some of the files I found were archived about 20 years ago and I’m not sure what to do at that point.
Honestly, in a lot of cases it’s going to be impossible even if they did leave an email. You might be able to search for their user name, if it’s distinctive enough, and find them if they still have an internet presence. But a lot of people will have moved on, and maybe changed their handles and/or identities. It might be better to try and find a repository of truly free-to-use midis.
Expect a concrete ruling on this later this week; we’re discussing.
??? I expected the rules would be similar for all kinds of resources. If they aren’t already, they… probably should be.
One reason it isn’t as simple as “be consistent across all resources” is that different resource creators have different expectations, which often lead to conflicting ideas about the “default”. For example, code assets are not only generally assumed to be free use unless stated otherwise (the opposite of art), I’m also pretty sure that I wouldn’t blink an eye if someone reverse-engineered an otherwise closed-source feature to provide a standalone patch that was otherwise identical, code-wise (for example, if someone recreated some feature from some JP hack by ripping out the code from the patch itself).
All that being said, it is looking like the staff consensus is more-or-less along the lines of following the art rules (someone that most likely won’t be me will confirm concretely).
Assume anything on VGMusic is not free to use. Here’s my reasoning:
VGMusic is a tricky situation because it’s existed basically since the beginning of time. Suppose you download a midi that was originally uploaded to the site in 1999. You open it in your DAW and see that the tracks are named stuff like “COPYRIGHT suchandsuch 1999 PLEASE CONTACT AT suchandsuch@еmail.place”. This is definite confirmation of the file as not free to use. You’re going to ask permission? Good luck contacting an email that is likely no longer active, and if it is, the person you’re contacting likely doesn’t want to talk about a MIDI sequence (an obsolete file format as far as laypeople are concerned) they made over two decades ago.
“But wait! It’s music from someone else’s video game! They don’t own it!” Do you own Fire Emblem music? Nintendo definitely wouldn’t condone its use in fan games, which are something they don’t approve of in the first place. Let’s think for a moment about spriting and visual art, something that people are far more passionate about when it comes to credit and permission. If you make an original portrait of a Fire Emblem character, you still want people to give you credit for it, right? The character may not be your original creation, but the art itself is your original rendition of it. The same applies for music; generally, the versions of songs you find on VGMusic were specifically made to sound good on computers from the ground up, not just rips from whatever game the original song is from.
Now, does not being free-to-use make these songs useless for our purposes? Not necessarily. You can use references in music the same way you can use them in visual art. It’s better to look at someone else’s rendition of a song from another game to figure out what scale/tempo/etc it uses than to resort to guesswork, same as it’s better to find other spriters’ work to reference if you want to sprite a portrait with hands in it (sometimes, Anna and Fae just don’t cut it).
In case someone wants to respond with a “gotcha”: I have personally changed my tune on this issue since I started working with music in GBA games. It’s true, you can look at some of my old projects and find music that was originally downloaded from VGMusic with no credit or permission whatsoever. I originally (mistakenly) thought it was strange to want credit for music that was originally composed by someone else. But… that happens all the time in real life music. It’s called a cover. Now that I know how it feels to put hours of work into a song to get it to sound just right, it feels crazy not to assume there was a third party who put a lot of hard work into it while still being entirely unrelated to the first party who composed it or the second party wanting to put the music into their game. We need to respect the people who arranged the music.
Regarding music you find online in other places: I don’t know where I would draw the line on a GBA FE-ified version of a song being considered a remix, cover, etc. But remember, it never hurts to give credit!
Strictly speaking, assets used from another FE game are a copyright violation. If Roy is in your hack and it is not a fe6 hack, then it is illegal. I would liken this to jaywalking across the street.
While rom hacking itself is legal and we take many precautions on this site, it is still sketchy. We need to call a spade a spade and simply do things to be respectful of anyone who contributed to an asset.
This is what I propose:
- Credit all known authors. (This is often embedded into MIDIs or graphics.)
- If an asset was found from outside of FEU, then include a link back to the source
- If an asset has clear labels such as “email me for permission to use” or “Copyright ____”, you may not use it without obtaining permission.
This would mean that assets found in repositories such as VGMusic could be used, and if the author evers requests us to remove something, we would promptly comply.
VGMusic does not own the music they host, so their FAQ is simply their opinion on the matter and holds little relevance to us. It is there to cover their own asses if someone else gets into a lawsuit for using MIDIs obtained through VGMusic for a published game. Our projects are not being published for free or for profit, so it is a gray area. For legal reasons they also include this line:
- Do not upload other people’s MIDIs
How many of their users actually follow that Terms of Service point, I wonder? Lol.
It’s a site that hosts videogame MIDIs. They don’t have claim over any of the files themselves. I’m sure they just take down files when complaints are brought against them. We can take the same approach: remove gross violations of the rule when brought to our attention by the owner.
At the end of the day, feu is not hosting these fan project files, is not making any profit off of them, and is in a murky legal area to begin with. I think it is reasonable to request users not to upload copyrighted material to feu servers, but I don’t think FEU can be expected to perfectly moderate external dropbox/drive links shared by users. We check that there are no roms or porn in them, and also deal with fangames that break copyright if the owner of said assets complains.
Please note that I am not affiliated with the FEU team. My opinions are purely my own and they do not reflect the ToS of the site.
Ps. Plagiarism of material by users within the site is already dealt with in a good way. I do not propose changing the stance on plagiarism whatsoever.
…It is relevant because that is the policy under which contributors submit their content to the site.
An attitude of “steal whatever you want as long as you don’t get caught” is not the way to build a respectful community.