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I'm making video game music and found out I can import the soundfont of a game that was made in the 90's and use some of the exact same instrument they made for the game.

Is it legal to use these sounds ? Do the company that made these sounds and created the video game themes with them own the sounds they created ?

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2 Answers

The sounds from the game would be part of the copyright on that game. You can't use them while the work is under copyright unless your use is covered by fair use or by a license from the company that holds the copyright. The exception to this would be if they licensed the audio from someone else, in which case you would have to obtain the license from whoever holds copyright of those assets.

Note, I am not a lawyer, so this is just explaining my basic and limited understanding.

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Ok so basically, you can own a sound ? –  phadaphunk Aug 9 '13 at 18:09
    
It's no different from music. If it is synthesized, then the method of synthesizing it can be copyrighted, if it is a recording, the recording is copyrighted. If they made a recording of something that was no longer copyrighted, they could still restrict what you can do with their recording, but they couldn't stop you from making your own recording of whatever the original source of the sound was (again, as long as that sound wasn't under copyright). That is my understanding of it anyway. –  AJ Henderson Aug 9 '13 at 18:11
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IANAL - It depends on the license for the soundfont. If you purchased the soundfont then most likely you're ok. A soundfont licensing should be very similar to any other sound library.

However, you extracted the sounds from a game - it's a little more blurry there... unless you are specifically referencing the game itself, it which case it might be considered a parody... but like I said, I'm not a lawyer.

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