Over the course of this Trimester I worked on 2 big projects. One was a short interactive animation that required an ambient track and some Foley work for sound effects, the other was a small game that required 2 music tracks and a collection of sound effects.
Something I hadn’t really thought about until exploring the concepts of copyright was my personal ownership of the assets I created or contributed towards. Contracts are used in the real world to set out guidelines for important things such as copyright, ownership, funding and compensation.
The scary thing is not once did I enter a contract with anybody that I worked with, of course while studying this isn’t incredibly important as more often than not both parties are in it for the opportunity to learn and grown. This being said, developing contracts even for work done while studying is a great practice I would like to apply for my next Trimester, just to prevent situations like those described in this discussion.
Tying in with my Trimester of work, having done a lot of Foley the questions posed in this forum were definitely on my list of concerns in regards to the rights around Foley recording. There were a lot of variables to consider, the first being that my partner James and I recorded and produced everything together, so the first thing to think about, even before considering the animation team, would be who owns the rights to what out of the two of us.
Since we didn’t enter in any contracts, we’re completely at the mercy of each other. If I wanted to compile all the sounds into a library and sell it for profit, there would be little James could do about it, because there was no contract.
The short answer to this problem, and I think I’m going to turn into a broken record about this before the end of the post, is to make a contract that clearly outlines the ownership of all assets at all stages of development. Specifically for this project James and I could have simply agreed on paper that we both own all rights to the entire collection of recordings. If we wanted to protect our own work further we could specify and say that for example, Corey owns the Chandelier crash asset that he produced on his own. These sort of agreements are found in most contract templates for recording and production work, like the one found here.
The same project, required us also to produce an ambient track to use in the animation. Both James and I created our own separate renditions of the ambient track and left it to the animation team to decide which to use. The interesting thing about our tracks is that they both contained the Foley we recorded together. This led me to explore the ways that recorded content is considered in a production with regards to copyright. I concluded that it would essentially be the same contract that a studio musician enters into with a producer or composer. As a studio musician, at times you are required to use your instrumental skill to play someone’s written work, this is similar for a producer using specifically recorded Foley in a piece. The Foley artist is there to provide what the producer needs and would probably enter in a work for hire contract allowing the producer full rights on the recordings or they might tweak the terms a little and keep the rights to the recordings for their own purposes. This is a perfect example of the kind of work for hire agreement that would have been used here. It outlines that the producer, called the “Employer” here becomes the sole author of the produced works. The downside to this is that the “Musician” holds no copyright on any of the work, although in a case like this, the “Musician” party is content with holding no ownership of the material, they are in it for the pay.
In my final project for the Trimester something very interesting happened which lead me to explore royalty free content. It began after the agreement that I write and produce original music for the game “Scooch”. Shortly after I’d written the track, the game developers expressed interest in a short loop track that they’d heard and wanted to use it for music in the game. Having read this horror story about not triple checking licensing terms, I was a little concerned at first. But as it turns out it was released as an editable track with all stems included under a creative commons license.
Creative commons are free licenses that creators can attach to their work that let them “mix and match”(Direct quote from Creative Commons) different restrictions for their work.
(Image taken from the Creative Commons website)
This particular track was released with the Attribution and Non-Commercial terms attached, so we put Kevin McClouds name in the credits and since the game wasn’t going to be sold or distributed we weren’t in breach of the Non-Commercial terms.
Another point to note is that I made edits of the track, one to be used for the pause menu and one that was used as the main game loop. If the license had the Share-Alike term attached I would have had to distribute the creation under the same license as the original which would have required some extra work not scoped into the project plan.
All in all I think the big take away from my interaction with copyright over the Trimester comes in 2 flavours.
The first is that contracts are important and allow everybody to understand who owns what at the end of the day and I should start using them as soon as I can. The second is that copyright infringement is a serious matter and licensing of materials must be triple checked before being used in any way.
Contracts, contracts, contracts.