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Are Midis illegal to distribute or stream?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by devonhiee, Feb 7, 2006.

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  1. devonhiee

    devonhiee Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I was wondering if MIDIs are against the law to distribute or stream. A MIDI is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midi

    Basically it is instruments and such. No vocals and it is not from the audio file itself, but created by someone else. The song that I want to sue though, is from an artist, but the MIDI was not created by the copyrighted material, but recreated via piano and other instruments.

    I want to stream it on my page and perhaps distribute them. Is this against the law?
     
  2. dir3ktjiv3

    dir3ktjiv3 New Member

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    midi's

    You can distribute and stream midi files on your webpage legally. It becomes illegal when you make money off another person's copyrighted music, like if you were selling people midi files as ringtones for their cellphones or something like that.. but if you're just playing a song on your webpage and sharing them without making any money off it you aren't breaking any laws. ;)
     
  3. devonhiee

    devonhiee Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks dir. This only goes in regards to MIDIs and not the real songs on MP3 and such correct? Those are considered illegal?
     
  4. dir3ktjiv3

    dir3ktjiv3 New Member

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    midi's

    Exactly. Yes, distributing an exact copy of a piece of music (mp3, aiff, wav file.. etc) would be illegal. Directly or indirectly causing the owner of the music to lose money that could be coming to them from the purchase of a CD is illegal. Midi files aren't really worth anything except in the case of cellphone ringtones.. Some cellphones can play midi files as ring tones so, say you had a link on your website advertizing the download of the latest Nelly track in midi format with the caption "DOWNLOAD THIS MIDI RINGTONE AND UPLOAD IT INTO YOUR PHONE FOR $2.50!" and were making money off the Nelly track, I could see you getting in trouble for that. :)
     
  5. devonhiee

    devonhiee Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks a lot for describing it to me. I just wanted to make sure before I put it up. Thanks again!
     
  6. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately the MIDI file issue is a very hot topic and copyright infringement does NOT require money to be charged. Just by having the MIDI files available for download is enough to constitute copyright infringement although the business economics are that nobody will come after you for damages (unless substantial) and in most instances you will simply be asked to remove the offending file from your web site.

    If you think about a MIDI file or any piece of music, there are a number of different individuals/entities who may own a copyright:

    Composer - Creator of the original work
    Lyrics - Creator of lyrics (if any) that accompany the music
    Publisher - Mass producer of the work
    Recording Company - Company recording the work, may also be publisher
    Musician(s) - Those who play the original music
    Sequencer(s)/Arranger(s) - Person/People who arranges all the different instruments
    Singers/Performer(s) - Those who sing/record lead and backing vocals onto the recording
    Distributor. The label which may also be the recording company

    So it's pretty complicated as to copyright ownership. Bottom line with MIDI files is that it can be the same as providing sheet music without authorization.
     
  7. devonhiee

    devonhiee Law Topic Starter New Member

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    O my...thanks for the tip thelawprofessor. What if the song is on a "streaming" server. Streaming meaning that the song is "streamed", therefore it is not downloaded to their computer? Still talking about MIDIs. Thanks again!
     
  8. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    This one is a little bit of a late reply and didn't realize it. :) Streaming is not actually "downloaded" to the user's computer as a file but "played." Would you be considered a broadcaster of a song and required to pay royalties? Perhaps technically but I highly doubt that anyone would even think of pursuing such a claim even if there was one. Streaming the original performance is different.
     
  9. iidara

    iidara New Member

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    This one is a little bit of a late reply and didn't realize it.
     
  10. iidara

    iidara New Member

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    If you think about a MIDI file or any piece of music, there are a number of different individuals/entities who may own a copyright:

    Composer - Creator of the original work
    Lyrics - Creator of lyrics (if any) that accompany the music
    Publisher - Mass producer of the work
    Recording Company - Company recording the work, may also be publisher
    Musician(s) - Those who play the original music
    Sequencer(s)/Arranger(s) - Person/People who arranges all the different instruments
    Singers/Performer(s) - Those who sing/record lead and backing vocals onto the recording
    Distributor. The label which may also be the recording company

    So it's pretty complicated as to copyright ownership. Bottom line with MIDI files is that it can be the same as providing sheet music without author
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  11. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Great post. And yes, this is what makes some music cases very difficult to litigate.

    With regard to midi files and sheet music, there has been a far more concerted effort by publishers to require websites to take down such materials that are not licensed. It has been a huge source of contention... and angry people who performed the MIDI music you hear!
     

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