Video Games – Sound FX License Agreement – Where Do I Stand?

SFX plugins and samplesDo you, as a sound designer, need to be signing an additional User License Agreement for using sounds in isolation for Foley and Sound FX work?

Over the last year we have been asked by several different customers as to where they stand within their license agreement when designing sounds for use in video games and general Sound FX.

Most sample license agreements state that the samples must be embedded into a creative work; and cannot be used or resold in isolation.

However, when sound designers create work for video games, films, animations, adverts or even computer apps, they may compose musical backing tracks, but may also require to produce individual sounds for Foley and Sound FX.

This article is designed to shine some light on this license agreement issue, and to act as a collective reference from across the majority of our sample library developers; to inform you what their individual position is on this.

Foley is usually referred to when working with audio to video. Foley sounds are designed to help assist you, as the viewer, with audio prompts that align with the currently on-screen visual cues. Be it, someone walking – you would expect to hear footsteps, jacket rustles etc. a gun being fired or a door being seen to be slammed shut. Foley sounds are associated with audio that directly affects the narrative of the story.

Sound FX are then used for additional sounds which help build the scenario around the ‘main characters’. For example, someone is sitting outside of a coffee shop, stirring their coffee; the Foley sounds would be the spoon sounds inside the cup, them sipping the drink, but then Sound FX can be used to help build the scene; additional traffic noises of cars going by, or birds chirping – that are not actually aided by any visual cues – could be layered on top, to aid in the viewer perceiving that the scene is taking place outside.

Licensing Agreements

Quick Scroll To links:
Loopmasters
Spectrasonics
Sample Magic
Impact Soundworks
Samplephonics
Zero-G
Boom Library
Hybrid Two
Big Fish Audio

 


Loopmasters LogoLoopmasters

The Loopmasters license terms are that sounds cannot be used in isolation, but can be used as part of a composition for soundtracks, films, video productions, radio/tv, commercials computer games and multimedia presentations.

The Licensee MAY NOT use the sounds in isolation as sound effects or within any competitive products that are sold or relicensed to third parties. In these scenarios the Licensee must arrange an extension with Loopmasters and send requests to Matt Pelling MD of Loopmasters via info@loopmasters.com

You can check Loopmasters’ Full Licence terms here:
http://www.loopmasters.com/faq/open/17#17

If you have any other questions on Loopmasters’ licencing, please contact them on the above e-mail address.
 


Spectrasonics logoSpectrasonics
There are two licenses in each Spectrasonics instrument: a Sound License and a Software License.

The “musical context” licensing requirement of any of our instruments refers specifically to the sample-based material, since that is part of our Sound License agreement.

In other words, if the sample-based material is being used it must be used in a musical context.

However, it doesn’t matter how much the samples are manipulated, as use of the sample material in new copyrighted works is legally considered a “derivative work”.

So, if you are using the samples within the Omnisphere, Trilian or Stylus RMX Xpanded Core Library, it still needs to be used in a musical context in order for that license to apply.

In other words, the use would need to be within a production or musical context, and not as stand alone loops without any other production.

If you are using the samples in a non-musical sense, or on their own without any additional production, we can review that created work on a case by case basis and make a determination if we will allow the use, but you would have to clear non-musical type of use with us for each project, since it would depend on how the material was being used.

In general, to get an idea of the project we ask for examples and some information for each inquiry we get and make a determination individually.

You can check more details on Spectrasonics’ Licensing under their FAQ’s from the link below:
http://www.spectrasonics.net/support/knowledgebase_view_topic.php?id=271&categoryID=78

Please contact Spectrasonics at info@spectrasonics.net for more details on requesting additional licensing permissions.
 


Sample Magic logoSample Magic

Sample Magic’s standard license agreement does not cover samples to be used in isolation in this manner. Customers are required to request for a special license on a case-by-case basis.

You can check more details on Sample Magic’s Licensing under the FAQ section from the link below:
http://www.samplemagic.com/information/12/FAQs

If you have any other questions on Sample Magic’s licensing, or to request a special license, please contact them directly via barry@samplemagic.com
 


Impact SoundworksImpact Soundworks

The licensee may not use the product in the creation of other sample, sound effect, or loop libraries.

The licensee may not use sound recordings contained in the product as individual sound effects for sound design work, unless the sounds are significantly processed, layered, and otherwise altered beyond recognition.

The licensee may use the product in the creation of music for production libraries.

Impact Soundworks’ full License Agreement linked below:

http://impactsoundworks.com/license-agreement/

For any questiosn on licensing, pelase contact Impact Soundworks directly, from the link below:

http://impactsoundworks.com/contact
 


Samplephonics logoSamplephonics

Samplephonics do not have a problem with people using their sample libraries in games design as sound FX; even if it is not ‘dressed’ or manipulated. As long as they are not being resold as sample libraries, then it’s all good.

You can check Samplephonics’ Full License terms here:
http://www.samplephonics.com/contact#faqs

If you have any other questions on Samplephonics’ licensing, please do not hesitate to contact them directly via info@samplephonics.com
 


Zero-GZero-G

The Zero-G license does permit individual sounds to be used for Foley and sound FX, but it does not allow the user to re-distribute the sounds “as sounds, multi-sounds, samples, multi-samples, programs or patches” – meaning they cannot re-sell them as part of a sample library thereby competing against Zero-G.

You can check Zero-G’s Full License terms here:
http://www.zero-g.co.uk/store/license-information-w28.php

If you have any other questions on Zero-G’s licensing, please contact them directly via info@zero-g.co.uk
 


Boom LibraryBoom Library

The MEDIA LICENSE includes the non-exclusive right to combine the CONTENT you’ve purchased for commercial recordings without paying any additional license fees or providing source attribution to BOOM Library.

The MEDIA LICENSE includes:
1. Mechanical rights
The right to re-record, duplicate and release the CONTENT as part of your product/production in whatever medium you choose (i.e. video tape, film, CD ROM, DVD, digital formats). This does not include the right to resell the CONTENT as a standalone product in whole or in parts.

2. Synchronization rights
The right to use the CONTENT as a soundtrack “synced” with visual images, or sounds as part of your product/production.

3. Public Performance Broadcast rights
The right to use the CONTENT as part of the public viewing or broadcast of your product/production, including but not limited to videos, DVDs, web sites, podcasts, multimedia presentations, films, television, and radio.
The MEDIA LICENSE is granted worldwide and unlimited in time.

LIMITATIONS:
This license expressly forbids any unauthorized inclusion of the CONTENT in any library (e.g. sample instrument, sound effects library, etc.) online or offline without our express written consent.
The MEDIA LICENSE also forbids any re-distribution method of the CONTENT, through any means, including but not limited to, re-selling, trading, sharing, resampling, mixing, processing, isolating, or embedding into software or hardware of any kind, for the purpose of re-recording or reproduction as part of any free or commercial library of musical and/or sound effect samples and/or articulations, or any form of musical sample or sound effect sample playback system or device.

You can check Boom Library’s Full License terms here:
http://www.boomlibrary.com/boomlibrary/terms-conditions

If you have any other questions on Boom Library’s licensing, please contact them directly via their contact from, linked below:
http://www.boomlibrary.com/boomlibrary/index.php/terms-conditions/boom-library-online-store/contact
 


Hybrid TwoHybrid Two

You are allowed to use Project Alpha and its audio samples for the following:

  • Musical scores for Films, Games, TV, Commercials, Trailers and Radio.
  • Sound FX for Films, Games, TV, Commercials, Trailers and Radio.
  • Library/Production music, as long as the samples are used in a musical context

There is no special license needed to embed Project Alpha’s sound samples into video game
soundtracks.

You are NOT allowed to:

  • Upload Project Alpha or its audio samples to any server or torrent site.
  • Sell Project Alpha or its audio samples
  • Distribute Project Alpha or its audio samples in any way.
  • Use Project Alpha’s audio samples or patches to create other sample libraries.

You can check Hybrid Two’s full End User Agreement from the pdf file, attached here
 


big fish audioBig Fish Audio

All samples remain the property of Big Fish Audio and are licensed only for use in the creation of a recorded or live performance that includes the licensed samples as part of a derivative musical work created by the licensed end user. This license expressly forbids resale, rental, loan, gift or transfer of these samples in any format or via any medium, except as part of a derivative musical work. This license does not allow you to include the samples, whether unmodified or as part of a derivative work, in any music library or sample library product. However, a “special use” license may be requested from Big Fish Audio, free of charge, if you wish to use this product as part of a musical work intended for use with music libraries (some conditions apply, and Big Fish Audio retains the right to refuse any request that does not meet those conditions). Any unlicensed usage will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.

You can check Big Fish Audio’s Full License terms here:
http://www.bigfishaudio.com/faqs.html

If you have any other questions on Big Fish Audio’s licensing, please contact them via their contact form, linked below:
http://www.bigfishaudio.com/about.html


For more information on licensing across other developers not mentioned here, please feel free to contact us

 

This article has 1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *