Potential Copyright Issue Regarding Mussorgsky Reduction

Furry4LifeFurry4Life Opening Act
edited June 2011 in The Rock Band Network
Was just wondering what the deal was on this, as the song is a reduction of Stokowski's edition of the piece (still under copyright), as opposed to the original work by Mussorgsky (public domain). Because it's a direct translation, it is probably illegal to host, much less obtain revenue from.


  • AskariNariAskariNari Rising Star
    edited June 2011
    If the song IS an arrangement based off of a copyrighted work, then it can't be released. When it comes to public domain works like in this, I don't know what the rules are. If it can be proved that it is based off a certain, copyright protected arrangement, then it should have to be removed, but that's if it can be proved.
  • LuigiHannLuigiHann Stormtrooper
    edited June 2011
    I'm sure it's murky waters when dealing with different arrangements of the same public-domain piece, but I would imagine that the Fauxharmonic Orchestra dude is knowledgeable enough about this stuff that he would know that Stokowski's arrangement isn't public domain. So I would expect that he would have either made his own similar-but-distinct arrangement or gotten proper clearance for the one he used.
  • Nathaniel607Nathaniel607 Opening Act
    edited June 2011
    I don't know. Doesn't really seem like it would matter. How can you prove it's based off of someone else's arrangement and not just his own arrangement that turned out pretty similar?
  • Furry4LifeFurry4Life Opening Act
    edited June 2011
    AskariNari;4423220 said:
    When it comes to public domain works like in this, I don't know what the rules are.
    Well there are international, US and Former USSR copyright laws. While it's true that Stokowski was an American composer, this particular score is published by the C.F. Peters Musikverlag, which is German; it's the publishing house that matters, so it is international copyright law that must be abided by. The score will enter the public domain in 2028, assuming that the copyright was not renewed by someone who received the publishing rights as part of Stokowski's estate, although it is very unlikely that this happened, as C.F. Peters appears to have owned the publishing rights at the time of Stokowski's death. The fact that the original work by Mussorgsky is in the public domain is irrelevant, as we are only concerned with Stokowski's edition; the two editions are quite distinct, and could only be confused on the most superficial level.

    Regarding what is and isn't legal in situations such as this, there aren't guidelines that are set in stone as far as what does and doesn't quality as fair use. The law stipulates that the amount of original material must confiscate the directness of quotation; it is fairly open and left up to the judge, but being pretty familiar with situations such as this one (I have a few youtube channels where I upload classical music, as well as admin on the IMSLP and a couple of forums which deal in score sharing), I can say with complete certainty that if C.F. Peters ever bothered to actually sue over this, they would definitely win. Obviously, they wouldn't bother, what with the court costs involved, although they could, and probably would, submit an injunction against all parties involved in this, if they got wind of it. But as I said, in this case, the amount of original material would definitely not meet the minimum requirements set by any precedence that I'm aware of.
    LuigiHann;4423454 said:
    I would expect that he would have either made his own similar-but-distinct arrangement or gotten proper clearance for the one he used.
    There is not an issue vis-a-vis distinguishing whether or not the piece on the RBN is a reduction of Stokowski's transcription of the Mussorgsky work; they are completely identical. It is comprised solely of verbatim quotations from the Stokowski transcription. Even if one were to give an extremely lenient benefit of the doubt to the author of the song, it would not hold up in any sort of legal sense, which is what this post is about.

    Anyway, I think that I may have spoken too softly, so-as to not have appeared to be trying to cause some sort of problem. This song is unequivocally, whether by intent or coincidence, a reduction of Stokowski's transcription of the piece, and Stokowski's transcription is not in the public domain. It is therefore illegal to obtain revenue from its usage. Whether or not "that matters" isn't up to me, but it is illegal and remains a liability, unless the band has some very broad rights to e-distribution of transcriptions made of the piece that is owned by the C.F. Peters Musikverlag, which I highly doubt.
  • Furry4LifeFurry4Life Opening Act
    edited June 2011
    I mean like, it's INSANELY unlikely that anything would ever come of it. I'm just putting this out there almost as nothing more than a random bit of trivia, really; I'm not trying to be a doomsayer. But if Rock Band wants to act on it, more power to them. But yeah, 100% illegal.
  • fauxharmonicfauxharmonic Unsigned
    edited June 2011
    Hi, I'm the Fauxharmonic dude. I would have loved to have used Stokowski's arrangement, but it is copyrighted. Instead I made my own recording based on the Rimsky-Korsakov arrangement that is squarely in the public domain (published in 1886). You can see the score on which the RBN version is based here: http://imslp.org/wiki/File:Mussorgsky_-_Night_On_Bald_Mountain.pdf


    (Just a brief aside if there are still any doubters: You can hear Stokowski's arrangement here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu970EXXGzQ&hd=1 My god, it's insanely awesome!! I would love to have used the instrumentation, changes in rhythm, and other details he added - not to mention the completely amazing playing, but if you know the RBN version, you can hear just how far away it is from Stokowski ... and as I said above, check the score if you're really curious.)
  • Furry4LifeFurry4Life Opening Act
    edited June 2011
    Thanks for the bit of PR; john11inch is actually my youtube account ;D Feel free to take a look around it, assuming that you also like contemporary music.

    As such, I'm amply familiar with the differences in the editions. Anyway, like I said previously, I'm not accusing you of doing anything that's malicious or knowingly wrong. Given that the passages utilized in your reduction of the piece are what are, likely, the most similar passages between the original orchestrated version and Stokowski's edition, there is definitely room for the similarities between your version and Stokowski's to be coincidental. The real issue is that your version emulates all of the differences in Stokowski's version: specifically the 3:2 ostinato in the higher register that appears in the recapitulation, 8va transposition and buzz rolls (although I'm sure your drummer, assuming that you use a live drummer, would be the one making that decision). There is also the lack of the brass fanfares in the original version, which is a pretty iconic part of the RK version. The orchestrations are fairly different, yes, but when reducing the piece to the instrumentation used in your version, this level of subtlety is necessarily lost. Again, I'd like to reiterate that I'm not accusing of you having used a version of the work which you knew to be under copyright; my assumption was that you had used this version without thinking that it would be under copyright (as I'm sure that that's not something that most people would think of; not a personal slight) or that the similarities were accidental. The point of this post isn't to make any accusations, but to instead make any interested parties (not that there appear to be any) aware that, because of the distinctions between the Mussorgsky and Stokowski versions, and that the version you posted has, regardless of whether by intent, emulated all those of the latter, that, were C.F. Peters to bother doing something about it, it's quite likely that it could get RBN in a bit of trouble, or at least inconvenience. IMO, when there was the potential for your work to distinguish itself as having been based off of the original or Stokowski's versions, I only hear the Stokowski. Maybe you could post the sheet music of your own version? If you sent it to me, then I would be able to see much more clearly; it might be that I'm just hearing it wrong, but I don't believe so. At least I could substantiate and potentially retract statements, as you seem to feel that such would be the case if I were more familiar with the issue. I'd definitely want to hear the synth part on its own; it's a bit drowned out when listening through Rock Band. It might be that in that track(s) there is more of a similarity to the Mussorgsky version. If you wanted, you could just PM them to me on youtube.

    PS- are you familiar with Alkan's work? That stuff's basically already heavy metal.
  • MagnetMagnet Moderator
    edited June 2011
    Given that he's posted an e-mail address and there is a PM option available on the site to use, feel free to continue this conversation in private if you like.

    If you have any future copyright concerns regarding something in the RBN, the best course of action would be to privately contact HMX via e-mail with your concern so that they can look into it. That would accomplish your goal of making the appropriate parties aware much more swiftly and successfully than a forum thread will.
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