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Chrollo

Brutal Legend IP Inquiry

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This is most likely an inappropriate question for a forum like this, but I cannot find a email link on the official website so...

Just as a matter of professional curiosity I was wondering how Double Fine came to acquire the rights of the many songs included in their 2009 game Brutal Legend. I have seen a few celebrity interviews for that games and it seems many of the original artists of these songs were very enthusiastic about the project; did many of them thus allow use of their music in exchange for no or a nominal fee?

It seems the primary block on a project of this caliber is the expense and hassle of acquiring all the rights of those songs. It would be very difficult unless the game had a very large budget, some I am wondering how Double Fine managed it.

I do not know what I expect as an answer by posting here, but any information would be interesting to me.

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Thank you ozuri, that was actually pretty informative, I love learning about stuff of this nature and how it all works.

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Ditto this, Zack/ozuri. It's really awesome to hear from someone who knows what's actually going on, from the company that's actually doing it. Thanks a ton. :)

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Thank you for the information. I'm actually a law student, so all of that I already knew, however I will expand upon the information given since people in this thread seem interested.

The reason multiple people can own the license to a single piece of art is because of two separate concepts working together: Rights and Copyrightable Subject Matter.

Under Copyright Law an artist has 6 rights:

1. The right to make copies

2. The right to prepare derivative works (for example the right to make a sequel. The right to use things from the art to make something new)

3. The right to distribute (aka sell your art)

4. The right to perform your art publicly

5. The right to display your art

6. The right to perform publicly through electronic transmission. (to have a radio play your song for example)

All of these rights are individually transferable, therefore its possible for dozens of people to "own" a single piece of work, just each with small pieces. (there can be non-exclusive ownership of a single right)

As far as Subject Matter goes the administrator touched upon that:

1. When you write a piece of music, you, the artist have the copyright to it

2. When you go to the studio to record that song onto an album the studio will likely make you sign a contract that says that THEY own the rights to the version you recorded onto the album.

3. Since you still own the rights to the original song you likely still have the right to perform it and prepare derivative works. However a good record company will likely make you sell your right to distribute, copy, and perform through electronic transmission. If you sell the rights you can't do these things without the new owner's permission. Even though you make a piece of art; if you sell the rights you no longer can do what you wish with the art; the copyright owner has all the say.

This is why there are typically multiple licensors for a single piece of music.

To be honest there are probably more complex agreements made by record companies, but since I am on the outside I do not know of them. (which is why I was asking) However that is my basic understanding of how it all works.

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