MIDI FIles and Copyright

CPDL topics that don't fit in the other categories
commnthings
Posts: 4
Joined: 05 May 2011 03:26
Location: Gardiner, Washington

MIDI FIles and Copyright

Postby commnthings » 19 Feb 2014 03:11

Greetings,

For several years I have been preparing MIDI files to help our local choral singers learn difficult material. In particular I have produced MIDIs for music that is under a current copyright. These files are placed on our chorale website on a password protected, members only page. They can be downloaded by the members to be played on the member's computer.

My question is whether posting such files on a publicly accessible site such as CPDL violates the copyright. I would not post the actual score since that would clearly violate copyright, but since the MIDI is intended to be used in conjunction with a personally owned score does the MIDI also constitute a copyright violation? If you have your own music notation s/w then you can easily modify things like volume, tempo, and the like which you cannot do easily with an .mp3 file.

In particular, I'm thinking about the John Rutter Requiem and the Ariel Ramirez Missa Criolla.

Many thanks,

Bob

CHGiffen
Site Admin
Posts: 1677
Joined: 16 Sep 2005 21:22
Location: Hudson, Wisconsin, USA

Re: MIDI FIles and Copyright

Postby CHGiffen » 19 Feb 2014 15:16

My question is whether posting such files on a publicly accessible site such as CPDL violates the copyright.

The short answer is, yes.

Why? Because a MIDI file encodes the notes and durations of the piece, and these can be imported by any of several music notation programs to reconstruct the score.

It is no different from my posting:

49 74 a0 77 61 73 a0 61 a0 64 61 72 6b a0 61 6e 64 a0 73 74 6f 72 6d 79 a0 6e 69 67 68 74 2e

Once it is recognized that these are character codes, it is a simple matter to see that they yield the famous sentence:

It was a dark and stormy night.

You already alluded to the fact that:
If you have your own music notation s/w then you can easily modify things like volume, tempo, and the like which you cannot do easily with an .mp3 file.
And therein lies the copyright problem. One of the "and the like" things you can do is to tweak the results of the MIDI import and then circulate it, whether in print or PDF form, thereby potentially violating the terms of the copyright on the work in question.

I'm not a copyright lawyer, and these are only my opinions, but I think they are held by many. My advice: Be VERY careful about such things.
Charles H. Giffen
President of CPDL and
Manager of ChoralWiki
User pageTalk pageComposer page

Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

commnthings
Posts: 4
Joined: 05 May 2011 03:26
Location: Gardiner, Washington

Re: MIDI FIles and Copyright

Postby commnthings » 09 Mar 2014 16:30

CHGiffen wrote:I'm not a copyright lawyer, and these are only my opinions, but I think they are held by many. My advice: Be VERY careful about such things.


RATZ! Unfortunately i think you're probably correct.

Thanks.

Bob


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