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多位业内人士谈游戏行业如何应对音乐版权问题

发布时间:2019-11-15 09:06:15 Tags:,

多位业内人士谈游戏行业如何应对音乐版权问题

原作者:Mat Ombler 译者:Willow Wu

自上世纪80年代以来,电子游戏的原声带经常会包含商业授权音乐。Midway 1983年的街机游戏《旅途》(Journey)使用了某个乐队的8-bit音乐,1988年的Amiga游戏《氙星异形2》(Xenon 2 Megablast)使用的是Bomb the Bass创作的主题曲Megablast。

随着电子游戏硬件设备的发展,以往与音乐使用相关的技术限制也逐渐消失了,音乐行业看到了这个新商机。当CD音乐这种高质量媒体产品出现在人们真实生活中时,《暴力摩托》《托尼·霍克的专业滑板者》《FIFA》《反重力赛车3》这样的游戏证明了游戏可以成为推广音乐、提高销量的新途径。

如今,这两个行业互利互赢,开发者可以在游戏中使用授权音乐,吸引特定的用户群组,而音乐人可以让自己的作品获得更多曝光度,让几百万人听到自己的创作(当然通常还会有一大笔报酬)。这是一种良性的合作关系,但每段关系都免不了一些摩擦。这其中的很多问题都与音乐版权有关,有些游戏还会因此下架。

当开发者想要使用乐队或者歌手的作品时,他们需要做一笔授权交易。出于各种原因,这些交易可能会变得非常复杂。包括授权协议有效期以及后期游戏发行对原始合同的影响。Obsidian Entertainment的《阿尔法协议》以及Remedy的《心灵杀手》就是两个实例,这两个游戏之前都有被下架,但是《心灵杀手》开发公司就音乐版权再次进行了些协商,之后又重新上架。

为什么音乐授权很复杂?

“游戏音乐授权可能是一件非常复杂的事,原因有三,”来自Unlimited Media咨询专家Chris Cooke说。“首先,歌曲版权和母带录音版权是分开的。如果你想在游戏中使用歌曲录音,你需要两个授权都拿到。

audio_channels(from tutsplus)

audio_channels(from tutsplus)

“第二,版权可以共同拥有,歌曲版权通常都是这样。如果你想用一首版权共有的歌曲,你需要得到各方的同意,但任何一方都存在拒绝你的风险。

“第三,如果你在游戏中使用了一首歌,并把游戏发行在某个网络平台,从版权角度来说你做了两件事:复制和传播。这很重要,因为从歌曲版权的角度来说,复制和传播通常是分开授权的。最重要的是,版权甚至可能是由不同国家的多个公司一同掌管的,不同地区的协议条款也有所差异。”

有很多事情需要考虑,当涉及到音乐授权的合法操作时,大多数游戏开发者都不是专家。如果你想在游戏中使用授权音乐,保护自己(和你的游戏)最简单的方式之一就是和音乐监督合作,他们最擅长雷区导航了。

“大多数游戏公司都会聘请音乐监督来处理授权事宜,”Christian Castle说,他成立了一家专攻音乐版权领域的律师事务所。“EA公司就是个很好的例子。但一般游戏开发商如果没有多一重主流发行商的身份,应该是没办法实施这个策略的。通常情况下,开发者希望为母带录音和歌曲的同步授权支付一笔固定费用。

“最常见的基本错误就出现在第一步:没有理解歌曲和母带录音是分开授权的。这种错误通常只会发生一次,他们(开发人员)会得到惨痛的教训。这个问题已经存在很久了。”

游戏音乐授权是如何演变的?

Randy Eckhardt,Eckhardt Consulting的创始人,他在游戏行业已经呆了25年了。1995年,他在EA工作,为了《暴力摩托》与唱片公司打交道,在游戏中使用了流行摇滚乐队Soundgarden的作品。在那个年代,两个行业都在经历快速增长,越来越多人关注游戏音乐授权业务,很多事情都发生了改变。

“(回想那时)这两个行业之间的差距太大了,”Eckhardt说。“随着垃圾摇滚、嘻哈、流行朋克等音乐的商业化,唱片行业正处于全盛时期,而游戏行业仍处于起步阶段。

“快进25年,你会发现音乐类游戏获得了数十亿美元的销售额,开发预算达到5000万~2亿美元级别的游戏(例如《侠盗猎车手》)的原声带也获得了巨额收入。然后是电影IP改编游戏、游戏IP改编电影、铺天盖地的流媒体以及游戏解说让年轻一代快速陷了进去。”

随着这个行业的持续增长,电子游戏的寿命也因此延长了,开发商和发行商开始更加关注如何获得永久性的音乐授权——但代价可能非常高昂。Cord Worldwide的高级音乐监督Justin Andree认为影响《心灵杀手》《阿尔法协议》等游戏的问题比人们所想的更为普遍,并将在未来影响更多游戏。

“现在人们开始做游戏重制,越来越多的古早产品开始重新发行,有些问题也逐渐显露出来,”他说。“在过去三年左右的时间里,我们说服了更多唱片发行公司给予永久授权,避免再出现类似这样的问题。”

Q-Games的Pixeljunk Sidescroller在2011年十月登陆PlayStation 3,但由于索尼与游戏音乐原创者Alex Paterson之间的授权合同到期,该游戏不得不停止销售。它突出了一个影响游戏的常见问题:音乐的授权期是有固定年限的。

“我们被告知游戏要在合同到期前的一两个月下架,”Q-Games创始人Dylan Cuthbert解释道。“这种事还是头一次发生在我们身上。”

游戏音乐授权合同到期,在新合同签订之前游戏不能继续销售。然而新机会并没有出现在Cuthbert面前,他对游戏被下架的反应是“失望、难以置信……早先的授权谈判是我经历过的最难熬的体验之一。”

因为音乐授权过期,双发的确发起了二次谈判。Randy Eckhardt认为这两个行业的友好合作、共同寻求解决方案不应该是这么困难的事。

说句公道话,唱片公司通常都是出于善意来协商延长期限的,也没有意图榨取额外的金钱,因为他们知道双方的合作关系是长远、可持续的。”他解释道。“此外,有时候初始授权可以覆盖‘未来或现在未知的平台’,但这要取决于你的音乐顾问是谁。这是一种友好的策略,游戏制作方不需要再跑唱片公司、发行商商谈新平台的扩展条款/使用。”

谈判的力量

当唱片公司与游戏开发者、音乐监管进行谈判时,需要考虑许多不确定条件。EA的音乐监督会提前一年跟唱片公司交涉,以便及时获知专辑发行计划和新歌的发布。音乐部门负责人和唱片公司要评估游戏音乐原创者的价值。

Team Audio and Audio Mentoring的创始人Ariel Gross在游戏音乐领域已经有20多年的从业经验了,他表示游戏音乐授权费用可以从两位数浮动至六位数。当年他还在Saints Row音效部门工作时,某个系列第二部游戏的音乐授权费用就接近100万美元。

“如果你想在游戏中使用像Kanye West这种大牌明星的音乐,单一首歌的费用就可能达到10万~20万美元,”Gross解释说。“如果你需要多首歌曲,有时唱片公司会给你‘优惠价’,或者选择一个刚崭露头角的歌手的作品。《FIFA》和《侠盗猎车手》是音乐潮流引领者。如果你是即将出道的音乐人,可以考虑将自己的作品授权给这样的游戏使用,帮助你获得开门红。

“两个行业的人现在都变得更杂了,”音乐版权律师Christian Castle表示肯定。“发行商像躲避瘟疫一样躲避版税协议,这当然会推高预付金。”

费用的灵活性

好在还有几个办法能帮你降低音乐授权费用。最简单的办法之一就是使用音乐库中的商用资源。由于版权到期,也有许多音乐作品流入公共领域,这意味着使用者不需要支付任何授权费用。

如果开发者坚持要在游戏中加入某段音乐,但又负担不起,他们可能会考虑做个类似的东西,即录制一首非常相似的歌曲。

“一个潜在客户或被授权方跟版权拥有者协商,得到了一个不能接受的价格。”Christian Castle说。“然后,他们回来创造了一个至少是带有同类竞争性质的、并可能是未经授权的衍生作品。

“书面文件记录可能会显示出有意的侵权行为,以及其它可能:比如侵犯他人的公开权或不公平的贸易行为。很多时候都是从广告宣传中体现出来的。如果新作品是‘受XX启发的’,违不违法很大程度上取决于借鉴程度,比如Blurred Lines案例。”

Christian提到的这个案件最终法院裁定《Blurred Lines》的创作兼演唱者Robin Thicke和Pharrel Williams抄袭了Marvin Gaye的作品《Got To Give it Up》,须赔偿500万美元。由于法律的复杂性,如果开发者考虑在游戏中使用类似的音乐,他们应该有一个靠谱法律团队做后盾。

“如果你考虑制作一首模仿曲,一定要有资深律师给你提供支援,能够有力证明两首歌从法律意义上来讲是不一样的,这非常重要,”Ariel Gross解释说。“这是个灰色领域。”

当然,没有什么能阻止开发者接触未签约的乐队和艺术家,看看他们是否有兴趣为游戏作曲。Capy Games找到了团队中最受欢迎的音乐创作者之一:独立民谣音乐人Jim Guthrie,为他们的游戏《超级兄弟:剑与巫术》(Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP)谱曲。如今游戏的销量已经超过了100万份,这对游戏开发者和作曲者来说都是件好事,毕竟这些曲子在玩家群体中也有了知名度。音乐和游戏产业之间的界限逐渐模糊了,我们可以期待有更多像65daysofstatic(《无人深空》)、Daughter(《奇异人生:风暴前夕》)、HEALTH(《马克思·佩恩3》)这样的乐队为游戏创作优秀的配乐。

“对这些乐队来说,他们现在最需要的是认清市场,并学习如何为互动游戏作曲——与平常的作曲方式相比,这是一种截然不同的体验,”Ariel Gross解释道。“越来越多游戏公司建立了分销渠道,很多音乐都会压制成原声碟。这个发展趋势只会一直持续下去。”

避开与授权音乐相关的陷阱

尽管在电子游戏中使用授权音乐可能会不小心引来官司,但选择与擅长音乐授权领域的专业人士合作,并确保自己阅读、理解合同中关于游戏音乐使用的详细条款,保护自己就不是一件难事。

“你必须认真阅读合同,”Christian Castle说。“如果你有很多授权事项需要处理,那就需要有人整合一份‘音乐版权圣经’来跟踪保证你的权益。除此之外,最好对所有歌曲和母带都使用同一份条款。如果有作曲者,配乐版权应该属于游戏开发团队或者有永久授权。如果你真的打算自己制作歌曲或授权游戏发行商去做,那你必须格外小心,以免产品因为音乐版权问题而被封锁。

“开发者需要清楚地了解他们所需的权利,并尽其所能在所有平台上获得永久授权。这个预算可能会超出你的想象。如果你忙不过来,聘请一个经验丰富的音乐监督来帮助你。”

Castle建议对游戏配乐有兴趣的乐队应该灵活应对这种要求,特别是在所有权都归属于开发公司的情况下。

“如果他们想要唱片公司配合,负责人需要跟唱片公司的不同部门人员交涉条件,之后还有发行公司。”

简化音乐授权流程

Randy Eckhardt认为尽管很多人都希望音乐授权流程能够简化一些,但这个过程总是避免不了长时间的消耗。

“这是多个娱乐行业长久以来的共同期盼,”他解释道。“母带录音使用权和版权/发行权的归属、分配一直在变化,再加上新时代的层出不穷的应用新方式,音乐授权仍会是一个重复繁琐、非常耗时的过程。这其中应该有专业人士为你提供指导,这就是最有效的简化方法。”

Chris Cooke同意简化流程是需要时间的,解决这个问题的潜在可行方案之一是建立核心数据资料库,让大家知道版权到底归谁。

“有资料库可以参考就帮了大忙了,它可以告诉被授权人谁在哪些国家拥有哪些音乐,甚至了解他们是否愿意将音乐授权给不同的娱乐领域的人。如果愿意的话,授权的条件是什么。”Cooke解释说。“因为大多数国家没有正式的版权登记——核心数据库并不存在。前面提到的著作权集体管理组织有数据库,但它们不一定是完整或公开的,不同的数据库信息也不一定一致。

“关于如何更好地管理和分配音乐版权数据,业内已经有很多讨论了,各类版权所有者、集体组织和初创企业都提出了解决方案,其中一些还运用到了区块链。像这样的事情不会很快就看到结果,但我认为未来几年将会有一些进展,尤其是当下这种情况——糟糕的数据阻碍歌手和词曲作者获得报酬。”

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Video games have been using licensed music in their soundtracks since the 80s。 Midway’s 1983 arcade game Journey featured 8-bit arrangements of the titular band’s music, and the 1988 hip-hop track Megablast by Bomb the Bass was the title music for Xenon 2 Megablast on the Amiga。

As video game hardware evolved throughout the 80s and 90s, the technical limitations that had previously limited the use of music in games started to disappear, and the music industry saw a new opportunity。 When CD quality audio became a reality, games like Road Rash, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, FIFA and Wip3out demonstrated that video games could be a new format to market music and drive sales。

Today, the relationship between the two industries is mutually beneficial: developers can license popular music to make their games appeal to certain audiences, while musicians benefit from instantaneous exposure to millions of new listeners (and usually a lot of money). It’s a healthy relationship, but like all relationships it isn’t without problems — and many of the problems associated with music licenses can cause some games to be removed from sale.

When developers want to feature music by bands and artists in their game, a licensing deal needs to be made. These deals can be very complicated due to a variety of reasons, from the length of the licensing agreement to future releases of video games affecting the original contract. Such issues have affected games such as Obsidian Entertainment’s Alpha Protocol and Remedy’s Alan Wake, both of which were removed from sale, although Alan Wake appeared back online after its music licenses were renegotiated.

What makes music licensing so complicated?

“Licensing music for games can be a complicated business for three reasons,” says Chris Cooke of Unlimited Media, who writes, talks, teaches and consults about the music industry。 “First, the copyright in songs and the copyright in recordings are separate。 So if you are using recordings of songs, you’ll need to license two sets of rights — the song rights and the recording rights。

“Second, copyrights can be co-owned and song copyrights routinely are. If you want to use a co-owned song you need to get permission separately from each co-owner, any one of which can say no.

“Third, if you sync a track into a game and then make that game available via an online network, in copyright terms you are both ‘copying’ and ‘communicating’ the music. This is important because, on the song’s side, copying and communicating are often licensed separately. On top of all that, copyrights might be owned by different people or companies in different countries, and rules vary around the world.”

That’s a lot to take in, and most game developers aren’t experts when it comes to the legalities around music licensing。 If you want to feature licensed music in your video game, one of the easiest ways to protect yourself (and your game) is by working with music supervisors, who specialise in navigating the minefield。

“Most game companies employ music supervisors to handle their licensing,” says Austin-based music lawyer Christian Castle, owner of Christian Castle Attorneys, a law firm specialising in music rights。 “Electronic Arts is a great example。 Game developers who are not at a major game publisher probably can’t go down this route。 Usually the developer wants to pay a flat fee for the sound recording and for the sync rights to the song。

“The most fundamental mistake we see is when developers miss that first step of separate clearances for the song and the recording。 This mistake usually only has to happen once and they [developers] learn the hard way。 It’s an old problem。”

How has video game music licensing changed?

Randy Eckhardt, founder of Eckhardt Consulting, has a career spanning 25 years in the games industry. He first started working with record labels at EA for the release of Road Rash in 1995, which featured music by the popular rock act Soundgarden. As both industries were undergoing rapid growth, the arrangements around licensing music for video games were a work in progress. A lot has changed since.

“[Back then] The industries couldn’t be further apart,” Eckhardt explains。 “The recording business was in a heyday with grunge [rock], the commercialization of hip-hop, pop-punk and so on。 The games industry, however, was still in the early stages of establishing itself。

“Fast-forward 25 years and you’ve got billions of dollars in sales for music-inspired games, and massive soundtracks with games like Grand Theft Auto with $50 million to $200 million development budgets。 Then there’s movie franchise game releases, game franchises becoming movies, and broadcast streaming and viewing of games taking the young generation by storm。”

As the industry has continued to grow and the shelf life of video games has grown as a result, there’s been a more concentrated effort from developers and publishers to get music licenses granted in perpetuity — but this can be costly. Justin Andree, senior music supervisor at Cord Worldwide, believes that the issues affecting games such as Alan Wake and Alpha Protocol are more common than people realise, and will affect more games in the future.

“Now that people are doing remasters and more and more games are starting to get re-released, we’re starting to see issues,” he explains。 “In the past three or so years we’ve had more publishers agreeing perpetuity licenses to avoid issues like these in the future。”

Q-Games’ Pixeljunk Sidescroller was released for the PlayStation 3 in October 2011, but it had to be removed from sale when the music licensing contract between Sony and the artist whose music featured in the game, Alex Paterson, expired。 It highlights a common issue affecting games were the music has only been licensed for a set number of a years。

“We were told the game was going to be removed about a month or two before the expiry,” Dylan Cuthbert, founder of Q-Games, explains。 “It is the first and only time this has happened to us for any game we have ever made。”

When music licenses in a video game expire that game must be removed from sale until a new licensing deal is agreed. Such an opportunity wasn’t presented to Cuthbert, whose reaction to the game’s removal was, “disappointment and disbelief… Negotiating the rights in the first place was a more difficult and prolonged experience than I had experienced before.”

When renegotiations do take place due to expired music licenses, Randy Eckhardt believes that it should never be too difficult for the two industries to work together amicably and find a solution.

“To be fair, the labels typically work in good faith to get those rights extended, and don’t look to take unnecessary financial advantages because they know we’re all in it together for the long run,” he explains. “Moreover, there are times when an initial license, depending on who your music consultant is/was, can cover ‘future or now unknown platforms.’ This generally is a good faith gesture and eliminates the need to go back to the record label and music publisher for extended terms/uses on new platforms.”

The power of negotiation

There are many variables to consider when labels enter negotiations with game developers and music supervisors。 Music supervisors at EA will work up to a year in advance with music labels so they’re aware of album schedules and new music releases。 Music managers and record labels will have to determine the value of the artists that feature in those games。

Ariel Gross, founder of Team Audio and Audio Mentoring, has over 20 years’ experience in game audio and says the cost of licensing music for a video game can vary from anywhere between a two-digit to a six-digit figure. When he was working in the audio department on Saints Row, the cost of licensing the music for the second game in the series cost close to $1 million.

“If you want to use music that’s written by someone like Kanye West you can easily spend between $100,000 to $200,000 on a single track,” Gross explains。 “Sometimes labels are willing to lower rates if you choose a selection of tracks, or choose to feature music from an artist that might be up and coming。 Games like FIFA and Grand Theft Auto are trend-setters for music。 If you’re an upcoming artist and you can get your music featured in games like these it can launch your career。”

“People are a lot more sophisticated now on both sides,” music lawyer Christian Castle agrees. “Publishers avoid royalty deals like the plague, and that of course drives up the up-front cash payments.”

Finding flexibility in costs

Thankfully, there are ways to keep costs down if you want to feature licensed music in your game and have a small team. One of the easiest ways is using library music that has been written for commercial use. There are also many pieces of music in the public domain due to copyright expiring, which means a licensing fee does not need to be paid.

If developers are adamant they want a certain piece of music to feature in a game but simply cannot afford it, they may consider a ‘soundalike’ — a recording of a song that has been created to closely resemble another track.

“The classic soundalike is when a potential user or licensee approaches the owner of either or both these rights and gets a price they don’t like,” music lawyer Christian castle explains. “The user then creates what is essentially at least a competitive and possibly an unauthorized derivative work.

“That paper trail potentially shows intentional infringement, and possibly other things like misappropriation of someone’s right of publicity (usually the featured artists) or unfair trade practices. Many of these cases arise in advertising. If the new work is ‘inspired by’ it’s going to depend a lot on the extent of inspiration, such as the Blurred Lines case.”

The case Christian is referring to ended in a $5 million judgement against musicians Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams for copyright infringement, due to similarities between their song Blurred Lines and Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give it Up. Because of the legal complexities surrounding them, developers should always enlist the support of a respected legal team if they are considering the use of soundalikes in a game.

“If you’re considering a soundalike, it’s incredibly important to get the support of a decent lawyer who can prove that both tracks are legally distinct,” Ariel Gross explains。 “It’s all very grey。”

Of course, there’s nothing stopping developers from directly approaching unsigned bands and artists to see if they’re interested in composing music for their game. Capy Games approached one of the team’s favourite composers, indie-folk musician Jim Guthrie, to compose the music for their Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP. The game has sold over a million copies, benefiting both the developers of the game and the composer, whose music was discovered by its players. As the lines between the music and game industries become blurred, we can expect to see more bands like 65daysofstatic (No Man’s Sky), Daughter (Life is Strange: Before the Storm) and HEALTH (Max Payne 3) writing music for video games.

“The best thing that bands can do right now is recognise the market and learn how to compose music for interactive games, which is a very different experience to how you’d usually approach music composition,” Ariel Gross explains. “More and more video game companies are forming distribution channels and a lot of soundtracks are being pressed to vinyl. That’s only going to continue.”

Avoiding the pitfalls associated with licensed music

Despite the potential legal ramifications of featuring licensed music in video games, it’s easy to protect yourself by working with professionals who specialise in music licensing, and ensuring you’re aware of and have read any contracts detailing the use of music in your game.

“You have to read the contract carefully,” says Christian Castle。 “If you have a lot of licensed cues, someone should create a music rights bible that allows you to track your rights。 Also, it’s a good idea to have one set of terms apply to all songs and all recordings。 If there is a composer, the score should be either owned by the developer or licensed in perpetuity。 If you are actually manufacturing or authorizing a game publisher to manufacture, you have to be especially careful so you don’t have product on the warehouse floor that is locked down because of a music rights clearance。

“Developers need to have a clear understanding of the rights they need and do what they can to get perpetual buyouts in all platforms. This may require a bigger budget than you think. Get an experienced music supervisor to help you if your needs become complex.”

Castle advises that bands interested in having their music featured in video games should be flexible to such requests, especially if they own all the rights。

“If they want their label to cooperate, the manager needs to hand walk that request through the label and then the publishers。”

Streamlining the music licensing process

Randy Eckhardt believes that while there are many who wish the processes around licensing music could be streamlined, it will always be time-consuming。

“Ambitions to streamline music licensing has been on everyone’s wish list across all entertainment industries for decades,” he explains。 “With master recording and copyright/publishing rights constantly changing between artists, songwriters and content — along with an ongoing array of new types of ‘use’ requests — it will still be an iterative, somewhat time-consuming process that should include expert folks driving the efforts as the most effective streamlined method。”

Chris Cooke agrees that while streamlining the process will take time, one potential way to solve the issue in the future would be a central database of copyright ownership.

“Something that would help a lot would be a central database of copyright ownership, that could tell licensees who controls what music in what countries, and maybe even whether they are up for licensing music to different media and, if so, on what terms,” Cooke explains. “Because in most countries there is no formal copyright registration — that central database doesn’t exist. The aforementioned collecting societies have databases, but they aren’t necessarily complete or publicly available, and different databases don’t necessarily agree.

“There has been much debate in the music industry as to how music rights data could be better managed and distributed, and various rights owners, societies and start-ups have proposed solutions, some employing the blockchain in some way. Projects like this move slowly, but I think there will be some progress in the years ahead, not least because bad data is stopping artists and songwriters from getting paid.”

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