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Kickstarter minefield...Squared


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Ok to start,

I'm well aware (for the most part) of what happened with the Final Fantasy 6 album when it was shut down and relaunched. I tried searching for information on the talks with whom and what (either between Square or Kickstarter), but sadly was only met with speculation of what may have happened (if anyone has any further information on this or on campaigns similar and their legal processes, please let me know).

This topic interests me because in the long run, I'm actually considering Kickstaring my own EP project based off of Kingdom Hearts (ohh sure, Square was bad enough, but you HAD to try the Mouse now huh?! lol). Of course, I trying to nail as many legal implications as I can. It will be freely distributed and I'm on the fence about adding CD prints as a reward offering atm as that part seems to be somewhat of a grey area and tends to inflate the asking price against the project's actual needs.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't acquiring a compulsory license and a mechanical license for the song only apply to cover songs and not full derivatives like remixes? If so, I'm confused when I see albums like the FF6 one or albums like Chrono Cinematica saying they're fully licensed and distributed across networks like iTunes (which I though sets their tracks at a minimum of $0.99??? not sure) even when the work can be considered derivative (to both album's defense, I have not heard either, but if they are classified as a remix, they technically aren't covers).

On another note, if OCR did go through the process of contacting the publisher/copyright owner for the works directly what may have been the process of negotiating a derivative works license and mechanical use license? Well I guess better question might be, would someone like me even be able to get/negotiate a derivative works license (I can probably get a mechanical license from Loudr) from the likes of Square, Sony, or Disney (depends on which songs I'm doing obviously), let alone afford it.....ohh and I want to do a studio video so yeah....sync license...yyyyyeah...Also would a mechanical license even be necessary since you're not selling the work anyway (my guess to this answer might be that you are still streaming it (maybe) so you have to take those plays into consideration since you buy per plays)? 

Honestly I think most remixers fly under the radar when doing things like this (aka every unofficial "Turn down for What" EDM remix out there) unless it blows up or gets large attention like the FF6 campaign, especially considering OCR's name, but still, should I attempt? Should I deter this creative idea that I've had for a while just because of some outdated copyright procedures and litigation tactics?!

Needless to say, I've still got some ways to go before actually launching my campaign; I've got a convention coming up that I want to hopefully generate interest from, I'm thinking about a launch party, etc. I'm not even 100% on the final asking price yet...or even the final track count. But at the very least I'm trying to keep the maximum project cost below $5k. Heck, I may be able to squeeze a smaller EP as a worst case scenario, but definitely at a slower pace and with fewer tracks and people that I want on the project.

Lastly, I've read that its sort of a legal grey area to consider a kickstarter donation in comparison to a store purchase. Namely because the time of legal ownership is different, and the essence of what is being purchased is also different. In a store to product relationship, what is being bought is a product. In kickstarter's view, you're purchasing the manufacturing not the product thus shouldn't be viewed as a presale either. I only mention this because I needed to figure out if Kickstarter still constitutes as a sale of a product even if I'm distributing the final product as a free download and even with limited print physical copies.

I know this is a bit wordy, but since there might be a few people here that might have some detailed info on this topic, I thought to give it a shot to get some insight. ATM I don't mind flying under the radar to take a chance at a mini project like this either. Just seeing if there's more I could do to limit my risk before hand.


Thanks in advance!  

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If the KS is small enough like what you've alluded to, it may fly under the legal radar, which we definitely don't advocate or recommend, but that's just the reality of how some of those efforts go. We can't talk about the specific talks with Squenix, but we never planned to do the FF6 Kickstarter in an unlicensed way, so there was never any intention to NOT obtain licensing.

Now, it's one thing to get the contact information for SE's legal department, but I think the most difficult part would be gaining the attention/headspace of anyone there who'd subsequently be willing to work with you. For us, we had a large enough pot and demonstrated display of interest with the Kickstarter support, the project was a music project rather than a game (I've never seen an SE takedown of a game ever come back), and djp was thoughtful/patient/articulate enough to handle the difficult back-and-forth discussions involved, where it was worth SE's time to actually dialogue with OCR rather than just shut down the Kickstarter without entertaining a follow-up discussion.

That said, if you did a KH-based arrangement album Kickstarter and it gained some traction, the licensing costs would chew up a significant part of the funding and may get scrutiny from SE's legal department if you haven't dealt directly with them. Licensing's required for any derivative work that doesn't fall under fair use, so yeah, you'd need to pay for those licenses. Loudr's job is supposed to be to get you a proper license for all of the derivative works, if licensing for the source tunes is in fact available. So as long as you used them, and they say the music can be licensed (and you wait another month for them to actually verify that after the fact, in case any of the source songs are in fact NOT licensable), you're OK there. I'm not sure if that kind of indirect licensing agreement would need to be in place before the KS launched if you go that route rather than deal directly with SE, but there's the possibility that you may need to pay the projected costs upfront for that once you project the full scope of the album (i.e. # of songs arranged, and [if any] # of physical copies).

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Sounds about right,

Part of me wants to do this "right", but unfortunately doing it "right" in my case could turn up vastly more expensive and cost way more than the project is worth. Like you said, given my name in comparison to OCR, OCR definitely has more traction in regards to negotiation power, but I might have a small size advantage since I'm not considered a group (if you get what I mean) aka every other remixer on Soundcloud lol. I didn't want to avoid paying a license fee, but thats what happens when you leave it to a system too ridged to make something like this a lot more streamline given the increase in remix culture over the past few years; the music business at its best I suppose....

IDK, at the very least I can see what licenses are available through Loudr for at least some protection (since I may be doing limited cd prints and all) along with the very VERY thin chance of being protected under fair use. Even though I can find the contacts (thanks ASCAP) I also dont think its worth raising unnecessary red flags with Sony and Disney either by trying to get in contact with them due to the high likelihood of being denied as an individual anyway

Worst comes to worst, I get pulled and I'm left to finish the smallest possible product out of pocket as a private online only distributable. Its all risky, but might be worth the shot I guess. If anything, I'll see how much I can mitigate my initial cost by utilizing possibly some of the musician resources here..

Thanks for the response! If you have anything to add or any other caveats to the above, please don't hesitate to comment :)

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