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Author Topic: Copyright and Waveforms  (Read 385 times)


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Copyright and Waveforms
« on: 04-29-18 at 07:04 am »

Hello everyone!

I have recently discovered that you can create your own waveforms in the audio program "Audacity" using its "Draw Tool".

I have also taken an interest in reading online articles about the waveforms that musical instruments make.

Here is my question:

If I visited a website, saw a picture of a waveform alongside an article, proceeded to recreate every detail of that waveform in Audacity, then used that waveform to create my own music to later publish, would that be copyright infringement?

NOTE: I would only view the picture from the website. I would NOT download the picture onto my computer in any way.

Thank you!  :)

Robert T Nicholson

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Re: Copyright and Waveforms
« Reply #1 on: 04-30-18 at 12:03 am »

Interesting question.  I can't find any specific references to this (nor would I expect to), but I think there are a couple of points that speak to the question.

(1)  Transcription (converting the form of a work from audio to written notation) is a violation of copyright.  In general, changing the form of a work (digitizing sound, for example) is not permitted under copyright form.  It seems to me that what you are doing is simply changing the form of the work, from sound to a waveform, and then from the waveform back to sound.

(2)  A basic tenet of copyright law is the "reasonable person" test.  Would a reasonable person say that your work is a copy of the original?  So, if your finished work sounds like the original, even though you wen't through a transformation process as an intermediate step, it would still be a violation. 

This post is provided for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

Robert Nicholson Consulting | Copyright Safeguard | ED Treatment Center


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