Intellectual Property

The laws around intellectual property (IP) and copyright can be confusing. The posts below offer background information and analysis from experts, as well as real-world stories from artists who have found themselves tangled in IP.

Dear Rich: Using MIDI Music from a Video Game Cartridge

Dear Rich: Using MIDI Music from a Video Game Cartridge

Dear Rich: I want to know if it is considered sampling when you record sound coming from a synthesizer that is playing electronic note data stored on a memory chip. Technically when you play an NES game (’80s video game system), the music that is playing is not pre-recorded. It is actually played “live” from musical note data on the game cartridge (gameplay triggers a MIDI pattern) in the console into the internal synthesizer.

Dear Rich: Can We Use Ancestry and DNA Information in Book?

Dear Rich: Can We Use Ancestry and DNA Information in Book?

I’m helping two authors with a manuscript about their experiences researching their ancestors who were slaves. I am unclear about the legal rights associated with certain material including: 1) publication of information found in public records, 2) publication of information from church records, historical society records, family bibles, etc.

Dear Rich: Can I Make ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Action Figures?

Dear Rich: Can I Make ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Action Figures?

Normally you would need two permissions to sell movie action figures: permission from the copyright owner of the movie, and permission from the actor (referred to as publicity rights). Because Night of the Living Dead is public domain, there is no copyright owner from whom you’ll need permission. However, you would need permission from the actors.