Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

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Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

Postby canadacow » 2003-9-26 @ 04:08

Just a quick status update to let everyone know that I haven't quit the project. Monday I spoke with Roland's General Counsel (after I spoke with Mike Kent). Anyway, Jun Yamato insisted that they had a copyright on the MT-32 sounds. And even if they didn't, some of the sounds on the MT-32 were in use on the SC-55 and the Sound Canvas's PCM ROM is undisputably copyrighted. Roland was completely unwilling to negotiate any sort of letter or statement to the fact that it had lost the copyright on most of the MT-32 sounds. I told Jun that I would get back with him regarding the duplication of sounds from the MT-32 to the SC-55. The comparision was actually pretty easy to do, as the Microsoft Synthesizer is a full SC-55 emulator (complete with its original ROM). Using Microsoft DirectProducer, I extracted all the SC-55 ROM samples and compared them to the MT-32's samples. To Jun's credit, there was one match (and only one match). Apparently they reused the timbale sound on the Sound Canvas. Does this mean the whole MT-32 sound set is copyrighted? Well, to make an allegorical comparision, Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain but any of the movie versions are not. As such, I would still argue that the remaining 53 sounds are in the public domain. Furthermore, my use of the final sound would be considered fair use since such a little of the whole copyrighted work of the SC-55 is being used. Since sending an email stating the previous information, I have not heard anything from Jun. I'm hoping I can get legal counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how to continue with the emulator development.

As for the emulator itself... the rewrite is nearly complete. The recoding proved very successful in optimization. Infact, with MMX and floating point SIMD instructions enabled, the emulator now uses onlt marginally more CPU power than DosBox does on its own. (I was quite impressed with myself.) I have yet to release it because its droping partials. In this rewrite, I've forced it to handle partial allocation in the same manner the MT-32 is supposed to (taking into account channel partial prioritization). Unfortunately, I haven't gotten that quite right yet, and as such its dropping partials and notes all over the place for some songs. When I get that fixed I'll be posting a new verison.
Last edited by canadacow on 2003-9-26 @ 04:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ih8registrations » 2003-9-26 @ 05:15

What's the serial number of your mt-32? I bought one and playback seems different from your recordings. That or I'm just not used to listening to a real mt-32. The serial number to the one I have is 884479. It also came with a mpu-ipc pc card with a midi breakout box and a bag of midi/other cables. Sounds nice!:) I suppose I'll try dumping the samples and compare with yours.
One difference between ealier and later revisions was the early ones had some ics which were socketed(mine are all soldered).
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Re: Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

Postby mirekluza » 2003-9-26 @ 06:40

> Apparently they reused the timbale sound on the Sound Canvas. ... As such, I would still argue that the remaining 53 sounds are in the public domain.

Well, I am not a lawyer, so this is just my opinion (and as such it can be completely misleading). IMHO the whole ROM set is being used. The fact that they reused one sound later elsewhere should be completely irrelevant (and should not imply any copyright protection on the previous usage of it if there was not any valid copyright on it before).
Otherwise it would be just possible to take old samples now, use them in new product and argue that because of that even the previous usage is copyrighted (even though the copyright was already invalid before).
I think it is not possible to impose copyright in this way on things which were once free (regardles of whether they were intentionally free or whether just somebody forgot to do something like Roland did).

But in any case do not expect them to admit it. You can give arguments and tell them that if they think you are not right, they can challenge you in court. In that case it is very probably that they will just let it go (maintaining their position, but without trying to prove it in courts where they would risk to lose - unless a court decides anybody can say anything in this cause).

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Postby runderwo » 2003-9-26 @ 11:49

I think it depends on where the sounds came from. The problem with "public domain" material is that anyone can take the material and claim copyright on it and distribute it under copyright. Well, under most circumstances you can do an end run around the copyright-grabber and just go get the public domain version from somewhere. However, if the public domain version no longer exists, or the copyright-grabber possesses the only copy of it, then you can only get the version that they have claimed copyright over and is distributed on their terms. :( Even if it was previously in the public domain, they get to control the distribution of it. In the case of the MT-32 ROMs, however, it is pretty clear that if filing for copyright was mandatory when the MT-32 ROMs were published, and the filing did not occur, then they are in the public domain. Roland may claim copyright over the sounds later, but it doesn't matter because they already distributed them out of copyright, and as long as someone has access to the PD version (which anyone with a MT-32 does) then they should be legal to distribute.
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Re: Re: Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

Postby canadacow » 2003-9-26 @ 16:49

mirekluza wrote:

But in any case do not expect them to admit it. You can give arguments and tell them that if they think you are not right, they can challenge you in court. In that case it is very probably that they will just let it go (maintaining their position, but without trying to prove it in courts where they would risk to lose - unless a court decides anybody can say anything in this cause).


Obviously, I completely agree with all the posts thus far on this topic. And I could represent every single one of the arguments, unfortunately, Roland is the entity here with the lawyers and the money. As such, my only hope is to work with a Pro Bono lawyer and get Roland to sign an agreement that the samples are in the public domain. I'll keep everyone posted.
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Re: Re: Re: Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-26 @ 19:01

Originally posted by canadacow [B]As such, my only hope is to work with a Pro Bono lawyer and get Roland to sign an agreement that the samples are in the public domain. I'll keep everyone posted.
You are wise to tread carefully. Lots of people would support you if you were to just ignore Roland, but these people would disappear on you at the first sign of trouble. Good luck.
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Postby runderwo » 2003-9-27 @ 11:35

Lots of people would support you if you were to just ignore Roland, but these people would disappear on you at the first sign of trouble.
You think canadacow is the only one who wants to see a 100% legal L/A-synth emulator? Think again. Not everyone is a leeching rodent that runs for cover at the first sight of trouble.
I don't see why he would have to fight Roland anyway to continue the project. Even if the answer were handed down that the MT-32 ROMs can't be legally distributed and there were no other recourse, it doesn't matter; the emulator itself violates no copyrights or trade secrets, and any patents would have expired already. The ROM data would simply be found like it is anyway for other things of questionable legality, on Usenet, IRC, Gnutella, etc.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 16:03

Originally posted by runderwo [B]You think canadacow is the only one who wants to see a 100% legal L/A-synth emulator? Think again. Not everyone is a leeching rodent that runs for cover at the first sight of trouble.
No, I'm just saying that this is human behavior. People get enthused about something (like MT32 emulation) and will tend to say whatever they think is needed to be said to get it...not necessarily thinking out the consequences.
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Postby HunterZ » 2003-9-27 @ 17:51

At any rate, I'm sure we can all agree that canadacow is doing the right thing here. I'm impressed at how he is going about things actually - in this day and age I would probably just ignore Roland until they came to me, then deal with them. This way things stay friendly as long as possible and maybe he'll even get an okay from someone eventually (and as runderwo said, we all know how it will play it if he doesn't anyways so I'm not too worried ;)).

canadacow: did you mention contacting the EFF? I thought you had, but I don't see it now (maybe it was in a different thread?).
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Postby MajorGrubert » 2003-9-28 @ 20:25

runderwo wrote:Even if the answer were handed down that the MT-32 ROMs can't be legally distributed and there were no other recourse, it doesn't matter; the emulator itself violates no copyrights or trade secrets, and any patents would have expired already. The ROM data would simply be found like it is anyway for other things of questionable legality, on Usenet, IRC, Gnutella, etc.

Yeah, but if canadacow can get the legal issues sorted out we will have a complete emulator, with the samples, in a single package. Having a good emulator that you can get and install without changing hats would be very nice for a change.

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Re: Copyright dispute, optimized emulator, etc.

Postby Dhelt » 2004-4-16 @ 04:47

Just a couple quick newb questions

as the Microsoft Synthesizer is a full SC-55 emulator (complete with its original ROM).


You are referring to the Roland Sound canvas set that MS Windows uses for MIDI emulation?

(complete with its original ROM).

Just how close does this map to an MT-32 ROM? Would, say, an enterprising individual such as someone other than myself, be able to use this as an alternative to the MT-32 ROM required by your emulator? I know, I know, not the original MT-32 sounds, etc (diehards), but would it be close enough (or even possible) to use as an alternative while staying legal?
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