Is Minecraft music copyrighted?

Minecraft music is copyrighted but the composer allows fans to use his music on streaming and video platforms, by crediting him and not downloading the music for the sole intent of using it for videos or streaming.

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a video game developed by the Swedish video game developer, Mojang Studios. The game was created by Markus “Notch” Persson in the Java programming language. The game was first made public in May 2009, before it was fully released in November 2011.

Since its inception, Minecraft has been developed for several other platforms, and some people argue that it is the best-selling video game of all time. The game requires players to explore a block 3D world and discover and extract raw materials, craft tools, and build structures or earthworks.

Furthermore, players can fight computer-controlled gangs and collaborate or compete against other players in the same world. The modes of the game include survival mode, where players are expected to acquire resources to build the world and maintain their health, as well as creative mode, where players have unlimited resources. Players also have the option of altering the game to create new game features, items, and assets.

Minecraft has various versions, such as Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Legacy console editions, Minecraft: Education Edition and Minecraft China.

Awards

Minecraft has won several awards, including the 2011 Spike Video Game Award for best independent game, the 2011 Game Developers Choice Award for best debut game and best downloadable game, the 2014 Kids’ Choice Award for most addicting game, the 2014 British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) for BAFTA Kids’ Vote, the 2015 BAFTA for best family game, as well as the 2016 BAFTA for the BAFTA Kids’ Vote.

On top of winning, the game has also been nominated for various awards, such as the 2011 Spike Video Game Award for best personal computer (PC) game, the 2012 Satellite Award for best action/adventure game, the 2013 and 2014 Kids’ Choice Award for favourite video game and most addicting game, as well as the 2013 and 2015 BAFTA Award for best family game and best multiplayer.

Music

The music for Minecraft was composed mainly by a 21-year-old German musician named Daniel Rosenfield, who is popularly known as C418. Rosenfield also did most of the game’s sound effects. In the legacy console editions of the game, there are 12 additional songs available which are also composed by Gareth Coker and Lena Raine, who composed four of the songs.

According to most of the fans of the video game, its soundtrack consists of ambient music. The music has been praised by critics and in 2011, the video game blog, Kotaku chose the soundtrack as one of the best video game soundtracks of 2011. According to Kotaku, the music gives one a tranquil feeling that is as good as a good night’s sleep.

Furthermore, the official soundtrack to the game was released in 2011 and went for $4 on Bandcamp, and it came with 22 songs and a high-resolution picture of the album’s cover art. According to fans, the music works best as background music while one is building on the game, doing work, or even studying. This aligns with Rosenfield’s purpose, which he says was to create music that was unassuming and could be easily phased out in the player’s mind.

Commenting on the ambient sounds, Rosenfield stated that the music is a very important part of gaming. He adds that Minecraft had dreadful sound engineering that consisted of a looping sound that played for two seconds and continuously started over. Rosenfield had to compensate for this by coming up with the seemingly perfect support that consists of wilted, minimalist, slow-paced and melancholic sounds.

Copyrights

Before we determine whether Minecraft music is copyrighted, it is important to understand what a copyright is.

A copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives someone the sole rights to reproduce a form of creative work. Essentially, it is the right to copy. A person who owns the copyright to creative work such as song lyrics, original drawings, or a movie, is the only person who can copy that work or grant permission to someone else to copy it. Copyright holders are also allowed to collect royalties when other people use their copyrighted work, this is in addition to assigning, licensing or using their copyright.

Moreover, copyright law applies to a broad scope of international law such as website content, forms of writing, computer programmes, motion pictures or audio, artistic works, original architectural designs and most importantly for the purposes of this article, music.

Copyrights and Minecraft music

Minecraft music is copyrighted, this means that all the rules surrounding copyrighted work applies.

However, Rosenfield does grant permission for his music to be used in the following ways: Firstly, the music must be purchased legitimately from official distribution sites such as iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon and Google Play. The music can be used on platforms such as YouTube or any other video device. However, the music cannot be uploaded as is, customers are advised to refrain from uploading the music as it is and making money from Rosenfield’s work.

Furthermore, whoever uses the music is required to specify that Rosenfield’s music is being used. This acknowledgment can be made through credits in the description or by simply mentioning it.

The music is not allowed to be purchased for the intent of using it for a video, stream or podcast – there has to be a primary intent that excludes these. In addition to this, the music is not allowed to be made available to download for free.

Lastly, everyone is allowed to use Minecraft music if they are playing Minecraft. One does not need permission for Minecraft music in the video game.

Penalties for violating copyright

Depending on the nature of the offense, penalties for copyright infringement can be quite severe. In the United States (US), penalties include fines up to $150,000 plus an attorney and costs.

Moreover, any items that violate copyright can be confiscated and the offender could be jailed for the infringement. Due to the harsh consequences that come with copyright infringement, it is important for one to know copyright laws in order to protect their rights and avoid infringing on the rights of others.