Tunecore rejects music made by NI - Damage Rhythmic Suits (Resolved -Incorrect Reaction by TuneCore)

somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member
edited February 2022 in Social Club

Something extremely concerning has happened to people I know and to me when I made an experiment.

People I came across, had their music rejected by Tunecore and Spotify because the claim was that the AI copyright strike by Tunecore and Spotify was registering mastered recordings (calling them e.g. mastered recordings by another artist) and all there were, just recordings using Virtual Instruments and Rhythmic suites from Cubase, NI etc.

I made an experiment\ and I wrote a piece of music to which I used rhythmic suites from Damage and Evolve & Evolve mutations.

The piece was rejected, with a reminder (threat) by Tunecore that they would charge me at least $300 for legal fees should a dispute arise....

So, what is the deal here guys? I am working as a professional composer. I need to use these libraries for my work. If I need to issue an album, this is hugely embarrassing to me, not to mention that this could cause me legal issues...

Why is this happening, can't NI sort this out with Spotify and Tunecore????

people like my self pay out hard earned money to be able to use these libraries in filmscores...if music using these libraries is rejected by Tunecore and Spotify...what's the point?



  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,474 Expert

    Yep, this is what will happen more and more as people become less creative and rely more and more on preset orchestrated patterns, loops and animated instrumentation.

    When I first got into Komplete and Kontakt I loved how I could have the possibility to make that powerful orchestral music you hear, thinking Movie Trailer or "Deadliest Catch" type documentaries.

    However then I realised after a few years how sick of that cliché I have become and how I hear the exact same instrument patterns in everything I see from promos for the news on TV, to ads for reality TV garbage even to some decent documentaries.

    The issue will be out of NI's control and will be unfortunately whoever manages to get their piece copyrighted first. What it means for you is your arrangement sounds too similar to someone else, this may easily be because you have flipped open the sample book and slapped something down, but you run the same risk of sounding like everyone else if you don't spruce it up a bit and make it half original.

    Why not just add some extra layers of instrumentation to it? If they reference the original piece, listen to it and see if it does sound the same. If it does, you need to change your game up a bit.

  • Paule
    Paule Member Posts: 1,328 Expert
    edited February 2022

    A backwarts way

    I've realized some Reaktor ensembles. Every time you use a snapshot got different results.

    So if someone produce tunes every piece is an original.

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member
    edited February 2022

    Well, I personally don't slap anything down, but I was curious as of how Tune-Core would react so I just gambled 10 dollars to see what would happen out of morbid curiosity.

    I think the issue here goes far beyond a "slapped" loop. The same is also under scrutiny for any sounds created by a virtual orchestra and any digital instrument that falls into the pre-recorded category.

    At the end of the day, a simple bass sound by NI is a pre-recorded sample. TuneCore & Spotify seek everything, including effects, sounds, presets etc.

    Music , in particular most of the modern film music, has become hybrid, and it is impossible to not implement sounds from say Damage (not loops). In the same token, they can also be picked up, what then?

    have a lawsuit fight by the companies I signed with, because Spotify was fed up of lawsuits?

    I think the issue is trickier than it appears...

    This is not about who releases first, but how the AI by TuneCore and Spotify works.

    In the end of the day, how long is a piece of string?

    For instance, buying a synthesizer, means that you buy the hardware. The sounds are still not yours, they are licensed to you, should any song or music with any of these sounds also be rejected by Tunecore & Spotify?

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    Copyright Law is sort of dangerous sands. Many lawyers avoid it and say anything, but this.....

    Copyright is tricky by itself and aplying AI to judge if something violates it or not is even trickier. How to measure creativity, how to distinguish if something is just inspired or uses in some fragments the same sound or if it is coverversion or if it is remix by DJ or if it is just plain piracy copy....

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member

    Agreed, YouTube at its most part has got it right, IMO...

  • Kaiwan_NI
    Kaiwan_NI Administrator Posts: 2,525 admin

    Without Tunecore giving more details on which part of the piece exactly triggered the copyright strike, I think it's hard to draw a conclusion.

    I agree with @JesterMgee that it's probably not a single bass sound by an instrument that caught the AI's ears (or eyes?), but probably because your test piece shares certain similarities to other pieces that were licensed before you imo. 🤔

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    But what does mean licenced before?

    What if two people take certain Expansion and use it to make their 'own' song? They both have right to use material from Expansion for their work. Their songs may have a lot of similiraties, they may even be almost the same. But person 2 does not violate copyright of person 1. Owner of copyright is NI (or creator of given Expansion), not person 1 or person 2. Their works are most probably derived works of NI content.

    AI cannot know, that person 1 legaly used NI copyrighted material and person 2 also legaly used the same NI copyrighted material. AI thinks person 2 violates copyright of person 1 because their works are very similar.

    There is also big question if person 1 or person 2 may claim copyright. It depends on that how much creativity they put into converting Expansion into their 'work'. And here we may be on thin, thin ice.... Again AI cannot judge it. It may be hard to judge even for humans.... The line what is creative and what is not is not strict. And it may move as time progresses.

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member
    edited February 2022

    I have to agree with Kubrac here and echo his thoughts on your post.

    A Virtual Instrument Library is either free to use under licence by NI or it is not free to use under license by NI. There cannot be a grey area, because people are buying these libraries under the assumption that they can be used in films and TV.

    These film score works are not the result of hobbyists, but of professionals who face hefty contracts by film companies, with budgets that do not allow composers to hire massive studios in order to create their own libraries. And so, sometimes, NI have to be used (or similar Virtual Instruments).

    The problem here is that this happened under the composer's feet. I personally found out this issue all by chance when I visited a Steinberg Forum. I have signed agreements in the past for films that they haven't released albums yet and I am now running the danger of having companies coming after me, in case they receive a copyright strike by TuneCore.

    And yes, you are right, there is no way knowing what the AI picked up, meaning, it could be a distorted sound, an Effect, an evolving synth, and yes, even a bass line, it could be anything.

    No single composer owns these sounds and Rhythmic Suits by NI. As no single composer owns the sounds from Roland or Korg. There are all under license by their respective companies. As such nobody has the right to copyright them, but to sub license them to other entities.

    I don't think anyone would open Damage -> Epic Tech-> MIDI Note 1 (e.g.) press that note and let it play forever, and then claim this as a composition. This is not what the issue is here. The issue is that TuneCore's and Spotify's AI is no extreme that picks up everything.

    I strongly suggest that NI strike a deal with these distribution companies, because if the word will get out, there will be a significant impact on the market.

    There is no point owning Virtual Instruments that cannot be used...

    PS. it is worth to note that I uploaded the same piece on YouTube there was no copyright strike.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    1) You may not sublicence copyrighted content unless you have permition for that from the owner of copyright.

    2) Generally, if you released (made public) your composition before it has been released by that company, you may argue that they might violate your copyright, not you their's...

    3) Even if you released it later, just using few things from Damage (or any soung library) that are similar, the same like ones in other's work does not mean those are the same/similar works...

    4) I guess authors should protect themselves, otherwise things may become worse and worse. The selfdefence would forse the companies to improve AI (or whatever) copyright check procedures.

    5) It might be helpfull if NI (and other content providing companies) would provide legal support to authors using their content....

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member

    Re 1) I meant licensing the compositions as per contractual agreements. Agreed, Can't re-license NI as per their T&Cs.

    This is a scary turn of events.

    Virtual Instrument companies have to re-think how to move forward, because composers will be out of work real soon, if the only way to compose music will be to create all sounds from scratch, something that is hugely expensive, and so film companies will opt to licence music (which some are already taking this avenue).

    And so Virtual Instrument companies such as NI will be out of work and will be forced to shut down.

    As I said, there is no point buying Virtual Instruments if nobody will be able to use them for songwriting or film scoring.

    NI has to sort this out, they have to communicate with these platforms such as Spotify and take steps to protect their customers...

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    I guess, it is temporary... AI will improve. And anyway, if composer composed its work, he can hardly loose the trial. If it comes....

    Copyright is not based on instruments (real or virtual) or sounds (there might be some exceptions), it is based on score, arrangement and so.

    Using the same score with different instruments is still violation of copyright. While using the same patch for different scores is not violation of copyright. (Unless the patch would be so extremely unique and special that it might be covered by copyright....).

    If the platform would mark my creation as violating copyright, I would ask which composition do they thing it resembles... And if it is real different I would argue.....

    You may be right, NI and other producers of plugins and sounds might help their customers....

    By the way, may you give us a link to your tune on youtube to see what has been rejected on other platforms?

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member
    edited February 2022

    Thank you for your post, I actually found some of your text hugely insightful!


    "If the platform would mark my creation as violating copyright, I would ask which composition do they thing it resembles... And if it is real different I would argue....."

    The copyright strike I got from TuneCore was about a 'Mastered Recording'.

    Here is the text in an e-mail which I received from them:

    "Your release has been temporarily blocked in our front end review process. It appears that you are using the mastered instrumentals for these tracks (ie from the original artists’ versions). Any time you sample any part of a recording you did not record yourself, you MUST have a license from the owner of that original recording. You cannot distribute any content through TuneCore that you do not hold 100% distribution rights for."

    So the language is very vague, however, pretty damning and incorrect. This text refers to, on purpose, opening someone else's work, copying their recording and adding it to my sequencer, in order to construct my music by adding additional arrangements on top.

    If one of the film companies I worked for, attempted to release my music and for any reason this got back to them, this would put me in serious trouble, not to mention it would be hugely embarrassing.

    Producers haven't got a clue about how music works. This would make them think that I lifted mastered recordings...So TuneCore do not reference compositions, but a violation of using already existing recorded music, within my track.

    Regarding my Test track, I will attach it here for you, I just need to get access to it (in the studio). I uploaded it on YouTube privately (deleted it now) but it had no copyright restrictions, so, it's clearly the AI from TuneCore that flags it up when attempted to upload to TuneCore.

    Re: "If the platform would mark my creation as violating copyright, I would ask which composition do they thing it resembles... And if it is real different I would argue....."

    They don't get back to you from TuneCore, they only ask to confirm that you have licensed the music of the person or band from which the recording was copied.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    No, you understand it wrongly, IMHO.

    "It appears that you are using the mastered instrumentals for these tracks (ie from the original artists’ versions)."

    Means. It seems like some parts/fragments of your upload is simmilar/same as someone´s else (the Label) upload...

    "Any time you sample any part of a recording you did not record yourself, you MUST have a license from the owner of that original recording."

    You have not sampled anything, you used sounds licenced to you by NI (or the company/artist who produced Damage). Beside this, I do not know copyright precisely and it is different in different countries and changes in time. But in past it was OK to use up to 20 seconds or so and not violate copyright. It might be different now.....

    " You cannot distribute any content through TuneCore that you do not hold 100% distribution rights for."

    You do not violate it.


    So, I read it in the way. "We have the suscipion, your upload is derived work of the Label. Do you have all legal rights to release your upload?"

    And you may reply. Yes, I have all rights, it is my own song and I have used only SW and tools that I have licence to use. In case of need I may proove it.


    I understand it may be embarassing if your customer gets such a message. It might be good to warn them, it may happen. It will happen more and more anyway. You might even have few lines about it in the contract...

    And it is important to use only material that you have licence for. And keep projects, in the best case, all stages of development, not just the last one. So that your creational process may be prooved.

    And do not be fooled. Not all works are covered by copyright. There must be considerable amount of creativity.

    If a boy takes a project from Expansion modifies it a bit and "releases" it. Even on Label. It is very questonable it really has copyright protection.


    I am computer programmer. And customers have in their contracts, that I am responsible that I have all copyrights and that in case of need I have to be able to proove it.

    So, I store 30+ year old projects, including the progression of work and also the papers and notes showing the process of development. So that, if someone would claim, I made my work based on his work, I may proove it is not the true.

    Also time aspect plays role. Two people may do very similar thing either independently or one may be inspired by the other. So, if you may proove that you made facinating tune before release of someone else, you proove that you have not violated his copyright. You just happened to create similar tune at almost similar time, but not coppied his tune.....

    Simply, it may be invaluable to have well documented the creation process including the time stamp. You may send email to yourself with projects or something similar....

  • somecomposer
    somecomposer Member Posts: 14 Member
    edited February 2022

    Thank you for your insightful post yet again.

    Perhaps I did misunderstand it, but , some of the legal language on the rights verification e-mail sent to me is very vague and open to interpretation, something that I think was done on purpose.

    However, I agree that it was the case of confirming copyrights. But, if I have an issue understanding, being in the industry for 10 years, imagine what kids that just want their music on Spotify would make of this...

    Likewise, I also keep all my projects and there are stamped dates and time of creation, so all is documented.

    I confronted TuneCore. I mentioned all the VIs I used and I asked them why was the track rejected.

    Their response was that that the song was not rejected for copyright or using another artist's original masters, the DAW/VST I used was apparently never in question. It was asked of me to confirm if I have 100% copyrights to distribute the song.

    I appreciate their response, which I can now use should I come to any issues with a film company, however, they need to re-think their techniques here. I understand that it is about safeguarding themselves, but they can't put the fear of God in people, in order to do so....

    In any case, thinking about this further, even is I was to use a generic loop, and someone else would have published it first through TuneCore or a Publisher, and said person was to sue me that I used his/her music/creation, the lawsuit would fail, because said person didn't actually create said loop.

    It's only an issue of a Film Company questioning the legitimacy of a work as an original creation, to which at its worst would be an invalidation of a contract, as again, no damages can be caused as nobody really can claim the copyrights of a loop which is licensed for all uses by NI and similar companies.

    Thanks for all you extremely well put and insightful posts.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,761 Expert

    I guess they made the vague sounding of letter on purpose. It makes 'kids' to remove their works, professionals or people who do care will reply and say everything is OK. And it is also the way lawyers work, they often create the most foggy texts that may have multiple possible meanings....

    Of course they do not ask about licence for DAW or VST. What I meant is that beside the legal part, it becomes dangerous to use piracy copies of Kontakt libraries, loops and so on. AI software might it identify....

    I guess, if composers/creators 'fight back' makes companies to improve AI programs to better distinguish between nonlegal and legal similarity. One has to understand that the platforms are under the pressure from Labels to protect their rights. So they protect it as much as possible. At this time too much....

    I guess, it will gain an acceptable ballance, sooner or later. AI (or classification in general) is based on training sets. If there are false allerts, those cases should be used for retraining. And after some time those false allerts are avoided, the system learns, they are OK. It should work like this in ideal case. Reality may be more complicated....

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