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Thread: Pirate game soundtracks! Check your discs!

  1. #1
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Default Pirate game soundtracks! Check your discs!

    Sorry about the long post, but this is important information! It's been brought to my attention that some people are unaware of the rampant piracy in the import game soundtrack market. Basically, what everyone should know is that the VAST majority of all the game (and anime) soundtracks available online are pirated. 99% of all the game soundtracks on eBay are pirated, and even some of the regular stores sell pirated ones.

    What, you may be asking, am I talking about? Well, to sum it up, here's a bit of information I've taken from the links at the bottom of my post. It was far faster to borrow this (thanks to Daryl of www.ffmusic.info) than it was to retype it. The information is public knowledge these days too, but it seems like a lot of people just don't know:

    "The two most popular companies that have pirated FF CDs are SonMay (SM) and EverAnime (EA), both of which are in Taiwan. SM has been around for some time. EA seems to have popped up back in late 1999; I remember the first eBay auction I saw of an EA FF CD (got all those acronyms? ^_~). It was of Grand Finale, and I seriously thought it was an original. After that, EA became very widespread.

    Now why, you may ask, are Taiwan companies pirating CDs? Here's the situation in a nutshell, most of which is from my own cursory research, so if I've got some details incorrect, please email me, preferably with a link to the Website from which you got your info. I will correct my information once I verify the accuracy of the details you send me.

    There is a treaty, called the Berne Convention, between certain countries resulting from a series of conventions that was first held in 1886. It's called the "Berne" Convention because the treaty was first signed in Berne, Germany, in 1886. Successive conventions have updated and revised the treaty, and I believe the latest revision is dated 1979. These conventions hold that a copyrighted work in one member country will be recognized by other member countries. The owner's copyright lasts for his/her lifespan plus 75 years after his/her death. (I believe current U.S. law holds that the copyright lasts for only 50 years after death; I'm not sure if the law was changed.) I believe that at last count, 96 countries had signed the Berne treaty.

    Taiwan and China did not sign the Berne Convention and so were not bound by its restrictions. Therefore, in these countries, it was legal to reproduce a person's work (including music, books, software...) without having to go through the legal channels of getting a license, paying royalties to the creator, etc. This is why bootlegging and piracy are rampant in Taiwan and China.

    However, so I am told, Taiwan and China joined the World Trade Organization in November 2001, and the WTO has strict rules about intellectual property and copyrights. What does this mean? It means that Taiwan and China are now obligated, under WTO rules, to outlaw piracy and crack down on it.

    One thing that must be made clear is that the Berne Convention is, strictly speaking, *not* a part of the WTO. The Berne treaty existed before the WTO (the WTO was established in 1995). However, according to the WTO website, the WTO's rules on intellectual property are stricter than those laid out in the Berne Convention.

    This, to me, presents an interesting dilemma. If a country signed the Berne Convention but is not a WTO member, then that country follows rules that are supposedly more lax. Of course, this is a moot point if all the Berne signees are also WTO members (but do you realize how amazingly difficult it is to find on the 'Net who signed the Berne treaty?! It's incredible...).

    With all that said...I first encountered bootlegs when I bought the FF6 OSV. I inadvertently bought the SM version. I didn't think much of the issue, because they were the first VGM I owned, and I wasn't even aware that there *was* an issue. (And, as I have discovered, that is how most other people learn about the issue, as well.) Then I came across the original Japan release, and to say the least, I was stunned. I let a friend listen to both releases, and he came back a few weeks later saying that the SM CDs sounded slightly inferior, but that was because he'd played them on a really good sound system. For most of us, who use regular CD players or boomboxes, it probably won't make much of a sound difference.
    Got all that? The strange thing is that eBay, Amazon, and even sometimes reputable places like gamemusic.com allow the sale of these pirated works. And it's not even remotely in question that they're 100% illegal to sell outside of Taiwan and China, yet still the flow increases of the pirate soundtracks every week! There are also other smaller pirate companies pirating game and anime soundtracks (such as Alion and others) but SonMay and Everanime are the biggest.

    Pirate companies:
    Sonmay Records
    Everanime International Record Company
    Alion

    As for reputable companies, you know your soundtrack is not a bootleg if it's made (and published) by:
    Digicube
    Victor
    King Records
    Falcom
    Capcom
    Konami
    Tokuma
    Tokyo Pop (who do domestic releases)
    Atlus
    Squaresoft
    Freetron (Far East) Company

    I'll add to that list if anyone knows any others I missed (pirate or reputable), that's just going from my personal collection.

    Here are some refereces for the information:
    A bit of information here (under the Audio CDs section) and lots about other pirate merchandise: http://www.digital.anime.org.uk/piratefaq.html

    Check out the disclaimer here at Robert's Anime (very well known store): http://www.animecornerstore.com/ancdsounhp.html

    Also check gametz.com's restricted items list:
    http://gametz.com/FAQ.html#restricted

    News article that mentions Pioneer making a press released about SM and Everanime soundtracks
    http://anime-tourist.com/article.php?sid=471

    A bit of info about the Everanime/Sonmay pirates (thanks to Daryl for the above quote!):
    http://www.ffmusic.info/comments.html#7


    Any thoughts people?
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

  2. #2
    Peach (Level 3)
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    Thanks for the informative post! I always wondered why so many boots seem to stream out of that area.

    Oh yeah--When you asked about my Drac CD I had a small panic attack lol
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    Insert Coin (Level 0)
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    Actualy...
    Just something to add to the music piracy thing...

    I think the game music doesn't follow the normal rules for music I think...

    As game music isn't licensed music (in most cases)
    so that might explain why there's pirated music on ebay...
    +very few mention what company the CDs are from..
    I've actualy see people sell CDs with MP3s and even homemade soundtracks (Megaman 7 is a very common one)

  4. #4
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carnivol
    Actualy...
    Just something to add to the music piracy thing...

    I think the game music doesn't follow the normal rules for music I think...

    As game music isn't licensed music (in most cases)
    so that might explain why there's pirated music on ebay...
    +very few mention what company the CDs are from..
    I've actualy see people sell CDs with MP3s and even homemade soundtracks (Megaman 7 is a very common one)
    That's not even remotely true. All the music is still copyrighted by either the composers or the companies that made the games. Why would it be unlicensed? That doesn't make any sense. Very few mention where the CDs are from because they KNOW they're selling illegal pirates of the music. I'ts all very illegal, whether eBay allows it or not.
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Thing is, since it's unlicensed music... I think it follows some other rules when it comes to copying and distributing...

    Not sure though...

    Only thing I know is that there was some case about this several years ago...
    It ended with the piracy winning 'cause the game music wasn't licensed as "real" music... (duh...)

    Well, anyway, I'm just typing what I know, feel free to correct me.
    But don't start acting rude!

  6. #6
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carnivol
    Thing is, since it's unlicensed music... I think it follows some other rules when it comes to copying and distributing...

    Not sure though...

    Only thing I know is that there was some case about this several years ago...
    It ended with the piracy winning 'cause the game music wasn't licensed as "real" music... (duh...)

    Well, anyway, I'm just typing what I know, feel free to correct me.
    But don't start acting rude!
    Not being rude. Just stating the facts. Game music, and ESPECIALLY game music soundtracks are covered by international copyrights just like any other created work. Nothing makes them subject to different laws just because it's from a game. In fact, the music CDs that are pirated are covered by copyright protection, and the in-game music is ALSO covered by separate protection stemming from the copyright on the source code and original ideas of the game. The music is part of that copyright on the content of the game, and when it's published separately, automatically covered by copyright protections for both music and the game content. The game companies also make sure that their characters, music, and concepts are copyrighted as well.

    The ONLY reason this crap makes it out on the market is because of the Taiwan and HK not signing the Berne Convention. However, it's still illegal to sell it outside of Taiwan and HK, whether eBay allows it or not. It's pirated material, pure and simple, just as if you'd ripped the msuic from the ROM and sold it....100% illegal.

    Not only is game music "real" music, but it's also made by someone who owns the rights to it. Copying it is theft, and selling those copies is piracy, pure and simple. There are no grey areas in the definitions. Someone else created it, so that person (or company the person works for) owns the rights, not the HK and Taiwan pirates. Read the links that I provided above. They explain why these things can be made in HK and Taiwan. There's still no legal way of selling them Stateside though. It's illegal no matter what.
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Insert Coin (Level 0)
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    Oh, well...

    Anyway, I'd be pretty much pissed off if I figured out I wanted to get the Rockman 1-6 soundtrack or something (or FFVII reunion or whatever soundtrack I'd might end up buying) if I got it and figured out it was a fake...

  8. #8
    Great Puma (Level 12) sisko's Avatar
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    These types of CD's are actually labelled as "greymarket," and I'm not sure its entirely illegal to sell them in a retail establishment. If it is then about a dozen stores in Phoenix are selling illegal merchandise.

    To be honest, I don't even know where to buy original anime soundtracks except for online. I know of one store that sells legit game soundtracks, but their selection is limited to 3 or 4 FF cds.

    I never had a problem with buying one of these though. If it was truly illegal, I would have figured that all these stores would have stopped selling them long ago. Plus they are a fraction of a cost (anywhere between 50-75% cheaper!!).

    The only downsides are decreased audio quality (hardly detectable without a really good cd player, receiver and ear), poor disc art and less than spectacular jewel cases/inserts


    All that aside though...

    Anyway, I just saw this on the back of a Ever Anime case...

    "All rights of the produeer (note the typo) and of the owner of the work reproduced reserved."
    .
    Next line:

    "Unauthorized copying , hiring lending, public performance and broadcasting of this recording prohibited."

    Hypocrisy anyone?

    Also, if you really want to refrain from buying one of these greymarket cd's, you should know how to distinguish them!

    I don't know about Alion, but Sonmay's logo is typically located on the back towards the bottom. It looks like a a big SM with a white line going through the letters.

    Ever anime is located in the same place, and has a rainbow gradient logo that says "EVER Anime." Fairly obvious, no?

    Another greymarket company not mentioned is Archer Records Co., LTD Same spot, but has crossed arrow and 8th note for a logo.

    Other legitimate companies not mentioned are:
    SMILE
    Pony Canyon
    and Columbia.

  9. #9
    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Quote Originally Posted by sisko
    These types of CD's are actually labelled as "greymarket,"
    No they're not. Grey-market refers to selling legal imported software, etc. Because there's a 'grey area.' There's no grey area with Ever Anime CDs. They're illegal.

    and I'm not sure its entirely illegal to sell them in a retail establishment.
    It is. Entirely.

    If it is then about a dozen stores in Phoenix are selling illegal merchandise.
    They are. Entirely.

    If it was truly illegal
    It is.

    Plus they are a fraction of a cost (anywhere between 50-75% cheaper!!)
    That's because they're illegal.
    Chris Kohler

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    Smile Face another bootleg company too?
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=13667
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    Pear (Level 6) ventrra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaine23
    Smile Face another bootleg company too?
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=13667
    Apparently. It is listed in one in the FAQ in maxlords' first link. (With a pic of their logo, too!)

  12. #12
    Pac-Man (Level 10) Ascending Wordsmith's Avatar
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    Can anyone tell if this CD is from a pirate company?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ory=27247&rd=1

    At the bottom of the CD cover, I see what appears to be GiGa. Can anyone confirm this?
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    Great Puma (Level 12) sisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PC Kwajalein
    Can anyone tell if this CD is from a pirate company?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ory=27247&rd=1

    At the bottom of the CD cover, I see what appears to be GiGa. Can anyone confirm this?
    It looks fake to me. Note the cheap case, generic "manual" and disc color.

  14. #14
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Actually, a lot of the official soundtracks come in those white jewel cases, and it's VERY hard to tell at that angle what the disc looks like. I'd say it's a 50/50 bet either way. Might be a pirate, might not. If I had to guess, I'd say it's probably not, simply cause it's such an obscure soundtrack, and the priates rarely bother with those. Usually they do more mainstream recent stuff, or ones that are selling for big money, like the Castlevania ones.
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Great Puma (Level 12) sisko's Avatar
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    From what I am aware of, Sega ususally makes their own soundtracks. Isn't it odd that there is no Sega logo to be seen?

    It looks like a standard CD-R to me. Several bootleg companies have different colors of CD's, but I have yet to see an official one other than silver.

    $25 is a bit high for a bootleg disc, but not a total loss. I wouldn't bid any more though.

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    The seller confirmed that Giga was in fact the publisher. Of the pirate companies I've seen listed (SonMay, EverAnime, Alion, Archer Records, or Golden Diamond Music) Giga wasn't listed.

    The seller also says he'll send me a pic of the disc. I'll post it here once I get it. To buy a pirated soundtrack is my idea of selling secrets to the Soviets during the Cold War. It just ain't in my best interests!
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  17. #17
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sisko
    From what I am aware of, Sega ususally makes their own soundtracks. Isn't it odd that there is no Sega logo to be seen?

    It looks like a standard CD-R to me. Several bootleg companies have different colors of CD's, but I have yet to see an official one other than silver.

    $25 is a bit high for a bootleg disc, but not a total loss. I wouldn't bid any more though.

    It's not a blank silver disc, I can tell, it's just at a REALLY bad angle. IT has a black strip across the center...which is probably the label on the disc.

    As for Sega, well, they didn't make Steam Hearts. It's madea nd published by TGL. It's a 3rd party game, and also released on the Duo...also by TGL.
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Well, guess what? I just learned that the Zelda Wind Waker soundtrack that I bought and honestly thought that it was legit, isn't. It's an Alion CD (the reprod is well done, though. You'd have to have seen the original Japanese release to tell the difference. Actually, looking closely at it, you can see that it's a color copy, not a professionally printed front sleeve, but I originally thought that the subdued colors might be linked to WW's visual style.). And I bought it from a well-established anime rental place in Montreal, not from a Chinatown questionable shop.

    BTW, the Alion marking is indicated as such: in the back of the case, at the bottom, it says "Alion International Records Co., Ltd." The logo resembles the kind of logo you'd see from a legit record company (it's a black square with "Alion" written its lower part). Oh, and it does say, "Made in Taiwan". I just found on a reputable website (http://www.cocoebiz.com) the product number for the official Japanese release of the Wind Waker soundtrack: SCDC-00250~00251. The "product number" on the spine of my copy says, ALCA-8160/1.

    This is the second time it happens to me in recent times (I realized not too long ago that the copy of Mazinkaiser I bought off a friend was definitely a Taiwan bootleg). I have to admit that it's a lot less obvious with the CD itself.

    To tell the truth, I'd rather just download the tracks online than buy Taiwanese bootlegs.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Jaye
    To tell the truth, I'd rather just download the tracks online than buy Taiwanese bootlegs.
    I hear you there.

    Friend of mine thought he'd found a bunch of rare Akumajo Dracula soundtracks the other day (really old stuff, too) and bought $50 worth of Ever Anime bootlegs...grr...and he said he'd buy more anyways! Gotta go saw his fingers off now.

  20. #20
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Jaye
    To tell the truth, I'd rather just download the tracks online than buy Taiwanese bootlegs.
    I hear you there.

    Friend of mine thought he'd found a bunch of rare Akumajo Dracula soundtracks the other day (really old stuff, too) and bought $50 worth of Ever Anime bootlegs...grr...and he said he'd buy more anyways! Gotta go saw his fingers off now.
    Honestly, I'd settle for the bootleg of Dracula New Classics I can't find that one ANYWHERE!
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    welp............. when we all grow old and die it wont matter much so
    here are my thoughts on that.

    i can see if they are trying to get too much loot out of you for a pirate game music cd, thats one thing.
    But if you were making them for friends or something i dont have problems with that...

    I mean technically, if you bought the game, you already bought the music.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PC Kwajalein
    The seller confirmed that Giga was in fact the publisher. Of the pirate companies I've seen listed (SonMay, EverAnime, Alion, Archer Records, or Golden Diamond Music) Giga wasn't listed.
    While this is months late, GIGA is a Japanese game company. TGL is a part of GIGA. GIGA has made soundtrack cds but not sure if it ever sold them outright. Don't really know enough about that part. I know they've had some of their game soundtracks released via other cd distribution companies and released other soundtracks as pack-ins with their own products.
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    I'd strongly recommend downloading some songs and burning your own disc over buying a bootleg. Sure, it's still illegal and hurts the business of the real companies, but it's the lesser of two evils. At least you're not funding the groups that are killing the game music industry, and you're not putting money in the pockets of people who are most likely a part of organized crime. It really doesn't sit well with me the thought that my money could be going to someone selling drugs or murdering people or who knows what... I personally don't download entire albums, though. I want to support the composers I love, so I take the effort to get official copies of the soundtracks I want. Granted, half of the albums I buy are used and thus no longer bring profit to the companies or composer... :/

  25. #25
    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Exactly. Most of the Sonmay/Everanime stuff I've gotten is used, so they don't bring any profits in to the pirates. Just avoid buying the stuff sealed from resellers on eBay and the net and you'll be fine. Basically, those of us outside of Japan can't really support out favorite game composers in any noticeable way, considering how unbelievably hard it is to get new game soundtracks when they come out. 99% of ALL my soundtracks were bought used, from friends, or on clearance somewhere. They're almost impossible to find new. I try to get originals as much as possible, but it's VERY difficult. My best recommendation is to try to avoid buying pirates if you can, but ultimately, get the music and enjoy it, and that's as much of a tribute to the composers as any of us can REALLY make.
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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