Fair Use of Sample Tunes / Tones


I have scratched together an early prototype for a game and I’ve borrowed 2 tunes from another game (Flappy Ball) as a placeholder. That game does not include a license on the source code in GitHub. This brings me to another question I have in general. Is there an acceptable level of fair use since this is open source that makes sense? I don’t mind holding off on showing demos until I have my own sounds developed but I’d like some early feedback on the concept.

Anyways, before I post any examples of my game for feedback, I thought I’d see what you all thought about this.


I’d say if it’s available publicly and doesn’t contain a licence, then you can do whatever you wish with it. That’s the attitude I took when I made modifications to Flappy Ball.

If you use some of the code or data permanently in your new work (not just temporarily during development), as a courtesy I would include an attribution of the name of the original work and its author(s), that your code was derived from.

I’m replying to MLXXXp, but this is as much to everyone else as this is for him: Technically, at least in Finland and I think this is true in most of Western world, you can’t use a piece of software at all if you don’t have a permission. It doesn’t need to be a proper license like GPL or BSD, but any written permission to use, copy and modify would suffice. The code is Open Source if and only if it’s licensed under a license (which can be even a very short self-written text) that meets certain conditions, so you can not assume something is Open Source. Anyway it’s recommended to use OSI approved licenses instead of writing your own.

If you don’t want to restrict people from using your software for any purpose, MIT-license is a good choice and you really need just one file (LICENSE or COPYING is typical, but any file is okay, so part of README is fine too) that has the text. Often people add it to every single file and that’s a good practise IMO. Missing licenses have been a problem for Github.

I would also advise against just putting some claim that it’s under some, albeit well-known, license without license text. If that text was ever changed, you wouldn’t know it and that might cause some confusion. Luckily major licenses like GPL and Apache use version numbers and aren’t changed without creating a new version.

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, I’ve just read stuff about software licensing and Open Source.

So @Tomin, how would you answer @icodealot’s question about “borrowing” code from Flappy Ball, which contains no license?

And, how do you feel about my having modified Flappy Ball to make it playable?

Well, my advise is this: The code original code is taken from here. If you take a better look into that repository, you’ll find out that there is actually a LICENSE file there. It has some conditions (it’s BSD license) that should be easy to meet. As far as I can find there is no exception for examples so they are under the same license. So, if the conditions in that file are followed, then there is no problem. Whether you’ll need to copy that LICENSE file’s copyright notices or not, depends on whether you’ll redistribute it.

Open Source allows code reuse and studying of code. Therefore you can always look into the code and learn new tricks. For personal use you don’t need to care much about the license even if the code is used in another work (program), just when you redistribute some consideration is needed.

[quote=“MLXXXp, post:4, topic:2140”]
And, how do you feel about my having modified Flappy Ball to make it playable?[/quote]

I think you should include those copyright notices, unless the copyright holder of the original code has given you permission to distribute that code without them (for example if there is a text that examples can be used freely, no rights reserved). Anyway, as far as I know the easiest here would be to include a compatible license with needed copyright marks with the code. When I say compatible, I mean a license that has at least the same restrictions as the original, i.e. it doesn’t have to be BSD.

Anyway I don’t have a problem. It’s between you and the copyright holder, whoever that is.

With my message above I wanted to remind that although with Arduboy things are usually Open Source, we can not assume that everything Arduboy related is automatically Open Source. Therefore it’s important that, when you release something, some kind of permission to use (and modify, redistribute) is given. The best is to use an Open Source license.

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Thanks to you all for commenting on this thread.

Until I work through the Midi -> Tune / HEX process, and what sound effects I want, I’ll use those tunes with attribution and a reference to the project per the license.


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