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Suggestion for infringing music

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NeonSpider
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@TomFulp I know you're recently removing a lot of submissions that have or are suspected of having infringing music.

I have a suggestion for preserving the Newgrounds history while at the same time removing the infringing music from those games/submissions, even in cases where the authors are long since gone or even passed away. It won't be ideal but should be better than just blank removing everything, so here goes.

First, you'll need to get ahold of some low level file format specifications and other relevant material. I know some of that exists for some of the newer swf files (ActionScript 3 stuff) but might be more difficult to find (or might have to just experiment around a bunch) on older swf files (ActionScript 2 stuff).

What you're going to want to do is find where the music is actually stored in the swf file itself. And then just depending what works best you're either going to overwrite it with silence of the exact same length, or if it's possible to remove the music entirely without breaking the file, and just properly resizing up everything else and fixing various pointers, this would also work but take more effort.

I'm sure the resources including music are likely stored in a similar way in at least most swf files, though extremely unlikely at the exact same location of course. Once you figure out how to parse this (via using the official low-level material from Adobe, and other unofficial low level material you can find, as well as just experimenting on your own), it then becomes entirely possible to write something like a swf file music stripper in C++ or whatever your language of preference.

Once you have that, and work out the bugs, you could then just run any potential infringing swf files through it and in theory should get out clean swf files without music, which would need to be tested to make sure they still work right, and reuploaded in place of the potentially infringing files.

This absolutely can be done. The only question is is anyone up to the task? I know for 100% this can be done, but it may not be easy to do. It definitely takes very low-level coding skills.

If you manage to do this, you then can potentially save a good amount of flash movies/games history, albeit with silence instead of music.

TomFulp
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At 3/5/18 03:43 PM, NeonSpider wrote: @TomFulp I know you're recently removing a lot of submissions that have or are suspected of having infringing music.

What you're going to want to do is find where the music is actually stored in the swf file itself. And then just depending what works best you're either going to overwrite it with silence of the exact same length, or if it's possible to remove the music entirely without breaking the file, and just properly resizing up everything else and fixing various pointers, this would also work but take more effort.

We spent some time trying to do this but ran into some big problems. For example, whenever audio was set to "stream", on compile all of the sounds and music become a single audio track, with all of the audio back to back and with sounds merged.

So for example in Randy's old sprite movies, the music and all the sound effects have been merged into one track. In those cases, you would have to rebuild the audio file with new music and sound effects built into the music, as well as timing everything out for other sounds and music that merged to be part of that single track. It would be an interesting project if people wanted to fund a full-time audio engineer to meticulously go through old content but I don't think anyone is going to fund it.

Making old content quiet is probably the way to go and we could still do that down the road since we aren't actually deleting anything. Maybe some day we can even develop an AI that recognizes and changes music in stuff. If anything is gonna happen in the near-term, it would need to be a volunteer project where we could give people access to unpublished files and they could attempt to fix them.


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NeonSpider
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-05 16:29:13 Reply

At 3/5/18 04:13 PM, TomFulp wrote: Making old content quiet is probably the way to go and we could still do that down the road since we aren't actually deleting anything. Maybe some day we can even develop an AI that recognizes and changes music in stuff. If anything is gonna happen in the near-term, it would need to be a volunteer project where we could give people access to unpublished files and they could attempt to fix them.

Yeah this is what I'm suggesting. Not ideal, but if your choices are Newgrounds history erased forever *or* silent submissions, IMO silent submissions may be preferable. Works for games anyway as you usually don't need the music to play the games. May require subtitling or something more involved and may not be worth the effort required for each individual submission.

That is why it will be best to design an automated approach, if possible. And you're right if you want to get supremely technical with it you would need to develop AI that could recognize and separate out audio speech from audio music, to remove music but leave the speech. That is way too complicated though. Possible? Yes. Difficulty level? NASA Scientist.

I was suggesting more just an automated way to silence out submissions. You want automated so you can just batch run these things.

One possible solution.

- Strip out the audio from the swf files as suggested.
- Run the audio through a speech-to-text program. May not be perfect but should pick out the speech and transcribe it the best it can.
- Take the output of that and run it through a speech synthesizer to get one of those robotic type voices talking the stuff
- Put that audio back in the files.

Still pretty weird and clunky but preferable to just removing submissions forever, maybe?

Cyberdevil
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At 3/5/18 04:13 PM, TomFulp wrote: If anything is gonna happen in the near-term, it would need to be a volunteer project where we could give people access to unpublished files and they could attempt to fix them.

Would love to see this become a bit of a community movement like the old Icon Helpers projects. Especially with incentive (maybe in the form of a counter or toplist regarding user contributions) I'd be happy to join in. Could maybe have a phase of mod/admin-approval before edits go live as to make sure replacements uphold the original quality/style.

As for the suggestion on batch-editing and silence: I agree it'd be better with submissions without sound than no submissions at all. For video files in particular it seems easy to simply cut out the audio stream, for Flash: maybe automatic conversion via Swivel first; then cutting out the audio stream, in lack of a better way?

Having an automated process first, so submissions stay up when possible, and volunteers working in the background on adding in/replacing audio in the originals overtime seems ideal, with two sets of files for auto-corrected work so nothing gets overwritten. With enough contributors it wouldn't be that big a burden/person.

Notes on submission pages regarding audio changes would be neat too, maybe a standard/automated one on silent submissions, noting why they're silent, and manual notes on edited ones regarding what has been changed. If original authors do come back later on and wish to make changes themselves it'd be useful reference too.

Hope this becomes a thing! Sad to see all those submissions going down without ETA on when they'll be up again...

TomFulp
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-06 09:28:27 Reply

At 3/6/18 07:15 AM, Cyberdevil wrote: Notes on submission pages regarding audio changes would be neat too, maybe a standard/automated one on silent submissions, noting why they're silent, and manual notes on edited ones regarding what has been changed. If original authors do come back later on and wish to make changes themselves it'd be useful reference too.

This is another thing we would need to address - we would need to be sure the original files don't get overwritten and are kept as back-ups... Ideally with a copyright date on file that would swap the original file back in after the copyright expires (I would be really old or dead before a lot of that happens but it's nice to assume NG will still be around).


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Cyberdevil
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-06 11:44:48 Reply

At 3/6/18 09:28 AM, TomFulp wrote: This is another thing we would need to address - we would need to be sure the original files don't get overwritten and are kept as back-ups... Ideally with a copyright date on file that would swap the original file back in after the copyright expires (I would be really old or dead before a lot of that happens but it's nice to assume NG will still be around).

Yeah that'd be ideal. :) Didn't consider copyright expiry. Might be that copyright law changes sooner than expected too. Maybe a fair use clause is made granting use of copyright audio within certain forms of media, or non-profit work, for example. I am hoping for a drastic change in copyright law during my lifetime...

Hope files that have been replaced so far had some sort of backup in place too!

NeonSpider
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-06 16:44:19 Reply

At 3/6/18 11:44 AM, Cyberdevil wrote:
At 3/6/18 09:28 AM, TomFulp wrote: This is another thing we would need to address - we would need to be sure the original files don't get overwritten and are kept as back-ups... Ideally with a copyright date on file that would swap the original file back in after the copyright expires (I would be really old or dead before a lot of that happens but it's nice to assume NG will still be around).
Yeah that'd be ideal. :) Didn't consider copyright expiry.

I wouldn't count on it. Steamboat Willie, a cartoon from 1928, is still copyright protected and Disney is infamous for fighting tooth and nail to keep extending copyright, indefinitely if they can.

Ideally copyright should last no more than 20 years, with no possibility to renew but sadly that is not the case. I could see granting an initial period of 10 years, with renewal required for an additional 5 years and then a second renewal for an additional 5 (making 20) and no more ever.

Or another possibility I've heard is allow the continuing copyright, but require renewals every so often (maybe once every 5 years?) and make the renewal fee exponentially more expensive than the previous for each additional renewal. So eventually companies would decide, yeah, it's not worth it at some point and stop renewing.

Cyberdevil
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-07 06:25:24 Reply

At 3/6/18 04:44 PM, NeonSpider wrote: I wouldn't count on it. Steamboat Willie, a cartoon from 1928, is still copyright protected and Disney is infamous for fighting tooth and nail to keep extending copyright, indefinitely if they can.

Which is why we really need a copyright reform soon. Though: there's a large difference between a profitable full-scale Disney movie and an audio track used in some submission here. Even if no major copyright reform takes place I'm hopeful about possible exemptions for such things. Fair use, for example, came about in the 1990s, and since then we've had Creative Commons, Copyleft and a surplus of alternative licensing forms and anti-copyright movements that keep growing. I feel like things might be moving in the right direction.

Ideally copyright should last no more than 20 years, with no possibility to renew but sadly that is not the case. I could see granting an initial period of 10 years, with renewal required for an additional 5 years and then a second renewal for an additional 5 (making 20) and no more ever.

Or another possibility I've heard is allow the continuing copyright, but require renewals every so often (maybe once every 5 years?) and make the renewal fee exponentially more expensive than the previous for each additional renewal. So eventually companies would decide, yeah, it's not worth it at some point and stop renewing.

That might be good, yes. What I'd like most of all however is simply certain circumstances in which copyright work can be used without issue. Non-profit stuff for example. For educational purpose. For purpose of learning. For activities and products that should bypass this eternal search for profit. Patents too really limit what new technologies can be developed and what uses they can be put too. It's become less of a right and more a restriction, where large corporations use the law to keep the competition at bay; attain a monopoly on certain aspects of our lives. This really isn't what 'copyright' was designed to accomplish. It should be a right, not a restriction.

NeonSpider
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-07 06:37:52 Reply

At 3/7/18 06:25 AM, Cyberdevil wrote: Fair use, for example, came about in the 1990s, and since then we've had Creative Commons, Copyleft and a surplus of alternative licensing forms and anti-copyright movements that keep growing. I feel like things might be moving in the right direction.

Not true at all. We've had fair use rights long before the 1990s. In fact we had more legal rights in the 1980s regarding fair use than we have today. Things are definitely moving in the wrong direction and have been for quite a long time.

Though of course I speak only from an American perspective, so this may differ from how it is in your country.

There were things you could legally do in the 80s which are illegal today. Things which harmed no one. Things which were made illegal only because corporations -- big business -- decided they didn't like the freedoms that people had in regards to fair use rights, and so those very same corporations (rather than the people of the United States) lobbied the government and paid off various folks to get the laws they wanted.

The American people didn't want this crap. Who wants fewer rights? But the government tends to listen to the corporations and not the people.

Cyberdevil
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At 3/7/18 06:37 AM, NeonSpider wrote: Not true at all. We've had fair use rights long before the 1990s. In fact we had more legal rights in the 1980s regarding fair use than we have today. Things are definitely moving in the wrong direction and have been for quite a long time.

Ah, I stand corrected. The Creative Commons movement started at the shift of millennia at least, that much I know, and they've been spreading pretty steadily since then. I feel good things are happening after all, when accepted standards and perspectives change so might the legislation, no matter how big the commercial interest.

Though of course I speak only from an American perspective, so this may differ from how it is in your country.

Yes, I don't know much about how it is in the US of course, though considering I frequent mostly American sites, many of them licensed under CC, open source, etc, I think my viewpoint reflects Internet norm overall rather than my home country. Local brands all still very much rely on regular copyright, as I assume they do in most places.

There were things you could legally do in the 80s which are illegal today. Things which harmed no one. Things which were made illegal only because corporations -- big business -- decided they didn't like the freedoms that people had in regards to fair use rights, and so those very same corporations (rather than the people of the United States) lobbied the government and paid off various folks to get the laws they wanted.

Curious about these changes, any particular newer limitations that come to mind?

The American people didn't want this crap. Who wants fewer rights? But the government tends to listen to the corporations and not the people.

Yeah I do agree with that, in a way it seems like corporations are becoming the the new government. They've had power a long time, of course, but with the global market and a goodwill towards free competition the large companies have grown huge, and have an influence over way too many areas of our society.

Regarding that it's definitely the same over here, yet all the while this is going on new decentralized technologies are being introduced, like cryptocurrency, protocols like IPFS, and all the while copyrightless content continues to grow. In the realm of media and IT, at least, I do feel things are slowly going the right way, no matter the corporate setbacks regarding Net Neutrality that shizzle. When enough people are educated/enlightened regarding the limitations and injustices of current copyright practice, and centralized control, the moneyman minority won't be able to hold back the progress anymore. That's what I believe.

NeonSpider
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-08 09:24:45 Reply

At 3/8/18 09:07 AM, Cyberdevil wrote:
At 3/7/18 06:37 AM, NeonSpider wrote: There were things you could legally do in the 80s which are illegal today. Things which harmed no one. Things which were made illegal only because corporations -- big business -- decided they didn't like the freedoms that people had in regards to fair use rights, and so those very same corporations (rather than the people of the United States) lobbied the government and paid off various folks to get the laws they wanted.
Curious about these changes, any particular newer limitations that come to mind?

Pretty much everything went to crap after DMCA and Patriot Act. Those would be the main ones. But for example you could legally do certain types of reverse engineering in the 1980s which might get you in trouble nowadays.

There's a lot of fair use rights that you have, but the problem is newer laws effectively nullify them. Because, while you might have a base right to do a certain thing, yet the only way to do that thing is ruled illegal. So you really don't have the same fair use rights as in the past.

For example, you may have a legal right to reverse-engineer something. However, if you must break encryption to do so, that breaking of encryption is what tends to violate DMCA or similar. Thus you are legally prevented from exercising your fair use rights. You may technically still have those rights, but not legally being allowed to use them is equivalent to not having them.

If you want to keep up with this stuff just check around the EFF website and similar. It's all about your rights online.

Cyberdevil
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Response to Suggestion for infringing music 2018-03-08 11:07:49 Reply

At 3/8/18 09:24 AM, NeonSpider wrote: Pretty much everything went to crap after DMCA and Patriot Act. Those would be the main ones. But for example you could legally do certain types of reverse engineering in the 1980s which might get you in trouble nowadays.

Ah, both of those are indeed acts we don't have here. Similar counterparts maybe, but nothing really the same.

For example ... if you must break encryption to do so, that breaking of encryption is what tends to violate DMCA or similar. Thus you are legally prevented from exercising your fair use rights.

Seems for heavier IT work: heavier restrictions, and ones most people wouldn't know about either... interesting. Could definitely use some educating the masses on those parts.

If you want to keep up with this stuff just check around the EFF website and similar. It's all about your rights online.

Will do.