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Art-of-Sound says

what about recording something like thunder from say… a youtube video of some guy filming a storm, and then mixing it into something completely different, such as a magical spell sound or something very different from the source sound?

Click “show more” button under a YouTube video. Right at the bottom of video info it shows the license. If it’s a CC license, there’s a possibility you can sample from the video, but “Standard YouTube License” implies “all rights reserved”, meaning that you can’t sample, copy, download or distribute the video/audio in any way. That’s what the law says. What says the common sense…well, everyone has his own common sense.

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Blinn says

Oh yeah…well common sense is on vacation for me half the time, so it’s good to know for sure now. Thanks :)

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MartijndeBont says

From the RightsForArtist.com website. This is about images but it’s the same for music or any other copyrighted work:

Can’t I take an image and change it to make it mine?

No. Because one of the exclusive rights granted under copyright is the individual right of the copyright owner to create derivative works from their original copyrighted material.

Modifying or altering an image is infringing upon the copyright owner’s rights unless expressed permission is granted or the modification falls under fair use (which is highly unlikely).

In a few court cases, a modified image was not considered infringement because the original image was no longer recognizable due to the extent and variety of the alterations.

Altering or modifying published works is strongly not recommended because most artists, writers, musicians, photographers, etc., can recognize their own work even through modifications.

Many people believe the “myth” that if they change an existing image a percentage (10%, 30%, etc.), then they can legally use the image. Be advised: that is not the law.

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Art-of-Sound says

Although the law is unambiguous in all that concern copy rights, let us be reasonable. For example: an artist uploads a video of his band playing a gig; someone in the crowd coughs; I sample the cough. Technically what I did is illegal, but the copyright holder truly doesn’t give a flying f about that random cough.

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adammonroe says

Thanks for the answers. :)

Now copying someone else’s work like that is something I never plan on doing at all. I just didn’t know where the line was when selling sounds recorded and mixed from computer-based sources.

@ Adammonroe – That’s where the confusion is with sound effects. I can record the sound of me clapping my hands, but what about recording something like thunder from say… a youtube video of some guy filming a storm, and then mixing it into something completely different, such as a magical spell sound or something very different from the source sound?

IMO You’d probably be ok. There is still a 0.000000001% chance the author might recognize it and get pissed, but in that case it seems highly unlikely. Someone producing a video is more worried about the greater content (the video) being stolen than they are small parts of it. People are less inclined to notice similarities between sound-effects anyway; think about how many times the Wilhelm scream gets used and people don’t notice it unless they are specifically waiting to hear it. Personally, if I were going to start producing sound effects, I’d probably try and make them 100% original, because therein lies the challenge, the joy, and the reward.

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