Can I pull sound effects for guns out of COD?

Can I just rip some sound effects out of video games for mine? I am going to sell it as well. I really like the sound effects for a lot of those guns, and the 3D models (though I know I can’t take those so I’ll just get them off sketchfab). Just wanna know copyright laws since that’s not my thing

No, you will absolutely get sued.

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Check out Splice or Soundsnap

Also, for anything you find on the internet you need to make sure you have copyright permission as well. People post all kinds of stuff including ripped 3D models from games so just because it’s a free download somewhere doesn’t mean that it will be OK for you to use.

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so then how do I make sure the sound effects aren’t ripped?

How to make sure your sound effects are unlikely to be ripped:

  1. If you make them yourself in a tool of your own – Cubase, Audition, SuperCollider, FL Studio, Ableton, WaveLab, Pro Tools, Logic, … Or just get a good synth/sampler, and use the libraries that come with it. Something like Kontakt, or even Reaktor, or the built-in Operator in Ableton.
  2. You buy a sample pack from a sample pack provider. The more established this provider is (long history, etc,) the more likely it is that they didn’t rip the sounds, and generally this also means they charge more.
  3. If you get a sample pack (either paid-for, or download from the internet,) the more “base” the samples are, the more likely they are to be, if not clear of copyright, at least much harder to track down :slight_smile: A single bang without effects is much less likely to be ripped than a multi-part gunshot effect with reverb, trigger sounds, and recoil. (But you can’t know for sure either way.)
  4. if you process the sounds you’re using sufficiently that they are a full transformation, then you are unlikely to actually be in trouble. Thus, if you have three different sounds that are of unknown provenance from a low-cost sample pack, and you use the wind-up from one, the trigger from another, and the follow-through from the third one, and you then EQ it and add your own compression and other effects, then you’re much less likely to be in trouble – unless you knowingly stole the sounds in the first place.

If you can’t find copyright information that tells you how you’re allowed to use it then you can’t be sure that it will be OK for you to use it.


You would be in violation of Copyright Law.

I have worked 40+ years writing software. If the video games use material that is copyrighted with the proviso that they must share the code, they MUST provide it. You can THEN contact the company (letter, not email) and request access to the material.

The odds of anyone replying? Next to nil. What are you going to do? Sue? Good luck with that.

However, randomly ripping from a game could land you in a heap of trouble. They could bankrupt you just through lawyer’s fees alone — before it even went to court. You could be in paying a lawyer for years.

So, now, how cheap do you think those sound files are?

There are plenty of inexpensive SFX available for a good price. Buy them. Being cheap and gambling YOU won’t be taken to court is a bad gamble. I know of a TINY one man operation who keeps lawyers busy by taking people to court over copyright infringement. And he wins.

Just because you can do it doesn’t mean it is legal.

This is horrible advice and does not change the fact you are violating copyright law (yes, people have already thought of this)

Modification of a copyrighted work in order to avoid copyright is still a copyright violation. What this writer is discussing is considered a “derivative work” and only the copyright owner can authorize that. Not a third party.

Processing a sound to avoid copyright is STILL violation copyright. Because only the copyright holder can authorize that and, considering he is talking about AVOIDING entangling the copyright holder, he is talking about breaking the law.

It is a lose-lose situation.

Just buy a SFX bundle. They are cheap and you have the right to distribute them in your games.

I think you misunderstand me. When I say “sample pack of unknown provenance,” I don’t mean “CODRIPS.ZIP from HOTGARBAGE.IO.”
I mean a sample pack that claims to be royalty free, but it’s sold for $49 from some company you never heard of. E g, you’ve done enough due diligence, but there’s always a chance that someone you rely on is lying.

When it comes to “transformative use,” there totally is fair use when something is transformed enough, and such works do not need original permission.

What is “enough?” What is “transformed?” If someone really cares, it has to be settled in court, which is a place nobody wants to be, no matter whether they’re right or wrong.

So, the main goal is to not get to court.

How do you not get to court?

By creating a sound that doesn’t sound like someone else’s sound. If it sounds significantly different, it’s a new sound, and if someone still somehow complains, if you can show diligence, then you’re in a pretty good position. (Someone might still complain for reasons of being mistaken or just plain lying, too. And if they have more money/lawyers than you, it might be cheaper to settle than the prove you’re actually-right. Nothing is certain! Some company is filing claims about any video with “typing keyboard noises” on YouTube. They might be wrong, but they’re still a nuisance!)

That sounds like exactly my advice, except my additional concern is: “what happens when that SFX bundle was made by the bad guy?”
If you further process the sounds, then you’re in a better place with less risk.

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well it mostly depends on which country u r from. in my case it doesn’t even matter if I rip off an entire game and publish it, they’re not gonna come after me cuz international copyright laws don’t apply here.

The real answer is that it depends on the use case you make of the item.

Read up on fair use.

As a general rule of thumb. Make your own ■■■■ sounds.
Buy recording equipment (phone and a decent mic will do).
Book a session with a local gun-range owner OR an NRA instructor.
Those folks will be more than happy to actually show you much more than what you think you know about guns/gun safety and won’t cost you too much to book.
Make sure to ask for specific gun models so they can source them. and ask them to operate them in front of the mic, while also explaining to you how they work and why so you can replicate it in game with accuracy unlike COD…


You are correct. I misunderstood you.

I’m glad you clarified, because I’m sure I was not the only one!

HOWEVER see my next post… you made a serious blunder here…

This is incorrect. I validated my answer with US Copyright office before posting it. ANY derivative work of a copyrighted work REQUIRES the original owners permission. “Transformative” is considered to be derivative. The ONLY time transformative can be used legally is in fair use and, well, just avoid fair use altogether.

Fair use is a INCREDIBLY sticky subject but you will most likely lose if the product is for sale. Commercial products RARELY fall under fair use. I would not attempt to argue fair use for a commercial product.

As I indicated, court is not the issue. Copyright suits can last for years (some have lasted decades) without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. You burn money for nothing.

Due diligence using ANY third party product is important. Don’t get sloppy because it can catch up with you. Only go with known vendors. It may be more expensive, but beats a court case.

The best route is to create the sounds yourself. Use git or other repository software. If it comes up, they are a GREAT way of showing ownership. If you buy, keep the receipts. Chain of ownership (or license) is important.

This is great advice, btw, if you’re in an area where those are nearby and accessible.

I absolutely agree! I mean, neither of us are lawyers, and both of us have probably been in business situations where we’ve discussed these things with lawyers. The #1, #2, and #3 job is to make sure that there’s no question in the first place. You do not want to be in court even when you are in the right.

Commercial products RARELY fall under fair use

I don’t disagree, although art seems to have different interpretations than, say, computer code or engineering drawings or verbatim poetry. There are interesting situations around both Banksy using and being used in various degrees of transformation, as there is for Andy Warhol. Are computers games art? Are gunshots in computer games art? Personally, I think so, but I would not want to have to go to court to have to prove it. Do what it takes to stay out of court!

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Actually the other person arguing otherwise has probably never read up on any anecdotal cases like that of call of duty and Hummer vehicles.

Just like in this case, one can totally argue that the sound a 1911 makes is open domain. As well as the gun and any other videogame props you can think od.
Sinks. Refrigerators. Toilets. Etc.
If their image is in a sense free to use, then, so is the sounds these items make.

Regardless of who recorded the audio clip and why, because it is such a specific sound that recoring 2 different weapons of the same make/model at different times for the exact same purpose would produce near identical sound(s) - you would essentially make it impossible to define and assign ownership to any claimant in a court of law.

That doesn’t mean “steal whatever you need off cod”. Or anything even remotely similar.

On the other hand,
It means that if you make a living making/recording sounds, you should be well aware of common place techniques to define ownership and the fact that alterions of any kind - including changing pitch or tempo - will essentially void any claim you may think you have against whomever you think might have stolen your recording.
And you yourself have no case unless they do something stupid like publishing a public post in which they admitted to using your audio recordings…

Like piracy of any other kind, it’s the cost of doing business.

And also, it’s doubtful you would loose any meaningful amount of money from it, regardless of however despicable the other person may be for jacking your audio.

This particularly extends to ripping stuff off other stuff when the purpose could be completely different - say video of a specific car idling, vs taking that audio and placing it in a videogame.

You, the maker of said video, have no cause at all to claim that whoever ripped your audio off has caused you any damages.
Because the offending party didn’t produce another video that is directly competing against your video, in a court of law your claim is essentially baseless.

Doesn’t mean you can’r sue.
And it doesn’t mean the other party won’t admit fault and pay you.

Still, refer to my other post. Don’t be a d*ck and record your own stuff.

Correct; that’s how foley sounds are made. A good and relevant example is this: Making sound effects for video games #3 tutorial - Eldest Souls - Indie DB. He recorded the sounds himself, but nothing is stopping you from getting sounds elsewhere, especially when you are going to mutate them as much as he did; tracing the sound of rain back to frying bacon is gonna be hard.

There was also a lawsuit involving a sample used without permission in Jay Z’s “Run This Town” that was dismissed because:

“‘Run This Town’ bears very little and perhaps no similarity at all to ‘Hook & Sling Part 1.’ The melody and lyrics are entirely different. The lyrics do not contain the word ‘oh,’” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his statement, adding that the “Oh!” was only used in the background “in such a way as to be audible and aurally intelligible only to the most attentive and capable listener.” Kaplan added, “The word ‘oh’ is a single and commonplace word. Standing alone, it likely is not deserving of copyright protection.”

If you know you can’t take the 3D models, what makes you think you can take the sounds?

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Idk I just thought that maybe they wouldn’t copyright an audio clip. I don’t understand how copyright laws work. Should probably go look them up if I’m going in the game dev space

You should absolutely read a primer on how copyright works!
Then, you should realize that what actually matters (in the US,) is what the courts do.
And the courts largely serve at the whim of the lawyers who gate-keep it.
And the lawyers largely serve whoever pays them.
So, looking at what kinds of arguments lawyers make working for companies that like suing people (whether they’re “right” or “wrong,”) is also quite helpful if your end goal is to “stay out of trouble” rather than “technically be in your right.”

Regarding “I changed some bits so it’s not the same sound,” especially in the US, this gets down to the separate kinds of rights: performace rights, synchronization rights, mechanical rights, …
When you press a vinyl record, you have a copyright to the pattern of squiggly waves. Someone copying that pattern, infringes on your mechanical right. Even if the recording was of a public domain source (like wind in the forest,) the specific squiggly-waves pattern belongs to you. Nobody can make a cast off of your record and call it their own.
However, someone can separately take the same public domain source, and engrave it to plates, and press their own squiggly-waves vinyl, that they have copyright on. This is the “mechanical right.”
In the US, the mechanical right ceases on format conversions. Radio play does not infringe on the mechanical right, because radio waves are not vinyl squiggles.
Also in the US, the performer of a record gets no royalties for radio play, but the composer/lyricist does. (This is different in some other countries.)

Given that copyright was an idea from the 18th century, and all the foundational pieces were set down in the days of Gutenberg, how it applies to digital media is actually quite surprising at times, and the interpretations made are often made by legal-people-with-money, not actual-practitioners-with-technical-understanding, so reading that primer will be quite helpful!

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