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Legal Implications

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Software CopyrightEdit

Although there are some slight variations per company on how you can use the software, some general terms of conditions are normally shared by the studios. Under the use of the software, a user may use the program as a voice sample or create an original song just like how other synthesizer application software such as those that provide the chords for a guitar or the keys on a piano work the same. However, the avatars belong to their respected companies and permission must be gained if the character is intended to be used. Users may also not sell material under the characters name without the permission of the software provider.
See Licenses for more details on end user agreements.

Illegal VersionsEdit

Because of illegal downloads, Vocaloid is protected with the typical activation procedures that many software have; however this does not stop hackers breaking the code and discovery methods to "hack" the code essentially open up the Vocaloid for illegal and unimpeded purposes. However some hackers do not stop there and will often put the software on torrent sites. Sometimes, it is to lure in gullible fans who will download the software to discover it is laced with viruses, or does not provide the desired functionality. One such known case is the Vocaloid Miriam, whose demo can be time to time seen put out as the actual product itself rather than the demo with no method accompanying her to unlock the demo mode.

There are many reasons why fan downloads occur;

  • Purchase difficulty
    • Prior to the opening of the Yamaha on-line store, there was difficulty in purchasing some vocaloids, particular Japanese language ones.
    • Some countries did not ship Vocaloid, leading to a general issue in purchasing vocaloids.
  • Lack of Trial/demo versions
    • While occasional demos for vocaloids appear, for the majority of vocals there are no demos. They download for the sake of trying the vocal before sale. Ultimately, a vocaloid is normally purchased, though not always the one that was downloaded.
  • No localisation
    • During the vocaloid2 era it was popular for some to download for English Vocaloids to get the Japanese software in English. Vocaloid3 was the first engine version with locational.
    • This is also a reason why some producers may try illegal vocaloid versions as a "trial", to see if the producer can cope with a language they are not familiar with.
  • Money
    • Others want the software but lack the money. This will be connected either with personal judgment and circumstances or living conditions and poverty. Most of these type of illegal users are more often than not unwilling pirates, but are left with no choices.
  • Preferences
    • In seldom cases, a legal user may also install the illegal version as well, to utilize some of the illegal version's features and perks, while enjoying the legitimate status of his or her installation.
    • Some people simply refuse to buy the software even if they can afford it ("Why buy it when I can download it for free?").

Zero-G reported that their VOCALOID team is allocated only a certain amount of funding per Vocaloid from their company, so in order to convince the studio it is worth investing more in Vocaloids they must sell more copies per product. Under these circumstances, illegal copies of the software can often hurt studios working with the software and the results in fewer purchases can damage the overall effect sales each Vocaloid receives, thus investment is lower and price of the product remains high.

So while a user may think getting the software for themselves is important no matter what, it CAN hurt the software studios and can be regarded as as an act of selfishness towards those willing to purchase the software legally as it affects both them and the studio alike. The effect can be more damaging if the ratio of those who pirate are numerous than those that buy it legally. However, it cannot be denied that in third-world countries, people unwillingly resort to piracy simply because of their place's economic conditions where saving for such software is either impractical, impossible, or is eclipsed by far dire necessities. Efforts can be made, nonetheless, but it is not easy for them.

In countries with strong IPR laws, if caught possessing an illegal copy, a user can expect to face charges for copyright infringement. It also looks bad if a user has sold a number of original works using an illegal copy of a software, and if proven, could possibly put the user on bad terms permanently with potential music publishers; in short it could affect your potential music career. However, it is hard to prove software piracy individually and there is an angle that piracy accusations could be easily fabricated and can be used as a malicious blackmail material. In countries with less than satisfactory IPR enforcement, piracy is tolerated to the point it has become a way of life, making copyright ethics nearly nonexistent in there.

In some countries, tolerance for illegal copies vary. Those with illegal copies but keep it to themselves are sometimes excused under the "fair use" clause, as long as no profit is derived from it and that no further distribution is done. This scenario is given the most tolerance, even though it is still a violation in some countries, as it is the least damaging to intellectual properties. However, those who make illegal copies of Vocaloid and distribute them openly are more likely to feel the wrath of the IPR law. Those who circumvent protections in such software are also seen to be just as liable as illegal distributors too.

Corporate environments are more mindful of IPR and will keep it a point to use legal software, and if found to be using illegal copies, are given a chance to convert their illegal copies to officially legitimate versions.

Publishers of Vocaloid voicebanks will not provide software support to users found to be using an illegal version of the software and turning to the fandom may not always result in that user finding the answers to the problems if they arise. Bit-torrent sites regularly purge themselves of Vocaloid download links with Gackpo being one of the most targeted due to his voice provider being Gackt's international fame and popularity.

Not all illegal users pirate maliciously. A number of VOCALOID users who download the software in cases may turn around and buy the software at a later date, admitting guilt led to them to actually buy the software; some will simply pirate as a means of "trying out" the software in more convenient circumstances and eventually purchase them legally; in impoverished countries, legal copies of software like Vocaloid are considered status symbols and however expensive, some will buy the software legally both to satisfy the law and their own social standing.

In truth, despite the excuses following a Vocaloid being downloaded, along with the reasons, it is simply not worth downloading the software illegally. A number of illegal users will never buy the software at all because they do not see the point of buying when it can be acquired with other means. These studios rely on the software sales, so for every illegal copy downloaded, that is another potential customer possibly lost forever.

To entice people to buy their software, such companies may provide special offers such as discounts, bundles, technical support, sample files and additional content to attract buyers, emphasizing the perks and benefits on buying the software legally. In some cases, some will even offer amnesty to illegal users, and will assist illegal users willing to buy the real deal.

In short, you should start saving your money instead for legal copies... And if the barrier is simply you do not know how to buy, then forums can provide answers on where to go to overcome this problem. If there's a will, there's a way.

Singer IdentityEdit

According to Crypton, because professional female singers refused to provide singing data, in fear that the software might create their singing voice's clones, Crypton changed their focus from imitating certain singers to creating characteristic vocals. This change of focus led to sampling vocals of voice actors and the Japanese voice actor agency Arts Vision]] supported the development.[1] Similar concerns are expressed throughout the other studios using Vocaloid, with Zero-G refusing to release the names of their providers and Miriam Stockley (who provided the voice for Miriam) remains the only known Zero-G voice provider. PowerFX only hinted at Sweet Ann's voice provider and only Big Al's is known. AH Software named Miki's voice provider, but for legal reasons cannot name Kaai Yuki's as minors were the subject of the recordings.

Publishing WorksEdit

There is also a problem with uploading licensed songs onto Youtube and Youtube has been known to remove songs that are currently still owned by license holders. Nico Nico Douga allows covers of songs to be uploaded, but draws a line at actual copyrighted animations linked with cover songs. Users who upload such songs with copyrighted animations have had their accounts removed and songs deleted.

Users uploading copies of producers work from Japan onto sites like YouTube also break copyright rules. For more details see here.

One of the most controversial uses of the legal agreements of any Vocaloid producing studio was from the Democratic Party of Japan, whose running candidate, Kenzo Fujisue, attempted to secure the use of Miku's image in the Japanese House of Councillors election of July 11, 2010. The hope was that the party could use her image to appeal to younger voters. Although Crypton Future Media rejected the party's use of her image or name for political purposes, Fujisue released the song "We Are the One" using her voice on YouTube, by only replacing her image with the party's character in the music video.[2]

There was an actual case that a questionable work was deleted by the request of Crypton. A parody song with rewritten lyrics using Miku was uploaded on Nicovideo in August 2009, and the lyrics was about the arrest of a Japanese actress/singer who sang the original song. This upload received a lot of negative responses, and Crypton demanded that the song not be broadcasted claiming the work composes defamation and that violates the terms of use.[3] Niwango Inc., the operator of Nicovideo, accepted the request and removed the video.

Crypton set up Piapro to clear up some of these problems. Users are encouraged to post illustrations, music and lyrics onto the site. Then Piapro automatically authorizes the members to utilize these secondary creations for NON-COMMERCIAL purposes. This arrangement is for the products distributed by and the derivatives adopted by Crypton only. No other company has similar plans currently.


  1. "How Hatsune Miku was born: Interview with Crypton Future Media" (in Japanese). IT Media. February 22, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008. 
  2. Election Activity Plan Standstill of a Democratic Diet member with "Don't Use Politics"
  3. [1] [2]

Please note we are waiting for more information on some languages


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