The legal status of 'NIN' soundtrack in 'Quake'

What is the legal status of having a ‘NIN’ soundtrack in ‘Quake’, nowadays?

Does it depend on how did one obtain the game - what version and whether the soundtrack, was included in the pack? Why is the soundtrack missing in the ‘Steam’ game version, but - as far as I am informed - it is present in the ‘GOG’ version?

Understandably, I speak only of legal ways to obtain the game.

According to John Romero and Tim Willits, the original contract had the condition that the music NIN did for Quake could be distributed only only on CD (Red Book specs). Apparently, this was imposed by Interscope Records, owner of Trent’s vanity label Nothing Records. But back then in 1996 it was fine and good enough.

When Steam came around, since it’s a digital distribution platform, they can’t provide MP3s or something like that because of that original contract clause. Originally GOG version didn’t have music either, even though GOG almost always supplies game’s soundtrack in MP3 format as a bonus. I don’t know the reasons for it, but Steam does not distribute game CD images, while GOG apparently can - the way the music works in the later GOG version is that package has 3 CD ISOs with all original data and music tracks as well. There’s no point in providing music in MP3/OGG format for Steam or GOG versions anyway, since none of them support playback of these formats. Steam has WinQuake and GLQuake and GOG version uses DOSBox if I remember correctly.

According to Tim Willits, Reznor contacted him when Willits was still one of the higher-ups at id Software to work something out because he was doing the NIN reissues. So I guess they reviewed and reworked the contract, as Willits said (paraphrasing) “he had to agree, we had to agree, so we sorted this out”. This allowed Reznor to release Quake soundtrack on 2xLP and as a download, and (I assume) all future releases of Quake, like Quake Enhanced in 2021, to have music in digital format included.

Since Interscope Records now belongs to Universal Music Group, almost as soon as Reznor released Quake OST, it got into some copyright database and automated youtube algorithms started flagging and taking down even some of the very old gameplay videos, but I think this is not happening anymore.

What are the sources for these quotes? Could you share some links and maybe even add all of it to (currently read-only due to vandalism)?

This is the actual question here, before we get into the NIN/Q1 legal specifics. Because regardless of those, it wouldn’t explain why Q1 mission packs, Quake 2, Kingpin, Hexen 2 - also all lack their CD soundtracks as released on Steam.

The easiest explanation is that the relevant publishers just didn’t bother. The music doesn’t play in the original engines without putting in extra work - for something that is ultimately pointless to the five users who would care (because of source ports and ease of “piracy”).

Yeah the “publisher didn’t bother” is probably a huge factor as well.

They are from several very long talks or interviews. has Tim Willits talking about it, regarding contract from 36:00 and about soundtrack in general at 34:30. I remember another interview where he mentions basically the same, but with “he had to agree, we had to agree” wording, but I can not find it right now. by John Romero mentions the contract conditions and music subject from or around 24:00. He also mentioned this two or three other times in other talks/interviews. One thing he also notices (in another interview) is how a lot of people weren’t even aware that Quake had music on CD, because they just took the CD out of the drive once they installed the game.

Another interesting thing Romero mentioned in one of these Quake talks is that while NIN was working on the music for Quake, id Software listened to the ambient stuff that Chris Vrenna made and gave them to hold them over, and that they all listened to it during development. It would be curious to check that stuff out. I’m not sure why Romero mentions MP3 as a format for a 1996 game that was using a lot of CPU already, they had no other way than CD audio, really, due to technical limitations.

The easiest explanation is that the relevant publishers just didn’t bother. The music doesn’t play in the original engines without putting in extra work - for something that is ultimately pointless to the five users who would care (because of source ports and ease of “piracy”).[/quote]
The practical question is: as a legal owner of a ‘Quake’ copy, do I have a consumer right to take hold of and use a relevant ‘Quake’ soundtrack - even if it was not included in the purchased package - or am I doing piracy, in case of obtaining the soundtrack from tertiary, non-commercial sources?

The Steam version of Quake includes the soundtrack now anyway, so the remaining question is if you’re entitled to a lossless version of it. You’re buying what you’re paying for, so probably you’re not legally entitled to anything else.
But then you’re also “doing piracy” each time you download a fan map that includes textures made by id. I don’t think it’s a practical question at all, more like exactly the opposite. I doubt anyone cares.
Also, I think the full soundtrack was included with shareware copies. You paid for a copy, got a worse deal than shareware, and still feel like the guilt is yours. Come on now.

The full soundtrack was several audio tracks on the release cd. Not in mp3 or flac or wav, a full blown audiocd.
I do not think that the downloaded shareware had the soundtrack. But i do not know if there was a full blown shareware cd with quake for which you get after registration the missing *.pak files…

There was a download version of Shareware (0.91 was the earliest available version I think) which obviously had no music, only one episode and no means to “unlock” the full version of the game, which was released like a month later.

There were a few CD versions of the game, including different Shareware versions as well, some CDs had only Quake, but others had “IDSTUFF” directory, where the full versions of the id Software games are encrypted (I think it’s just password-protected LZH archive), including full version of Quake. Which relates to the story that Romero told as well, about how this “unlock code” protection was cracked. Apparently (I don’t remember where I read about this) after that happened, they started selling the Shareware CDs as well.

[quote]PC Quake CD number information.

CD # 203-041-52: Quake v1.01 shareware only. No id stuff or demos with it. Music is also on the CD. (Rare CD?)

CD # 203-029-05: Quake v1.01 shareware with id stuff and demos. Lots of different versions of this disc exist. CD creation date is the only way to tell the difference from one another. Some also have the hexen game demo.

CD # 203-029-08: Quake registered v1.01, includes id stuff and demos. Final doom is not in the id stuff folder and music tracks 10 and 11 are switched in order. Source code on the back cover is 00-1111. (Hard to find CD)

CD # 04-11636CD: Quake shareware v1.01. A newer version of CD # 203-029-05.

CD # 04-12100CD: Quake registered v1.06 only. Demos and id stuff are not on the CD. (Best CD to buy, go buy it)

CD # 04-10252CD3: Quake registered v1.06 from id anthology, exactly the same as CD # 04-12100CD.

CD # 04-12100CD second release: Quake registered v1.08 with WinQuake and GLQuake (GL v0.95) v1.09. The CD # is the same as the first release, but it also has “WINDOWS 95 & DOS 5.0 CD-ROM” on the front of the disc. [/quote]

There are some fairly decent alternatives to ‘Quake’ soundtrack, anyhow - free for non-commercial use. %url% exemplary, is promoted by ‘Greenwood’ on his ‘Youtube’ channel; as a way to avoid receiving possible copyright claims for using the ‘NIN’ soundtrack in public videos. exemplary, can be found on the ‘MODdb’ portal. Leading artist of choice, in both mentioned cases, seems to be the ‘Verbum Mentis’, but in the ‘Greenwood’ option, I also see ‘Markie Music’, ‘Immorpher’ and ‘AlekswithaK’ projects.

Well yes, the question is - what did I actually pay for?

For the ‘id’ and creative communities; their textures, their choice. The soundtrack, on the other hand, belongs to some other entity, as far as I am informed. Thus, all the fuss.

And on the third hand: The soundtrack is for more than a decade “in the wild”, it is aviable via quaketastic, many guides (the Steam one!) are using the links and did never get a strike… I think as long as no one asks for money the soundtrack is in a kind of a grey zone…

In the first versions of my QuakeSpasm Spiked compilation i had the soundtrack on board, then i put the soundtrack away because i genuine would liked to have a “clean package”. But shortly after that i included the lossless soundtrack again because of the “freely aviable” files.

I would compare using “grey zone” digital items to carrying around a loaded gun without safety trigger on. Nothing wrong has to happen, but it is not impossible, that something wrong, could happen. Likewise, nobody probably cares whether someone in their basement, uses ‘NIN’ soundtrack to enjoy ‘Quake’ with, but as soon as they go in public with it, on a legitimate social sharing platform - there is an elevated risk for unpleasant experience of getting a copyright strike. The very phenomenon of a copyright strike - is declaration of certain legal status.

In my opinion, it takes more energy to shake off trouble with the legal realm, than to comply or preemptively avoid issues at all. Generally, thinking on how to cheat or beat the system, consumes more energy, than playing along.

In the end, it is a question of habit.

Well, as long as the trodden path via the other plattforms can still be taken, i will leave the files in there. More as a convenience for the users as for my own guts feeling. At least the files are only “of interest” for users that already own the pak files for quake. And which are therefore already in possession of said files.

… Nah, i guess in one of the next updates i will exchange the nin soundtrack to the free and non-copyrighted ones, at least there is a guide and a tool onboard to extract the soundtrack of the GoG-Release. …

I will look after the next bigger Quakespasm spiked release and/or the next big whammy map or jam into this.

I still hope that librequake will become complete and fully compatible (at least for the 3 original campaigns) in the future.

Well, since the steam version of the game includes the soundtrack now, any remaining legal stuff is Bethesda’s problem, not ours.

But seeing as this was brought up already and didn’t seem to answer Triple Agent’s question, I think it would be more helpful to know what that question actually is.

In other words, Triple Agent, what are you planning to do with the music that you’re worried about?

I am going to have clear conscience about it.

As the soundtrack IS part of the commercial selled Quake: The Offering on GoG and Quake: Remaster on Steam it IS not really legal to distribute the soundtrack in public. BUT there is a grey zone currently as the soundtrack WAS and IS for years in the wild.

I guess the same goes for MALICE and SHRAK. X-MEN on the other hand seems to be real freeware nowadays. (Please correct me, if i am wrong.)

An additional layer of difficulty are the widespread usage of the original ID1 and missionpack textures in the creative work of the fans.

I do not know if the later one is the same as the first one regarding the goodwill of the current publishers.
I think they know about this but are currently silent as far there is no lowering in profits or danger of the copyright they inherit.

  • As long as you do not go bullshit we will stay silent. - (Maybe?)

Edit: On the other hand: If a user has only access to the Quake Remaster with the muffled soundtrack (subpar) he/she should be able to correct the publishers mistake i guess… Without buying the GoG Version.

I really do not know if i should leave the soundtrack in my package or not, i want that the people can get the best experience out of the game and with that smashed audio from the remaster… It causes pysical pain to me… And the soundtrack in my package is really as a “patch” in there. Otherwise i could rely on the gog tool from hansschmucker to rip and convert the files from the iso (in the gog version there are isos.).

What do you mean?

It is in the business of a game developer and publisher, to have rolling communities around the game. On the other hand, the music publishers, have long story of struggle and loss, when it comes to the new Internet ways of distribution and culture of sharing.

These, are not the same entities. The question is: does each use of a copyrighted asset, beyond the limits of an original offer, bring you relative loss of potential profit?

What do you mean?[/quote]

The sound quality is bad, muffled, like South Park Kenny talking.

Before the NiN Vinyl release the music was an integral part of the game and i think no one from the cpoyright holders hat any problems with the status of the files “in the wild” because that files had only a “worth” if you already had an copy of Quake - and as such you should already had that tracks at that point of time (mostly) -

But now we have the track released as an album from an music publisher. And music publishers behaviour is mostly and sometimes … special …

We now have the situation that a number of youtube content creators got striked, same as some streamers. Out of the blue because of some automated content copyright protection system. Because the Album is now on some copyright check lists.

It is clear that nobody without permission should currently use the soundtrack in a public aviable video or stream.

I’m a bit ambivalent about this situation at the moment. I want to give the users the best possible and original sound experience but on the other hand I don’t want to get stressed about it and so on.