What are the usage rights for compositions made with audacity that include rhythms generated by audacity?

I am making music using audacity, and some songs contain rhythms that have been generated by audacity using the “Generate - Rhythm Track” function. Is it okay to use these songs with these sounds included as I wish, including commercially? Or is there some kind of copyright on the sounds of the different “drums”? Thanks.

You automatically own the rights to anything you create in Audacity.

…But it’s generally a copyright violation if you mix-in someone else’s copyrighted content.

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I suppose you could make an argument that since these sounds are generated by GPLv2-or-later algorithms, the generated sounds would be under that license, too.

In practice, it’s unlikely the sounds meet the threshold of originality to be considered copyrightable in the first place.

I don’t think that would be a valid argument.

  1. Consider LibreOffice (Mozilla Public License Version 2.0). It would be unusable in an office environment if all documents produced with LibreOffice had to be under the same permissive license.
  2. The GPL FAQ specifically states that GPL licensed software is not, and cannot be restricted to non-commercial use.

On the other hand, using GPL software as a component in closed source software does contravene the license.

As far as I understand, there is a big difference between distributing the software itsself, distributing the OUTPUT of the software?

Usually the output is not under the GNU license. However there are some expections, such as “art” that is a part of the output. What I am wondering if is these “rhythms” generated by Audacity, or rather, the drum sounds (since the rhythm would probably be an “output” as well") can be considered such “art”.


Yea, this is also how I understand it. thanks for confirming. I do think however there is an exception for stuff like music that is integrated in the software…a separate copyright might apply. And these drum rhythms that audacity can create are basically a mix of you creating a custom beat (by selecting a speed of it etc.), and also selecting the “sound” of the drum (i.e. metronome tick, hand clap, etc.). These sounds are “sound effects” and I am not sure what type of copyright, if any, applies to them.

Wait a minute…just because Audacity generates something, doesn’t mean the “generated” thing also falls under the GNU license? Or maybe I am understanding your usage of the word “generate” wrong? I am pretty sure that the OUTPUT of Audacity is generally your OWN intellectual property? For example, if you create a piece of music (all your own work), but use Audacity to edit it, then the music is still yours in the end, correct?

Nobody is coming after you… :wink:

If you are paranoid you can get a DAW and virtual instruments (or maybe something like EZ-Drummer) which are licensed for you to use in your production.

Yes, that’s correct.
Audacity’s GPL license refers to the “code”, and places no restriction on how you use the app.

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I tend to be paranoid in that regard, yes :slight_smile:

Looking into a DAW might be a good idea, I will check it out. Thanks!

Allow me to offer some reassurance.

Audacity’s GPL license was chosen by Dominic Mazzoni and Rodger Dannenberg (the original founders of Audacity) to allow it to be used without restriction by anyone for any purpose.

The “open source” element of the license means that anyone / everyone has access to the source code, and may use, study and/or modify the code any way that they want, but any modifications made to the code must also be available to others under a compatible open source license. The reason behind this is that it prevents companies from ripping off Audacity, while still allowing the four freedoms.

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