Creating a short all CG tongue in cheek homage to 'Close Encounters' and want to use the four note theme(not actual music, just the four notes.
Is this considered copyright infringement or fair use?
This is a web only personal and personal promo piece.
The world pf copyright is sometimes quite obtuse and wanted to get some expert advice here.
If you are making a parody, then 'fair use' could come into play. Part of parody, is being able to indicate what the original material was, and that the parody is working from that.
The vague term of 'transformative' is used in determining 'fair use'.
So, if you play the first 2 notes 'on key' of the original, but sour the last 3 in someway such that people will recognize the original, you would most likely be in 'fair use' territory.
Another recognizeable tone sequence would be G-E-C, which is the tone for the US NBC broadcast network. It is a Registered Trade Mark, and would require licensing, if the use is 'clearly' intended to refer to the NBC tone.
Spielberg may have registered the "Close Encounters" sequence.
As in all requests for 'legal' advice... seek the services of a professional in the area of Entertainment law...