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"It's rare to come to face-to-face with the people behind the software, music, and media we pirate on regular basis; I guess that's part of the problem."
January 31, 2009 2:42 PM   Subscribe

So there is this guy named Jona Bechtolt and he is an electronic musician and multimedia artist who performs as YACHT. He recently described in an interview some audio software that he had illegally downloaded, adding "Does all this piracy make me a bad person?". The company that makes the software that he illegally downloaded apparently saw his comment and wrote a blog post where they linked to his interview and stated "We've put up with rampant idiocy from people that style themselves members of the creative community but are actually members of some kind of bullshit that doesn't have a name." Then Mr. Bechtolt commented on that blog post kind of apologizing, but also saying "I'm a musician and I haven't bought music in years, nor have almost all of my musician friends." Then the company wrote him an open letter explaining why they did not accept his apology. [via Pitchfork]
posted by ND¢ (130 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
To read Mr. Bechtolt's comment on the company's post, scroll down until you see "AM I NOT HUMAN? DO FUCKTARDS NOT BLEED?".

I realize that piracy has kind of been discussed to death, but I thought this was interesting in that both the parties involved are creators of intellectual property that can be easily pirated and (while it contains a lot of anti-piracy arguments that I don't necessarily agree with) the open letter says that these two people live within about 30 miles of each other.
posted by ND¢ at 2:48 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was a good reply to the pirate. I used to write software too, back in the 80s and 90s. I never got rich, but I paid the bills. Eventually piracy became so rampant that it was no longer worth doing, on a time/value basis, so I moved on, leaving some customers in the lurch, who had been hoping for the availability of upgrades and such. I'm not bitter, or rabidly anti-pirate, nothing like that; once I realized I couldn't beat them, I joined them. Got me own eyepatch now, maties.

I have to wonder where it ends though. Are we costing ourselves a lot of nice stuff (books/music/art/whatever) simply because rampant piracy has driven people into other pursuits more capable of paying the bills in this day and age? We'll never know, of course, because there's no way to quantify that which was never breathed into existence at all. If something has yet to be created, can it be missed?
posted by jamstigator at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


Clearly time for a slap fight.

Oh, hey, I could totally go watch, too. Rock on, Portland.
posted by Caduceus at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2009


Wow, that's unfortunate. I can understand piracy if you don't do anything commercial and don't really make money off of it. Quite frankly, as a developer, I wouldn't really be that upset about casual illegal software use. If they're actually doing it professionally, though, then I'd be as pissed as the Audio Damage devs.

I was once talking to one of the guys from Antares (they make the Auto-Tune plugin), and he told me piracy is just as big a problem at the big record labels (he explicitly named EMI and I believe one of the Sony subsidiaries). Some of the studio engineers would actually call support if they had a problem, thinking that the software was legitimate.
posted by spiderskull at 3:03 PM on January 31, 2009


I would like to add my own letter to this epistolary debate:

**************

Jona Bechtolt ---

That wasn't very bad-ass of you to have the interview edited to remove the admission of piracy.

WTF, dude? You crow about your piracy in the interview, and then you're so weak that when the software maker sees the interview, you squeal like a stuck pig and have it removed?

You have resoundingly failed at being a bad-ass rebel.

Sincerely,

jayder
posted by jayder at 3:15 PM on January 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


All you have to do is talk over the intro, and maybe the first phrase or so, and that really messes with those home-taping pirates.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:16 PM on January 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the post, and thanks to Jonah for being perhaps stupidly honest here. It's becoming more and more of the elephant in the room, I think, to discuss how one obtains copies of easily duplicatable things, when stealing is in some ways easier than making a legitimate purchase. Of course, compensation has always been an issue for those who spend their lives creating those myriad things which are valued differently from, say, bread or bricks. It's never quite worked out very well for the majority of creators/toilers...even in the bread or brick business. That being said, I think Jonah owes AD some money.
posted by theefixedstars at 3:17 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


People are welcome to talk (or even yell, wave their arms, and run in circles) about changing things, leveling the playing field, rolling around in the fields of egalitarian bliss, but bad luck, you live in the United States of America, which is a capitalist nation.

TRANSLATION - "Burn the heretic and blasphemer!!"

by the way, which amendment was that?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:18 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


DOH. DOH. DOH. Loose lips sink ships, old son.


From the open letter: If Dubstation was a real hardware unit instead of a group of ones and zeros arranged in a meaningful fashion, would you walk in to Guitar Center and slip it in to your pocket when nobody was looking?

From Guitar Center? Hell yes. That place deserves to get ripped off more than Whole Foods, Best Buy and Wal-Mart combined. The only real reason that Guitar Center doesn't get looted with bulldozers piloted by an unholy union of headbangers and rave scum is because no one wants to have to get that close to the sales staff if they can help it.

That, and the creepy twelve year old kid that's always there shredding like Steve Vai on meth. Every Guitar Center has at least one, usually living in a hardshell guitar case in or near the cage. Little known fact: Deadly laser eyeballs.
posted by loquacious at 3:18 PM on January 31, 2009 [15 favorites]


I can't find any torrents of Yacht's work. Is this a suprise (y/n)?
posted by boo_radley at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read most of this yesterday after seeing the link on Pitchfork. Bechtolt comes off pretty lame in this whole deal, especially with this silly justification about "leveling the playing field" and "information wanting to be free" crap. One would think that since he makes his living off of a product that itself is easily pirated he would be a bit more sensitive to the issue. I also found it interesting that the two fellas behind Analog Industries don't want to get the authorities involved. I wonder how much of that is up to them? Do they have to press charges, or could the fine folks in Multnomah County go after Bechtolt on their own?
posted by friendlyjuan at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2009


Obviously nobody is going to be able to stop digital copying. DRM will always be a hack, and there will always be someone with the patience, knowledge, and motivation to hand edit the machine code and remove it, and encrypted transfer can't be effectively blocked.

So what are the options?

Centralized financing of officially sanctioned and recognized artists and programmers? (many countries already support selected composers and artists with grants)

Digital media and software made by people with the free time and desire to large amounts of work, with only as much monetary gain as they can get from people/institutions who give donations? (this seems to be the way the Open Source world operates, you do lots of hard work as a volunteer, and eventually maybe get a payed job working on Free Software for IBM or Redhat or Suse or something)

Giving up on digital altogether since it threatens traditional revenue streams?
posted by idiopath at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2009


I can't find any torrents of Yacht's work. Is this a suprise (y/n)?

It's the first result in a google search for "yacht torrent".
posted by inigo2 at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


That, and the creepy twelve year old kid that's always there shredding like Steve Vai on meth. Every Guitar Center has at least one, usually living in a hardshell guitar case in or near the cage. Little known fact: Deadly laser eyeballs.

Fortunately, in their juvenile form, these foes can only play the one riff from "Stairway to Heaven" and can be easily dispatched by dropping a half-stack amplifier on them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:30 PM on January 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


We need to hear what Cory thinks about this.
posted by jayder at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2009


Hippy Dippy Light Brigade would make an excellent band name. Better than YACHT, anyway.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 3:35 PM on January 31, 2009


It should be common knowledge now that piracy is not theft. Comparing copyright infringement to theft of physical objects is just a tad unsophisticated. Anyway, as a developer whose games are cracked and pirated the day they are released (it's almost a badge of honour!), I see piracy as a cost of doing business. The wonderful infrastructure of computers and networks that makes my business possible also makes pirating possible - you can't have one without the other.
posted by LVdB at 3:36 PM on January 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I understand pirating software. What I don't understand is getting called out on it and trying to talk your way through it with some sociological terminology. This whole mess would've been avoided if a) he never told the interviewer he'd pirated to begin with, or b) upon getting called out, just saying, "Yeah, sorry I pirated your work."

On the other hand, Yacht's piracy and the subsequent publicity may be giving Ableton Live some additional publicity, and additional sales, thereby making the pirate an inadvertant salesman for the software. Right? Riiiight?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:37 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


No post about YACHT is complete without The Great Crane Off 2004.

Not even this one.
posted by Dr-Baa at 3:39 PM on January 31, 2009


"I am sorry that the Google footprint of this site is roughly 1000 times that of your name alone, and thus this will be the first thing that comes up whenever anyone searches your name directly, but there's nothing I can do about that."

How can I get these guys to write about me? Hey, even bad press is good press, right?

Quick question, wouldn't hosting a PDF version, of a google cache, of a copyrighted interview, and serving that up because you're being petulant still be a copyright violation?

I happily pay for software, and do not pirate it. This said there's tons of software out there I will never get to use. That's fine. But software makers really should come up with a revenue model that serves people like me. I edit like 3 photos a year in photoshop. I make a dozen audio track every few years. I wouldn't mind making some decent quality video.

If I ever get a different job I'll probably never touch another Adobe app. I can't justify Logic Express for work reasons, so use Garageband. Ect.

I decided a long time ago that if it was for personal use I will never pay more that $100 for a piece of software.

It would be cool if I could pay-per-use for apps like Maya, or Final Cut, or whatever.

I also get tired of buying the same app over and over again.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:43 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


How much is this software, anyway? For some reason this always factors in to the software piracy debate for me... as well as for music. I feel like that if you don't make this stuff ridiculously expensive, people will be willing to buy it.
posted by queensissy at 3:49 PM on January 31, 2009


The more forward thinking audio software developers are tying their products to physical control surfaces, like NI has done with Kore 2 and now with Maschine. Now granted this isn't a viable option for all audio software, but I have used Kore 2 and it is sweeeeeeet. I think we're going to see more software / hardware hybrid products, or developers hitching their wagons to companies that sell them.

But how do you re-shackle other intellectual property like music to a physical medium?
posted by fleetmouse at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2009


How much is this software, anyway? For some reason this always factors in to the software piracy debate for me...

In the open letter the guy says:

We are willing to accept piracy as a fact of life in the business we're in. We've never done more than pay lip service to copy protection, and we've tried to put a value on the product of our creativity that makes that product easily attainable, to the point where piracy simply isn't worth the trouble.

posted by ND¢ at 3:55 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen, i'm sorry you've created a rule for yourself which prevents you from paying above an arbitrary amount for software that you would otherwise use and enjoy with your time, which is definitely worth more than the dollars necessary to purchase a license for some software. i hope that, someday, you are able to remedy yourself of this.
posted by tumult at 3:55 PM on January 31, 2009


"AM I NOT HUMAN? DO FUCKTARDS NOT BLEED?"

Year Of The Fucktard
posted by humannaire at 3:57 PM on January 31, 2009


As a perpetually broke person who makes music and writes software (but neither of these for money), I figured out that my only ethical option was Free Software. It kind of sucks sometimes to be over here using Linux where many features show up years later if at all, and everything is a little less polished.

Once I learned to use it, it is kind of great to be able to have latencies low enough for using my laptop as an effects box live (properly configured, Linux will get lower latencies than Windows or Mac for any given hardware setup), and it is kind of great to be able to exchange emails with the folks who make the software I use and to be able to work on a feature and submit it to the developers if I want it bad enough.

And the best part is that I don't need to fuck other creative people over in order to scratch my creative itch. (oh, and big shout out to folks like the Butthole Surfers and Bob Ostertag that offer mp3s of their own stuff on their websites so I don't need to be a sleazeball or skip a meal to listen to good music either).
posted by idiopath at 3:59 PM on January 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


Since you mentioned Logic, cjorgensen, I guess you're on Mac, otherwise I'd recommend Reaper which is just stupendously good and only 50 bucks for the non professional license. The demo is completely uncrippled and never expires. There is a beta for Mac - can't vouch for its usability though cos I'm on XP.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:02 PM on January 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I liked Ian Mackaye's take on music copyrights: "When people who are songwriters say 'That's my property and if you give it away for free then I'll lose my incentive,' then, well, good riddance."

That said... this dude guy seems dickish, making money off it.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:07 PM on January 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I feel it now is my duty to pirate this guy's stuff.
posted by ymgve at 4:08 PM on January 31, 2009


From Guitar Center? Hell yes. That place deserves to get ripped off more than Whole Foods, Best Buy and Wal-Mart combined. The only real reason that Guitar Center doesn't get looted with bulldozers piloted by an unholy union of headbangers and rave scum is because no one wants to have to get that close to the sales staff if they can help it.

Wow.
And why?
And why bring the sale staff into the equation?
I worked there for two years so i wouldn't have to pirate. I worked like a dog, usually pulling 60-70 hours a week near Christmas. Its a super stressful job, and honestly doesn't pay well at all. A lot of people you hear got their start at Guitar Center, so they could afford the software(and hardware), learn it and be legit.

Really, its hard work to be legit, and I am not necessarily attacking those who crack software. But i am attacking those who make money on being illegit. He wasn't a student who cracked software to learn it, or do some free gigs to prove his worth. This guy is a paid musician, and the company who went after him was asking a mere 50$. Thats less than the cost of most video games! Good lord. FIFTY DOLLARS! OMG THOSE BANDITS MAKING SOFTWARE!

Look, Guitar Center (and the other stores) have their problems, but how does some 30yr old underpaid guitarist trying to make money at something remotely related to his life dream deserved to get bulldozed? That very guitarist is usually just trying to make ends meet and he is usually teaching and gigging on the side. Wow. What a fat cat! Living the life huh?

If he were selling cars or life insurance, he would probably be a much richer individual, but in case you weren't aware Guitar Center employees make less money than what is considered the poverty line in most states.

If this artist was protesting the cost of software packages (like CS4) that cost 2500$, that would be one thing. Sure. Some companies are gouging...and the developers of that aren't necessarily the ones seeing the return.

..But this little two man company asking a mere fifty bucks? The poor ass guitar salesman getting by? Dude, who are you attacking?
posted by 5imian at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


My dad pirated a pair of designer chairs once. He flat out stole the design and made copies. Then he died.

For some sort of insane reason my mom insists on holding on to the copies and leaves me with the originals. But anyway. I'm happy. I get a nice set of expensive furniture and I don't have to report my dad to the authorities. I really miss my dad but still I wonder; if there where more people like him, would I still have a couch to sit in while typing this message?
posted by uandt at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I feel it now is my duty to pirate this guy's stuff.

Here's a good place to start. Not getting any seeds so far, though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:29 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Among most of the folks I know, there's a pretty reasonable compromise that's evolved for this new type of economy. Whether it's a game, music software, or media, most of us don't think twice using a pirated copy. That's what makes digital information so great, lets small time people (on both sides) get bigger, and lets us try something we're not sure is worth it.

And if we do use/watch/play it more than 5 minutes, we always buy it. Besides any moral issues, it's usually worth it for support, upgrades, online services, whatever. Consumers ought to be smart enough to realize they get something out of buying good products, and businesses need to realize they increasingly *have* to give away some version of their product and make their money by making it worth paying for something more.

It doesn't seem that complicated to me, it's just a matter of time.
posted by freebird at 4:32 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Worth noting that Jona Bechtolt was also a member of the Blow when they put out 2006's Paper Television, an album you're far more likely to have heard of than anything he's done as YACHT.
posted by chrominance at 4:34 PM on January 31, 2009


This guy is a paid musician, and the company who went after him was asking a mere 50$.

I'm neither attacking nor defending this guy but I know paid musicians who've had top ten records who barely make enough money to put food on the table, let alone buy software (one of whom is still using a paid-for version of Cubase 3 on the Atari.)

This guy would probably be better able to afford to buy his software if he did music as a hobby, rather than as a career.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:36 PM on January 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Polished? Shmolished. Ardour.
posted by motty at 4:45 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


We need to hear what Cory thinks about this.

N w dnt, bt thnks nywy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 PM on January 31, 2009 [21 favorites]


This guy would probably be better able to afford to buy his software if he did music as a hobby, rather than as a career.

Too true. Really.

And thanks for responding, I see where you're coming from.
posted by 5imian at 4:48 PM on January 31, 2009


In other news there's lots of free/ cheap studio solutions out there.

And this is a good place to start looking.
posted by 5imian at 4:50 PM on January 31, 2009


Wow.
And why?
And why bring the sale staff into the equation?


You're reading too much into my humor and taking it way too personally, but since you asked and since I like typing and since I'm argumentative and even frequently wrong:

Every single time I've ever had the misfortune of being in a Guitar Center it was like I was being raped by giant bloodsucking space leeches. Not only could I never get competent answers to technical questions when I did have any, in my personal experience the sales staff at Guitar Center gloms on to you like glue, which would be fine if they were actually helpful and not hovering annoyances whose primary motivation was to sell you shit you either didn't need nor want at highly inflated prices - and God forbid you try to negotiate towards a more sane, less inflated price.

I've seen too many people get seriously ripped off at Guitar Center, overpaying either out of confusion or ignorance or a hard sell. In any of these cases the consumer was taken advantage of. Some of these people I've seen get taken advantage of are family members like my Dad, who has a nice jam band with his buddies.

Above and beyond that, like Wal-Mart and Home Depot did in their own respective markets Guitar Center has basically killed local independent brick-and-mortar music stores. Yeah, the net helped kill off a lot of independent business - but the particular era of decline for independents and expansion of Guitar Centers predates shopping online by half a decade. I first started seeing this pattern in the mid 90s in the Los Angeles area.

Granted, part of my problem with Guitar Center is that the only time I'm ever in there is when I need something right now, and it's never a guitar or a pack of strings or some drum sticks or something. I'm usually seeking stuff like electronics, cables, DJ gear, turntable needles, a replacement PA amp, a rackmount headphone multiamp - all the kinds of things no sane musician or audio engineer would ever buy at a Guitar Center if they could help it.

My experiences with the staff in these instances has always left me pissed off and frustrated. Not once have I ever received a competent answer to my questions. Not once have they ever been able to produce a spec sheet or other technical documentation for me to look it up myself.

but in case you weren't aware Guitar Center employees make less money than what is considered the poverty line in most states.

This isn't a good argument in defense of Guitar Center - it actually illustrates the cause of the problems I outline above. Their sales commission model - last time I heard it detailed by a friend that worked there - leads to a cut-throat environment where the staff is frustrated, broke and hungry, which leads to outrageous, heavy-handed sales tactics and is the single most important problem I have with Guitar Center.

The friends I had that worked in music, PA and Hi-Fi shops before Guitar Center ran amok over the market actually used to make living wages and had good jobs and good bosses.

You may not remember what the landscape looked like before mega-chain stores like Guitar Center came along and turned the American Dream into a wasteland of identical strip malls, but I do.

Your participation in this mechanism isn't a defense. As a starving artist myself who has sure as hell struggled and even lost jobs and went broke over principles exactly like this - I could care less if you worked 60-70 hours a week for a shitty company to try to be "legit" if it meant you (or the company you worked for) took advantage of people - especially fellow musicians and artists - in the process.

Dude, who are you attacking?

Not who but what. In my original comment I was attacking the idea presented in the open letter that the same people who pirate would feel bad for stealing physical things from Guitar Center. It's a rather naive argument.
posted by loquacious at 4:54 PM on January 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


As a software engineer working in a closely related field, I would have no problem with someone making an unlicenced copy of my work to learn it, or even to get started in their craft when they really have no money. But when they start making money, time to shell out. And if they're not poor, time to shell out. I practice what I preach. At this time I have no nonlegitimate software installed on any machine that I own. But I have in the past, and I've had the following rules:

1) When I was young and broke, I would buy the software as soon as I was doing productive work with it, the moment I could afford it.

2) Now that I'm not broke (nor as young) if I use it for more than just idle fucking around, even if it's not on something that'll make me money, I buy it. If it's not worth the expense to me, I won't use it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:16 PM on January 31, 2009 [13 favorites]


Oh, and that "send me a bill" stuff is such a pose. Just pay for it in the usual way, dumbass.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:30 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have had similar craptacular experiences to loq at guitar centers most of the time, with a few exception at the rancho cucamonga (i love that city name) location before one particularly useful employee left.

But it led to me just doing endless hours of research before buying anything - but knowing exactly what you want walking in is a very frustrating experience at a GC. Things always took at least an hour longer than they needed to, with the employee frequently telling me that the thing I wanted didn't exist after I'd verified that they carried it.

I don't quite wish loquacious upon it though. Constantly buying floor models there (another exercise in patience) saved me a ton of money, though who knows what options I might've had with smaller local stores...
posted by flaterik at 5:33 PM on January 31, 2009


Every single time I've ever had the misfortune of being in a Guitar Center it was like I was being raped by giant bloodsucking space leeches. Not only could I never get competent answers to technical questions when I did have any, in my personal experience the sales staff at Guitar Center gloms on to you like glue, which would be fine if they were actually helpful and not hovering annoyances whose primary motivation was to sell you shit you either didn't need nor want at highly inflated prices - and God forbid you try to negotiate towards a more sane, less inflated price.

Do you haggle on underwear at Wal-Mart? Just asking.

And for the record, yeah there is incompetence everywhere, but if you go into a retail store looking for hardcore technical advice hooking up your dads jam band studio maybe you need to pay a studio consultant to come help. I am/was certainly not incompetent. Some of the associates were,but most weren't...and Sometimes the answer is "i don't know but i might know somewhere to look".

Do you spend hours at walmart (or anywhere) asking about the pasteurization process of milk before you buy it?

The difficulty of working at a place like guitar Center is that you are simultaneously expected to answer questions about how to set up a studio while selling gear. Which do you think you get paid for? Furthermore you are getting undercut by online retailers who have even less overhead to operate and have zero responsibility to train the customers. And do you "grind" an online purchase? No. you don't. You just pay full price. Why do you think a guitar center employee might be annoyed to spend three hours in a conversation with you only to either
a) not make a sale (cause you're just using them to learn and going to sweetwater anyways) or
b) going to spend more time grinding them so they have a 5 dollar profit margin (not like there was much to begin with for the sales associate) And yes, that actually is a realistic commission for a single-item typical pro-audio sale at guitar center. You know some gear actually loses money when you sell it?

I remember one day I was there i got like 4 returns and spent all day teaching customers how to use their keyboard. At the end of the day i had lost money, i had effectively paid guitar center to be there and teach their customers information i had worked hard to learn. (And paid for- I do afterall, have a degree in music technology)

You may not remember what the landscape looked like before mega-chain stores like Guitar Center came along and turned the American Dream into a wasteland of identical strip malls, but I do.

And do you really think you're paying more or less for this business model? I promise you the mom and pop stores MUST charge more money due to things like overhead. COULD IT BE that people tend to shop at places like walmart cause it ACTUALLY is cheaper? You vote for who stays and goes with your dollar. I'm not saying this model doesn't have its problems, but your criticisms have a few problems too.. really a few more problems.

How do you think these models will fare to online business? That has even less overhead, and certainly ZERO time spent "tech-ing you out" (ie. teaching the customer how to use his gear)


It's a rather naive argument.

No its not. And the more you learn the more complicated the issue becomes. Copyright, DRM, and piracy are all ways that society has to renegotiate how business and information happens. Watch this. Furthermore the internet revolution and online business is threatening to destroy even the most well oiled and staple of corporations. I don't think you, Bechtolt, Audio Damage, or myself are
naive. The truth is NOONE knows how the hell this is all gonna work out, but i found the way you so one dimensionally portrayed the issue at hand distasteful.

Let me put it to you like this. I know TONS of programmers, digital artists and studio musicians with hacked software.

I don't know a single guitarist with a stolen guitar, not because its hard to steal stuff but morally reproachable. THAT is the point of Audio Damage's response and quite frankly... they have a point. Somehow actually holding psychologically reframes how most people view theft. I am not taking sides here, but you are completely dismissing this argument. Its an important one.


Not who but what.

No.
Who.
You obviously don't see employees at walmart, Guitar Center or anywhere else as people anymore. They are "whats" and not "whos" to you. That's a shame... You don't seem to look at associates as individuals, but I assure the corporation treats their performance as individuals.
Yes, sleaseballs work there, but so do honorable people just trying to make an honest dollar.

Look, i don't work there anymore mainly because I saw the eventual demise of its business model to online markets and because i wanted to pursue other work as a programmer. I still make music, but its a hobby. I don't entirely disagree with a lot of your criticisms but i can't stress enough that

1. The issue of piracy is complicated as hell
2. You can't go on treating the individuals who work at these places as faceless asshats.
posted by 5imian at 5:46 PM on January 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also: Another option in the spectrum of software and or music piracy, copying or sharing that I don't see used often enough is simply just asking permission. This is particularly effective on independent coders, designers, and musicians. If you obtained their software, music or other creative work online they're probably online.

It's one of the truly awesome things about the internet and modern creative work. Chances are good if they're good at what they do and they make good stuff - it seems in my experience they're also pretty humble and thankful about it all, and don't mind sharing with people trying just trying stuff out, learning, or doing non-profit work.


And to soften my last comment a little - 5imian I'm not attacking you personally. I'm criticizing a business. Maybe you're one of the rare sales reps at GC that doesn't suck. Whether you are or aren't, you're not your nametag, are you?
posted by loquacious at 5:52 PM on January 31, 2009


And to soften my last comment a little - 5imian I'm not attacking you personally. I'm criticizing a business. Maybe you're one of the rare sales reps at GC that doesn't suck. Whether you are or aren't, you're not your nametag, are you?

For the record my nametag said "Nutkin The Imapler", "Mongo", or "Happy Fun Rocket Pie Train Go Party" and i was awesome so...

Yeah.

I hope i didn't seem to scathing myself.
posted by 5imian at 5:55 PM on January 31, 2009


Oh..."Happy Fun Rocket Pie Train Go Party" was actually spread across multiple nametags located throughout my garb.

Hope that clears that up.
posted by 5imian at 5:57 PM on January 31, 2009


Intellectual property? Hell, better hold on to your wallet cause I'll pirate that motherfucker too, poindexter.
posted by nola at 6:13 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. The issue of piracy is complicated as hell

This is true. I wasn't talking about all piracy in general, but about a particular sort of morally ambiguous person (or organization) that honestly doesn't feel any different about shoplifting than they do stolen software used in a for-profit situation.

2. You can't go on treating the individuals who work at these places as faceless asshats.

You've made a great deal of assumptions about what questions I've asked in building your argument about my statements about how companies like GC create an abusive and hostile costumer environment and turning it rather abrasively personal - especially I'm exactly the sort of person that calls employees and their managers to thank them personally for good service. The last time I did this was about a month ago because I had excellent help and service from a very nice and informative experience buying a small bag of goldfish and some snails that amounted to about 3 dollars - and they weren't even my goldfish as I was picking them up for a friend.

I do none of the things you describe - and Guitar Center is the last place I would go to ask for advice on how to set up a studio, training, or - ick - "tech-ing up". I'm not some noob kid walking in off the street trying to buy his first $50 practice guitar or cheap-ass DJ rig. I'm not asking hundreds of unrelated, general questions over hours and hours. We're talking about scenarios where I know roughly what it is I want and I need to buy it right now, sometimes in quantity - usually for a client or sound system I'm involved in.

Let's say I go in and I want an amplifier to replace one blown on a tour. I know roughly what I want, what manufacturer and model, what wattage and features. I've had situations where they can't even tell me if it's a class A, B or class D amplifier, much less provide a schematic with a spectrum response profile or anything else important to making an expensive decision. I don't want to stand around jawing, I want to make an informed decision using my critical thinking skills and buy it and get the fuck out of the store.

You're actually illustrating the sort of problem I'm describing in your comment. Just because I'm trying to buy something at Guitar Center doesn't automatically mean I'm an idiot or otherwise uninformed and you can assume vast quantities of bullshit about me.

I certainly don't see employees at chain stores as faceless asshats, but in your own words it sure sounds like you treat customers that way.

Do you haggle on underwear at Wal-Mart? Just asking. Do you spend hours at walmart (or anywhere) asking about the pasteurization process of milk before you buy it?

A pack of underwear or gallon of milk isn't a $500 amp or a multi-thousand dollar guitar or keyboard or DJ rig. Now, if you're talking about some fantastically expensive bespoke-made underwear, milk or whatever else - you bet I'm I'm going to ask some questions and I want them answered or I'm walking out of the store and bitching about it on the internet.

Do you not haggle when you buy a car or a computer? Smart consumers do.
posted by loquacious at 6:22 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is Nutkin the iMapler some sort of Firewire powered syrup peripheral?
posted by fleetmouse at 6:28 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway - let's rerail this. You're way too personally involved in defending Guitar Center and I'm probably way too demanding in my expectations.
posted by loquacious at 6:32 PM on January 31, 2009


In reading about copyright law in the last year or so I have been pretty horrified to find out how utterly recent the current state of affairs is. Just a hundred years ago - when the U.S. was certainly already completely capitalistic, age of the oil barons and railroad barons and trusts and all - the default assumption was that a created work was in the public domain unless the creator registered copyright on it.

In the U.S. the series of events that changed the default assumption to be "any given work you should assume to be copyrighted and you may be at legal risk to use it" is something occurred just in the last four decades or so. In places like Sweden it's only in the last ten years that commercial pressure has brought a change to their laws.

As I see it the change in the default assumption has effectively transferred massive amounts of public property into private hands - and in all practicality it has been transferred into the hands of corporations who only publishers or distributors who had little or nothing to do with the creation of the intellectual property and are probably directly robbing the artists or inventors blind as well to squeeze every last drop of blood from them. Despite the usual refrain that the purpose of the whole system is to protect the inventors and creative artists - that part isn't working so good.

IMO that amounts to one of the grandest thefts in history: tantamount to the various kinds of colonialism in the West and East and in the ancient world, or to the 1990s privatization of the Russian oil and gas industry, or to the whole "socialize the risk, privatize the profits" bail-out thing going on with the global financial crisis right now.

I'm all in favor of capitalism and entrepreneurship and I think that creative artists and inventors should be fairly compensated for the value they create - something that is NOT happening now - but it's a totally false dichotomy when people talk as if it's either the current system or communism. There are an entire spectrum of ways it could work, many flavors of which have already and workably been implemented during the last couple of centuries - it's just that greed has gradually pushed everything into the current absurd framework.

It is the faceless asshats who benefit from all this, not the artists and inventors. For an artist or inventor to receive compensation anything proportional to the actual value generated by the work is a complete accident under the current system. Even the basic framing of this part of the economy as "intellectual property" is practically fraudulent: the very fact that the author or inventor deserves to be compensated, is a legal right turned into some sort of property which of course can be neatly severed from the actual person responsible and transferred to the ownership of an uninvolved company. In exchange for $24 in beads and trinkets, of course, so it's all principled and fair don'cha know.

Arrgh, sorry about the long rambling post that probably will not convince anybody of anything. I hope those who would disagree with me can at least get a sense of where my frustration is coming from.
posted by XMLicious at 6:35 PM on January 31, 2009 [15 favorites]


Mmmmm ...

I feel pretty strongly that the current state of copyright and the law in the US is far too lopsided towards the IP holder, and I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who make it a point to whine about how much it hurts their career. I feel your pain, but, look, that clearly doesn't work. Lars Ulrich is forever known as the Napster killer, not the savior of the music industry. I like when artists decide to put their stuff out there and try new distribution models which don't involve NAIL and the usual cadre of Big Three labels. And I used to spend a lot of time arguing about how intellectual property is not even that great of a concept. Wasn't buying very much music back then, either, but listening to a lot. And then things change. Let's just say that sometimes psychedelic experiences can have unintended consequences, and you have to find ways to live with yourself. I buy all the music I listen to, now, as well as software I use, unless it's open source or offered for free, and if it's an artist I like, I'll make an effort to buy their music even if they offer it for free. I spend a similar amount that I used to back when there was no downloading, but I mostly buy independent artists on very small run CD production, so the money is mostly going to the artist.

And I buy music production software, and the good shit (Cubase, Battery, etc.) is expensive. Yeah, Steinberg can bite it for all the DRM hoops they make you jump through, but I still pay them. A major reason, truthfully, is that I'm sick of not having a dependable music production environment, and having legit software makes it easier to get tech support and deal with issues. But getting copies of music or music production software without paying is just not something I can do anymore and sleep at night. It's sort of hard for me to imagine that a big music studio would pirate their software, but I've seen CPAs do it with QuickBooks, and you'd think the bean counters would have some sort of ethical line when it comes to this stuff.

Don't have a lot of sympathy for artists who use software to create music and don't pay for it, because I think it's sort of important to know and love your instruments, which means software if that's what you're doing. It's fine if you're willing to own up to it if you get called out, or if you're just up front about it, but at least have some conviction about your intent. I know a lot of musicians who freely download music, too, and that's fine, but there is something to be said for contributing to an environment where we look out for each other in the creative world. The act of buying music from an artist in person is a great opportunity to interact and make contacts, and it's good networking and spreading good will, so it can be smart as a business decision if you're also in the business of creating music. But, hey, far as I'm concerned, open the floodgates, make copyright reasonable again, get rid of DRM, let me make backups in the medium of my choice. We're just hacking around the edges and deluding ourselves that this content can truly be controlled. I'll still pay for it.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 PM on January 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't know a single guitarist with a stolen guitar, not because its hard to steal stuff but morally reproachable. THAT is the point of Audio Damage's response and quite frankly... they have a point. Somehow actually holding psychologically reframes how most people view theft.

But there's only one of that guitar ... if you have it, nobody else can (ie. the rightful owner).

If I could somehow plug my bass guitar into the internet, and maybe 12 hours later duplicate bass guitars started popping out of other peoples ethernet cables, well, that'd be a different story.

(for the record, I don't really know what my point is here, but it's a funny image that came into my head. please continue with your very passionate binary duel)
posted by mannequito at 6:45 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've made my living playing music, and while it's a struggle, the fact is that musicians should be pretty damn sensitive to the fact that other people deserve to make money from their creative work. I'm sorry, but no one who is a "professional" anything can convince me that fifty bucks is too much of a stretch for a tool of the trade. I've known guitarists who lived on canned beans for months to afford the right axe.

So this guy is a fucktard, yeah, but in the world of musicians I know, he'd simply be called a dick. He didn't pirate the software to make a political statement; he only makes such statements after the fact to rationalize his theft, just like many people who steal music and, when called on it, scream "free culture" and "but the record companies don't pay the musicians either."

I'm a Lessigian on the broad questions here, not a defender of the status quo and its institutionalized forms of exploitation of laws and principles meant to *support* creative work in order to monopolize and control that work. But stealing intellectual property is no way to overthrow the system we've got. Jona whatever is not Robin Hood. He's part of the same unethical culture of exploitation as the RIAA.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:47 PM on January 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Quick question, wouldn't hosting a PDF version, of a google cache, of a copyrighted interview, and serving that up because you're being petulant still be a copyright violation?"

This is where fair use rears its ugly head.
posted by waxboy at 6:52 PM on January 31, 2009


This is a more interesting situation than people are giving it credit for.

Once MP3 happened, there was no going back to a CD or two a month, plus whatever happened to be on the radio. Back in the late nineties, I actually built a system to look at random people's music collections, just to get a grasp of how much people were listening to. Best I could tell, the average consumption level had risen to at least ~250 tracks, cycled every 3 months, with some overlap in terms of the listening set.

That's ~250 singles, over 3 months. Cost of that by traditional models would be somewhere around $2K (allowances for singles and compilation CD's, etc).

So, you're getting for free, what the legitimate market wants you to pay ~$670 dollars a month for. It's not just that that's not going to happen. It's that, having once gotten a taste, the idea of "going back" was unimaginable.

All this has been obvious for years. What's interesting about this latest tiff is a couple of things:

How much do you think it would cost the average electronic musician to purchase all of his software? I'm not defending the piracy in the slightest. I'm simply observing that, just as going back to the one-or-two-CDs-a-month era before MP3 is unimaginable, so too it would seem going back to one-or-two-filter-packages per album. But surely the average consumer merely has his enjoyment at stake, while the musician has a career! Yes, but music is a competitive field, and with that huge appetite for ultimately stolen music comes wildly distributed mindshare. If everyone else is pirating, how would you compete with inferior tools?

What little money there was left to make in music, you would not make, because you weren't keeping with the latest styles in produced audio. Or, to turn the entire situation around, even those studios that were entirely legitimate, and were paying for everything, are having to compete with kids who have no expenses whatsoever.

The other thing that fascinates me is the "Coup De Grace" attack from Audio Damage:
So we won't send you a bill, but know this: you'll end up paying for our software one way or another. I imagine you'll want to book a show at a club where I'm friends with the owner, and you'll need that date to wheel part of a run. But that owner will know that you're not to be trusted, so he'll pass on the date. Or you'll want to license one of your tracks on an episode of television, but the music supervisor has a 15-year relationship with me, and he values that more than he needs your song. Or you'll finally get an interview with that magazine that will put you in front of the kind of people you need to be in front of, but come to find out Audio Damage spends $1500 a month advertising in that magazine, and that company needs our $1500 more than it needs to fill column inches with your pondering out loud whether you're a bad person or not.
Really? Did he just put all of that in writing?
posted by effugas at 7:04 PM on January 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


krinklyfig: The act of buying music from an artist in person is a great opportunity to interact and make contacts, and it's good networking and spreading good will, so it can be smart as a business decision if you're also in the business of creating music. But, hey, far as I'm concerned, open the floodgates, make copyright reasonable again, get rid of DRM, let me make backups in the medium of my choice. We're just hacking around the edges and deluding ourselves that this content can truly be controlled.

Amen.

I heard an anecdote recently that's probably just an urban legend but it makes a great story. Supposedly there was a very prolific and successful bootlegger who operated during the 80's and 90's out of one of the regions of Europe that had very loose copyright laws at the time. (Okay, the way it was actually related to me was that they had established their own micronation on an island in the Mediterranean and hence were beyond the reach of any government, but that's a bit too Dr. Evil.)

They were so successful and made such profit that they took to a practice that would soothe their consciences: after releasing a bootleg they would place a few hundred thousand dollars in some sort of Swiss-bank-account-type escrow which could only be claimed by the actual artist originating the song and not the IP holder. Years later after the artist's career had tanked and they were all out of money they would surreptitiously go in and claim the contents of the escrow account, thereby retroactively making the bootlegger's operations ethical and balancing out the karma.

I think that also James Bond and a speed boat chase in Monte Carlo was involved somehow. Or was it Venice...
posted by XMLicious at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know a few music producers, and most of them have not paid for 90% of their software. Of course, most of them have never gotten a dime from royalties either. Maybe if record labels stopped fucking artists they'd have enough money to pay for software.
posted by empath at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2009


but in your own words it sure sounds like you treat customers that way.

No, i never did. I don't see how you got that. I was never the best "salesman" there, really. I was just a guy trying to make money at something remotely related to my passion. I imagine we might have gotten along quite well. I found myself answering a lot of the harder questions floating around the store.

Nutkin the iMapler some sort of Firewire powered syrup peripheral?

Misstype. 'Impaler'...but really the point is i had sillly nametags all the time to try and have fun. It was a response to his "nametag comment".


Just because I'm trying to buy something at Guitar Center doesn't automatically mean I'm an idiot or otherwise uninformed

Never said that. Most people aren't, honestly. But sure, some people are less informed than you. Its the full gamut. I've listened to your music, clearly you can record and know what you're doing. (you're stuff is very nice to listen to BTW) I didn't say you were an idiot. You obviously are pretty smart. What i said was....


I've had situations where they can't even tell me if it's a class A, B or class D amplifier, much less provide a schematic with a spectrum response profile or anything else important to making an expensive decision.


... I said that individuals at online business don't have to confront customers with that kind of explanation. They just "move gear"- and at lower costs to boot (by volume). At retail situations the buyer often demands information from the sales rep (usually off the top of their head) and judge all the sales reps there (and the whole company) that same token. Like the customers, the reps are all at different levels of understanding. That's my whoooole point.
Some are asses, some arent.
Some are knowledgeable, some aren't.
Customers are the same way.
Hell.
Life is like that. I really feel like you see (not just guitar center) but ALL big business as one big block of monotone meat. I'm just interjecting --hey, the employees , maybe not the business model...but the employess are people..and at least at guitar center are musicians too, much like you.

If I am buying an amp, i go to the manufacturers spec sheet and read that for myself. I don't expect any sales rep to memorize frequency ranges of speakers. Admittedly when i was there i could (memorize that kind of stuff), but i am a borderline asperger's case and do well at that kind of stuff. We're talking about a store with hundreds of models on the floor at any given time. Could YOU do that?

Also for the record, frequency responses at my location were posted right next to the price, along with the class of amp, wattage, slew rate and other info.


A pack of underwear or gallon of milk isn't a $500 amp or a multi-thousand dollar guitar or keyboard or DJ rig. Now, if you're talking about some fantastically expensive bespoke-made underwear, milk or whatever else - you bet I'm I'm going to ask some questions and I want them answered or I'm walking out of the store and bitching about it on the internet.

I shouldn't have to tell you that if you're going to spend over 100 dollars on anything research it yourself, period. People buy things a lot more expensive than milk every day on the internet without so much as a haggle or question. They buy plasma screen from walmart without grinding the associate. They order 5000$ computers from alienware or newegg without asking "whats MY price?"

Some professions and business seem to be ok with haggling. Cars, Mattress and Computers. And only "in the store". Others seem unscathed. Online business is haggle free for the most part. That's the point of what i was typing. I was responding to your argument about the mom and pop stores.


So another long rant by me? Sorry.
Well this actually is part of the topic. Its about perception. One sees a big corporation, and doesn't feel guilty about haggling cause "those bastards are making money hand over fist" when really the individual who suffers the most is the individual sales associate. In most situations, that's how the model for commission sales are set up. That's same dissociative stance makes people think its ok to hack software from some faceless entity. Thats what made this article so interesting! That "faceless entity" showed its face - it was just two dudes scraping by. Bechtolt's tone changed a LOT when he was confronted with that face, wouldn't you say? Much like the employees at that monotone block of meat you despise so much, it turns out the people that made the software Bechtol was stealing were people too. and (suprise!) they felt a bit annoyed that they even had to point that out in the first place.

Let me make this VERY clear. i DO NOT work there anymore. It certainly had its share of problems but what i am defending here is the individual. If that wasn't clear, reread my posts and you'll reframe what I am saying. I have no stake in defending guitar center or any other place.. i was merely recounting what i found to be reality there. I really hope you didn't take anything i said to be a personal attack, but i can't help but recall that episode of southpark where the "heart of walmart" was a mirror. What i learned was that at least at Guitar Center, those were your peers, not enemies. In my city they were out gigging, and usually trying to "make it" also, and usually scraping by all the same.
posted by 5imian at 7:26 PM on January 31, 2009


as long as we're discussing guitar center* - i bought a korg nanopad and nanokontrol there today and i simply do not understand why it takes the person serving me 5 minutes to get his tags filled out, staple the money to the tag, enter a bunch of stuff into his workstation, rinse repeat, whatever, until i get an actual receipt and my change

every time

is it because i'm paying cash or are they just woefully inefficient? - or do they mistrust their employees so much that they've got to go through all this nonsense just to ring up a cash sale?

*(it's my only option in kalamazoo - although i've been known to drive down to sweetwater's in fort wayne for an ebow ...)
posted by pyramid termite at 8:06 PM on January 31, 2009


Yacht is a dick, not because he bragged about pirating (or even the act itself) but because he can afford not to... and what he can't afford, he can definitely function without.

Freeware audio apps are plentiful nowadays, and there's not a single sound out there that cannot be achieved with a little ingenuity, kvraudio.com scavenging and some dedication.

He's just lazy and disrespectful to the makers of his tools at this point. Before he decided to be a full-time (professional?) musician this stuff flies, afterwards definitely not.

Whether Chris at Audio Damage can wield the blade he claims regarding this damaging his future prospects i'm unsure, but the ripple effect of these articles has likely done something already for him. Hopefully it'll help him reprioritize his spending a little, maybe clean his hard drive.
posted by phylum sinter at 8:09 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


"*(it's my only option in kalamazoo - although i've been known to drive down to sweetwater's in fort wayne for an ebow ...)"

Not sure how they are in store, but it's been great dealing with them online.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:11 PM on January 31, 2009



is it because i'm paying cash or are they just woefully inefficient? - or do they mistrust their employees so much that they've got to go through all this nonsense just to ring up a cash sale?

The latter. its a crappy system. i fit that in the category of "the problems" with their model.
posted by 5imian at 8:13 PM on January 31, 2009


Freeware audio apps are plentiful nowadays, and there's not a single sound out there that cannot be achieved with a little ingenuity, kvraudio.com scavenging and some dedication.

They are indeed easy to come by if you just know where to look.
posted by 5imian at 8:19 PM on January 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


The latter. its a crappy system.

but doesn't anyone know how to count out a cash drawer? - i handled cash professionally for 20 years at a motel and a convenience store - this whole system just doesn't make any sense

oh, well

---

Not sure how they are in store, but it's been great dealing with them online.

they're fine - i don't have a credit card right now - and besides, there's a couple really good used bookstores in ft wayne and the liquor stores carry three floyd's beer ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:21 PM on January 31, 2009


but doesn't anyone know how to count out a cash drawer?

Yeah dude, i hear ya its weird, and it only forces the associate to do it on certain items (mostly big stuff). I never got it either.. but they don't like keeping like eighthundred bucks on a drawer.
posted by 5imian at 8:26 PM on January 31, 2009


If something has yet to be created, can it be missed?

We have a Catholic Church for that.
posted by oaf at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2009


If everyone else is pirating, how would you compete with inferior tools?

This is exactly why anyone who hadn't been knowingly taking unpalatable risks on Wall Street recently looked like a poor performer. When everyone else is cutting corners, the one who doesn't gets left behind.
posted by oaf at 8:41 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The other thing that fascinates me is the "Coup De Grace" attack from Audio Damage:

So we won't send you a bill, but know this: you'll end up paying for our software one way or another. ...

Really? Did he just put all of that in writing?


Yes, that did seem a bit over-the-top. Possibly illegal, I don't know. Is blackballing of that sort against the law? The author didn't seem like someone who would say something of that sort without being confident that it wouldn't cost him.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:43 PM on January 31, 2009


they don't like keeping like eighthundred bucks on a drawer.

neither do motel managers or convenience store owners - that's why they keep safes under the counter and make sure that only the owner/manager has the key - it's all been figured out by millions of small businesspeople for decades

yeah, it's totally weird
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on January 31, 2009



Some professions and business seem to be ok with haggling. Cars, Mattress and Computers.


also, Gourds
posted by mannequito at 8:50 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


5imian, most of those look primitive even by 90s standards.

A quick lowdown on putting together a cheap or free computer music setup

Reaper for plugin host / Daw - not free but the uncrippled demo runs forever and noncommercial license is 50 bucks
ShortCircuit version 1 for a sampler (v2 is buggy)
all these nice free TAL plugs
all these Kjaerhus freebies
TL's pocket limiter
and this one
polyiblit and lazysnake
Pure Data for you nerdy types who can't afford Max MSP
these are nice too
you will spend months exploring these
posted by fleetmouse at 9:03 PM on January 31, 2009 [23 favorites]


5imian, most of those look primitive even by 90s standards.

yeah some are.. check the period though, its not bad.

i just kinda bookmark everything i come across and you go the first like 8 or so out of well.. a bazillion (it goes all the way down to the bottom and then wraps around to the top ahaha)

Thanks for the links though. I was just making a point that you helped prove. Free audio software is all over the intenet! whee!
posted by 5imian at 9:19 PM on January 31, 2009


I just went through your list, i like the smart electronix stuff, i use it alot.

Heres some other less "retro" (lol) stuff:

Tobybear things (sites offline right now, dunno why, but yeah check that out)

Livecut (or as i liek to call it the "squarepusher button".. its like the supatrigga from smartelectronics only a bit sassier)

Wavosaauurrr (rawwaarr) (an all out audio editor. kinda reminds me of Soundforge, if you remember that)

Supercollider
(i'll see your nerdy-ass pure data and raise you one supercollider!)

- oh and for the record im a hardcore max/msp head

Duckverb and Duckdelay have compression on the outputs. fun stuff.

Alphankanal stuff check out the automat. cool beans/ german synth with an abelton like interface

North pole Its this really crazy virtual analog synthesizer filter with resonance, envelope follower and an integrated post-filter digital delay. yum!

Minion VERY cool. Check out the interface on this envelope unit. Its a bunch of colored balls in a 3d plane....well just look.

Particle Fountain (and the other NDC stuff for that measure)
Dude it sounds great, but watch as 200 or so oscillators damn near crash your system they are so fat. ahahaa! Seriously cool though!

Well that a few more, at better quality. enjoy.
posted by 5imian at 9:38 PM on January 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't read that "coup de grace" as a literal threat. More like, "Karma will get you for being such a dick and then bragging about being such a dick and possibly naming yourself YACHT."
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:53 PM on January 31, 2009


I read that coup de grace as "I'm a fucking twat".

In fact, that coup de grace makes him as much of a twat as Mr Bechtolt.

Also... Analog Industries : Good Fucking Luck blacklisting YACHT. You're both a twat and a moron to think you can.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:32 PM on January 31, 2009


motty: a bit off topic and a little late, but yeah I use ardour all the time at least six hours a week, and it lacks polish compared to other DAWs, for example it barely has working midi now, and the interface for plugins is clunky. Don't get me wrong, ardour is great, the jack connection kit is a fucking miracle, but it is the Free Software poor cousin to other DAWs that cost many thousands of dollars. I am considering becoming an ardour subscriber sometime soon, actually.
posted by idiopath at 12:15 AM on February 1, 2009


mannequito: "Some professions and business seem to be ok with haggling. Cars, Mattress and Computers.

also, Gourds
"

Heh - that was in my head too...

I used to work in a computer shop on London's Tottenham Court Road and the haggling thing is very real to me. The problem with "smart consumer's" is that they know nothing about our side of the equation. The like round numbers, they expect a discount else they feel they're being personally ripped off or that they're not a real man for not controlling the situation, but they don't realise that our margins were often in the realm of 3-5 pounds for that item, that the existence of thirty other shops on the street meant that we couldn't "start high and negotiate down" and that yes, we hear "what's the price for cash?" thirty times a day. Haggling in store just becomes frustrating and demoralising for the staff, particularly in somewhere like GC (or the now defunct UK equivalent of Turnkey/Soho Soundhouse) where the sales staff don't even have the ability to alter the price anyway.
posted by benzo8 at 1:25 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give me a pirate over a bullying capitalist asshole any day.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:38 AM on February 1, 2009


The funny thing is, guess who else seems to like the warez:
"Now, it's on to Cubase 4, Live, energyXT, and Bidule, and then I'll start putting in plugins. One nice thing about this recent destruction is that I'm finally able to completely purge my system of all... uh... "unofficial" versions. Since I don't have any old projects to load any more (hardy har har) I don't actually need any plugins in particular. So it's a nice opportunity to get things 100% official."
posted by mullingitover at 2:29 AM on February 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't read that "coup de grace" as a literal threat.

I don't see any way to read it other than as a literal threat.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:55 AM on February 1, 2009


I was fairly sympathetic to the YACHT dude, until I found out this is $50 software. Seriously? If it was fucking Avid Xpress DV for $1800, I could understand. But $50? Buy one less baggie of blow, you asshat.

As a programmer/publisher, I do my best to work out business models that don't hinge on selling the actual program. Services, paid subscription services, and watermarked downloadable content are my favorites. I think that it's kind of a mistake to think of software as a product like a cabbage. Really, it's an asynchronous service.

There's just no fighting the pirates.

The problem with "smart consumer's" is that they know nothing about our side of the equation. The like round numbers, they expect a discount else they feel they're being personally ripped off or that they're not a real man for not controlling the situation, but they don't realise that our margins were often in the realm of 3-5 pounds for that item, that the existence of thirty other shops on the street meant that we couldn't "start high and negotiate down" and that yes, we hear "what's the price for cash?" thirty times a day.

Seriously? People haggle over retail sales? How gauche.

I have asked dealers of expensive and specialized equipment if they could do me a deal on a display model, something with a ding or dent, or a returned item. I've also said, "I'm sorry, your price is too high. Thanks for the help, but I can't afford to buy it from you. But, I'll come back when I need parts or accessories." I have also pointed out their competitors' prices to see if they're inclined to match them. And, I really hate doing comparison shopping in the brick and mortar and then buying online, I feel like a cheat... but sometimes the difference in price isn't just the difference in overhead, but rather reflects a local monopoly or fool milking.

[My favorite example, but very US specific, is guns. If they're charging you MSRP for a new in box firearm, you are getting ripped off. The manufacturers bump up the price well above market value so that all of their dealers can offer a "discount". The size of this discount, of course, varies. On a weapon with an $800 MSRP, you might actually expect to pay $650 at someplace who isn't screwing you. Likewise, if it's a common weapon and you don't need the GLOCK sticker that comes in the GLOCK tupperware (no, really, but it's not what you think), they've got one used or on commission for $450 that's mechanically identical to the new one.]

But to point at the brand-new, boxed doohickey and literally say, "Nah, $240 is too much. I'll give you $180," and attempt to start a lower-higher dickering match is just weak. Don't they feel embarrassed making a scene about price? If that's the object you want, and you want it new and pristine, and that's the price, take it or leave it, dickhead.
posted by Netzapper at 3:48 AM on February 1, 2009


Chris comments on the previous post here.
As for publicly stating that I've never used cracked software, can't do that without lying, sorry. On the other hand, I don't publicly state that I have used cracked software either, and that's really what this is about, isn't it? It's not that he (or anyone) uses pirated software. There are circumstances in which that is not only plausible, but perhaps necessary. This is about a public figure (granted, a minor one) essentially espousing the virtues of building his creation on my back, and in turn questioning whether that tarnishes his character.
I don't understand his complaint in light of this though; is he really just saying that piracy is ok as long as you don't publicly admit to it?
posted by JonB at 3:58 AM on February 1, 2009


mullingitover: The funny thing is, guess who else seems to like the warez:

In my experience inter-industry piracy is more tolerated, because the act of piracy does not represent a lost sale, but rather one less NFR request to fill.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:05 AM on February 1, 2009


As for publicly stating that I've never used cracked software, can't do that without lying, sorry. On the other hand, I don't publicly state that I have used cracked software either, and that's really what this is about, isn't it?

well, you just did publicly state it, didn't you?

they're both morons
posted by pyramid termite at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give me a pirate over a bullying capitalist asshole any day.

OK, I think we need to work on the concept of "capitalist" here.

How is selling your music for a profit any different from selling your software for a profit? A big part of the problem in all these IP debates is the somehow special privilege accorded to "music" as being above and outside any status as a commodity. Writing software is no more or less an 'art' than writing songs. And no less or more a business, either.

So fine, if Yacht is giving away his music for free, we have a case for a difference here. But I don't think that's the case. (Maybe he should give away a free song but with crippled functionality and an expiration date on the demo.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:40 AM on February 1, 2009


tumult: "i'm sorry you've created a rule for yourself which prevents you from paying above an arbitrary amount for software that you would otherwise use and enjoy with your time, which is definitely worth more than the dollars necessary to purchase a license for some software. i hope that, someday, you are able to remedy yourself of this."

Worth more to you maybe, not me. And as for for my $100 being an "arbitrary amount," well, it's pretty much budgeting. I have plenty of licensed software, and legal access to lots more, but I kind of look at it like cars. Yes, I would love to have a Dodge Magnum, but realistically, not in this lifetime. So I drive a Neon.

I'm a hobbyist, when it comes to creating most anything with software, so for me to spend more than $100 on software just doesn't make sense. You're rules may vary.

What I was trying to point out is that there's not always a middle ground for people like me. Someone that would like to maybe record one song. Or edit an afternoon of photos. Or put together on video package. We're faced with using inferior products, piracy, or not doing it. I usually choose to just not do it.

It would be nice it there was an option, like renting a car, where I could download and unlock an app for a weekend.

I get by with Lite versions, demos, entry level stuff, and the fact that I don't make a living of anything I do. I also have access to a lot of software through my employer. But if I ever decided to leave an IT job I know I would be able to AFFORD the software I like using.

I did say for personal use I won't pay more than $100 for any software. I'm fine with this, just as I'm fine with the fact that if I have to I'll use Acorn or some other image editing software for the dozen or so photos I edit a year. Buying Photoshop would be silly for this. But would I pay to be able to use a product I already know somewhat? Probably. This is why I said I wish there was a per use payment.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:51 AM on February 1, 2009


Anyway, as a developer whose games are cracked and pirated the day they are released (it's almost a badge of honour!), I see piracy as a cost of doing business.

I've been on Metafilter for six years now, but if you're the champion of humanity behind Rocket Mania, then this is the first time that I've been absolutely starstruck. Holy shit, man. Best. Game. Ever.
posted by Ljubljana at 10:31 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Audio Damage guys put out tremendously useful and musical plugins, for a bargain-basement price. Two guys, devoted to what they do, charging extremely affordable prices for their software. This Yacht asshat is a perfect example of someone who suffers from the Entitlement Syndrome of so many of the younger generation of users today - he wants to pay nothing for his tools of creation, and then has the audacity to go public with the fact that he's stealing intellectual property from two good guys. He's a moron, plain and simple. He deserves every bit of grief he gets from the Audio Damage guys, who are two highly decent people - I've dealt with them directly, they're really smart, making great stuff, often things that have no direct equivalent, even for a lot more money. Not only that, but one of their latest plugins was first released as a free download, Rough Rider, and it's simply excellent. "Yacht" has ripped these guys off, and is boasting about it? WTF?

It's like when I get emails from folks using Photoshop, who hit me up with technical questions, often rather obvious, simple stuff. 80% of the time, when I ask if they've contacted Adobe tech support, they confess that they're using pirated versions of the software for their professional work. Now, I understand that the full version of Photoshop is indeed expensive, but people, for less than $90, Photoshop Elements truly offers about 90% of what most people actually need from Photoshop. So how can anyone justify this behavior? They can't, bottom line.

If musicians want free or inexpensive audio plugins, there's a ton of stuff out there - you just have to take the time to hunt it down. While most MIDI noodlers know about the rather potent Crystal synth plugin (free), you have to dig deep to find the nice little Free Alpha synth (PC VST/Mac AU/RTAS/VST), or astounding SoundMagic Spectral plugs, or the Swiss-army-knife Luxonix LFX-1310 multiprocessor FX plug. This guy offers a boatload of free plugins, and for the whopping price of $49, Augustus Loop is Frippertronics on acid, in a plugin. Just try and recreate some of this stuff in hardware for anything less than hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Disclaimer time - I'm a software reviewer, and it usually takes just a phone call or email for me to get free stuff. I'm crazy about the Zebra synth and MFM2 plugins from this German genius, and I have NFR copies of them, but when he released these marvels, I knew I had to have them, but probably was not going to be able to review them for the magazine I write for, so I ponied up the $$$ and bought them. Yes, I'm a hobbyist, and the purchase price cleared out my PayPal account, but if it means than Uhrs is more likely to keep making this stuff in the future, well hell, it's more than worth the money. So much of the innovation that we used to see in the software world has gone the way of the dodo, so when small outfits are making good stuff, it's just dumb not to support them.

Yacht is a pirate, stealing stuff from good people, and making money from his theft. If anyone wants to defend this moron, have a good time, just remember that he's pissing in our pool.
posted by dbiedny at 11:38 AM on February 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


Wow! awesome post DBiedny!

Between your post, my post and fleetmouse - its pretty obvious that

a) 50$ was not too much to ask for something that he made money off of


and
b) Piracy (especially the cheap stuff like audio damage) is an act of IGNORANCE considering the VAST amount of amazing cheap/free things out there. I forgot to mention the Luxonix and Free Alpha in my post (I use both ALL the time and they are amazing)

Yacht is a pirate, stealing stuff from good people, and making money from his theft. If anyone wants to defend this moron, have a good time, just remember that he's pissing in our pool.


*applause*
posted by 5imian at 12:38 PM on February 1, 2009


Before you get out the pitchforks and torches, you should note that someone pointed out above that the same Audio Damage blogger admitted to pirating other people's software.

I think that unless you can point to YACHT bitching about people pirating his music, the guy at Audio Damage is a far bigger douchebag.
posted by empath at 1:09 PM on February 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I don't understand his complaint in light of this though; is he really just saying that piracy is ok as long as you don't publicly admit to it?"

Yes.
Once again, this argument has nothing to do with _using_ cracked software, which is common, and in some cases justifiable. This argument is about gloating about it in public, especially when you are a public figure.

-CR
[head asplodes]

"I think that unless you can point to YACHT bitching about people pirating his music, the guy at Audio Damage is a far bigger douchebag."
QFT.
posted by mullingitover at 1:38 PM on February 1, 2009


"Yacht is a pirate, stealing stuff from good people, and making money from his theft."

And yet, maybe he couldn't justify paying $50 at the time. Lots of musicians can't... especially if they do it for a living.

I have known "successful" bands signed with major labels who are tens of thousands in the hole, due to the crappy deals they've had to accept in order to get their product in stores. They oftentimes find themselves on the hook for the cost of their product, put out there in the stores, essentially on consignment... and ineffectively promoted by the labels. Their own stuff is pirated too... and they don't make their rent money on album sales, but on local live shows where they can keep their costs down.

The simple fact is that lots of people pirate or are pirated from, but that not every act of piracy equals lost money. In fact, it's pretty clear that most don't. Software developers make their money not by selling ones and zeroes. They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.

This doesn't justify piracy, but it does suggest that people should understand why it happens, realize what they are actually selling, and adjust their business models appropriately.
posted by markkraft at 1:46 PM on February 1, 2009


They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.

Reflect on this. Is it true?

I'm sure John Williams, the highest paid musician out there really fits this schema to a "T" ... cause you know he plays live all the time.

Or maybe you're wrong?
posted by 5imian at 2:05 PM on February 1, 2009


"I'm sure John Williams, the highest paid musician out there really fits this schema to a "T" ... cause you know he plays live all the time."

I'm talking about poor contemporary -- primarily electronic -- musicians who generally don't make much money off their album sales, and you're dragging in the world's singularly most successful composer of soundtracks...

... and you're claiming to have a point?!
posted by markkraft at 2:55 PM on February 1, 2009


Software developers make their money not by selling ones and zeroes.

I'll call Adobe and let them know that they're in the phone support business. That'll be a relief to them, means that don't have to pay their Indian programmers any more, and can dump all those heavy boxes in the garbage. What's especially ironic about that statement is that for years, Adobe has sought to significantly decrease the amount of hard packaging/documentation that ships with the product, so that they could do away with manufacturing and shipping costs. Around a dozen years ago, then-CEO Bruce Chizen told me he looked forward to the day when physical packaging was phased out, when they could make their money precisely by selling nothing but ones and zeroes.

They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.

I think you're getting a little confused - you might make the argument that a large consumer/professional software company with a suite of highly complex applications makes a decent amount of their income on support, but without the original product to begin with, there would be no need a tech support infrastructure, and the vast bulk of revenue definitely comes from application sales. With a small developer of audio plugins, the actual amount of support work comes down to making sure that the plugin works with the various host programs being used to drive the plugs. I've had almost zero need for follow-up tech support on the vast majority of audio plugins I have in my arsenal, and most plugin companies don't even offer paid support schemes.

While you have a point that musicians are tight on cash, and usually get bum deals from record labels, the playing field is much flatter now, and the Internet is largely responsible for that fact. The same communications medium that enables this wonderful level of intellectual exchange also lets pirates share their warez. Whether technology is good or bad is irrelevant, it's neutral, the people using it determine the tone of the transaction and the nature of medium. Not only that, but computers now truly make it possible to deploy raw talent (assuming that's in supply) to the task of making great media - music, words, movies - without the crazy overhead of past years. You certainly don't need an expensive studio to cut an album - save the money for decent mastering, the recording process itself can happen with a minimum investment that can be amortized over time. The bands that get in over their heads in expensive studios get no sympathy from me - if they're smart, they can take control of their own destiny. Yeah, they make most of their money on touring, so does that mean that if you want to see the show but can't afford the ticket, you should be let in anyway? Because you want to attend? That's exactly what I mean by Entitlement Syndrome.

Meanwhile, none of this justifies piracy. My guess is that "Yacht" could indeed afford to buy his tools, but made the decision to spend the money on beer, pretzels or who the fuck knows what. Bottom line, he stole Audio Damage's software (along with Ableton's and a few others), used it to make his music which he presumably sold. You can spin this any way you wish, but it comes right back to theft. If someone is hungry, it does NOT give them the right to steal food from the supermarket, in a civilized society. If what you want is anarchy, well, we'll see how that turns out for you in the long run.
posted by dbiedny at 2:59 PM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm talking about poor contemporary -- primarily electronic -- musicians who generally don't make much money off their album sales, and you're dragging in the world's singularly most successful composer of soundtracks...

... and you're claiming to have a point?!


YES! And you don't have a point! First of all YACHT was stealing software run on a Digital Audio Workstation, so for the sake of "my point" lets focus on musicians that use a DAW. This includes:

1) advertisers (not playing live)
-- I knwo a few in bands as side projects, but that's not what they're getting paid for.
2) people scoring films and videogames (not playing live)
--A massive chunk of the industry sir. bigger than essoteric laptop djs.
3) people teaching or at educational institutes (often not playing live, or at least certianly not with their DAW)
--My old recording professor was also a percussionist int he Philharmonic. he did not play live with Protools, he played live with snare drums and marimbas!!
4) Hobbyists (mostly not playing live)
--These guys are usually making beats when they get home from work, not booking shows.
5) Beat Brokers/ beat makers (by far and large studio only)
-- I am referring to a specific sliver of the industry. These guys often write the beats for hip hop artists and "sell them" to the live performer. some get big (little john) but most are working behind the scenes.. in a studio...the whole time.
6) Utilitarian Editors ( NEVER play live)
-- These are the guys cutting your wedding videos, funeral slideshows. They work at churches and are basically EVERYWHERE in every state, making a living NOT being famous. Sure, they may not always use the sexiest VI subtractive synth out there but they are using things like final cut and protools for sure. Thsi is a very large chunk of the money making market sir.
7) electronic musicians (MANY do not play live AT ALL)
--Thats right. I'd say most don't. The cost of a P.A. and other hardware is a big thing preventing your average local electronic artist from playing live. What you say is possibly true of rock bands, but for an electronic artist more often than not a computer is the defacto way of doing it, unless you are a turntableist.. in which case its time to shell out even more money.
-----------
Really you are referring TO a very very very very small sliver of musicians that SPECIFICALLY work on a laptop running something like say ableton or serato. Most of the plugins out there aren't designed for live use!

Dude, YACHT essentially stole 'studio gear'. People usually play live with hardware and instruments. Yes there are indeed laptop musicians out there (like YACHT) but the amount of guys that actually get ON STAGE with a laptop are not the majority at all. YACT is the singularity here.

John Williams, Hans Zimmer and people like this are NOT the exception rather the NORM of people actually getting paid for their work.

I called you out on that statement because it honestly sounded like one out of ignorance rather than stupidity. I said "think about that". Really, i meant it. Think of every television show, radio spot, movie, videogame, wedding slideshow, church production, training video ... hell EVERYTHING.

Does that stuff come from the ether, or is it cut in a a studio with software? Think about it.
posted by 5imian at 3:35 PM on February 1, 2009


Seriously though, who are the people who are pirating these particular pieces of software?

They're usually local electronic bands, or "deejays" who do a lot more than spin records, but who use whatever tools and sounds are available to them to create new, independent sounds. There are millions of them, and they sure as hell aren't making a lot of their money from major labels, the film industry, or from royalties.

They pirate dozens of the $50 tools and several of the $2000 tools, and sample, sample, sample -- sometimes authorized, usually not -- to create their sound. And if they can't justify budgeting $2000 a year for the big tools, they just as equally can't justify budgeting $2000 a year for all the small tools they use.

But you also have to ask, what are they missing out on by not purchasing. Support for the product. The latest updates for registered users. Inside information, perhaps, on some of the cool things they could be doing with it. Potential access to training and tutorials. Member-only forums to share info and even user-created additions. Quite possibly even more.

I'm a big fan of "free", yet tiered, business models, because they encourage widespread use of your product, while allowing you to concentrate on selling those things that can't easily be ripped off or substituted for. Support. Community. Training.

In 2002, I saw Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling debating exactly these kinds of issues... what will be worth anything, once everyone is competing against free -- which is essentially what piracy is.

It's not like these issues are anything new. What's not new is that most people refuse to optimize their business models to better cope with reality. That's not a guarantee of profit or success, but it at least makes longterm success more likely and sustainable.
posted by markkraft at 3:49 PM on February 1, 2009


I agree with a lot of what your saying but:

There are millions of them
Possible exaggeration. Its a small, tight knit community. And they are GREATLY outnumbered by everyone else i listed. GREATLY.

Support for the product. The latest updates for registered users. Inside information, perhaps, on some of the cool things they could be doing with it.


Um. no. Updates? Hackable. Support? These guys you mention are often VERY competent. They usually don't need much, if any support. Inside Information? WHAT? The (OH EM GEE!) SUPER DUPER SEEEEECRETS OF THE PROGRAM??? BULLSHIT! And if there is inside info, they'd get that too, probably sooner and faster than the so called "average" user.

It's not like these issues are anything new. What's not new is that most people refuse to optimize their business models to better cope with reality. That's not a guarantee of profit or success, but it at least makes longterm success more likely and sustainable.

Lets quantify "not anything new", shall we?
They're new enough. Look at the table of DRM and associated devices. Whats the oldest date? theres one 1984... and then a BIG twelve year year jump to a couple entries. But the majority of ALL these issues have sprung up within the LAST TEN YEARS. Really. By the standards of anything that's relatively new in my opinion. And how long have people been making music and exploring sound? How long have artisans crafted wares and sold them? How long have we sold information (be it in the form of books OR software?) I mean, digital piracy is a BABY compared to..damn near everything.

You have some GREAT points. You really do. Many i have heard before, and do agree with. But your statement about "live musicians" and "live support" is just plain ignorant and wrong, which is what i took issue with (and still do). You haven't admitted that's wrong but rather tried to basically sidestep with a bunch of BS, which i find annoying.

I do agree that some software (Adobe, Digidesign) is a bit pricey for what it really is. Perhaps lowering the price might encourage less piracy. However, the people i'm stepping up to the plate here and defending is Audio damage, asking fifty bucks. I mean they DID that (lower the price substantially) for us and YACHT is PISSING on them. How can you defend that?? How much support does their product need? Like zero?
posted by 5imian at 4:26 PM on February 1, 2009


Once again, this argument has nothing to do with _using_ cracked software, which is common, and in some cases justifiable. This argument is about gloating about it in public, especially when you are a public figure.

Also, Chris Randall's response in that last link in the post pretty much makes it clear that (a) not only are they not going to send him an bill (implying that it's too fucking late for him to pay/repent), but (b) the only payment he's going to accept is the Jona's reputation, albeit, in Randall's sphere. He says:
So we won't send you a bill, but know this: you'll end up paying for our software one way or another. I imagine you'll want to book a show at a club where I'm friends with the owner, and you'll need that date to wheel part of a run. But that owner will know that you're not to be trusted, so he'll pass on the date. Or you'll want to license one of your tracks on an episode of television, but the music supervisor has a 15-year relationship with me, and he values that more than he needs your song. Or you'll finally get an interview with that magazine that will put you in front of the kind of people you need to be in front of, but come to find out Audio Damage spends $1500 a month advertising in that magazine, and that company needs our $1500 more than it needs to fill column inches with your pondering out loud whether you're a bad person or not.
All this from a self-confessed, rehabilitated pirate (who now spends $1500 a month in advertising). I'm not saying Randall hasn't worked for it...just that he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. Clearly, it's not just about Jona's gloating...
posted by RockCorpse at 4:45 PM on February 1, 2009


"Think of every television show, radio spot, movie, videogame, wedding slideshow, church production, training video ... hell EVERYTHING. Does that stuff come from the ether, or is it cut in a a studio with software?"

... and yet, those people aren't likely to be the ones pirating such software, which is my point. It's far more likely to be hobbyists, DJs, electronic musicians / bands with an electronic element, etc.

Who pirates? Usually young people, learning the tools and earning their chops. Access to highly affordable -- or free -- tools help these people to do precisely that, regardless of the legality and/or morality involved... and many of these same people move on to become the registered product purchasing professionals you cited.

I know a lot of people who work in multimedia, and I've noticed the same thing in their community as I have with those who work in music. Many of them got their start learning on pirated software, though nowadays they can afford whatever they want. And by doing so, in aggregate, they've contributed a serious ton of money to the economy because they're better skilled, able to take on the jobs that are out there.

Free access to free XYZ tools helps create an army of people who know, purchase -- and possibly even develop add-ons or otherwise create additional value for -- XYZ tools a few years down the road.

If you look at software economically, what it comes down to is that software you have to pay a lot for for in order to be capable of doing professional-quality work functions much like a tariff on education, whereas free software actually creates considerable value. The same kind of arguments apply.

Essentially, the business model that optimizes revenue from those who are high-end professionals conflicts with those who aren't, and who can't justify the cost. This is problematic, because the high-end professional businesses *NEED* lots of young, trained people skilled with the tools, but our educational system actually does a much poorer job of creating these people than somebody seeding a torrent online somewhere. Unfortunately, this also creates an environment where many professionals who are capable of paying choose not to anyways.

The fact is, we *NEED* free in this country. Free software and free education with fewer barriers would all help in this regard, and free software has been a huge driving force in creating value in places all over the world, from Rio to Mumbai to Shanghai. Free -- oftentimes pirated -- software has literally changed lives and brought people out of poverty, providing far more value than what's been lost in revenues that many couldn't afford to pay anyway. Free music and video drives the sales of multibillion dollar hardware industries, selling tiny devices that would otherwise cost about $5K to fill completely with legal content.

The problem, of course, is making "free" pay.
posted by markkraft at 4:54 PM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


idiopath: I know what you mean about the polish thing, and each time I do a session in some nice expensive studio with shedloads of gear and Logic or Protools I do feel serious gear envy watching the engineer whizz around with them in a way that Ardour doesn't yet quite seem to let you do, though a lot of that is to do with my machine being nearly ten years old, so not Ardour's fault. On the other hand, given the kit I've got, Ardour gives me a working DAW which is plenty polished enough to give me results I am happy with. Of course newer kit and expensive software with shiny plugins are nicer to work with, but the good enough bit is key, because that's a relatively new thing. Five or ten years ago my then ten years old machine would not run an audio editor let alone a DAW.
posted by motty at 5:00 PM on February 1, 2009


"your statement about "live musicians" and "live support" is just plain ignorant and wrong, which is what i took issue with"

It's very much the right issue to address, especially if we're dealing with all the Jona Bechtolt wannabees of the world, who are trying to eke out an independent career as a electric musician/deejay.

We're in an environment where we are increasingly competing against free... or pretty damn close to it.

Bloggers and a guy named Craig in S.F. fatally undermine the business model for the nation's newspapers. Music piracy continues to go up, to the point that p2p is almost unnecessary. People directly and privately sharing their huge collections of music is becoming a huge part of the mix, and there's so much out there worldwide that's already free, or simply rippable from myspace, lastfm, or anything else. Fact is, you can find pretty much anything you want for free, just by searching with Google. Increasingly popular private, "friend's only" blogging/online community features are empowering largely untrackable piracy. Practically everything online is capable of being a potential tool for piracy... and it's going to get worse.

Musicians can see this... to the point that many are starting to just give their albums away. Might as well, as the music industry isn't making money on them either. At least "free" attracts attention to what you *ARE* selling.

Ultimately, do you really think that threatening to blackball Jona Bechtolt is really going to win over any poor young artist who is trying to learn their craft and is trying to scrape by? Or are they simply going to think that the guy over at Analog Industries is a dick about piracy, lump him into the Metallica category, and not buy his stuff anyways?
posted by markkraft at 5:25 PM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not only is (was?) Jona a member of The Blow, a fairly well known group in the world of indie rock stuff, but he says he's "had every small-sized laptop Apple has made since the original white G3 iBook" - so he has money. Maybe he doesn't do a good job saving up, and is instead a low-end Apple fanboy (he also owns an iPhone, which takes another bite outta his wallet), because he says he's "never had the luxury of exceptional audio hardware, for one reason or another." He sounds like someone who keeps upgrading his gaming system, so he doesn't have money to pay for the games.

He's no rock star, and Marriage Records is definitely not known for being a major label (they started with CD-Rs), and their distribution really sucked in the beginning (resulting in their early releases being auctioned on eBay for hefty sums), so the whole lot of that has a feel of being really indie. But why go into his methods for getting software? He seems like he's trying to keep more DIY, when he should have grown beyond that.

XMLicious - if you want to know more about the past decades of bootlegging, read Bootleg: The Rise And Fall Of The Secret Recording Industry . It goes into really good detail of bootlegging world-wide for rock music, when it was vaguely legal in some areas. There was a vaguely similar story in the book, but I can't recall enough right now.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:31 PM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok. You are saying some valuable things and i appreciate that. but again. seriously. I am only contending a single point (and really have been the whole time):
    Software developers make their money not by selling ones and zeroes. They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.
I pointed out that professional musicians often (usually) DONT make money like that, and I think a number of posters have very well counteracted that software companies really DO make money off of ones and zeroes. Ill add to that. Watch this. Start at 4:50 - 5:20 minutes in. Its the president of Oracle. Most software comanies are trying to make it so they ONLY sell ones and zeros from what i can tell.

Do you really really really stand by THAT statement? or was that essentially a typo and beside your actual points? Everything you have to say about piracy i generally agree with (as i have said already). I don't agree with that statement. Do you see what i am saying NOW?
posted by 5imian at 7:32 PM on February 1, 2009


"The more forward thinking audio software developers are tying their products to physical control surfaces, like NI has done with Kore 2 and now with Maschine. Now granted this isn't a viable option for all audio software, but I have used Kore 2 and it is sweeeeeeet. I think we're going to see more software / hardware hybrid products, or developers hitching their wagons to companies that sell them."

Dongles have never stopped people from pirating products.

"For some sort of insane reason my mom insists on holding on to the copies and leaves me with the originals. But anyway. I'm happy. I get a nice set of expensive furniture and I don't have to report my dad to the authorities. I really miss my dad but still I wonder; if there where more people like him, would I still have a couch to sit in while typing this message?"

This happens _all_ _the_ _time_. Even on AskMe you see questions from people wanting to recreate an object/recipe/effect they've seen. Everyone is helpful and you almost never hear cries of "PIRACY".

"but doesn't anyone know how to count out a cash drawer? - i handled cash professionally for 20 years at a motel and a convenience store - this whole system just doesn't make any sense"

While hardly a new phenomenon I experienced a particularly egregious example last week. My purchases came to $5.25 and I initially handed the cashier a $10. A couple seconds later, when I realized my change was going to amount to a swack load of coins, I added a quarter to the bill so I'd get a five back. The cashier however had already rung in the $10 so need to resort to a hand held calculator to determine my change.
posted by Mitheral at 10:35 PM on February 1, 2009


"The more forward thinking audio software developers are tying their products to physical control surfaces, like NI has done with Kore 2 and now with Maschine. Now granted this isn't a viable option for all audio software, but I have used Kore 2 and it is sweeeeeeet. I think we're going to see more software / hardware hybrid products, or developers hitching their wagons to companies that sell them."

Dongles have never stopped people from pirating products.


No dude, not dongles, control surfaces. Like, with sliders and switches and knobs and buttons. That you use to monitor and adjust audio levels. That form the basic human interface.

When they don't even put the interface element on the screen, for mouse control, in a convenient manner, it doesn't matter if you pirate the software or not. Even if it runs, you'll have to go through eight menu options to control a line-in level with the mouse. It'll be unusable.

I don't use audio software (or video software anymore). But, it's my understanding that even the base-level pro offerings from these companies are being bundled with proprietary custom control surfaces that comprise most of the basic interface to the software. The one I linked to is a 24-channel upgrade board; but, I think the basic package comes with an 8-channel board, or something like that. Likewise, I hear that Avid has done similar things with video, adding in a box that includes a scrub wheel and some buttons.

You can emulate these objects, of course, just like a dongle, and offer a mouse-based pirate interface. But, it's impossible for the pirated software to emulate the genuine user experience in pure software. The pirates would have to start selling physical artifacts, opening them up to legal attack.
posted by Netzapper at 11:05 PM on February 1, 2009


Sure. But either the control surfaces were always needed in which case there was no piracy risk; or the physical components are merely "nice to haves" and people like the infringer in this story will make do with software emulation of those surfaces. IE: this isn't something you can just add on to prevent piracy. A much smaller number of users will be convinced to pony up for the hardware. At $10K for that mixer it looks a lot to me like digidesign is really a hardware company.

And that totally discounts the hardware pirate who will distribute plans to roll your own "scrub wheel and some buttons". Even if building the hardware for that fancy box cost $5000 that is a lot of incentive to pirate the software and learn how to wield a soldering iron.

This played out hundreds of times over the last few decades. Expensive dedicated hardware being emulated (often poorly) by software with a bare minimum of parts that could be touched but still being successful because of the greatly reduced cost. See bloody software modems (the POTS kind) vs. hardware modems.
posted by Mitheral at 12:49 AM on February 2, 2009


I think the important lesson that I got from the 11 pages of comments, and the 100 some-odd comments here on MeFi, is that both these guys are dicks, and I'll never buy either of their products.
posted by jackofsaxons at 12:54 AM on February 2, 2009


"I think a number of posters have very well counteracted that software companies really DO make money off of ones and zeroes. Ill add to that. Watch this. Start at 4:50 - 5:20 minutes in. Its the president of Oracle. Most software comanies are trying to make it so they ONLY sell ones and zeros from what i can tell."

I know that software companies want to make money from ones and zeroes... but from the consumer's standpoint, if they have a choice between piracy and buying a piece of software, and if they have no particular moral / ethical / legal qualms about piracy, then they base their choice whether to pirate or not based on what is being sold...

And for them, it's not a choice based on the ones and zeroes. It's a choice based on all the other factors I've mentioned... and, of course, convenience, which is really what Ellison of Oracle was speaking to. There are also many who choose to purchase software based simply on the fact that they don't know much about piracy and how to pirate with minimal risk... but for the point of this conversation, the important issue to me is how you get people who are generally clued-in to choose to buy any given product, rather than buy an identical digital copy.

Obviously, you get them to buy it for those aspects of purchase which *AREN"T* identical. iTunes seems to have based their entire business model on quick, convenient, quality online downloads, and it seems to work well for them, but I think it likely that they realize that very, very few of their users are filling their new iPods to the brim with content they purchased legally, because the cost to the consumer of doing that would likely be more than what they paid for their last car.

Clearly, capacity on these small devices is going to do its best to keep pace with Moore's Law -- and the same is true about storage for every other device out there -- so the question needs to be asked... where is the content going to come from to justify this much storage?

I suspect more of it will be friend-to-friend, in ways that frustrate the RIAA/MPAA. Increasingly, our portable electronic ones-and-zeroes storage devices can theoretically allow for duplication of gigabytes in seconds, while services like Dropbox make friend-to-friend filesharing painless and largely untrackable.

In that kind of emerging reality, online downloads such as what Ellison suggests is actually kind of inefficient. What *does* seem more interesting to me is online apps, because they *could* leverage collaboration, community, and sharing, making the idea of running apps on your own computer a pretty outdated, isolated choice indeed.
posted by markkraft at 7:12 AM on February 2, 2009


I liked your ipod comment markkraft, you have a damn fine point there.
posted by 5imian at 7:30 AM on February 2, 2009


The same general ideas apply to computers as well.

If you have ten terabytes of storage on your incredibly powerful laptop-'o-the-future, what software *don't* you want installed on your computer? Are you really going to spend $100K+ to fill up your drives... are you even going to spend $20k? Because it sure as hell would suck to leave your laptop in the cab on the way to the airport.

Wouldn't it be an incredible loss of economic value for these devices not to be full of software, empowering everyone who wants to do so with the ability to, say, make their own professional quality soundtracks/animation/movies... (assuming they had years and years to do it, that is.) If the US locks everything up tight, while other countries pirate far more freely and, as a result, create legions of people skilled on the latest high-end software packages, doesn't that put them at a huge advantage?

If the only software packages out there that did such things at a professional level cost $1000+, and did their best to prevent piracy, then doesn't it seem likely that sooner or later open source would view this lost potential as a real opportunity and start seriously gunning at creating free solutions to unleash this potential?

Open source will continue progress into more specialized niches and start to eat some pretty high-class lunch... or as economists say, "create value for the consumer", while Google, the masters of the "free" ad-driven business model, are doing their utmost to make the browser the platform.

To me, a ten terabyte massively multimedia laptop future argues loudly for pre-installation of a plethora of free, powerful software packages. How we get there is obviously problematic, but I would argue that there is a very high cost to be paid for not going there, especially if someone else goes there first.
posted by markkraft at 8:31 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


while Google, the masters of the "free" ad-driven business model, are doing their utmost to make the browser the platform.

I might be missing something, but in so many cases, "making the browser the platform" strikes me as less a matter of useful innovation and more a reach for the ultimate DRM lock.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


That aside, I couldn't favorite hard enough.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:01 AM on February 2, 2009


I think the important lesson that I got from the 11 pages of comments, and the 100 some-odd comments here on MeFi, is that both these guys are dicks, and I'll never buy either of their products.

I think what made this story interesting to me is that I could identify with both of these guys and their positions. This isn't your typical copyfight situation where it is the elderly grandmother who doesn't even know how to use itunes being persecuted by the evil faceless RIAA. This is one guy who makes things and acts, as he assumes everyone does, as if information wants to be free, and another guy who makes things that thinks it is dickish to take something from someone without paying for it and then brag about it. I don't think one party is absolutely right and the other absolutely wrong, but I also don't think they are both dicks. They are just a couple of dudes who are operating in an area that is morally gray that a lot of us operate in and that nobody has really come up with an absolutely right answer to yet.
posted by ND¢ at 10:11 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


ND¢ has officially won the thread. Commenting is over. go home everyone. Nothing to see here.

Did you notice i found the ¢ button?
posted by 5imian at 10:42 AM on February 2, 2009


...another guy who makes things that thinks it is dickish to take something from someone without paying for it... - while having done it himself. Oh, damn, there's a word for that, isn't there?
posted by RockCorpse at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2009


Oh, and 5imian, your extensive comment breaking down DAW usage is simply not true. The term Digital Audio Workstation is more generic than you're allowing. It basically covers any computer with an audio interface that runs ProTools, Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Peak, Live, Sadie, etc. etc. Almost every studio on the planet uses one.
posted by RockCorpse at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2009


"in so many cases, "making the browser the platform" strikes me as less a matter of useful innovation and more a reach for the ultimate DRM lock."

The ultimate lock, in my mind, is that you're giving the product away for "free" in the first place. It's hard to compete against free without a better product, and there's not necessarily a lot of financial incentive to do so... at least not yet. And what's the incentive for pirating/"stealing" from "free"?

Competing against Google on these sorts of free web apps is also going to be complicated by the fact that Google will be, in effect, doing to Microsoft what Microsoft was accused of doing to others for ages... leveraging their platform dominance in order to guarantee their apps a dominant, unfair advantage in the software market.

They have built-in advantages not only as far as traffic goes, but also because they dominate the online ad-driven marketplace with the best ability to serve people ads that are very specific to them and -- as a result -- far more lucrative.
posted by markkraft at 11:05 AM on February 2, 2009


markkraft: I too am pretty certain that open source is the way things will go in the long term - unlike proprietary software, there is a ratcheting action, where the improvements accumulate and can't be lost to patents, businesses going under, the source code being lost, etc. For another metaphor, the improvements in open source flow downstream into the bigger projects - if ingen comes up with a kickass way to do a parallel add multiply, you can bet your ass that it will show up in ardour and hydrogen two months from now.

Some names to look out for in the free software multimedia world:
  • ardour - as mentioned previously, ardour is a DAW. It does the basics very well, and once midi and the plugin UI get polished up a bit, it will be a very serious competitor. They fund their project through a voluntary subscription model (people sign on to pay them $x per month/year, kind of like public broadcasting).
  • hydrogen - a decent drum machine with multilayered kits and a straightforward sequencer.
  • cinelerra - a nonlinear video editor. This program flakes out sometimes, but you won't lose your work (recover session will save all but maybe your last mouseclick). It has a state of the art motion detection plugin that can feed a compositor for gfx overlays (ie. putting a cgi object from blender in someone's hand).
  • blender - multi-platform 3d modelling and animation studio. Like ardour and cinelerra, this program will take a significant time investment to learn, even if you already know how to use another program with the same functionality, but it is the most mature and full-featured of the three.
These programs may mature slower than proprietary software (most of the coders are volunteers, and new features are much more fun to work on than stability or usability), but once they get there, they will do to the multimedia world what firefox did to the browser world.
posted by idiopath at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2009


Oh, and 5imian, your extensive comment breaking down DAW usage is simply not true. The term Digital Audio Workstation is more generic than you're allowing. It basically covers any computer with an audio interface that runs ProTools, Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Peak, Live, Sadie, etc. etc. Almost every studio on the planet uses one.

I said "includes". I wasn't making a comprehensive list (and i seriously doubt anyone could). l2read!!

The POINT was that the statement that musicians more or less exclusively make money on "live" performances wasn't and ISNT true, especially in the context of a DAW. I jsut listed off the top of my head about 8 examples of people "NOT making money by playing live." and using music software.

If you read my like 4 posts after that you will see that my ONLY point of contention with markkraft 's statement was the part where :

Software developers make their money not by selling ones and zeroes. They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.


I'm sorry you missed the so clearly articulated and outlined point of that post, but i couldn't have spelled it out better. yes, obviously there's more people out there than just that! I agree! That's what i'm saying! Thats the point! MY argument that users of DAWs "includes" both 'poor electronic musicians' and GADS of other people is 100% true!

Let me put it another way: markkraft was saying that musicians make money off "live" stuff and not album sales (basically), especially because of all the piracy of CDs. He also is saying that gear like iPods encourages this. this is all true. True for artists. Very true.

HOWEVER!

If you're in the industry though, you know that "artists" are an itty bitty sliver of the pie. Both in number and $$$. Thats why his argument, while super valid in a lot of ways breaks down. One you stop talking about Metallica and Radiohead's business model --the glove doesn't fit.

There are lots of musicans using recording software that DON'T fit the template of "artist". By "artist" i mean the buisness model where you usually cut a CD, sell it and go play shows or whatever. Most musicians in the real world, if anything, tend to be teachers, gear salesmen, or contributors to mass media if anything. "Artists" are the minority in my opinion. Most musicians aren't using their "image" as part of their craft. What i posted was just a big ass list of people who weren't the so called "artists".

Markkraft is saying that "well the people pirating in the first place ARE young poor artists blah blah blah". Yes those guys are pirating, but those aren't the only ones pirating! Academic institutions have oversight, but i can tell you firsthand that piracy is rampant in educational circles as well. Piracy is rampant in people in the commercial industry too. Shit. As YACHT so clearly put EVERYONE does it (and they do!), and as we have learned so does Audio Damage, apparently. Interestingly, companies like audiodamage get hit the hardest because they don't have the RandD to put absurd hardware based DRM in their work, and academic institutions pay greater oversight to the "big" programs like Adobe Creative Suite than a "little drop in the bucket" that some professor or grad student might install. That stuff is easier to hack, and due to its "niche" like appeal often gets pirated by its target audience. furthermore they're fluff. Really. Record with protools? can't do it unless you buy hardware units. But everyone can live without audiodamage. Its a special flavor, its a luxury. No, Academic institutions arent going to provide large scale funding. They ABSOLUTELY rely on the patronage and support of customers who are "voting with their dollar".

My point was, and is (and has NOT been refuted) is that more often than not
Software developers make their money not by selling ones and zeroes. They make it by selling "live" support, just like the musician makes their money selling "live" concerts.
is false. More often than not, both entities really are making money off the product they make. I am not referring to metallica, or adobe. I am referring to say, a coder working at a Bank or a guy scoring a TV series. These guys ABSOLUTELY are making their bread and butter off their 'ones and zeros' and MANY times are pirating just the same as the poor scraping rainbow children and their circuit bent speak and spells.

Wow. How can i be more clear? Its not like I have been in the industry (education sales AND commercial) for years and can tell you this shit firsthand. Oh wait. I have.
posted by 5imian at 1:24 PM on February 2, 2009


And i think markkraft is right.

50 years from now open source will be dominant. WE are already training the young.

..all over the world.
posted by 5imian at 1:25 PM on February 2, 2009


Edit:

They ABSOLUTELY rely on the patronage and support of customers who are "voting with their dollar".

They = companies like audio damage.
posted by 5imian at 1:30 PM on February 2, 2009


5imian, yes, I apologize. I just couldn't read through the non-linear frothing. I'm not saying you didn't have a point. I'm just saying I got bored trying to figure out what it was.
posted by RockCorpse at 2:52 PM on February 2, 2009


(no really, my fault entirely)
posted by RockCorpse at 2:52 PM on February 2, 2009


I accept your apology i suppose, but i guess i would personally check my own reading skills/ attention span before confronting someone.

I also contend my frothing is quite linear.

Well, maybe not, but it is structured.

and with that im bored wit this thread fooorrreeevvaarrrrr
posted by 5imian at 3:05 PM on February 2, 2009


i would personally check my own reading skills/ attention span before confronting someone.

Possibly the most graceless acceptance of a backhanded apology...which I now retract.
posted by RockCorpse at 3:44 PM on February 2, 2009


I'm sorry you were offended.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:47 PM on February 2, 2009


Backhanded apologies get backhanded acceptances .... which i now retract.

and extend again.


and retract.


and extend. and retract. and extend.


Oh god apology sex!
posted by 5imian at 4:36 PM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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