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The Pirating of my Library

InSessionAudio

Active Member


For a long time I have felt ambivalent about piracy in the digital realm. As the owner, operator and janitor for Nine Volt Audio I long ago came to an acceptance that my sound libraries would be pirated, offered free for the taking to the likes of thousands. I remember long ago, back around the time of my second or third release, the utterly sick, punch-in-the-gut feeling I got upon discovering a Nine Volt Audio library posted to a pirate site for the first time. But that feeling has gone away, and has been replaced with a “what-will-be-will-be” feeling.

Recently I was made aware that TAIKO 2 had been pirated. TAIKO 2 is a 2.4 GB Kontakt format library containing over 11,500 samples of Japanese drums. I released it less than four months ago.

How was it pirated? Someone used a credit card fraudulently with one of our distributors to purchase a download copy of it. By the time the fraud had been discovered, the download of the library was complete. Within two days of this happening, the pirated version was up on the web.



What about Copy Protection?

Up to now, I have chosen not to implement copy protection within the Nine Volt Audio libraries. Why? Because a quick look around the web will most likely reveal a cracked version of your favorite software or sound library. Other protection systems, such as “digital watermarking” (a method by which every library contains a unique identifier to the copy the purchaser downloads) would have failed in this instance, since the purchase was made fraudulently in someone else’s name.

What about the Law?

It seems that some sites that host and/or refer users to cracked and stolen software acknowledge the existence of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – a United States law that, amongst other things, criminalizes dissemination and services to circumvent the protection of copy written material. I submitted an official “Abuse of DMCA” email to one referring site, along with a 2nd email that read:

Hello,
I own/operate Nine Volt Audio. I see that our "TAIKO 2" library has just been added to your site.

I humbly ask that you consider taking it down. I did the majority of the work on the TAIKO 2 library and it represents about 10 weeks of work for me.

I/Nine Volt Audio can only put out around four libraries a year, so having stuff freely available can have a real impact on me.

Thank you.

Kyle Z


I received a response the next day that read:

Sure... if that's what you want :) Have a good week.

The reference to TAIKO 2 was deleted from their site.

However, when I read the response I pictured a shoplifter leaving a store, but stopping briefly to wink at the storeowner before completing their exit.

Within another two days, the first two pages of Google revealed five other sites illegally referring to the TAIKO 2 library. Sending more DMCA abuse emails might help, but the library will forever exist in the Torrent and Usenet systems of the world, no matter the amount of action taken.



What Does it Take?

With so many sample and loop libraries released into the world on a daily basis, one could be forgiven for never giving any consideration to how one is put together.

Here is an abridged version of what it took to create TAIKO 2.

Initial planning: I coordinated with a partner to secure access to the drums, the performance hall, percussionists, and any recording equipment that I could not practically travel with. This groundwork, along with discussions about how best to record the drums took place over many months, with countless phone calls, Skype chats and emails.

Travel: A large collection of taiko drums does not travel. I had to go to them. I booked a flight and traveled from Nashville, Tennessee to Columbus, Ohio.

Sessions: With setup, recording and teardown, approximately 40 hours of session time was packed into four days. During this time over 8000 hits/samples were performed and recorded, a task that morphs into a “water torture” feel by the end of the first day.

Editing: Because I recorded from four stereo microphone positions, with additional mono microphones to record solo drums, the editing of 8000 hits gets multiplied out to the creation of approximately 30000 files. Listening to every hit, slicing them up, trimming, fading, naming, organizing by velocity, splitting into groups, layering, and then mapping to the keyboard took several weeks.

Programming: Just getting the samples into the Kontakt sampler is one thing. Transforming it into a customizable and inspiring-to-play instrument is another. Over a month was spent writing custom code (aka “scripting”), designing interface graphics, developing custom impulse responses, and generally refining the product through numerous revisions.

Getting it Out: Over a week was spent creating the cover art, demo MP3s, video walk through, PDF manual, website update, DVD creation and promotional art (banner ads, email artwork, etc…).

And this is just the time I spent. My partner for this particular project invested at least a month of his own time contributing and adding to many of the aspects listed above.



Looking at the Numbers

It is impossible to quantify the financial impact that the pirating of TAIKO 2 will have. How many people will consider purchasing the library, but will first check to see if there is “free” copy somewhere on the web? How many people will download a pirated copy just because they can? No one can ever know these numbers. But perhaps another perspective could be instructive.

One pirate site currently lists 13,699 illegal downloads of TAIKO 2. If each person had paid $1.00 for his or her copy from this site, it would amount to more than the library has grossed so far. I disclose this information to illustrate the point that these libraries are investments, and getting them “in the black” takes time, effort and further capital to promote them.



Who Loses?

I think it is reasonable to assume that this library’s sales potential will be hurt by the existence of a pirated version. But who else does this impact? Consider for a moment if TAIKO 2 had not been made:

- Airfare to the recording location and lodging would not have been purchased.

- Purchases for recording equipment and software specifically used to create TAIKO 2 would not have been made.

- Percussionists would not have been hired for the sampling session.

- A programmer would not have been hired to help in the creation of the Kontakt script.

- Advertising on the web and in print would not have been purchased.

This is only a partial list. There are numerous other positive financial ripples created for others by this library, not least-of-which are the composers that create and sell music utilizing the TAIKO 2 samples.

There are soft costs associated with piracy, too. It is easy to imagine that at times, some paying customers get a tinge of, “I’m a sucker for buying this when everyone else can take it for free.”

Who Gains?

Besides the individuals that download TAIKO 2 without paying, who else gains?

Most obvious: websites that host or aggregate links to pirated material. These sites often sell membership and subscription services.

Less obvious: many referring sites are loaded with ads served up by Google, amongst others. Clicking on those ads makes money for the webmaster and the advertising servicer.



In Closing

When I get stuck thinking about TAIKO 2 being pirated, my mind usually goes to one of three thoughts:

- How heavy the drums were. Getting them on and off the recording stage – sometimes taking two or three people to move just one drum. The thought of that physical act, combined with the knowledge that someone is freely taking TAIKO 2 gets under my skin.

- My partner on TAIKO 2 is having a kid in a few months. The fact that this library has been pirated sucks for him.

- What will the future bring? Despite my passion for doing what I do, is that enough to press on knowing that the products will be pirated?

But if I think a bit longer on it, my self-preservation kicks in with the “what-will-be-will-be” thought. The fact that I slip into this way of thinking is perhaps most upsetting of all.

[mp3]http://www.ninevoltaudio.com/MP3s/TAIKO_2_Demo_02_Low_Kit.mp3[/mp3]

[mp3]http://www.ninevoltaudio.com/MP3s/TAIKO_2_Demo_01_Close_Kit.mp3[/mp3]

Acknowledgements: A "thank you" to the folks at 8 Dio for catching the first pirated posting early on and letting my TAIKO 2 partner know.
 

reddognoyz

Senior Member
Sorry about this pirating. What a drag! I wish there was an airtight way to protect developers like you, and ultimately end-users like myself who want to see thriving sucessful business creating more amazing products from which I earn my living. I don't use any cracks.
 

Resoded

Erik Wallén
Not using a single pirated library/program.

Sadly, most people in my age download pirated programs, libraries, music and movies. They don't even have the decency to be ashamed of it. Most of them throw around bullshit arguments in the line of:

"The internet cannot be controlled, the developers have to adapt". Yeah right. Anyone who has even the slightest grasp of basic marketing and intellectual property rights, and why they are necessary, knows how screwed up these arguments are. And on top of that, these people are self proclaimed good guys who cares about people. They can spend 100 usd on booze and cigarettes in a weekend, but they can't pay 3-6 usd to rent a movie they apparently love.

I really hope that the justice system will catch up and find reasonable ways to enforce these laws. The majority will stop doing this when they know they can get caught.
 

germancomponist

Senior Member
I remember some days ago when I googled for CS 2 update..... . I wrote an emal to Alex, showing him the link directly.

It is a very sadly thing!
 

Ed

Senior Member
Yea that sucks, but I do maintain that a large majority of the downloads are from people that wouldn't have bought it anyway and are mostly just kids trying to make action music for yooootooobs. They are the kind of people that download everything whether they need it or use it or not.
 

playz123

Senior Member
In spite of the all the rhetoric from people who feel it's okay to steal, theft is theft whether you steal software, music or someone's cell phone. In spite of everyone's best efforts, the 'stealing is okay' approach is visible everywhere these days, and I see no end in sight. Yet you can be sure that if the thief ever has something stolen that belongs to them, they will be screaming blue murder as soon as they discover it.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do sympathize deeply with victims of theft and have felt their pain myself. I guess all an individual can do right now is to lead by example. Perhaps if some thief admires a person who is honest, they will be influenced by that behavior. Certainly developers must be somewhat relieved to know too that many honest people want to buy and support their products. But on the other hand it probably never quite makes up for the pain of knowing others are stealing what they worked so hard to create...products that may often generate the only source of income they and their co-workers have. Sad indeed.
 

park bench

Active Member
Ed, while you may be correct that is like saying,
"When you get ganged up on and beat up by 13 people, 10 of them aren't boxing pros and cannot name the technique/move they hit you with."

Not trying for an argument...
 

Ned Bouhalassa

Senior Member
We need to band together and form a team. We should then contact every web site that hosts cracked copies. Perhaps there's power in numbers?
 

doctornine

Senior Member
I really fail to see how anyone can argue this is anything other than stealing.

I make my living from music, I am reliant on my publishers and PRO paying me.
I figure that it's my duty to support sound developers buy paying for their product, how is what hey do different to what I do from a business perspective ?
They supply a product you must pay to use.

For the very same reason I pay for all the music I get. If an artist has invested all the blood, sweat, tears and money in their music. Then you damn well need to pay for it to support them.
 

Ned Bouhalassa

Senior Member
We've discussed this ad nauseam. IMHO, we should be talking about how to best use the resources of our community, not about the causes/effects of piracy, how to define it, who it impacts, blah, blah, blah. Let's ACT.

For one thing, we can open up a new, non-public section here, and freely share info about sites and pirates.
 

Sean Beeson

Active Member
I know the guy having the kid also had his roof leak in because of a bad contractor... Pirates stink :P

I believe the original Tsaiko (WAY back when) was pirated over way over 1k copies by my unofficial count. Luckily it has gradually disappeared from a lot of sites.
 

MichaelL

Senior Member
Scumbags. Theft is inexcusable.

I agree with Ned 100%. Expose them, not that they'll feel any shame, obviously they don't. But perhaps we can cause anyone passing through here to think twice before they buy pirated libraries.
 

guydoingmusic

Senior Member
I have to disagree with the statement that "the majority" are just kids doing this... I have had the good fortune of traveling to several studios across the country to play sessions. And I saw first hand, a large amount of them passing pirated software back and forth. I overheard conversations like, "Hey man.. you want the Wave's Diamond Bundle?" "Can you find me the latest version of Stylus?" I even had someone directly ask me to burn them a copy of my purchased version of Symphobia. None of these people were kids... they were all adults and all making money in this business.

I'm not saying every studio I visited has pirated software in their possession... but it's more than you realize.

Brad
 
IMO. There is nothing we can do to stop already pirated product from download. It'll live forever on torrent trackers. Personally I'd be happy if EVERY audio software and sample libraries developers will start using something that's impossible to crack. Right now it's iLok2 and last version of e-Licenser. If EVERY developer will move to these dongles then all users will be forced to buy dongles. So that will solve "don't have a dongle" problem.
 

Chriss Ons

Senior Member
Sucks big time. Just last week I reported a torrent site to one of the devs who posts regularly on here. It bothers me a great deal that the people who are responsible for making this an almost unviable business, seem to get away with it so often.

But I don't think it's a particularly good idea to post / share specifics about illegal downloads on this public forum... think of the consequences first.
 

MacQ

Senior Member
One option is to ditch Kontakt/KSP entirely and develop in Machfive 3 (with LUA scripting). Then you can get iLok protection for your soundware AND a freely available player (UVI Workstation 2). I think this is the only reasonable way to try avoiding lost sales, and it's certainly the path I'm considering for my (eventual) commercial offerings.
 
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