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> Reconciliation., a word from one of the reforming...
post Nov 16 2011, 10:49 PM
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I've come here to express a few concerns and to ask for possible suggestions regarding a project I have started. The only thing I can offer in return are several suggestions myself. So, as the least I can do, here are my suggestions after which I will explain the nature of my project and the guidance I seek.

When I first discovered this group I was reading an article in regards to BanPiracy's efforts around 2007. Your group was quoted by the writer and it was mentioned that education about piracy was the biggest thing needed for any efforts to succeed. I could not agree more. I believe BOTH sides of the argument need an education on some level. I believe those pirating software should be shown things like the chart on your home page. It's eerie and fly's in the face of everything we had come to fool ourselves in believing about this particular industry.

It is widely claimed that not all of us can afford to purchase the 'standard' software. While this is just a snow job most feed themselves to justify their actions; for a large majority of us it is an absolute reality. In regards to this user and his pirated software, you will need to do a bit of social-profiling to understand the problem.

It is widely speculated that those using pirated software are 'kids' just getting started and this is probably true, but there are several adults just as naive and ignorant as these teens and adolescence when it comes to making music. Most go into it thinking they NEED 'Pro Tools' or 'Ableton Live' to record and sequence their work. Some are lead to believe the only way to achieve a certain sound is only with a certain instrument plugin like 'Massive' and most recently 'Nexus2'. Probably because an artist they look up to uses that particular piece, or maybe some other misguided fool at a forum or Music Store told them so. When they look at the prices of each, both about $199 (in the case of Nexus2 over $1200 if that's including all the expansions.) they become even further discouraged because for most such an investment for someone starting out is plain ridiculous. Then they stumble upon the pirated software scene.

While there is a VERY large presence of free or inexpensive software available, the problem is that it gets buried by Google in search results. Yes, there are a few sites that come to the top page, but those sites do not appear welcoming nor do they offer the kind of presence in their resources and support that reflects the true nature of freeware in the music industry. The sites look unattended with shoddy descriptions for the instruments and effects, and even then the concept of a freeware or cheap DAW seems to be close to absent. For the upstart musician they probably know little to nothing about the art and skill of synthesis so when they do try freeware it's difficult to understand or get the sounds they want because most only come with a few presets that cover the broad notion of what the plugin is capable of, and the user quickly abandons the idea.

So our naive customer resorts to pirated software and the apprehensions are soothed by the self-serving notion that they are only 'Trying until they buy'. The problem starts here because this caters to the 'instant gratification' mindset that is all too prevalent in America and most of the civilized world today. When they first open it up the GUI is most likely very appealing to them, catering to the mindset that our mass market society has created. We want inviting aesthetics and anything less is just unacceptable. Then when they start playing around they discover a massive amount of preset options and obtaining that desired sound is just a click away. In the mind of the user the freeware is becoming more and more less appealing as we speak. They begin to search deeper into the world of pirated software and they find it. All the while that instant gratification defect is nurture more and more. Then as the user works and creates more sounds and eventually full songs, but inevitably they need some tech support.

Looking for support they'll probably start off at the piracy friendly boards, but discover most do not want to talk too much about their knowledge or experience fearing it will blow their cover; but there are a few and they kindly help this user solve the problem. Yet again, inevitability steps in and there comes and issue they cannot resolve within that community. They start to frequent the legit message boards looking for help pretending to be a registered user up until they ignorantly give themselves away because this issue is exclusive to those using pirated versions. The issue of ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.0 and the missing legacy libraries come to mind. Then once exposed they are met with a backlash and treated with much intolerance and one message board regularly practices the tactic of banning this 'warez kiddie' then launching on a flame attack while they cannot defend themselves only to return back to the thread as a guest to see the seething insults. This only further pushes the user into the world of pirated software, and why not they were welcomed and helped there?

Then we start to build resentments towards the software companies and this only serves to justify the piracy even further, and still they will have themselves believe that they are just 'trying' and one day they'll open the doors to them and it will be alright and everything is good. Feeding and nurturing the immaturity within the individual. Until they are trapped. The gratification has been instant, there hasn't been any work for what they have obtained and therefore no appreciation and the prices that were once high to begin with are now inconceivable to them due to this distorted reality.

Then things get further complicated when a frustrated software developer stops by to lash out at the community that has been so welcoming to him and his means to his hobby and he takes the opportunity to lash back. Finally he feels good about something. The subconscious guilt is lessened by this mean angry person coming on to his ground to start conflict. And during the ensuing battle or words he may be exposed to others personal justifications about pirating software which are only going to be readily adopted, in this day and age where people are being unjustly sued for piracy in a class action that they cannot afford to fight.

There seems to be very little if any pro-activity by certain sections of this industry in regards to piracy. I personally made telephone calls to two of them offering my ideas to help combat this problem and was told by one that they do not accept unsolicited business proposals, and another never called me back. Most websites do not have anything in regards to an anti-piracy section. Image-Line being an exception that the rest of this industry would do good to learn from. #9 in their list of reasons to stop pirating software should be a banner ad across Google when searching for anything pro audio software related in my opinion.

So I was forced to go it alone at first. In fact it was rather discouraging to say the least. As for myself, yes the above story is slightly autobiographical, I found myself trapped. While my intentions were as golden as a wedding ring, the events in my life between deciding to make music and actually purchasing the software left me without any form of income to make good on the 'try before you buy' promise. While I intended to make my purchases and even had a list of items and how much I'd need to save for each. There's no way one can do so without the income. This sort of emulates the situation most are in. 'Yeah, I'll be buying that as soon as...' 'One day I'm going legit...' But 'One Day' never seems to come.

For myself the decision to clean wasn't made by any of the logical points the research I've looked at has made. I was too bitter about my own situation to extend a little compassion and think logically; another thing that goes on in the mind of most users not just mine. It wasn't until I discovered the quality of certain freeware pieces that I finally started to turn around. There are several industry figures who played a key roll in this Propellerhead and their Reason 6 upgrade offer made probably the biggest impact. Though I have to say it was hard to not let my bitterness get the best of me because my product of choice was Reason 5 and Record and had those unfortunate events not occurred I would have been able to upgrade my product for the price of my choosing. I had a preference towards their work because of ReBirth and the impact it had on me by introducing me to digital music making over 10 years ago. Playing with the demo version of Reason 6 tells me that it would have been the wisest purchase I'd have ever made. Another big impact came after I discovered a series of freeware effects that out preformed my experience with Waves plugins. I knew at that moment I'd better reevaluate my outlook on life. Then when I got real about it, and started to look at the prices from the perspective of a real customer, and not one pretending to be, I was amazed at how diluted I'd let myself become. As I said, there were ALOT of key factors. I could go on. It almost seems like divine intervention when they start to stack up.

Then I started to think about the situation from a karmatic point of view. Putting my personal views on the Record Industry and how it's treated, both the artist and customer aside and accepting that the karma in that was taken care of by Mp3s rise. It became very obvious that we are cannibalizing ourselves and creating another karmatic imbalance. This end of the industry shouldn't have ever had to protect itself from the digital piracy wave. And it is because of this that we do not have the advancements we could have had some developers not, as I recently read, spent 4 years on protection code and only 2 years on coding of the product. Then I think about one of the main benefits making music brings me. A little bit of happiness, in a life gone to pot. Now I know I owe someone something, but I have nothing to offer but work. As I've said I'm unemployed with a lot of time on my hands and I have come up with a possible way to give back, at least, symbolically.

This is where I seek your guidance. As I mention above I feel that the availability of freeware resources would proactively counter the piracy taking place. Not just a site with downloads and links, but an active community very easily found by the novice taking his first look into this world of music production. We would offer support with finding the sounds they want with the resources available to them. Display songs made in a freeware or relatively inexpensive environment. Offer guidance in building a computer system with those capabilities at low costs.

Prevent the piracy before it happens by delivering a dose of reality, because those same 'newbies' will be able to witness musicians who have used pirated software struggle to migrate themselves over into legit environments as we guide them into removing the MIDI and replacing it into a new DAW, then the struggle to reproduce their songs the hard way after so long on easy street. The reality that a plugin they use quite frequently has been discontinued and there's no hope of ever finding a legit copy. The new users will be able to see the pride of in the ones who finally do gain the motivation from this community to make the purchase. Counteract all of the negative mental training mentioned above with positive reinforcement. Reduction and prevention all wrapped up into one tiny little package.

I have set this community up under the theme of a rehab, so we can get these users of cracks. And I have to say from personal experience it's a lot like stopping drug use. The only place you seem to be welcomed is back with the dealers and you can only resist trying that new version or latest effect so long.

I understand that freeware being just as popular as the commercial-ware would put a huge stress on the market as well, but in my opinion it should only drive the developers to create much better software especially if they can now put more focus on the innovations instead of protecting them.

I really want the help of the industry on this, I believe it will work. I cannot join the association unfortunately, as I said, I am unemployed, but I am willing to work off my debt. So I humbly ask for assistance and guidance in creating this community in a fashion that you approve and condone.

Thank you for your time,
James Murphy - Co-Founder of The ReConcile Center - Freeware Resource & Recovery Center For The Warez Musician

This post has been edited by ReconcileNow: Nov 16 2011, 11:05 PM

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