Do you pay for your software?

How much do you love this stuff?

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Do you pay for your [music] software?

Yes
20
50%
No
19
48%
I don't use software.
1
3%
 
Total votes: 40
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:19 pm

roymond wrote:No worries. I meant it as much tongue in cheek as anything else.


I knew that, Roymond, and I was being tongue-in-cheek myself :)

re: ideals and morals, etc., you have to realise that I'm basically a closet anarchist and anti-capitalist, though. I have fantasies about going out and hunting my own food to take home to my harem of amazonian women, and living off the land. Well, maybe just the harem of amazonian women part. I'm kind of lazy, truth be told.
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:23 pm

jb wrote:That thing about paying for the creation of a song, not the right to copy it, gave me this idea:

What if I paid for the right to use Cubase to make a song, rather than just own it? Would I pay $5 to use it on a non-commercial project? And then $20 for a commercial project?

Seems like an interesting, different way to monetize software. I know they often cripple software by limiting projects, so it would be codable. Of course people would skirt it, but if the price point were reasonable enough you'd minimize the abuse while still allowing poor people access to the good software.


That's an interesting concept, yes, but how would you pay for it? Online via credit card? That eliminates every person (myself included) who doesn't have a credit card. (I have no desire to have one either)
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:28 pm

I presume some sort of micropayment transaction would work, but then there's the issue of what constitutes a "song." A new project file? A bounce from a project file? I have a whole bunch of scratch projects on my drive, and I certainly wouldn't want to pay $5 for each one.
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:45 pm

A simple model would be thus: make the software completely unemcumbered for everything except the final mixdown. If you like a project enough to make a final mixdown, it asks you for a secure payment, you pay, it enables the program to render a final mix.

However, this not only restates the credit card issue, along with people who keep their DAW computer offline, but is also easy to circumvent (play the project and record it with a simple audio recorder on another system or whatever) and then you get into the same problems HDMI is facing right now- how far do you go?
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:47 pm

Define 'final mixdown.' I like to make intermediate mixdowns for friends to listen to and critique. This uses the exact same code as what I consider my final mixdown.
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:53 pm

fluffy wrote:Define 'final mixdown.' I like to make intermediate mixdowns for friends to listen to and critique. This uses the exact same code as what I consider my final mixdown.


Well there you go, another problem :)

I guess this could be done with DRM stuff that allows "temporary final mixdowns" to be played on a "registered" computer, versus "Real, absolute final mixdowns" which would have no DRM restrictions?
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:12 pm

So I'd have to grant a temporary mixdown key to Future Boy, Marcus, Bjam, and Spud?
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:21 pm

...or just use pirated software and leave the headaches out of it!

(that was too easy, fluffy. you're an intelligent person, I'm disappointed)
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:27 pm

As a software engineer I prefer to look for elegant solutions which keep me employed.
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Postby Märk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:44 pm

I'm not trying to be an ass or facetious or whatever, but our exchange really does prove my point that software can not be made pirate-proof: you either have a crippled piece of crap (see Cubase SX3 for example... the first release was so intertwined with the USB dongle that it was only running at 45% of it's efficiency compared to no USB dongle) or you have something that relies on blind trust to make money. I admire the blind trust option much more, personally. I'd still nab it off bittorrent or whatever, but I admire that model more.

That said, I wish you the best of luck in your chosen career, and I hope my stance on piracy never affects you in any way.
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:01 pm

Umm, I wasn't arguing that software could become pirate-proof in that particular case, I was also pointing out how the pay-per-use model falls flat. Either it's so restricted as to be useless or it's too easy to make an endrun around.

Software can be pirate-proof though. Like I said earlier, web-based software is impossible to pirate, and although it's still in its infancy, things like Jamglue show how even music software could be made as a web service. (Yes it's primitive but it's a version 0.1 thing at this point.)

Also, some dongle-based protection has proven quite stubborn. Logic's XSKey mechanism has been around for years and it still hasn't been cracked. Logic Express uses an activation key and was of course cracked within days, but Logic Pro (which is sort of a "holy grail" of cracking) has yet to be cracked. I don't know any of the details of how XSKey works but I do know that the app maintains an active connection with it and there's some sort of key exchange so it's possible that there's some scary-math strong crypto involved (like maybe some of Logic's core code is encrypted and needs to be decrypted by the XSKey to run or something). Then again, Logic Pro also has easy-to-acquire "kiddie" versions which serve as a nice diversion anyway, which is also a reasonable model - people who don't need the full power and don't want to spend any money get the low-end stuff and then when they feel the need for something better, they justify spending money on it.

Though what I was getting at earlier with my own software not having piracy even as an issue is that there are two major software pieces I work on; one is akin to iTunes in that it enables users to make use of some content (and so we'd actually LIKE the software to end up in as many users' hands as possible since then we can sell the content to people), and the other is the massive system which actually produces the content, which makes absolutely no sense for a home user to ever get their hands on since there's not a whole lot they can do with it anyway. Job-wise I am entirely on the back side of the wall between content producers and consumers. Job-wise I'm more like a cog in the Britney Spears machine than a person with a home recording setup.

(That is a metaphor, by the way. I don't work professionally in digital music. The content I produce is in a space which anyone can participate in anyway without any special tools, so I'm not promoting a haves/have-nots thing, it's just that the logistics of what I'm doing specifically makes no sense for an individual.)
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Postby bz£ » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:11 pm

This thread would even make an adult version of Jesus cry.
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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:20 pm

Let he who is without cinnamon taste the first scone.
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Postby roymond » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:30 pm

Sven wrote:A simple model would be thus: make the software completely unemcumbered for everything except the final mixdown. If you like a project enough to make a final mixdown, it asks you for a secure payment, you pay, it enables the program to render a final mix.

This actually is enticing. I don't know where to draw the line and the circumventing thing is easy enough for final mix, so some other mechanism, combined with having the project expire in one week. Perfect for Songfighting. If you like the song, pay for it and submit it.

Cool idea, even if it couldn't be done.
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Postby jb » Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:34 pm

It's always easy to define the problems with an idea, but so much more impressive to see problems presented along with ways to overcome that problem.

In my industry, at my company, there is no shortage of people who enjoy shooting down ideas. Usually the problems described are either a) duh, of course that's something that needs to be worked out or b) so much an edge case as to not matter.

But when it comes to presenting innovative solutions to those problems, they are conspicuously silent. I'm happy to see Sven presenting a modification of my idea, although none of the problems stated, in my opinion, render my original version unviable.

Suffice to say, if you state a problem, offer a solution at the same time or get out of my way while I make something cool despite you.

:)

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Postby fluffy » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:24 pm

Sorry, sounds way too much like what I do at work. :P

Anyway, it also takes time to digest the problem to come up with a solution, and for something like this it also takes time to define what the problem actually IS.
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Postby jb » Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:23 am

fluffy wrote:Sorry, sounds way too much like what I do at work. :P


What, shoot down other people's ideas? ;)

*please note sarcastic smiley before responding*

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Postby fluffy » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:02 am

Okay, so do I respond factually, or continue the sarcasm until it goes all Ouroborus? I'm not sure the universe could withstand that level of irony.
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Postby Spud » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:28 pm

I own legal and paid for versions of Freehand 8, Director 7, Photoshop 6, and several other programs that I use in my work. I do not knowingly have any pirated software on my computer, except for a warez copy of 3D Studio that I installed after I couldn't get the one that I bought and paid for to work properly. These are expensive programs. But I make money with them, and as you can see, I don't upgrade them just for the hell of it. I wait until I have a job that justifies it.

I use n-track Studio for recording because I make no money making music, but still don't go in for stealing software, so I found something inexpensive that works.

I have made most of my living during my adult life with brain power rather than physical labor, including software development. I suppose that that informs my attitude that it should be paid for.

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Postby mico saudad » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:43 pm

To anyone's knowledge have there ever been any serious studies done on software pricing policies, anti-piracy policies, and income over the lifespan of a product?

I have a hypothesis:

There are laws that, if always followed absolutely, would actually harm society. But the interplay of human behaviour and the letter of the law often yields a curious result out the other side. In this case I think piracy laws are necessary to limit (but not obliterate) the amount of piracy to levels where it actually increases any beneficial impact that a piece of software has on the world, while maintaining the economic viability of developing a piece of software.

This whole dynamic becomes interesting when you interject global politics and the whole situation with China.
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Postby fluffy » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:18 pm

I don't know of any formal studies, but there is a large body of anecdotal evidence which indicates that ready access to professional software is good for the economy and the software itself. By naking it easier for kids to try out and get skilled at, say, Photoshop, those same kids grow up to be professional, paid users of the same software, which increases the legitimate install base. It is for this reason that software companies generally only prosecute professional users and businesses for piracy instead of home users.

Relatedly, expensive locked-down versions of software tend to lead to the development of free/cheap equivalents which end up cannibalizing sales of the "real" software, especially as the free versions become more professional (but retain their low price point and often lower barrier to entry). for example, ArtRage is superior in many respects to Corel Painter, which costs 25x as much, and as a result is getting more widespread use even among professional artists.

I know that I wouldn't be using Logic if I didn't have the opportunity to learn it via the $30 "hit kit" version.
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Postby fluffy » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:23 pm

Okay, I've found a number of peer-reviewed studies published by the ACM, but ironically they're not freely-available, and I no longer have an ACM membership. I also found a freely-available economics paper which looks at IP growth vs. piracy rate in developing countries and it found a negative correlation between the two, but that doesn't quite answer the question in any reasonable capacity (all it really says is that economically-screwed-up countries have a high rate of piracy, which is already pretty much a given), and all of the papers I can find seem to only discuss the piracy of "infrastructure" software like Windows rather than creative software like Photoshop.

I recall there being various news articles lately about heads of state in various developing nations thanking Microsoft for making Windows XP so easy to pirate because it's actually made their IT industry possible since it allowed curious kids to learn about computers (which is a backhanded accolade if I ever heard of one), but I'm drawing a blank on it right now.

The best thing I can find to an unbiased report of real piracy impacts are things saying that the true loss (to the publishers) isn't as great as the BSA makes it out to be. I can't seem to find anything linking an increased piracy rate specifically to the creative value of a nation.

But I can fall back on <a href="http://www.reallifecomics.com/archive/070405.html">anecdotes</a>, at least. (I know, the plural of "anecdote" isn't "data" but dang if it isn't powerful.)

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