Monday I emailed my newsletter subscribers to check out a post I wrote a few months ago called What Are Your Favorite Plug-ins?

There are a lot of great comments over there, and there are a lot of cool, free plug-ins to check out.

One comment, however, caught my attention.

Ryan wrote:

I understand that to some, this is a moral issue, but plugins are extremely easy to download off of torrent sites…for free!
I’m just saying…why line the pockets of these huge corporations by paying their ridiculous prices. They are just trying to hold the home engineer back so that major labels can keep making their money. I don’t do it of course….I’m just sayin. Haha

I responded with:

Coming from a music technology retail background, I’m gonna come down on the side of these “huge corporations.” They’re not that big, really. And they wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for customers who both valued their products and PAID for them.

Maybe they’re a bit expensive, but no one is making you use/buy them.

Also, I really doubt the big companies only want to sell to major labels. Would you rather sell to 100 major studios or 100,000 home studios? Exactly. :-)

You’re right, though, it’s fairly easy to steal plug-ins.

We’ve all undoubtedly had the debate about pirating music, and that’s not really the focus of this article. In particular, I want to know YOUR opinion about pirating software.

Do we have a Robin Hood situation? Rob from the rich and give to the poor?

Or is this more of a Jack Sparrow situation? “…rape, pilage, plunder, and otherwise pilfer my weasly black guts out.”

I appreciate my plug-ins and software. I appreciate the fact that they work, and I’m happy to pay money for them. I also think Johnny Depp is one cool dude. 🙂

But what do YOU think? What do you do?

I’ll be posting a new video tour of my studio tomorrow, but not until I’ve got 20 comments on this post. Let’s hear it folks!

[Photo by Arcane Canticle]

  • Justin Elmore

    I am fairly new to the recording thing. Around this time last year my uncle found an old M-Audio Fast Track solo USB Audio Interface in a storage building he was cleaning. He gave it to me because he didn’t know what it was and I started messing with it. At that time, I did not have any experience with recording audio. I used to use my iPhone to record songs I wrote to share with people.So a USB interface really intrigued me. So, I am a super uber nerd when it comes to learning things. So, I started watching videos on YouTube on how to use it and how to record songs. I saw someone use Cubase on there so I thought I had to have Cubase. Money has always been tight for me. So I pirated Cubase 7. Then I saw someone talk about plugins, so I saw what they had so I thought I had to have that to get a good sounding recording. Then so on and so. The point was, I was pirating because I didn’t have the money for it and thought I had to have it to make a good sounding recording. When I got the money I bought the Presonus Audiobox Studio package for $300 a few months later after dabbling around. Then I started taking learning this more seriously and ran upon Joe Gilder and Graham Cochrane. What I have learned over the last few months of following those two is that I don’t have to have those fancy plugins that I can’t afford to make a good recording. So, I deleted every pirated plugin I had, because they wasn’t being beneficial to me. I was just getting them because I thought I had to have them and I couldn’t afford them. I thought they would turn my crap recordings into gold. The truth I never wanted to admit was that I just sucked. After I finally admitted that to myself, I finally was able to start learning this craft a lot more. Because the plugins and/or software does not make the producer. Knowing how to use what you have does. I am speaking from my own personal experience here. I know I was wrong for pirating the plugins and software. Especially since they were not beneficial to me. If a plugin is beneficial, they are worth the price that they cost. Are they overpriced? Maybe. But they are the ones who spent time developing software to make your music better. How much is that worth to you? I just wanted to share my story, my opinion, and thank Joe for everything he does here on the website. xD

  • 2cents

    Old Post but I must weigh in. The debate of this is really simple.

    I own a Studio, The Studio is My Passion, My Love, My Art, MY Job.

    I used Pirated Software in the beginning. (Waves Mercury, Izotope Mastering, etc)
    What other choice do most have, most Musicians dont come from money.
    Music has always been there as a way of opening the soul, telling stories, inspiring others through sound.

    Muscians today play in the 5 star Hotel Lobbies, 5 star Resturants where some make a decent wage (even if they didnt make a wage they be there because its what they love to do) but on the side granted they still have a 2nd job to make ends meet.

    What does this have to do pirate software EVERYTHING!

    When if comes to the production side of things which usally begins recording Rap (where 90% of production is just LOOKS forget your knowledge, forget what you know, If you dont have PROTOOLS today many walk right out the door though granted LOGIC has become recognized and today is equivilant in the name of acceptance.( I wouldnt have said that 3 years ago).
    (Protools and Logic are pointless to pirate due to the fact this is your mainframe/investment software wise).

    Now granted when it comes to plugins you have already dumped a couple thousand in your passion/hobby/future. A couple Grand you didnt even have to spare just to get started!

    Now you run into another dilemma Plugins. Sure you can use stock they are very powerful. I on the other hand am a perfectionist. When someone sings/raps into my mic it is my responsibilty to make sure that emotion is not only captured perfectly but enhanced to its full potential which can not always be done with stock plugins, not because they are not good but because Plugins are not one size fits all.
    ( I use Stock Plugins quite reguarly even today).

    You need a tool that will bring that Mix out which ever part needs it and this takes a toolbox. Sure what you might need may cost $50 here, $50 there, o sure why not $150 there which dosent include other upgrades nor your living expenses. I dont know about you but with what money?

    When must of the projects your working on our usally FREE with a tip of $10-$20 from time to time just to make a name for yourself, but forget the money you did it for FREE because you had a chance to do what you LOVE!
    (Other words they got a Pirated Version of my Talent).

    What I am saying is Pirating Software is no crime, it only offers an oppurtunity to show WHAT YOU ARE MADE OF! Today I have purchased everything I once Pirated
    (except the Movies and Tv Series I like LMAO)and so have 5 of my close Friends who today work side by side with me doing what we love.
    None of us would have had a chance if it wasnt for pirating, the feeling of buying the software becomes such a surreal feeling of accomplishment.

    There are not many true producers anymore, fact being you can give every person in the world Waves Mercury and the people that use it today will still be the only ones using it. Pirated or NOT! Point being once someone can afford to pay for something likes Waves as just an example; the first moment they have a chance to purchase it THEY WILL.
    Why drop 100-1000s of dollars on something that is not helping pay for it self thats a one way street to being homeless.

    I know this comment is long but I thank the uploaders who gave me an oppurtunity to push my talent to the next level Today I run a very nice studio completly Legit.

    There is no price tag you can put on music other then the cost to create the insturment which I have never heard a muscian or artist of any kind ever complain about paying because they are grateful for those that create the insturments.
    (As most who use Plugins are since these our our insturments that unite all the other insturments)

    I stand with shetbox on this issue.

    • I think this argument rests on the idea that the software is a necessity to creating great music. It isn’t.
      If a keyboard player isn’t doing this for a living, but wants great sounds, is it okay for him to steal a keyboard from the store, as long as he promises he’ll pay for it one day? Of course not. He saves up his money and buys the nicer keyboard.
      That’s the way I look at it. The plugin manufacturers don’t owe me anything. If I can’t afford to buy their stuff, I don’t use it. I don’t find a way to get it without paying for it. It wouldn’t feel right to me, and I wouldn’t be proud of my music.

      • 2cents

        I agree with you Joe and no software is not a necessity to creating music in fact its the least important part of music granted they can add alot to a project but the secret to plugins is use it as little as possible. It was also my hard work and talent that shined through and got me to where I am.

        A dream is a dream is there really any rules to your dream? I could have gone and got a 9-5 instead of sweat my ass off in that old apartment learning everything I could, practicing, and having the tools to create with very little that I had not to mention broke. Equipment is a major selling part for clients in the studio I speak coming from the rap game.

        Yes Waves is my default plugins today, but back then I had something noone else did on the block, which is what gave me the clientel and chance to show what I could do. Again if you can get something noone else has and beat competion with trend that could put you on top again a dream is a dream is there really any rules to your dream?

        Music Industry trend and enviroment is just as important as creating the music itself, ex. when I finally got A/C and Cable my clientel doubled again. Today that is all behind me and life is awesome but anything that can give you a upperhand go for it no one was harmed in the process so victimless crime, not to mention I just posted an article on pirating music and movies just earlier today.

        -I will post some of it below-

        1. Every movie pirated is not a loss of revenue in fact today digital sales of movies are through the roof. If someone pirates a movie and it is extremely good or touch’s the viewer watching it you can guarantee the viewer will purchase it. This is why movies like V for Vendetta, Fight Club, Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, ( and I am speaking of the entire series not just one part of these sagas) and Disney Animations are found in every house in America in actual purchased hard copy format. Individuals buy what they like that is just fact.

        2. Music: those that say the avg artist is starving this is true but not because of pirating. Pirating music is no different then any site an artist post their music to (soundcloud, reverbnation, soundclick, etc). in fact digital sales of music is the evolution of music.

        Spotify and sites like it rake in millions off digital streaming. The music industry is no longer about record sales that just keeps track of the artist legacy, today music and advertisement go hand in hand. Best believe you pirating an album is not going to hurt the artist nor the label one bit in fact truthfully they don’t give a damn. (because in fact its a potential sale)

        On top of that like Movies if the artist record is worth something or actually good the individuals will go purchase it (have you heard today’s music?? would you buy it seriously??) . Again like movies there are certain artist albums you will find in every house in America such as Eminem, Tupac, George Straight, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, etc etc.

        If the music is amazing its guaranteed those albums have been purchased.

        So why is pirating so bad?? These 2 industries are thriving bigger then they ever have, advertising as exploded because of them and online streaming sites are booming not to mention the billions of products that are sold daily. If no one was buying then where is all this money coming from??

        Catch ya around

        • Great points. I still prefer to pay for stuff. Even if I think that company (or artist) would benefit from giving their stuff away for free, if they don’t choose to do that, I don’t make that decision for them and find a way to not pay for it. It just feels wrong to me.
          The REAL advantage you have that no one else does is that you are YOU, not that you have a certain collection of digital goodies.

    • Now I know the keyboard analogy is weak, but how about a real example from my life. I own a business, called Home Studio Corner. When I first started, I couldn’t afford the really expensive, fancy, feature-rich shopping cart and marketing system/software. Did I figure out a way to hack into it and get it for free, Claiming that I “needed” it to build a successful business, and that I would pay for it once I made money with this business? Of course not. I used cheap and free solutions and worked my butt off. As it turns out, the tools didn’t make me successful, My hard work and talent made me successful. Now I can afford the big expensive marketing solution, and I happily pay for it, but I’m thankful that I built my business on honesty. I used what I could afford and made it work. I think the same thing should apply to making music in a home studio.

  • Grunge

    bumpin on an old thread here 🙂 I would have agreed but from my experience with eleven rack and protools I would not think twice to pirate PT. The reason: bought my 11r which came with pro tools, upgraded to a mac later on and while i sort of get it that the version of protools was no longer supported for Mavericks osx I was STUNNED to find that the eleven rack cannot work as an audio interface anymore!!not even in Garage Band!! to me that is also stealing!

  • Andre Lukassen

    I think that if we don’t pay for the plugin then the compagne is not able to develop a better produkt and finely wil go bankrupt.
    for Rayn I think that he is having no problems working for notting.
    I also think that these actions ar called stealing, correct me if I am wrong.


  • Joe

    It is a fine line to be be treading, I generally believe that those who can afford it should pay etc. I don’t think students and hobbyists should have to pay the same amount as the most successful producers (£1000 for a plugin is expensive to many but to someone in business it is an investment) the problem is that is impossible to impliment so the more moral of those who download torrents will say, I will buy this stuff when I am making money off it (which is where I like to think I stand).

    It doesn’t really make sense to say something is fairly priced as that is completely relative to the proportion of the buyer’s wealth in my opinion. Stealing doesn’t feel nice but doing all you can to get ahead is still seen as a virtue in the music industry as far as I know. How do you think Pete Townshend could afford all those guitars he smashed, he “borrrowed” them but I am sure he paid it back when he could afford it.

    • Saso Alauf

      well in my case I generally like to have a taste of something before I fully commit or invest in it. It should be the same with any form of art I think. If I hear a song that I love on YouTube, I’ll buy the CD. Not because I feel bad about downloading it. Not because it’s illegal. Not even because I feel the artist deserves it (these days they have loads of other ways to make even more money I guess).

      I’ll simply buy the CD so I have it at home in physical form. I might never even unpack it, and I might buy several identical albums over time, simply because if I see it in a store at the right moment, the quality will make me want it.

      If it all work like that, we’d have artists who’d be forced to produce quality products and the ones who really love and live music would come out on top, as they once did.

      The way it is now, we mostly get some polished crap shoved down out throats because someone has a lot of money and that allows them to become even richer for no reason at all…

      • Ricky

        I believe most of the reputed, and pirate plagued plugin brands do offer demos 🙂 And I don’t think a lot of people that are on the ‘if I like it’ camp would find a colorful dvd case that carries their software worth their coins.

  • Piracy… cracks…. copying of software… a lot of people do it. The main reason they say is “it is way overpriced, they should not be charging this much, they are the ones that are stealing’… I will lay odds of a million to one, that every person that thinks it is ok to steal a plug in, or a software, would be screaming bloody mary, if they came up with a product, or a song that was like nothing else ever created. They finally had their ship come in, and all of a sudden, there are pirated copies of it, or “knock-offs” of the product for free. They would be ticked off to no end, to see what could have been a major profit and life style change, go down the tubes, because someone else didn’t think they should have to pay the price that you chose to sell it at.Then as the saying goes, “the shoe is on the other foot” I will admit long time ago, I used to have cracks for different software, but I grew up, or better , I wised up. Whether you get a copy from your buddy, or you find a crack on the internet for it, the bottom line is, you have something that is illegal. You can try all you want to justify it, but the bottom line is, you have something that is illegal.

    • Saso Alauf

      Check out this unpopular idea…

      this is way too generalized and simplyfied but:

      people who never pirate stuff are usually the ones who also never buy anything, simply because they don’t care enough to even see/hear/read something for free.

  • shetbox

    I use plugins, some legit and some ill gotten. Fact of the matter is, whatever ends up working really well, I end up buying. The reason I think this is ok is because I find it difficult to test a plugin in all situations for stability, use-ability, quality, function, DAW, Platform etc in 14 days. But I find it insane how ilok runs their business. One time I thought I lost my Ilok, I called them explained that I had lost it and how could I get a new ilok with the same plugs which I had on the previous one. They explained they could easily see which plugins I had authorized and since there were many they would cut me a deal and reauthorize my new plugs for only $200 dollars per plugin….. this came to a total of around $6000. Luckily I found the ilok.

    Install it use it, if you make money with it, buy it… fair use all the way just like remixes on youtube, and the mixtapes on the streets of NYC.

    If more people had access to the greatest equipment they could make really great art, and really great money. Multiply that with a culture shift provided by a deeper understanding of what fair use actually is and how it can benefit the consumer and the companies involved, we would have more producers with more success buying more plugins than ever before.

    • Mr Flodgy

      $200 per plugin that you’ve already bought?

      Now that’s theft.

    • This is why some customers (like Moby) buy the plugins but use the cracked versions instead…to avoid the copy protection hassles.

  • Carlos.A

    I live in Colombia , it’s hard for me to buy this Plug ins , there is not a company or local website, where i can buy these plug ins, so my only method is downloading from pages

  • YOU can not RIGHT a WRONG by doing WRONG; Only wrong A RIGHT!


  • Matt

    Capitalism, the profit motive are what drives innovation. If there is no profit-motive, innovation flounders.

    This is the problem when people try to pseudo-intellectualize a topic to fit their own viewpoint. Its simple, do you work to make money? Whatever it is you do for a living, what if the fruit of your labor could be stolen? Or what if there is no profit made to pay you for that job you are humping at? Now apply that to this conversation. Nuff said!

    • Mr Flodgy

      I completely disagree. The desire for profit does not drive innovation; witness the staggering unoriginality of most big Hollywood movies and the top 40.

      At its best, profit enables creative people by giving them enough money to create original content; at its worst it actively stifles innovation by concentrating all the resources in the hands of those who don’t take risks and provide safe, tedious prolefeed that sells in droves but adds nothing new to our culture.

      No. Too often creativity happens in spite of the money, not as a result of it. The best art is made by those who would keep on making it whether it makes money or not.

    • jems

      Profit doesn’t drive innovation: Einstein, right brothers, real musicians etc etc. Just about any real advance for humanity has not had a profit motive. Profit stifles innovation – music industry is mostly garbage, the electric car was killed because it would have damaged the profits of oil giants, renewable energy ditto etc. But yeah regarding plugins, I doubt they’re made for the love of it lol

      • Adam

        From Wikipedia:

        “Capitalizing on the national bicycle craze, the brothers opened a repair and sales shop in 1892 (the Wright Cycle Exchange, later the Wright Cycle Company) and began manufacturing their own brand in 1896. They used this endeavor to fund their growing interest in flight.”

        Maybe they made that crazy flying machine out of a love of invention, but they would not have been able to fund it if they hadn’t worked.

        Profit motive does not necessarily mean lining your own pockets. Inventors need a source of income to keep inventing.

      • Jonny Lipsham

        Marconi invented the wireless to better communications; The British man who invented the Internet gave it away as a gift to the world. All of us here benefit from his innovation and gift. Joe’s site we are discussing on would not exist without it! Profit should NEVER drive innovation!

        • Yeah but there’s PLENTY of profit-driven innovation in the world. Apple anyone?

          • Jonny Lipsham

            Aye, mate. That is also true.

            • And as long as we say things like “Aye, mate,” everything’s gonna be ooookay. 🙂

              • Jonny Lipsham

                Indeedie, Joe. Scots make the world go round! LOL

  • I bought Logic Studio (and yes, I PAID for my license to use it)…it’s so complete and has such an array of great sounding plugins and features for an affordable price that I don’t really need to worry about using much else. I’d say that it’s plenty powerful for about 80-90% of the home recording hobbyists out there. I believe a lot of these same folks would be fine with the much cheaper, though robust, Logic Express. I haven’t used Pro Tools, but I’d bet PT LE is the same.

    I think there is some truth to getting caught in a cycle of collecting “free” pirated software and never creating anything of substance once one has it. Gear acquisition becomes the obsession, not the music or learning to use the gear one has. I’m still learning more in Logic…all the time; I don’t have time in my life to learn all of its capabilities, much less a thousand other plugins and crap!

    I do agree, however, that Waves plugins are overpriced and a lot like Levis were when I was a kid–mostly an expensive brand name that everyone wanted when a pair of cheap K-Mart jeans would’ve done the job just fine. Some of the plugs in Logic sound just as good or better than their Waves counterparts to my ears.

    • christopher [chrisw92]

      exactly, to my understanding the difference from protools LE and HD is the plugins and the ability to have more than 32 tracks (I could be wrong though… im a logic studio guy).

      I also don’t have any waves (and others like them) plugins for the same reasons as yourself… I don’t need them so why bother, this is also why I and many other people who use their computers for other than gaming don’t go out and buy a high end graphics card, the difference won’t be noteiced much.

  • Mr Flodgy

    “Should the aspiring football player steal all of his equipment until he starts making money as a football player? Should the beginner guitarist steal an amp from the local store?”

    Joe, that’s a completely bogus comparison. If I steal an amp, the store loses the price they paid for it. They suffer a tangible and definite loss. If I illegally download a software program the company lose nothing, apart from a hypothetical sale.

    I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not. But arguments like these are easy to knock down, and thus it’s easier for some to say “they’re lying to us” and “steal” away in the sanctimonious belief that they’re sticking it to the Man.

    The major copyright holders lie to us all the time:

  • So you’re saying it’s not piracy that raises prices…fair enough. So it’s these “evil huge faceless” compaies’ reaction to piracy that’s bad.

    First, copy-protection is not viewed as a “investment” by these companies, it’s a an operating-cost. They fully expect it to be a short-term loss-leader, because it’s a stopgap to allow paying customers to get first-access to the product. It’s also there to allow for that product release’s lifecycle to earn income until nearly the next release. They do this to stem losses, and for quite a few it works fairly well. You call this “greed”, but for many of these smaller audio companies it’s survival.

    As for those that have chosen to change away from iLok and other dongle copy-protection schemes…did it reduce piracy or increase their sales from paying customers? I don’t know, but I do know Googling “Sonar torrents” shows it’s a virtual “Cakewalk” to get the most recent version. If I were a paying Sonar customer seeing it out on torrents literally weeks after it released, I’d probably not feel super good about that.

    As I said above, I agree it would be great if everyone did like Cockos…but changing to a “pro / non-pro” licensing model won’t decrease company losses because everyone and their brother would go “non-pro” to get any cheaper/free versions and the companies would have to fold or go FOSS (which is, ultimately what most pirates seem to want: FOSS or nothing).

    We have a difference in philosophies, you don’t have to agree with it and the companies’ reaction, but piracy IS why they are reacting the way they do. Good luck changing it. Asking for the entire value-system of society to go open and free for not just information but for all intellectual property and copyrights is a pretty tall order. Until there’s no capitalism in the Western World, hard to see how that can happen.
    Anyway…I half-expect another play-doh playset and “can’t you mentally understand my hipster pirate argument” reply here, so let’s just chill and close with: let’s agree to disagree. You’ve explained your position and I’ve explained how the world currently works. If you’re really going to change it, go for it — but let’s all stay civil in the process…

  • Jose

    “So piracy raises software-development & release costs. This in turn raises the final asking-price with each feature-introduction and version-release.”

    You can’t blame piracy on that, the software company can perfectly choose not to and that’s actually the most intelligent decision they can make like Cockos, Cakewalk and Image Line do. It doesn’t make sense to make the legal users pay for protection they don’t need, just because the company’s greed to not do well but great imposes. That’s not treating your costumers appropriately and in the long run all that investment will be lost because it will get cracked anyway.

  • nerfherder

    I used to have a pirated copy of XP and used it for years however, it was like living in the shadows. No support, no updates. Did I turn off automatic updates? Finally microsoft caught up with me and de-activated XP. UH OH! No more recording! Luckily they let you buy it online and I was up and running again, with a hard copy of it in the mail.

    I used to think like several people that it’s really not stealing, I would try and justify it a thousand different ways but the fact remains it really is no different than walking in a store and stealing it off a shelf.
    Same with downloading music, I used to download buttloads of songs with the justification I paid for all of this a few times from records to tapes to CDs. Again, it’s still wrong. I’m now in the process of buying the CDs, If I were an acomplished artist I’d want people to buy my stuff and not steal it.

    Just my two cents

    PS, great site Joe, you’ve brought me light years ahead with your easy to understand articles and videos!

  • Sam K

    For those who have difficulty understanding the pro-piracy standpoint, here is an excellant article detailing the position.

    • “Nothing valuable.
      That’s the whole point!
      We don’t make anything we can sell, so how are we supposed to have all that money to pay for our clones of the software?”

      When using “clones” of someone’s software, un-licensed, we all know that’s unauthorized-use even if you produce nothing of value. Commercial licensing requires even non-profit entities to pay something and NPs usually get a cheaper price. But, for every single individual who doesn’t plan to release anything of value and just wants to learn, there are usually many others who release a commercial product down the line using cracked/copied apps.

      Bigger companies will largely ignore this and accept loss, but in the audio world many smaller corporations cannot afford to equivocate on it. To answer the learning-angle, they often give huge educational discounts to all the audio engineering schools & colleges as well.

      For those learning & not selling product, there are free DAWs like Cockos’ Reaper & Pro Tools Essential (free w/ M-Audio interfaces anyway) where you get some very good real-time plugs that are free and more than up to the task of creating great free/indie product. I think the attraction to cracking/opening the commercial plug-ins points back to wanting professional features that an entity innovated (the height of Waves plug piracy usually bears this view out).

      I agree with the above post that it would be great if audio companies would just produce a “non-pro” license like the folks at Cockos. Would it reduce piracy? Nah. Many professionals would give-in to the temptation to represent themselves “non-pro” to save the money — then as pro sales dwindle it’s left to those companies to spend money to discover/prove if a producer or engineer is buying their software and then making money from it.

      Rather than having to chase down/prove who bought a “non-pro” license and made money, they opt to have just one single asking-price (with a few exceptions) and they depend on good copy-protection to allow profit to be earned before the piracy-cycle strikes. The copy-protection stopgap is an operating cost, and it gets passed down to the customer. So piracy raises software-development & release costs. This in turn raises the final asking-price with each feature-introduction and version-release.

      Back on the “cloning is not stealing” car point: let’s say for a moment you can magically clone my car, sans VIN# etc (e.g. let’s assume you have an industrial metalworks plant…or Star Trek cloning machine…etc) then sure I haven’t lost my individual car. But the physical & bit-driven worlds are very different, of course. A cloned car becomes a thousand “free” cars and more natural resources get consumed and future better car models get more expensive because of the operating loss the cloned car entails (of course in this Star Trek matter-cloning world we don’t have car companies, and instead we have flying shuttlecraft that don’t use oil etc, but I digress…). 😉

      Back in the digital-realm of cloned software, I still see tangible loss that can equal theft over the long term: software companies lay off development staff, and customers pay more for innovation. I’ve worked in the software industry as well, and in my experience good/talented dev teams are rare and aren’t cheap. Especially if they’re improving each subsequent version. That becomes increasingly difficult for smaller audio companies to do on thinned staff and higher copy-protection costs.

      Most pirates would say “just make it cheaper/free” and these problems go away, but ALL I’ve been saying here is that issue is usually a lot more complicated on every side.

      In the interest of fair-debate I’ll go read Sam K’s article link now.

      • ViscoelasticMan

        “others who release a commercial product down the line using cracked/copied apps.”

        That is wrong and should be stopped.
        But it’s not what I did, and it’s not what any of the pirates I know are doing.

        “that’s unauthorized-use”
        It’s called “fair use”.
        Wikipedia does it all over, for instance. There’s nothing wrong with it if no one is losing.

        “give huge educational discounts to all the audio engineering schools”
        But I’m not a school, I’m an individual. They won’t give the discount to me. Don’t tell me “go to school”, what I’m learning and exploring is stuff they don’t teach at schools (unfortunately).

        “more than up to the task of creating great free/indie product”

        No, they’re not.

        I’m a perfectionist and a researcher, and I do stuff that is very far away from the standard things other people does.
        It’s *not* enough for me. I need the full deal, and only Cockos is offering it.
        Well, Cockos and FOSS, and to be honest FOSS serves me much better.

        “professionals would give-in to the temptation to represent themselves “non-pro””
        Again that’s just plain wrong, but it’s not my problem.

        “get more expensive because of the operating loss the cloned car entails”
        Except there are no operating losses, because the people who is cloning cars is people who would have never bought a real car anyway.

        “natural resources get consumed”
        Indeed, you need electricity to do clones.
        But the original manufacturing plant does too, so what’s the difference?

        “good/talented dev teams are rare and aren’t cheap”
        You just haven’t seen them ’cause they’re all busy doing FOSS 😉

  • AlSom

    Well, in my opinion, pirated software has it’s own good purposes, and that’s for sure. Fisrtly, it gives the user a chance to test it and see on his own if it fits their needs, right? Secondly, Having a good plug-in to work with for free, may move more people to get involved with music.

    The thing is though, that pirated software could be used for other reasons too, but when it comes to money-making…Well, that’s another thing.

    I personally believe that when the artist starts making money off of this, is the right time to purchase all this software he regularly uses.

    If you see it as a hobby – musicmaking I mean, then it’s o.k. (having the financial ability to actually buy this sofware would be cool, but if it were for anyone to get unlimited time snowboarding for free, wouldn they do it?).

    Anyway, it’s a legal matter also after all, but the conclusion is that pirated software should definitely be purchased (MONEY) after this software starts being useful to you (MAKING MONEY).

    Sorry for the length of my post.

    • I still disagree. Should the aspiring football player steal all of his equipment until he starts making money as a football player? Should the beginner guitarist steal an amp from the local store? He’s not making money, so it’s okay, right?

      • Jose

        Hey man seriously are you actually making the mental effort to understand the point? stealing a physical object is not the same as copyright infrigment, am I going to have to explain it to you with a play doh playset so you can understand? you’re actually the kind of people that pirates laugh about. I was hoping to discuss this topic with open minded people but I guess it was a waste of time. Thanks anyway.

        • wow, classy tone dude…by attacking the “kind of people” here, instead of the ideas and points made, you pretty much confirm you’re not able to have a rational discussion to begin with.

          If we’re the “kind of people” your beloved little pirate party “laughs at”, I’m all kinds of happy with that. They get like 1 parliament seat in Sweden, and they “laugh” at people like me, that’s pretty funny. They didn’t even qualify for public election-funding in nearly all of the host countries they’re loosely-organized in. Even communists in Euro election-cycles qualify for funding & win more seats!

          Maybe while they’re laughing at people like us, they can torrent some orgcharts or something better-organize…so that they don’t have your “kind of people” so badly-representing them online and abroad.

          “Divided cultural appreciation”, indeed…you go and take all the “culture” out of it and throw dirt at a reasonable argument. why did you even come here, post, and check back if you weren’t capable of respecting other people’s views?

          One last thing — comparing piracy as a “movement” similar to the one that stopped the Vietnam war is, at best, a joke. Digital piracy sits behind an ISP IP address, a proxy or two, and is largely anonymous where it counts. They don’t come out in the streets and protest/end wars or work to change other unjust societal problems.

          So even though your reply here mostly invalidated the points you attempted to make, your thread-jack attempt misses one thing: what kind of music or art you publish with your pirated apps? What do you actually create when you’re not busy trolling piracy comments and championing pirate parties and attacking people?

          • ViscoelasticMan

            “What do you actually create when you’re not busy trolling piracy comments and championing pirate parties and attacking people?”

            Nothing valuable.
            That’s the whole point!
            We don’t make anything we can sell, so how are we supposed to have all that money to pay for our clones of the software?

            Since this point always gets lost in between personal insults, I’ll make it again: Cloning is not stealing.
            You would not lose anything if I cloned your car while you were not looking and then drove away in my clone. Your car would still be there, untouched. You didn’t lose a sale because I wasn’t going to buy it anyway. If anything I’m making you free publicity.

            You can’t compare it to a football player, because the football player is not making a clone of your car, he is taking YOUR car, so you are losing it.

            Now, using the cloned software for profit, like a pro would, THAT is wrong. When you start making money out of the software, first thing you should do is pay for it. That’s no question.

            This is where my original comment comes into play:
            Despite not making any money out of the software, I would still gladly pay for my clones, BUT only if you charged me a reasonable amount.
            I know for a fact that software doesn’t cost that much to make (I make my own software). Professional software companies are charging you what I call “the pro tax”. Since they assume you will be using their software to make money, they charge you accordingly for no other reason.
            Perhaps they’re right, if they helped me make soooooooo much money, they deserve a decent slice of it. But if I’m not making any money…

            This is where Cockos did right what almost everyone does wrong: The non-commercial license of Reaper (ie. without pro tax) is cheap enough for me (as a non-pro) to pay, while the commercial license is expensive enough (something real pros can pay) for them to get what they deserve.

            Everyone should learn from Cockos.

            PS. I don’t use pirated software, only FOSS, but I’m empathic with pirates because I used to be one, and I know that without the help of piracy I would have *never* achieved the levels of knowledge I have now.

            PS2. I didn’t read the whole bunch of comments, only the ones I’m replying to.

            • Ricky

              Thanks for your time on the site bud. On the surface your analogy about cloning cars appears sound but…achh… how do you know people who were going to buy a product would still do that, if they learn of the available pirated versions? (Not that most people don’t have a clue now I guess) There are people who take a leap of faith when they make a purchase, and suddenly they can keep the cake and eat it. If you maintain a romantic notion that consumer piratees don’t actually produce commercial quality music, you’re wrong. I believe the fact that it’s illegal and file sharing sites are finally being penalized says it all. Cheers.

  • Jose

    The bottom line is that you should pay for the software you use, however, because piracy is a phenomenom that has taken huge momentum, it’s not as easy as that. The main problem is a cultural one, take for example, a recent survey in the USA concluded that 99% of the people condemn tax evasion as something despicable, so there’s a well defined culture of morality in that aspect, but if you take a look at opinions like gay marriage for example you will see a divided polarization. The same thing happens when you look at piracy, there’s a divided cultural appreciation about it so big that has even created political movements (i.e the pirate party) so no matter how hard software companies whine about it, piracy is here to stay and institutions like the supreme court define what’s the cultural trend in an specific topic and take measures about it based on that. If piracy was something condemed by 99% of the people then things would be pretty clear, you have to buy the damn software if you want to use it, but that’s not the case and software companies have to realize that and stop whining. A cultural momentum stopped vietnam war, how can the RIAA stop piracy then? however there’s a general stabilization in the way people think about piracy and that is if you use the software to make money, you hould buy it, otherwise it’s ok. To me being an struggling musician it makes perfect sense.

  • Mr Flodgy

    It’s not stealing. Get your facts right people.

    It’s still wrong, and I feel bad about doing it; my DAW, my piano and drums VSTs are all illegally acquired. I justify it by saying I couldn’t afford to pay for them, and this is true, but yeah, I should save up and buy them legitimately.

    • “It’s not stealing…it’s still wrong”.

      Okay, taking into account the semantics of those statements, your linked blog post deals with the context of film/music/media copyright-infringement. In the realm of software piracy…if it weren’t stealing in some form, people wouldn’t hide behind proxies and there wouldn’t be anonymous torrent & file-swapping sites.
      And it is fully and legally punishable as infringement/theft in the rare cases where an individual person can be proven to be illegally distributing or re-distributing cracked software. It’s rare, but it happens. Even if someone is just _using_ a cracked app and NEVER re-distributes it to anyone, in my view it doesn’t make it any less wrong.
      Folks using stolen plugs/DAWs also end up having limited choice, unpatched/stale/unstable builds of apps, and general version-compatibility issues between cracked apps anyway. I often wonder if folks who go crazy for “all the free software” end up creating interesting, listenable content? Like I’ve said before, they would never admit it or put their name to having used stolen plugs.
      For me, I’d just rather save my money over time and pay. It’s not only right but I also get the full support of the company that released the tools.

      • Mr Flodgy

        Yet you contunue to call it stealing! Legally, copyright infringement is not theft; it doesn’t matter whose copyright you’re infringing.

        “if it weren’t stealing in some form, people wouldn’t hide behind proxies and there wouldn’t be anonymous torrent & file-swapping sites.
        And it is fully and legally punishable as infringement/theft in the rare cases where an individual person can be proven to be illegally distributing or re-distributing cracked software.”
        Irrelevant. Just because it’s illegal, doesn’t mean it’s theft.

        You are right about support though. Cracked versions of software do often suffer from bugs which would be eliminated by updates for those who paid.

        • True, maybe it’s not like you stole someone’s furniture, and they had to go buy a new couch. While a plug-in company doesn’t appear to have a concrete loss if you torrent a stale version of their app, they did lose sale(s) from the overall downloads over time. While you might argue you were evaluating it, or not producing/releasing art from it, etc it all adds up to one thing: every major cracked plug-in steals a few extra dollars from paying-customers’ pockets because the price of producing code goes up (due to re-tooling of copy-protection in the next version etc). It may not be a ton of money, but companies pass that cost of doing business on in each subsequent version.
          At any rate, I applaud you for coming in here and being so upfront about it and sharing your view. You certainly have the right to believe infringing on a copyrighted product is “not theft”. Even if doesn’t meet your own personal test for theft, I believe it doesn’t make it any less right in the long-term.

          Moral-relativism aside, you sound like you’re probably using the stuff. If so, I hope if you consider buying stuff you use and eventually leave the buggy warez behind. Especially if you’re actually releasing art using illegally-copied software, consider it answering Karma’s call. It’s the right thing to do.

          • *that should read: “…I believe it doesn’t make it any less wrong in the long-term.”

    • John Judge

      “It’s not stealing. Get your facts right people.”

      Spoken like a true thief…..if you did not pay for it, and you use it, you are a thief, no matter HOW you try to defend it….

  • Just saw this — according to Russ over at, the mother lode of
    DAW cracks happened: PT 8.0.3 CS2 LE (re-branded “HD” due to an “unlimited” track count) has been cracked. The “crack” is apparently some kind of emulator that fools PT into “seeing” Digi interface and iLok…but they also fooled with Avid’s base-code to remove the track-count limitation.
    In an age of super fast processors and cheap RAM, this may anger a lot of folks who felt all-along Avid’s track-count limitations were a business-engine for selling the Production Toolkits, HD, etc.
    Either way, I hate that this has happened because PT 8 development may now, sadly, be slowed or halted to let Avid step up plans to release a 9.0 or “Native” version. Dammit, I _just_ really got my mind around efficiently tracking/mixing in 8.0!!
    Well…if nothing else, the early-take on this is that the piracy of PT 8 may eventually give us paying customers a better 64-bit Pro Tools sooner than we originally figured (I had my eye on 3 years, but now…).
    This further validates my belief that “copy-protection cannot eliminate piracy: it simply buys time” to allow profit to be made before the piracy cycle strikes. I just hope if PT 8.0 LE & MP development is halted due to this, that Avid is working on the next-act.
    Until then I’m remaining a very happy PT customer. I love the workflow and how I’ve been able to get a lot done with it and I’ll gladly pay for the next version.

    • Also for the record I don’t believe the crowd saying the “track count limits are a scam” — Avid has to realistically support each product and have some kind of way to guarantee it will predictably work at certain track-limits. If someone wants to have a 150-track mix on their 4GB Mac with slow drives, Avid has to draw the line somewhere…while still give a realistic path toward high track-counts for professional studio applications.
      For me, PT 8 MP’s 48 track-count has been way more than enough. Can’t imagine ever seeing the need to go beyond that on my home rig. But that’s me…

  • Basement Productions

    It aggravates me to no end when I see and hear people using stolen software. Pretty much everyone one I know in my area uses either a pirated DAW or a suite of plug-ins for free. The most common answer “If I could afford it I would buy them”. Most of these people just need to face facts that they can’t support themselves on there music and have to get a real job. It sucks but it’s reality. Or move out of your parents house and get a job. If your song sucks, it will still suck even with great plug-in’s.

    I have to write code for my job from time to time, nothing as complicated as an audio plug-in, but, it still takes allot of work and time. The people that are pirating these application should have no problem handing over there songs for free when they are done. Or record local people in the area for free with there free software.

    I really don’t understand the disconnect between hardware and software theft. People will gladly pay an exorbitant price for fancy hardware. Not thinking twice about stealing it. But when it comes to software, no second guess, just download it for free. If you really want “free” go to Linux and develop your own.

    The people I know that do have pirated copies of these applications do have more problems though for sure. Why does this or that crash more often than you? That’s what you get for free. Maybe the money saved on your end will equal more time lost in the long run.

    Nobody likes to work for free unwillingly. When you are stealing someones app that is a pay for application you are stealing a team’s time.

    There are enough free and included plug-ins in most major DAW’s that you should have no problem making a perfectly good project with. Maybe all the time spent searching for that sweet plug-in could have been spent making music with what you have.

    Just my .02

  • I used to write code for a living so you can guess my feelings about people stealing software. I think it’s especially ironic that people feel good about themselves for “sharing” stolen software & music. As if they’re being generous.

    Regardless, there is a karmic price to pay when trying to create art with stolen goods. Shake your head if you like but creativity is a gift from the universe and those with tarnished spirits are not the first inline for such gifts. If you consider yourself an artist or consider what you do to be creative then you owe it to yourself and your art to be a good person and to do the right thing. It’s that simple. Anything else is simply intellectual justification for your greed.

  • Jose

    I have a couple of things to say: firstly I think the main reason is pricing, I see some amazing PC games at no more than US$60 I doubt the effort applied to develop a game like that with physics engines that are actually used for crash and materials simulations in the auto industry would be higher than developing a six basic plugins (EQ, compressor, etc) bundle that cost US$195, much more less the Waves Platinum TDM Bundle at +$3000. But of course, game companies target kids and they know kids are broke, but plugin companies target studios that have enough resources to actually waste the money. Say a multimillion dollar film post production project has a large budget it’d be nothing to buy Nuendo at $1800. The McDSP bundles at $2200, I mean… that’s ridiculous, but because it’s for Protools HD you must dealing with some kind of important projects or major labels productions, big business. They know this and they take advantage of it pricing software the way they do, so in that sense I don’t feel sorry for plugins developers if I use a pirated music app, they already have a nice share of revenues and because a dude like me uses a pirated plugin to make a song that nobody maybe except my mom is going to listen won’t mean anything to them, am I supposed to feel bad because I’m “stealing”? which is an improper term BTW, when you buy a plugin do you think you “own” it? you actually buy a license or a permission to use it, how could I steal a permission? now if I somehow hacked into their systems and grabbed the plugin source code that would be really IP theft but that’s not the case. My second point might be silly but I somehow consider it valid: If I use a pirated plugin I would actually be a potential costumer in raise because I would use and learn to love plugins that I like that I would never be able to try fully otherwise. If I ever make it big I’d know what to buy without remorse. The bottom line is that people that use pirated software is not really the target market of developers, and in that sense they don’t really hurt sales, they target the PRO business, and I think they have their market pretty well covered. Pirated apps users are part of another very different ecosystem.

    • Nope. I disagree. Do you have any figures to back up your claim that plug-in companies only focus on major studios? Have you looked around? Lots of major studios are going under. LOTS of them. I see it here in Nashville and here about it all throughout the industry.

      For every pro studio out there, I’d bet there area SEVERAL home studios, so I doubt they’re ignoring the home studio market AT ALL.

      Also, I’m not sure your logic that just because your music won’t be heard by anyone and since you’re a hobbyist this justifies not paying for the plug-in. I don’t quite see the connection there.

      If I was a hobbyist wood-worker, and I just built a few pieces here and there for me and my family, does that make it okay if I swipe a table saw from Lowe’s? After all, it’s a huge company focused on selling to big construction firms, etc., and “they already have a nice share of revenues,” as you said.

      You’re right about licensing, but I think we’re just getting into semantics there. The plug-ins were made to be purchased. I would agree that plug-in manufacturers could make their demos a bit longer, but most of them do give you full working demos of all of their plugins.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Jose’!

  • musicats

    If ten thousand dollar was left on middle of the street and nobody is watching me, I would want to keep it… And that’s just honest thought. Wrong is wrong, but temptation is temptation.. Let’s say you didn’t take the money, then next person who found the money will think about taking it.

    My favorite plug in is probably the “multipressor” and SSL EQ.

  • Randall

    I actually own all my plug-ins. I like knowing I can update them and get tech support, should I need it.

    Colin, from McDSP, said it best, the money they make as a business, in part, pays for research and development. I love my plug-ins, and of course, I’d like them to develop more and improve the existing. If McDSP, Waves, etc. can’t pay for quality R&D, we all suffer in the end, i.e. nothing left to steal.

    However, I do feel these companies promote such behavior, to some extent. Joe, you said something to the effect, “Why would they sell to 100 major studios, when they could sell to 100,000 home studios?” True, but if they reasonably priced their products, they could sell to 200,000+ home studios. I bet for every one home studio buying their plug-ins, three do not.

    I have a friend who does something sorta in the middle. He uses pirated copies for a period of time, and buys the ones he likes… kinda like demos. Honestly, he does pay for the ones he likes, but I’m not sure if he still keeps those he doesn’t… just to have on hand.

    I think McDSP is pretty fairly priced, and they are awesome plug-ins. I OWN one Waves plug-in, but would like more… their pricing just makes me look elsewhere.

    You know, you can buy plug-ins on eBay like you would anything else. You can get some really sweet deals. Free iLok transfer, great prices, make offers, etc. I’ve probably saved well over $1,000 shopping plug-ins on eBay and making offers. Just a little food for thought.

    • “…but if they reasonably priced their products, they could sell to 200,000+ home studios.”

      You may be right, but I bet there are lots of smart people working for these companies, and if no one bought their plugins they would certainly need to change their pricing (or something else.) But it appears that people are buying. Not sure I’d lower my prices if people were buying.

  • I honestly have used “stolen” plugins. But if i can find a working free plugin that does the same thing then i tend to try and use the free one until i find the right time and money to use a paid one. I would like to record with a better budget but until i can i’ll use the cheapest good one’s i can find. i really do mean this but i just wanted to add a comment so i could check out your studio. lol thanks