RIght, I’ve been out of it for a bit. This is a result of actually having a live and a PS3.. I finally picked up on ‘Gran Turismo 5’ (a racing game) which managed to eat away some of my private time. But (a little) more about that later at the end, first back ontopic..
A little shorter post today…
Every legitimate user of a DAW has run into it sometimes; the copy(right) protection. This comes in many forms; Ableton uses an authorization for a single computer which can be activated either online or remotely. Cubase uses an USB dongle (a dongle is a common looking USB device like a usb memory stick. The main difference is that you can’t do anything with such a dongle but plug it in) and the Propellerhead company uses a mixture; Reason gets authorized through the CD its on whereas Record also uses a dongle.
Native Instruments uses serial keys which need to be activated using their Service Center program and hides their installers.
Protection of my investment, or utter annoyance ?
The one problem with all of the mentioned (and unmentioned!) protection schemes is that they all have one thing in common: one way or the other they’re restricting us in what we can do with the software. Whether this is a good or bad thing is something everyone can only answer for himself.
But having had the luxury of peeking into several forums regarding several different software environments I get a feeling that there’s always something open for improvement.
With Ableton Live you can “activate” the software on a total of 2 computers. So; 2 times. If you need more you can simply e-mail support. This has caused issues for some people who ran into issues on a Friday evening. And in the weekends the Ableton offices are closed. Still; if you’re really in a pickle you can always download the demo and then simply use that to do (use) your stuff. You cannot save your work, but you will be able to use it in a Live situation without any problem.
Propellerhead on the other hand uses a dongle for their Record environment (same approach as Cubase btw). This also provides issues since dongles in a laptop will usually stick out as such they are quite vulnerable to damage; maybe even damaging the entire laptop.
Driving customers (me) towards using warez!
Sometimes I really wonder.. When I went through the Reason demo I could only use it in 20 minute sessions. That’s way too short for me.. A recent discovery has been made that if you use both Reason and Record in demo mode then there is no time restriction anymore. All nice and well, but since my main interest was with Reason back then I ended up grabbing an “alternative” version of Reason. After a few hours of playing with that I knew what I wanted, and have been a legitimate Reason 4/5 user ever since.
But how many people might get tempted to simply leave things as they are since they already own a working copy of the program at that time ?
And it can get even worse.. When I received my Reason 5 version I installed it besides my current version 4 and thus assumed that I would be able to use them side by side. This would make it a whole lot easier on me to compare their features so that I could decide if I really wanted to keep version 5 (I don’t believe in “newer is always better”, not by a long shot!).
That was quite the ordeal indeed.. Every time I tried to start another version (so going from 5 back to 4 or the other way around) it asked for the DVD to be inserted. And if you’re someone who is keen on details, thus is going to start both programs a lot, this is becoming plain out annoying really fast. I eventually ended up picking up that “alternative” version of Reason 4 again, just to get rid of the DVD insertion requests.
Being “forced” to use warez to get your software back!
The company which tops all of this, in my opinion, is Native Instruments.
When you buy a product online you’re given a download link which is only valid for a small period of time. And yes, they really do make it very clear that you should save / backup the installer you downloaded. Once you downloaded it there is no easy way to retrieve it again.
It was a stupid mistake on my part; but I managed to lose 2 installers (‘The Finger’ and ‘North India’) due to using a Windows Vista restoration point a bit too quickly. This wasn’t an issue at first, but when my ‘Komplete 7 Elements’ arrived it actually allowed me to relocate the entire “NI library” to a new location. Several programs (Kontakt, Kore 2, Reaktor (all players)) which all got their stuff neatly bundled in one single directory.
One problem.. After setting it all up I lost control over my ‘the Finger’ and ‘North India’ instruments. I e-mailed support to request a new download, got a confirmation ticket and it has been nearly 2 weeks now since I heard from them (automated).
So what does one do ?
You study how the installers actually work. When looking at the Komplete 7 Elements DVD you’ll soon notice that its actually 1 installation program which basically starts several other individual installers. These “sub installers” are all located in a hidden directory which is even named as such: “sub installers”.
Considering that ‘the Finger’ is part of Komplete 7… Who knows..
So eventually I searched “alternative” channels and picked up a copy of Komplete 7. Usually those versions either use a crack (program which changes other programs) or a key generator. The installers themselves get very seldom tampered with… My assumptions turned out to be correct and I quickly discovered the ‘the Finger’ installer which, after installation, did indeed cause my Service Centre program to ask for a serial to unlock the software.
The next step was looking for ‘North India’ which turned out to be a bit harder, but not impossible. Same situation; a pristine installer with “alternative” software to make it work. After using the installer and unlocking it using my legitimate serial number I had finally restored my environment..
I’m still leaving the support ticket open since I’m very curious when (if ever) I’ll be getting a response. Several people in the NI forums complain about bad responses from the helpdesk, so this is my golden opportunity to find out for myself. And yes; I will keep you guys posted!
Copyright protection, what’s the use?
Now, this comment isn’t entirely fair because I can sure understand that software companies want to protect their investment from being abused. Still.. To what price I ask ?
Better yet: what are the results of all your hard work? When looking at the NI products all they’re basically doing is making things harder for us customers. Some customers are already up to a point where they are perfectly willing to provide the installer for download purposes. And when looking at the availability of several of NI products in the “alternative channels” one has to wonder if keeping the installers hidden really has any effect.
Heck.. When Record 1.5 got released discussions like these emerged on the Prophead forums as well. Many people got annoyed at having to use a dongle (IMO very legitimate; misplace the dongle and bye bye software..) to which they were told by other users that it was a proven requirement given that Record 1.5 wasn’t available in the “alternative channels” yet.
Its a delicate subject, but the main problem as I see it is not the software nor its protection. Its the people which you’re trying to sell your software to. If I want to I can pick up Komplete 7 “alternatively” and use it without breaking any law what so ever (in Holland its legal to download, not to upload).
Yet here I am with a legitimate license for Komplete 7 Elements. Sure this stuff is a hobby for me, but I like playing by the rules. And as a legitimate user you’re also helping to preserve the stuff you come to appreciate. Suppose companies like Ableton or Native Instruments suddenly can’t pay their programmers anymore, who is going to fix any bugs or heck; present a newer and “cooler” version ?
The harder companies try to protect their investment the harder it sometimes gets for us users to enjoy it.
Last example.. I put in a DVD movie; first stuff I get to see? “Copying DVD’s is ILLEGAL“. I know; that’s why I bought the darn thing. Yet as a paying customer the first ordeal I have to go through is being told that its wrong to copy movies. Most often without any option to skip all of the nonsense; many companies even add commercials right behind these kind of disclaimers; also without any options to skip.
Yet if I had downloaded this movie (a dvd rip for example) I could have started watching without any of this lecturing bullshit. Needless to say; but I actually keep several rips (either downloaded or made by myself) on a network storage so that whenever I want to see the particular movie I simply use my PS3 to play it.
And no; these are not being re-distributed. But one sometimes wonders.. Isn’t the protection against “warezing” sometimes driving us right into the usage of them ?