Page 1 of 3

Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:10 pm
by midi2
probably software with usb dongle...

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:27 pm
by CS_TBL
The answer has probably been written in the manual of that software, or on the website of the company who made that software.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:14 pm
by Yoozer
It depends on the company. Sometimes it's forbidden after the product has been registered to a user (Korg Legacy Editions etc.). Sometimes there's a transfer fee involved. In the case of Native Instruments both buyer and seller need an account, and then it's a matter of contacting support and they'll do the job (I think there's an exception for the download versions that were offered recently for $99).

Anyway, send an e-mail to support.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:42 pm
by Automatic Gainsay
Does anyone else think it odd that a software company has the ability to define the legality of the sale of their product?
I understand the need to protect a product which is essentially just information, but at the same time, I find the notion that by purchasing and using a simple product you're entering some sort of legal agreement that you are bound by. What sort of precedent is this setting?

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:49 pm
by CS_TBL
Usually you don't buy a physical product so much (box, manual and installation CD/DVD usually costs only a few bucks), you buy a license. This is different from buying a hardware synth where you buy a physical product for oodle$.

Otherwise, one person would buy one copy of the software, and resell it to anyone while keeping a backup. When everybody does this, the company sells 1 copy in total, and hundreds o' people benefit from it.

It's perfectly logical to me. With non-physical goods, there must be a legal or physical reason for people to buy them. In this case it's the license, in case of Pro Tools it's the hardware (PT itself is free iirc).

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:15 pm
by Automatic Gainsay
The notion (or, should I say "perspective shift") of buying a license seems more reasonable.
However, the fact that the design of software is flawed in the respect that copies can be made is not the fault of the consumer, but rather that of the designers. It's a sort of newly enforced capitalistically-generated morality which has come about purely due to a technological advance and the poor planning of those who design media for that technology.
I suppose it is somewhat upsetting because up to now, people have had ownership of the tools they use in their everyday lives. It's easy for me to say "h**l, yeah... I'll "license" Final Cut to use it every day... I love the benefits!" but it's scary to think that the tools I use every day do not belong to me. Especially when the device isn't a tool I use, but a musical instrument through which I am musically expressive. It's a total paradigm shift, to be sure.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:11 pm
by masstronaut
With software licenses you are (in nearly all cases) licensed to use it as much as you like for as long as you like, and to sell the license if you like. What more do you need in order to get full use out of something?

Also you could say that software these days is designed with this in mind, i.e. it may be possible or even permitted to make copies but it won't be fully functional without acquiring an unlock code or equivalent from the manufacturer.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:18 pm
by meatballfulton
Pretty much all consumer software is licensed...the mfr doesn't give you the source code so you don't really own the software.

That issue is part of what the open source movement is all about.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:12 am
by masstronaut
Presumably the software does what you want it to, if it doesn't, you don't buy it. You can demo most music software to find out. And if you had the source would there really be much you could do with it? Depending on skillz of course, but alot of music software is quite involved, if it isn't there's probably a free version anyway. Also with music software we have plugin systems and things like Reaktor and Max we can use to add functions.

Open source is a great ethos, but one thing that allows it to be possible is that the distribution materials for software cost basically nothing. It also doesn't generally lead to as refined software as full commercial efforts do, for whatever reason, although I realise that open source and commerce aren't necessarily exclusive.

Making the comparison in the music equipment world, you probably don't own the rights to the circuit designs in your hardware synths. And most modern synths use digital systems with software and you in most cases you wouldn't be given access to the source code.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:52 am
by Automatic Gainsay
masstronaut wrote:With software licenses you are (in nearly all cases) licensed to use it as much as you like for as long as you like, and to sell the license if you like. What more do you need in order to get full use out of something?
My point was more about contacting an individual company to find out if it is legal for you to sell a product you bought from them.
masstronaut wrote:Making the comparison in the music equipment world, you probably don't own the rights to the circuit designs in your hardware synths. And most modern synths use digital systems with software and you in most cases you wouldn't be given access to the source code.
Irrespective of the circuit designs of a piece of hardware, there is no question about that particular piece of equipment actually belonging to you. If we're going to draw a parallel, I think licensing software is more akin to renting equipment than owning equipment if you can't sell the equipment at the point when you're through with it.
Still, though... that doesn't address the bizarre situation where you'd have to contact a company to find out if they had decided it was legal to sell their product second hand after using it.
It's not about design rights at all, it's about buying a thing, possessing that thing, and selling that thing... which has been standard procedure for most musicians thus far. A new paradigm where that which you bought can't ever be resold means that unless you use the item in a way in which your investment pays you back, that money is gone forever. That is to say that if you buy it, use it, and hate it... you will NEVER get any recompense. You have literally invested in nothing.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:15 am
by Yoozer
The solution is to boycott companies that forbid sales and require invasive measures such as dongles; maybe then they'll see the light.

You're correct; it's stupid. It's even worse since a company is under no obligation to have any support in place when they decide to drop the product, which they may do at a whim. The actual solution is to provide skilled repair people (programmers) with a service manual (the source code) so problems can be fixed, but often the used algorithms are so encumbered with all kinds of licensing and there are so many stakeholders that this is simply impossible. The solution for that is to wait until the patents have expired or to reverse engineer the used algorithm. Maybe it won't be optimal. Maybe it'll be a little different - but at least it'll still be usable.

As for "investing" - let's be honest, synthesizers are pretty crappy investments. Prices for vintage units are highly selectively in going through the roof, and more modern units only depreciate because there's nothing vintage to love about 'm. More modern units employ SMT and put their logic in integrated processors, which are pretty hard to reverse engineer or break open, too. Fix that Andromeda yourself? Good luck.

This is why I love it that the community is building modules that employ clones of earlier designs; patents on those have expired, and the fact that they're far more patchable than their originals make them amazing replacements; plus, they're often fixable.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:43 am
by griffin avid
well said. The line is supposed to surround updates and product support. How many companies have things called ... Warranties? Which means for a time the'll help you and after that...

Same idea. You can't give crack users access to the same resources as the legit/ registered users and therefore it's the necessary evil of protection. Call most hardware companies and they want the serial number. that's why the hardware company doesn't consider the hardware yours until you register it. Same thing as a license number. I don't find the ability to break the protection scheme and violate the terms some kind of inherent flaw in the software concept.

Companies ditch hardware and software lines alike. Soon as your product gets moved to LEGACY status you're on your own. A transfer fee is silly, but it almost guarantees some kind of true transaction between parties.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:02 am
by nvbrkr
Yoozer wrote:The solution is to boycott companies that forbid sales and require invasive measures such as dongles; maybe then they'll see the light.
Exactly.

Calling it a "license" won't really change anything in practice, it's just semantics in the end. Prohibiting the transfer of the said "license" simply means you can't trade what you've bought. I really think the entire problem with piracy started already in the late-80s and early-90s when they started asking ridiculous prices for media production software and thought it would be perfectly okay. These days the products are thankfully of higher quality, but given how bad most of those programs were for ages, it seems almost absurd in retrospect. Nebertheless, the pricing policies have remained the same, which simply just means that people are still as motivated as ever to illegally copy the products.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:18 pm
by griffin avid
Looks like the inevitable march toward 'software is too expensive and or not as good as.... and thus okay to pirate...' spiel. Simply put- If ANYTHING isn't worth the cost, don't buy it. Problem solved. The pitch is/was Professional software meant to be used in a professional context. Those expensive top tier sequencers were doing big things when they arrived. More than you could do with hardware (even considering the expense alone).

There's always something available for hobbyists and Pro-sumers. The problem is, jack the bedroom producer believes he needs the flagship version of X-Product to noodle around with music. Truth is, he doesn't. He should be using the cheapest version, LE, Student discount, university, entry ...whatever version. Truth is, that version would do him just fine. Nowadays, even the free stuff will get the job done.

And to be honest all the licensee fee transfer stuff is bunk. You pulled the tag off your mattress and you can sell your original boxed version of X-Software without worry. "trading it" is the same as it ever was. You give the person the box, serial/license and account information to log in to get support/updates. You can also change it to their name and info and nobody would care. The only issue occurs when you want to 'sell a copy' and keep one for yourself.

That, you cannot and should not be able to do.

Re: Is it legal to buy used soft synths?

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:10 pm
by nvbrkr
Don't worry. I'm definitely not buying them myself. The last piece of software sold in a box and that I've paid money for has been Last Ninja 3 for Commodore 64. I've had to deal with the licensing bullshit at work, though.

The LE versions are the other end of the same problem. It would not cost the companies any more to press the full version of their software on a CD / DVD-ROM - in fact, they're just building up their manufacturing and development costs by having several different products on their line. The "pro-sumer" marketplace has always been rather questionable due to the companies having implemented very artificial limitations on their programs. If the "professional" version of the program is able to run more than three different effects on its channels, what exactly prevents the stripped-down version from doing the same? Many of the cheaper versions didn't even have a downmix option for a long while - apparently you'd have to be a "serious professional" in order to enjoy getting your productions out of the sequencer program. It's not at all comparable to a more limited physical unit being cheaper to manufacture than a more complicated one. I've gotten LE versions of Cubase, Cakewalk / Sonar and Logic bundled together with some hardware purchases over the years, and they've been nearly useless because of some really drastic limitations always implemented on them.

I do have some cracked software installed on my PC, I just don't really use it. I do like to have a laugh every now and then at how way-off many of the VAs actually sound from the units they're supposed to emulate - but the demo versions are good enough for that purpose too. Hardware and free software suits me well enough for my own, you know, hobbyist ends. But yes, things being unnecessarily overpriced and people taking it as some sort of an inevitable phenomenon is a serious problem with the contemporary mindset. Especially if those high prices are linked to some sort of vague notions concerning social status.