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Topic: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

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  1. #1

    What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    One of the other threads started discussing how libraries are typically non-transferrable. This is one of my pet peeves, so I thought I'd start a thread and maybe some of you folks on this forum who sell lib's for a living can help me understand this:

    What's the rationale for making a product 'Non-Transferable'? I mean, I know you're legally able to do this, and if a consumer agrees to it then he's bound by it. And if you can get it, hey, this is capitalism, good for you. But my question is more of an ethical one, I guess. What is it about a sound library that makes it non-transferrable? I don't understand, where does that idea come from? Now, some people think that because they can copy software, that they're entitled to that software (e.g. illegal file-swapping). I disagree with this completely, and I think the analogy to physical goods that you hear sometimes is a good one. If I buy a sewing machine or toaster, I shouldn't be able to duplicate it, even if someone invents a 'matter duplicator' gun that makes it possible. I'm paying for the design and r&d of that product and I've no right to duplicate it without paying for another one. Same for software. That's why much time and effort is spent on dongles and such, to make it more like a physical product, where you don't have control over copies. I agree with all of this (although noone likes having to deal with dongles). But now the software manufacturers take it one step further, they say "and you can't sell it to anyone else". This is where you lose me. What makes a sound library so special? How would it go if a TV manufacturer said "nope, you can't sell that on eBay, sorry, it's a non-transferrable TV". How is this different? You want equal footing with any other physical product, where to have 2 of 'em you pay for 2 of 'em, but you want more - you want to keep me from selling it to someone else. Right? What gives a software company the right to say that (ethically, not legally, which I'm not questioning)?

    I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts on the matter. Maybe I'm just missing something. Again, I understand there's nothing illegal about it, and if you can get it, get it, but how is it justified, from an ethical/common sense standpoint?

    Thanks!


    buzz

  2. #2

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Well, more eurudite minds than mine can chime in but I think it all comes down to the concept of licencing. In most cases, you aren't buying the samples. The samples are in the package because without them there wouldn't be much point to holding a lcense. But they are still the express the property of the person who made them. All you have is a liscence to use them, and that's the part that is non-transferrable. It's like, say I licence a song so I can cover it on my new album. And a year later I decide, OK I"m not going to print the album any more, I'm done with that license so here- for $300 I'll sell you the right to do the song on your album. It wouldn't work that way. I can't transfer that right. Intellectual Property just works differently.

    BTW from what I've heard most companies will work out a deal to let you sell your sample packages to another person and make some money back while allowing the buyer to relicense if you ask them nicely.

  3. #3

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    I've sure got a lot of libraries that I wish I could sell on Ebay...

    I have a feeling that if developers let people sell their libraries they would lose quite a bit in sales as we'd all be wheeling and dealing on Ebay. High end 3D companies like Softimage allow their software to be transferred to a 3rd party. I wonder what the difference is?

    2 cents,

    Darren
    www.darrenpasdernick.com
    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  4. #4

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Quote Originally Posted by dpasdernick
    High end 3D companies like Softimage allow their software to be transferred to a 3rd party. I wonder what the difference is?
    It's the upgrade path that allows the 3d software makers to do this.

    They figure that if you sell your license to someone else they'll be upgrading on the next release. I must own 4 versions of Lightwave, 2 of Softimage, etc.


    Mark

  5. #5

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    The short answer is that this is the case because your are licensing sound recordings of a performance...not purchasing a "product".

    I know it can be confusing...it helps to understand the history of the business:

    In the past, licensing sound recordings were cleared on a 'per use' basis....this was very expensive and too limited/inaccesible for most users. More expensive per project, distribution, etc. A license for pro use could be very expensive...up to $50,000 or more for a single use on a major project.

    The sample industry came along to provide a better solution, which is a "one size fits all"/"All you can eat" package of lots of related sounds (usually thousands of sounds) for a single lifetime fee on as many projects as you want. You never have to get special clearance or permission or pay additional amounts - even if you use it on a major project. This is called a "License Free" sample library....meaning that you don't have to pay any additional licenses depending on the usage.

    Because this approach eliminates the adminstration of managing all the sample usage worldwide, developers were able to offer these types of libraries for a much more reasonable price (hundreds of dollars for unlimited use of thousands of samples).

    So you can look at it this way:

    Sting uses one of my drum loops as the basis of a hugely successful hit song. In the past, this would have cost a lot of money to pay the license....even points on the song in some cases. But since it's a license free sample library, he actually only paid the same price as an amatuer user for access to the same sounds...a couple of hundred bucks.

    So the downside is that everyone is funding Sting's usage of my sounds.

    But the upside is that everyone has unlimited access to my sounds for a very accessible price. My original drummer is then compensated for his performance on Sting's record through the sales of many copies of the library.

    So everyone wins in the end.

    In all of these cases, the license is not transferable...because what you are paying for is the right to make new sound recordings (your music) based on my sound recordings.

    Where it gets confusing is if you are coming from a hardware background, where you are buying a "product" and not a "license". Hardware is less restrictive in this respect, because the licenses to the copyright holders have already been "prepaid" for you by the hardware manufacturer.

    Downside is that because the licenses for hardware developers are so much more expensive and dependant on hardware memory storage...there are far fewer sounds available for hardware and the quality is usually much lower as well.

    So that's why there are so many different scenarios regarding licensing. What I can tell you for sure though, is that a license is always paid on any product that uses samples....it just depends if its the user paying the license or the manufacturer "pre-pays" it for you.

    Hope that helps!

    spectrum

  6. #6

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Perhaps it is legal to sell the dongle, but not the software that came with it. What the buyer does with the dongle is their gig. Maybe the buyer would like to make a very expensive wind chime out of dongles?

  7. #7

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Quote Originally Posted by spectrum
    So the downside is that everyone is funding Sting's usage of my sounds.
    Glad I could help Mr. Sting out! Lord knows the upkeep on a huge mansion(s) must bite into his sample library budget...

    Darren

    PS Eric, How the heck did you type all of that so fast? Is it the new SAGE Groove Typster RMX Chaos Induced VST we've been drooling about? I'll take it with the Hemingway expansion pack Puh-lease!!!
    www.darrenpasdernick.com
    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  8. #8

    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Well, more eurudite minds than mine can chime in but I think it all comes down to the concept of licencing. In most cases, you aren't buying the samples.
    The argument that you're not buying the samples but you're buying a license makes sense....but then again developers are the very first ones to break this rule. Have you ever lost a sample library, or the disk became damaged? Some developers will send you a replacement for a "nominal fee" some won't. Well, if you're buying the license shouldn't they always replace the media for very cheap if that is not what you've paid for in the first place? Same goes if you'd like to use a different sampler (say you switched from Giga to EXS or Kontakt), once again developers will charge extra for the privilege of changing your soft sampler of choice. It really shouldn't make a difference if all you're doing is buying the license right?

    Then of course there's the whole Vienna Symphonic debacle....they are charging what many consider to be an arm and a leg to "upgrade" to their virtual player. Once again, how if that justified if all you're doing is licensing the samples from them?

    The bottom line is that developers generally like to have the best of both worlds, they leverage the licensing term when it's convenient but they also act as if you bought the media when it's convenient...not particularly fair.

    Lastly, the argument of licensing a product does not in itself preclude the end user from transferring such product. For example, MOTU, Digidesign, Apple, Adobe, Avid....what do all these developers have in common? They all allow the end user to sell and transfer their license if they wish to do so. Most of the time there is no fee associated with it but simply a form must be mailed in. In some cases a small fee applies but it's generally really small.

    So what's the deal with all of these sample developers making up their own rules? Well, I guess as long as we let them by giving them business they simply have no incentive to change the way they conduct their business.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  9. #9
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    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    Too late now, but the record industry could've benefited by the marketing idea of "I'm licensing this to you, not selling it to you." with vinyl records and cds.

    Just think....it costs, what...$50,000 to $100,000 to $1 million to make a single album (or it used to before you could whip up a hit in your bedroom)...and the poor record companies can only collect your $13.95 one time...but the owner of the cd/vinyl can sell it anytime he/she wants....to another guy who can sell it to another guy etc etc.

    In practice, reseliing old vinyl/cds probably isn't such a big flea market biz as a decade ago, but the concept could've been useful (we're licensing the sounds on this vinyl/cd to listen to....cd non-transferable).

    Just one of those things the RIAA didn't think up in time.

  10. #10
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    Re: What Justifies 'Non-Transferable'?

    So what's the deal with all of these sample developers making up their own rules? Well, I guess as long as we let them by giving them business they simply have no incentive to change the way they conduct their business.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's called, "he who owns the copyright makes the rules". Copyright law is actually a wonderful tool for those who create content.

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