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The Pirating of my Library

Official support for: ninevoltaudio.com

Moderator: NineVoltAudio

54 posts since 18 Jun, 2004, from Nashville, Tennessee

Postby NineVoltAudio; Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:33 am


For a long time I have felt ambivalent about piracy in the digital realm. As the owner, operator and janitor for Nine Volt Audio I long ago came to an acceptance that my sound libraries would be pirated, offered free for the taking to the likes of thousands. I remember long ago, back around the time of my second or third release, the utterly sick, punch-in-the-gut feeling I got upon discovering a Nine Volt Audio library posted to a pirate site for the first time. But that feeling has gone away, and has been replaced with a "what-will-be-will-be" feeling.

Recently I was made aware that TAIKO 2 had been pirated. TAIKO 2 is a 2.4 GB Kontakt format library containing over 11,500 samples of Japanese drums. I released it less than four months ago.

How was it pirated? Someone used a credit card fraudulently with one of our distributors to purchase a download copy of it. By the time the fraud had been discovered, the download of the library was complete. Within two days of this happening, the pirated version was up on the web.


What about Copy Protection?

Up to now, I have chosen not to implement copy protection within the Nine Volt Audio libraries. Why? Because a quick look around the web will most likely reveal a cracked version of your favorite software or sound library. Other protection systems, such as "digital watermarking" (a method by which every library contains a unique identifier to the copy the purchaser downloads) would have failed in this instance, since the purchase was made fraudulently in someone else's name.

What about the Law?

It seems that some sites that host and/or refer users to cracked and stolen software acknowledge the existence of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) - a United States law that, amongst other things, criminalizes dissemination and services to circumvent the protection of copy written material. I submitted an official "Abuse of DMCA" email to one referring site, along with a 2nd email that read:

I own/operate Nine Volt Audio. I see that our "TAIKO 2" library has just been added to your site.

I humbly ask that you consider taking it down. I did the majority of the work on the TAIKO 2 library and it represents about 10 weeks of work for me.

I/Nine Volt Audio can only put out around four libraries a year, so having stuff freely available can have a real impact on me.

Thank you.

Kyle Z

I received a response the next day that read:

Sure... if that's what you want :-) Have a good week.

The reference to TAIKO 2 was deleted from their site.

However, when I read the response I pictured a shoplifter leaving a store, but stopping briefly to wink at the storeowner before completing their exit.

Within another two days, the first two pages of Google revealed five other sites illegally referring to the TAIKO 2 library. Sending more DMCA abuse emails might help, but the library will forever exist in the Torrent and Usenet systems of the world, no matter the amount of action taken.


What Does it Take?

With so many sample and loop libraries released into the world on a daily basis, one could be forgiven for never giving any consideration to how one is put together.

Here is an abridged version of what it took to create TAIKO 2.

Initial planning: I coordinated with a partner to secure access to the drums, the performance hall, percussionists, and any recording equipment that I could not practically travel with. This groundwork, along with discussions about how best to record the drums took place over many months, with countless phone calls, Skype chats and emails.

Travel: A large collection of taiko drums does not travel. I had to go to them. I booked a flight and traveled from Nashville, Tennessee to Columbus, Ohio.

Sessions: With setup, recording and teardown, approximately 40 hours of session time was packed into four days. During this time over 8000 hits/samples were performed and recorded, a task that morphs into a "water torture" feel by the end of the first day.

Editing: Because I recorded from four stereo microphone positions, with additional mono microphones to record solo drums, the editing of 8000 hits gets multiplied out to the creation of approximately 30000 files. Listening to every hit, slicing them up, trimming, fading, naming, organizing by velocity, splitting into groups, layering, and then mapping to the keyboard took several weeks.

Programming: Just getting the samples into the Kontakt sampler is one thing. Transforming it into a customizable and inspiring-to-play instrument is another. Over a month was spent writing custom code (aka "scripting"), designing interface graphics, developing custom impulse responses, and generally refining the product through numerous revisions.

Getting it Out: Over a week was spent creating the cover art, demo MP3s, video walk through, PDF manual, website update, DVD creation and promotional art (banner ads, email artwork, etc…).

And this is just the time I spent. My partner for this particular project invested at least a month of his own time contributing and adding to many of the aspects listed above.


Looking at the Numbers

It is impossible to quantify the financial impact that the pirating of TAIKO 2 will have. How many people will consider purchasing the library, but will first check to see if there is "free" copy somewhere on the web? How many people will download a pirated copy just because they can? No one can ever know these numbers. But perhaps another perspective could be instructive.

One pirate site currently lists 13,699 illegal downloads of TAIKO 2. If each person had paid $1.00 for his or her copy from this site, it would amount to more than the library has grossed so far. I disclose this information to illustrate the point that these libraries are investments, and getting them "in the black" takes time, effort and further capital to promote them.


Who Loses?

I think it is reasonable to assume that this library's sales potential will be hurt by the existence of a pirated version. But who else does this impact? Consider for a moment if TAIKO 2 had not been made:

- Airfare to the recording location and lodging would not have been purchased.

- Purchases for recording equipment and software specifically used to create TAIKO 2 would not have been made.

- Percussionists would not have been hired for the sampling session.

- A programmer would not have been hired to help in the creation of the Kontakt script.

- Advertising on the web and in print would not have been purchased.

This is only a partial list. There are numerous other positive financial ripples created for others by this library, not least-of-which are the composers that create and sell music utilizing the TAIKO 2 samples.

There are soft costs associated with piracy, too. It is easy to imagine that at times, some paying customers get a tinge of, "I'm a sucker for buying this when everyone else can take it for free."

Who Gains?

Besides the individuals that download TAIKO 2 without paying, who else gains?

Most obvious: websites that host or aggregate links to pirated material. These sites often sell membership and subscription services.

Less obvious: many referring sites are loaded with ads served up by Google, amongst others. Clicking on those ads makes money for the webmaster and the advertising servicer.


In Closing

When I get stuck thinking about TAIKO 2 being pirated, my mind usually goes to one of three thoughts:

- How heavy the drums were. Getting them on and off the recording stage - sometimes taking two or three people to move just one drum. The thought of that physical act, combined with the knowledge that someone is freely taking TAIKO 2 gets under my skin.

- My partner on TAIKO 2 is having a kid in a few months. The fact that this library has been pirated sucks for him.

- What will the future bring? Despite my passion for doing what I do, is that enough to press on knowing that the products will be pirated?

But if I think a bit longer on it, my self-preservation kicks in with the "what-will-be-will-be" thought. The fact that I slip into this way of thinking is perhaps most upsetting of all.

http://www.ninevoltaudio.com/MP3s/TAIKO ... ow_Kit.mp3
http://www.ninevoltaudio.com/MP3s/TAIKO ... se_Kit.mp3

Acknowledgements: A "thank you" to the folks at 8 Dio for catching this early on and letting us know.
Kyle Z
"The Ultimate REX & RMX 30,000" is here!
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965 posts since 26 Sep, 2005, from UK

Postby iain_morland; Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:48 am

Great post, Kyle. You've expressed the issues very articulately.

I understand how heartbreaking it is to find that stuff you have worked on has been pirated. I'm sure other developers here will chime in with similar feelings.

To your list of folks who gain from piracy, I'd add: internet service providers. The elephant in the room in debates about piracy is that the ISPs know it's in their interest to sell big download allowances, with no restrictions on content, to users who pirate stuff.

And funnily enough the same people who claim they pirate content because they can't afford to buy it, nonetheless manage to afford a big download allowance (not to mention a computer!).

Hang in there. Your libraries are awesome.
Sound design, audio editing, and instrument programming for Kontakt and MachFive
User avatar
3587 posts since 20 Jul, 2010

Postby Sendy; Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:55 am

What really p15535 me off is these people who post links to pirated stuff on youtube and then have people fill in questionaires or click on money making links to download it. Taking someone else's hard work and profiting from it by doing nothing seems about as parasitic as you can get.

(And before anyone accuses me with "how do you know about this, you must have been searching for craxorz", searching for material about certain synths brings up these pages and the comments section tells the story loud and clear)
I can haz Electronic Music Stardom plox?

2970 posts since 18 Aug, 2007, from NYC

Postby elxsound; Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:57 am

Hey Kyle,

It is indeed a great post. I don't know if everyone that downloads the illegal copies is aware of how much work is involved in all of the various stages to make a commercial product. My guess is that they see the new shiny product, and simply decide they should have it.... but without paying for it.

I know you know there's arguments about if these individuals could have possibly represented real sales, or not, but more importantly sharing your story I believe is important. If it were easy to do, then there would be more sample libraries out there (like this one), but again... it takes a lot of work to put together a great, useable and playable library.

I've had my eye on this since it's been released and I'll be picking it up probably after the holidays. Hang in there. 8)
2970 posts since 18 Aug, 2007, from NYC

Postby elxsound; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:00 am

Sendy wrote:What really p15535 me off is these people who post links to pirated stuff on youtube and then have people fill in questionaires or click on money making links to download it. Taking someone else's hard work and profiting from it by doing nothing seems about as parasitic as you can get.

(And before anyone accuses me with "how do you know about this, you must have been searching for craxorz", searching for material about certain synths brings up these pages and the comments section tells the story loud and clear)

Sendy, I wouldn't worry about the accusations... By now anyone who's used google with the suggested search turned on, has probably seen what pops up there, as well the many youtube videos like you've mentioned.
382 posts since 22 Jun, 2006, from Hungary

Postby dune_rave; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:07 am

Great and interesting post!
Though i see the whole thing from the customer side, I understand all these sh...
Seeing all these warez/torrent sites - i doubt that any of the copy protection methods really work.
Sometimes i have some wild ideas about solving the problem - maybe the best alternative would be to use the tools of pirates against them.
I mean:
- Why not create some 'fake' torrent releases of your application, that work a bit, but mainly makes the user disappointed, because it's not fully functional - perhaps they will understand how poor is a warez download.

2) distribute these fakes in the name of the popular warez teams everywhere.

I think this strategy could work, throwing lot of junk software to the torrents - in the end, no one will know, which download is useful....
User avatar
1955 posts since 1 Feb, 2009, from Germany

Postby Cyforce; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:11 am

Well written. :tu:

But let's face the reality - piracy, doesn't matter if plugins, samples or sounds, is in these day kind of normal for the most user's out there. Every product will be reach someday the dark side of the world wide web.
If you are lucky, it will takes long time till this happen, if not in the worst case, the first sale of your product is a fraud and ends on the bad pages...

Other companies have the same problems. And i guess, the big ones( with many products and high prices) have there a massiv lose of profit through this.

And well, there is no way to preserve this. Just re-act fast. Use good & safe working sale-ways, like ShareIt for example, and again react fast... (if you see one of your products on a "bad" page, take the likes and abuse them directly.

Better a fraud copy which is only online some hours as some days or weeks.

Anyway, i think the hole fraud/illegal share thing is a sad for all musicans... Through that many companies must raise the prices to hold there needed profit to life. Others stop making good products because they didn't get through that a real benifit for their hard and creative work.

But... this problem can't be solved. Everyone has to deal with it, it's just about to deal with it as good as possible, and well in a lucky case where you find the "thief" try to lawer him his pants off :D
941 posts since 12 Jan, 2010, from Copenhagen

Postby TwoToneshuzz; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:23 am

This whole thing of piracy of such serious products is just slimy, and I don't do it! I think that there's others like me. I hope many others. And I think if users of studios, and producers demand that they are offering services that don't include any pirated products. or stolen gear..The sales to these instance can only increase.

Musicians should know that if they are serious about their craft they need to pay for the tools that they are using..
waves break, but somehow it all makes sense.
2667 posts since 18 Apr, 2002, from Ogden, UT

Postby audiojunkie; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:40 am

Really great post! I hate piracy too, and it saddens me that so much work gets stolen. I've always been against Draconian software protection schemes that hurt the consumer more than the pirate, but that doesn't mean I approve of the actions of pirates. I really wish there was a good middle ground. :-(

Although I shouldn't have been, I found myself surprised when I read how watermarking would have failed, since it was a fraudulent purchase in the first place....I hadn't considered that. In a situation like that, it completely bypasses watermarking! :-( I suppose, however, that fraud like this would bypass any of these schemes (except maybe dongles--but dongles can be stolen as well).....

I don't have an easy answer for this. My stance on serial numbers and software keys was always with the consumer in mind, and being a consumer, I still want consumer-friendly copy protection. I guess it just comes down to this:

Developers can only count on income from the honest. The dishonest will always find a way to get what they want......kinda scary for a world that seems to keep getting worse, rather than better. :-(

C/R, dongles & other intrusive copy protection equals less-control & more-hassle for consumers. Company gone-can’t authorize. Limit to # of auths. Instability-ie PACE. Forced internet auths. THE HONEST ARE HASSLED, NOT THE PIRATES.
1136 posts since 28 May, 2008, from Saint Paul, MN

Postby blueman; Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:49 am

First of all.... :( :( :(

It makes me sad and a bit sick to my stomach to read this. As a songwriter, composer and musician who once aspired to a professional career in music I can tell you that I really feel your pain here. I finally had to accept that the majority of people cannot be expected to pay for music anymore. When they DO pay it, it is treated as a charity of sorts. Right or wrong, that is the age we find ourselves in. Technology has rendered the financial exchange for music nearly obsolete. No amount of complaining, seeking legal recourse or championing the goodness of paying for the music we love seems to be making a dent and I am completely over it. For me, I write a lot less music now and I do not perform any longer. Yeah, it bums me out but the tide has long-since changed. I simply don't expect that music (in its current form) is a legitimate way to make a sustainable living. There will be exceptions of course but for newcomers and upstarts, this is a dead end road. Now, you can continue to put in the amazing amount of effort you already have, or just cut your losses and move on. Seeing Waves plugins prices in free fall for the last 1+ years is a good indicator of where things are going. I believe the days of charging several hundred dollars for samples are coming to a close as well. No, that's not at all fair or respectful to the amount of effort and time that gets put in to the creation of libraries such as yours. But please consider that it is more and more difficult for musicians to justify purchasing libraries like these when we can no longer recoup the cost ourselves. The effect is cascading (no, that will never justify stealing and I will not support that either).

In any case, you are not alone. Many of us here have put GREAT effort into making and creating music and it simply isn't valued financially when it is so easily obtained for free. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your loss and unless this is a true labor of love for you, I would strongly encourage you to put your efforts elsewhere. I do not see much sense in denying the inevitable situation we all find ourselves in. I will do it for love, or not at all!

Of course, all of this is IMO and YMMV :)

Last edited by blueman on Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
4223 posts since 19 Jun, 2008

Postby Shabdahbriah; Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:09 pm

This was extremely well written, and informative.

I'm really sorry and quite disheartened by it, as I always am when I hear these stories.

I then struggle with my own desire and enthusiasm about offering "instruments" of any kind, KNOWING it is likely (if not inevitable) to happen to me, and how I would handle that eventuality... emotionally, and economically. I can only deduce (for sanity's sake, if nothing else), that I would just have to make MORE, and persevere.

Suffice, fwiw: I bought Ten-Taiko drums and Toms day before yesterday (I think), and am loving it!!!

Couldn't swing Taiko 2 yet, but it is on the short-list.

Perception is the ultimate "reality" ~ but not, the ultimate Truth.
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1422 posts since 23 Oct, 2000, from Stockholm/Budapest

Postby DrGonzo; Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:32 pm

Whenever I see my own libraries out on the net I just turn into a stupid rant-monster.

Thanks for writing about it in such a personal way.
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1276 posts since 15 Nov, 2006, from Hell

Postby Burillo; Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:17 pm

all true except last two things (the part about selling subscriptions and a lot of money on ads). best of luck dealing with this issue though.
From Russia with love
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2215 posts since 13 Jan, 2005, from Deutschland

Postby murnau; Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:39 pm


i dont think that you will lost real customers. 99% of audiowarez-"users" only collecting what's available.maybe a few of them really try your library and for sure even this few are not potential buyers (at least for now). with or without a pirated version this are not people you can reach.

i understand your trouble and i dont like audiowarez either but the conclusion isn't right imo.
Last edited by murnau on Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more” ― Nikola Tesla
4758 posts since 10 Aug, 2004, from Colorado Springs

Postby rockstar_not; Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:39 pm

I hope that your post becomes a sticky here and elsewhere - not just on your particular forum, but at KVR in general.

It's disgusting to see so much personal and team effort abused so blatantly, and yet one sees it everyday - so much so that it almost seems to be becoming the norm in society.

I can't imagine how deflating and enraging it must feel to see that happen. My crap songs are all over torrent sites (who knows why - just because they are there for the stealing I suppose), but it must be particularly frustrating to see a piece of creative work like these sample libraries - with the effort and planning and spending behind them just outright stolen.

Perhaps what is more disturbing is that there is a big enough market for the pirated warez that it encourages more pirating.


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