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”
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
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:Hello,
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
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
- 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 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_2_Demo_02_Low_Kit.mp3http://www.ninevoltaudio.com/MP3s/TAIKO_2_Demo_01_Close_Kit.mp3
Acknowledgements: A "thank you" to the folks at 8 Dio for catching the first
pirated posting early on and letting my TAIKO 2 partner know.
Kyle Z - www.NineVoltAudio.com