An Open Letter To Jona Bechtolt...
While it was kind of you to write me personally expounding on your comments in the previous post, I'm afraid I take issue with some of the points you made. I've chosen to print my thoughts publicly, both for the theraputic value, and in the hopes that future generations will find some small value in this missive.
First things first. I will say up front that I do not accept your apology. I do appreciate the fact that you requested we send you a bill for the products you stole from us, but we won't be doing that either. I'll get to the "why" of that towards the end, so you have that to look forward to.
Anyhow, since this is an open letter, Jona, I have to provide the backstory for the people just joining us; I realize you already know all this stuff, but it's important for posterity. You, in your role as the leader of the group Yacht gave an interview to Waferbaby in which you stated that you willfully and happily used cracked software, and specifically Audio Damage plug-ins, to aid in your musical endeavors. Since I raised a certain (and I believe justifiable) objection to that in the previous entry, you or Waferbaby edited that interview. Of course, Google cached the un-edited one, and I grabbed a PDF, which interested parties can read here.
So, now that everybody knows where things stand, we can get on with our discussion. I will set aside the obvious and annoying hypocrisy of the whole light and happy rainbows trip you're on, because I'm not interested in discussing the relative merits of the genre in which you choose to express your creativity. In that interview, you essentially gloat over the fact that most all of the software you use to make music is pirated. Leaving aside the ethics of that for a moment, let's address the wisdom or lack thereof about gloating in public about committing a crime. While it may be the charge of the Hippy Dippy Light Brigade that information wants to be free, etc., it usually isn't free. Just because it feels free doesn't change the fact.
I realize that you're young, and perhaps a bit stunned by the fact that someone might take offense to your words or actions, but know this: if someone creates something, and chooses to hang a price tag on that thing, if you decide to take said thing without paying for it, you are de facto a thief. There's really no grey area. People are welcome to talk (or even yell, wave their arms, and run in circles) about changing things, leveling the playing field, rolling around in the fields of egalitarian bliss, but bad luck, you live in the United States of America, which is a capitalist nation. As such, most people that create things choose to charge for them, given the option to do so.
Since a metaphor is usually called for at this point, I'll give it my best shot. I don't suppose you walk in to White Hen Pantry and steal candy bars, do you? It's really not that much harder to steal a candy bar than it is to steal a plug-in. What makes that candy bar more real than a copy of Dubstation? The threat of immediate repercussions? If Dubstation was a real hardware unit instead of a group of ones and zeros arranged in a meaningful fashion, would you walk in to Guitar Center and slip it in to your pocket when nobody was looking? Interestingly, the penalty, should you be caught taking a candy bar, is far less than getting caught stealing software. That alone should give one pause. However, I'm far from naive, and I know just as well as you do that as long as someone doesn't, say, put a record of their actions in a public medium, they're not going to get caught taking the software.
Just so we're clear, Audio Damage, Inc. is not going to sue you, or file a complaint with the Multnomah County Sheriff's department. We would be well within our rights to do either or both, and most other software companies certainly would do so. In actual fact, I believe you do have a couple summonses to look forward to from some of the other companies you mentioned in your thoughtless rambling. But that's not my concern.
My true desire is to show you that the group of ones and zeros you took from us, and others, are meaningful creations. Adam and I put months, and in some cases, years of work in to those plug-ins. They are very real to us, and selling them is how we put a roof over our heads and keep our heat on and our refrigerators full. Is Dubstation (or Kombinat, Reverence, and BigSeq, the other plug-ins you stole from us) helping you make music? That is actual real time that Adam and I spent coding, modelling, designing, porting, testing, and selling. I sat in the second bedroom of my rented house (which is, I'll mention, roughly 30 miles from yours) and worked on the design of Dubstation. Adam sat in the basement of his house in Boulder and turned my idea in to a VST and an AudioUnit. Following that line of logic to its obvious conclusion, Adam and I spent time making something, and put what we thought was an extremely reasonable price tag on our time, in the hopes that others would see our creation and think that our time was useful, and would help improve their own creations. While it is somewhat unsavory to insist on payment for our creation, we have to do so in order to enable the act of creation in and of itself.
If you choose to use what we make without compensating us for our time, we'll grant that there's very little we can do about it. (Unless, of course, you say in a public medium that you've done so. Which, I'll mention again, you most assuredly did.) However, know this: wrong is wrong. If you have to ask whether you're a bad person or not, that alone should be all the answer you need. We are willing to accept piracy as a fact of life in the business we're in. We've never done more than pay lip service to copy protection, and we've tried to put a value on the product of our creativity that makes that product easily attainable, to the point where piracy simply isn't worth the trouble.
In conclusion, I promised to tell you why we wouldn't be sending you a bill. On the one hand, I'm happy with the fact that you're beginning to grasp that your words and actions have meaning, and therefor value, which essentially puts you in the same boat as Adam and I. On the other hand, when you justify your actions with the old standby "well, everyone else is doin' it" then you mark yourself as a follower, not a leader. If you want to be a leader, your example has to be righteous, not petty.
So we won't send you a bill, but know this: you'll end up paying for our software one way or another. I imagine you'll want to book a show at a club where I'm friends with the owner, and you'll need that date to wheel part of a run. But that owner will know that you're not to be trusted, so he'll pass on the date. Or you'll want to license one of your tracks on an episode of television, but the music supervisor has a 15-year relationship with me, and he values that more than he needs your song. Or you'll finally get an interview with that magazine that will put you in front of the kind of people you need to be in front of, but come to find out Audio Damage spends $1500 a month advertising in that magazine, and that company needs our $1500 more than it needs to fill column inches with your pondering out loud whether you're a bad person or not.
I am sorry that the Google footprint of this site is roughly 1000 times that of your name alone, and thus this will be the first thing that comes up whenever anyone searches your name directly, but there's nothing I can do about that. I hope this has been a valuable lesson to you, and food for thought to others. Thanks for taking the time to expand on your original comments, and I look forward to your reply. Just so you're aware, if you reply to me privately, I will absolutely post that reply verbatim here, so you might as well just put it in the comments of this post.