December 26, 2013


by Chris Randall

As you no doubt know, especially if you are a Logic user, there are Big Changes coming down the pike, in the form of a sandboxed version of Logic, most likely before the middle of 2014. Developers have been given a preview copy of Logic X Sandboxed, so we can test our products to see if they will work when the update occurs, and make necessary changes. The current Garageband X is already sandboxed, so you can do a quick test to have a gander at how many of your current AUs will work in Logic X Sandboxed.

The short answer is "hardly any."

There are some very big problems with sandboxing something like Logic, from a developer's perspective, and almost no benefit to the end user. (In actual fact, it harms the end user, because products he was able to use previously, and may have come to rely on, will suddenly cease to work.) We could talk in circles all day long about that sort of nonsense, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

While this stands a very real chance of having a consumer backlash something on the order of what occurred when Final Cut X was released, that's neither here nor there in the scheme of things. Our concern at Audio Damage is to maintain a seamless transition, so our customers aren't affected. And, let's be honest, there is nothing we like more than dropping everything and spending a couple months re-building our entire product line every time Apple has a fit of the Shinies.

In that light, we had a difficult decision to make. The only thing preventing our products from working in Logic X Sandboxed (and Garageband X, for that matter) is the erstwhile copy protection. For a decade now, we've had the simplest, least intrusive copy protection that we could have and still call it that. It has done very little to prevent piracy, and is the number one (and two and three and four and five and six and seven) source of support problems. It is, in short, a gigantic fucking pain in the ass that doesn't do what it's supposed to. And now it prevents our products from working in the Apple hosts.

So, we're taking it out.

We'll begin rolling out updates next week that will eventually encompass our entire product line, removing the DRM and updating the installers and UIs (and doing some bug fixing along the way), in order of popularity. The license control mechanism in the store will continue as-is, but the current reg codes will basically become serial numbers, and will not be required during the installation process. We'll also be able to deliver the bundles as one-click installs instead of 22 separate packages, which will no doubt please our bundle customers immensely.

This is obviously a pretty big risk for us, but we think it will be a good solution in the long run. We have long been of the opinion that there are people that care about supporting a company and its endeavors, and people that only care about themselves. Both Adam and I make a living on the former sort, and we hope that will continue to be the case. I can't speak for Adam, but I'm really shitty at blanching fries.

Anyhow, my Twitter feed and the Audio Damage RSS feed are the places to watch for updates as they're rolled. If you have a specific bug report that you think we might not know about, email it to [email protected] and I'll put it in the list. We'll be doing the products in order of popularity (with shiny new digitally signed installers, natch!) so expect Dubstation, Eos, Replicant, and Discord3 to be the earliest recipients of this treatment, and so on down to the perpetual tail-end Charlie, Ronin.


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Dec.27.2013 @ 10:45 AM
Adam Schabtach
@MikeF: Good idea, but we decided to make this a clean cut. It's a tough decision, but I've always thought of Audio Damage as (in part) an experiment to see whether there are still enough honest people in the world to support a small software company. Our first 10 years of business have suggested that the answer to that question is yes, even though we have data that suggests that for every plug-in we sell there are literally hundreds of pirated copies. (So perhaps this means that the number of honest plug-in users represents less than a percent of the overall population, but I'm not gonna stray too far into speculative statistics.) We're going out on a limb by removing all DRM, but the truth is that doing so will make it easier for us to support the customers that have rewarded our experiment with their purchases. Our registration mechanism--which was always designed to be as simple and unobtrusive as possible--is not only our biggest support issue but also often our biggest stumbling block when updating for changes in operating systems, installer conventions, etc. (It's worth mentioning that other companies, who use far more obnoxious copy-protection systems than ours, report the same truism: the number one cause of tech-support queries is copy protection.) By removing it we make it easier for us to maintain our products and move them forward as the times and needs change.

So yeah, what CR said. We're hoping that our latest attempt to do the right thing for our customers will be rewarded by enough business to keep us in business. If that's not the case, I don't know what I'll do. I After 10 years as the president/CTO of Audio Damage, I doubt I'm fit to work in an office writing code for someone else for products I don't care about.


Dec.27.2013 @ 12:04 PM
fingers crossed it all goes as planned or better.

i think it's a good move...

old argument: people who are gonna turn piracy are gonna go that way and people who are gonna pay are gonna pay... so, i suspect things will continue as they have.

Dec.27.2013 @ 12:21 PM
I hope it works out well. You could remove DRM from *some* AUs and see how it goes. Then if sales aren't hurt, remove DRM from *all* AUs. After a year or so of watching sales, you could then decide to remove DRM from the Windows stuff too.

Ripping out DRM across the board is a bold (and risky) move. Hopefully the hardware stuff is providing a decent alternative revenue stream.

Dec.27.2013 @ 12:32 PM
boobs: "people who are gonna turn piracy are gonna go that way and people who are gonna pay are gonna pay... so, i suspect things will continue as they have."

It's not a black and white issue. Did all the people who have downloaded MP3s illegally also shoplift CDs from Tower records in the old days?

I think people weigh convenience and the risk of negative consequences when deciding to pirate something. Hopefully this change won't tip the scales too far in the wrong direction.

Dec.27.2013 @ 8:05 PM
Even though people can get around copy protection, if you take it out completely then you'll have people insist that they thought it was free. Because everything is free on the Internet right? Even a small amount of difficultly in copying something reminds them that it is supposed to cost.

Then you just have to make it easy as pie to get the legit copies. I was really interested in a virtual instrument and was about to do the PayPal dance when I saw that it needed a dongle. Eh... no, actually I can live without it thanks, wallet snaps shut. Too many frikken Steinberg, ProTools, Propellerhead, etc. dongles in a USB moat already.

Dec.27.2013 @ 9:57 PM
@MikeF - i did say "old argument"

also, we're talking about (plug ins) audio damage customers/potential customers.. not music/cds/tower records or whatever.. we don't need some hair splitting piracy discussion.. just google or search any forum and you'll find every side of every argument. it's pointless.

Dec.28.2013 @ 6:11 AM
Chris Randall
Yeah, it's not really worth discussing at this stage in the game. We could have talked about this in 2003 and had a lively discussion. But now, well, that ship has sailed.


Dec.28.2013 @ 8:10 AM
What does it all mean for Windows users?

(I'd say "nothing", but I'm asking nevertheless)


Dec.28.2013 @ 8:40 AM
Chris Randall
Same thing. We're updating and removing DRM across the board. We _may_ not bother with the signing on the Windows side, since you can still run an unsigned installer. On OS X, if the installer is unsigned, and Gatekeeper is active, the damn thing won't work at all.

But on the other hand, in for a penny, in for a pound.


Dec.28.2013 @ 9:56 PM
Can somebody give the TL;DR on what "sandboxing" for Logic means (or a link)? I know what it means in other contexts, but don't understand the implications for a DAW and why it's such a huge pain in the balls to develop for it.

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