iLoks are a hassle - are they worth it for the software developers?

CyberFerret

Member
Messages
10,037
I just bought some plugins from an audio software house (Slate Digital), and they inform me that I will specifically need an iLok2 for the copy protection on these plugins.

I've had an iLok1 for a while now, and while the initial setting up of licences on there IS a royal PITA, the ongoing use is not a huge issue, as long as I don't lose the iLok somewhere in the meantime.

Now I am going to have two iLoks to manage, unless I go through the whole rigmarole of transferring my licences from the 1 to the 2...

Now, I am a software developer myself. Have been so for over 25 years or so. In that time I have worked with, and seen various industries jump onto the copyright protection bandwagon, then drop them when the ongoing support and hassle for the development & support team just gets crazy.

I am wondering why audio plugin vendors are still hanging on to such tight copy protection methodologies? Is the increased support payoff still cost effective? (Note: The only times I have called these companies for support has been over copy protection issues).

Or is the audio industry just rife with people who have been brought up with the view that music and everything related to it should be freely copyable and duplicated and consumed without repercussion, and that extends to the tools used to make that music?? I'd like to think not.

Does the lessening of the theft still come out ahead over the inconvenience to the honest customer?

Any members who may work for these companies (Slate, Waves etc.) that can chime in with some practical reasons, I would appreciate it.
 

Astronaut FX

Member
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6,830
I do not work for any of these companies. However I do own a fair amount of this kind of software as well as a great deal of third party sample libraries for Native Instruments Kotakt. There is a very real concern about torrenting and other illegal acquiring and distributing of these products.
 

CyberFerret

Member
Messages
10,037
I do not work for any of these companies. However I do own a fair amount of this kind of software as well as a great deal of third party sample libraries for Native Instruments Kotakt. There is a very real concern about torrenting and other illegal acquiring and distributing of these products.
No doubt at all that there is.

I used to work in the accounting software industry, and we had the same issues there as well. What we found was, that the copy protection mechanisms we used resulted in pretty much 75% of our support calls.

We ended up drawing a line in the sand because the direct cost of us having to provide support, new licences to existing customers, assisting with lost licences etc. just became too much so we 'wrote off' the indirect loss of profits as a result of the nefarious users out there and just dropped the copy protection altogether.

I have a good friend in the engineering field, and he has related the same story with some of the engineering software he uses which used to have hardware dongles etc. but have now dropped them in the face of increasing competition and sheer support costs.

Most companies opted for better support and relationships with their customers over effectively 'punishing' the honest users.

By all means, I am happy to register my software, and if that means having my or my company name embedded in the software screens etc., that is fine. I even welcome newsletters and other special offers from the company as a result.

As a consumer, if I know that my purchase will result in even 15 minutes of fidging around to register the licence on my iLok, then I am less inclined to hit the 'Buy Now' button.

Additionally, the constant worry that I may misplace my iLok or that the dog might eat it etc. is also a stress that I don't want.
 

omahaaudio

Senior Member
Messages
1,879
I moved from ProTools to Logic Pro X for two main reasons.

1) I could buy the full Logic Pro X program for the cost of a ProTools upgrade (and the "four years of free upgrades" included with my copy of ProTools 10 only lasted for 2 years as they considered PT10 to PT11 to be beyond their upgrade policy).

2) I hated, hated, hated the damn iLok dongle.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,083
I used to have a niche software product but I pulled it off the market due to copying and people (mostly in former Eastern bloc countries) selling hacked versions of it.

If I ever do another product it will do a "phone home" to authorize the program on each use and a substantial part of it will be in the "cloud". This may not be practical for some music apps since mobile internet access can be spotty sometimes.
 

filtersweep

Member
Messages
4,569
My Waves authorization simply disappeared the other day. I hate the hassle and stress- as an honest, paying customer. I like how we have options, and can make our own keys. It is better than the Steinberg approach of proprietary dongles. They are all necessary evils.
 
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1,781
Now is a great time for software developers to abandon the iLok since most of the hacking teams are gone & out of the game.

The people that steal stuff aren't potential consumers you can "force" to buy through the white market through the enforcement of elaborate copy protection schemes.

All that happens is that individuals are discouraged from buying the product because they are treated like they are alleged criminals.

I don't appreciate companies assuming I plan on stealing their product or hacking it just because I decided to spend my hard earned money on it.

But then again... just how the hell do software developers protect their designs?

Law enforcement is a traditional means... and I have seen nothing but aggressive anti-piracy activity played out in every dark corner of the internet that concerned itself with file sharing. The sites are shut down and in some cases whole entire sharing websites have had to change their business models and in some cases their were asset seizures.

I personally think the worst days of intellectual property theft through file sharing are behind us. There will always be piracy and file sharing will never completely go away but by and large, the hacking teams have all gotten out of the game. Without the hacking teams cracking new releases... piracy ends up drying up eventually as "whack a mole" gets increasingly easier as the number of active sites gets smaller and smaller.

Just look at the success of companies like Universal Audio and Kush who have never been cracked through a steadfast regime of copy protection through the forced use of the iLock 2 dongle.

iLock 1 was cracked to some degree at one point but iLock 2 has never been cracked.

As much as I HATE hardware dongles and refuse to buy any product that requires an iLock... I think the money that companies like Universal Audio and Kush have saved through never being cracked and shared FAR outweighs the few clams they are missing out because I won't buy their products. iLock 2 is like Chuck Norris.
 

mattball826

Member
Messages
20,814
thieves have to ruin it for everyone

fact is, little to nothing was ever done about piracy, so a huge majority of people just don't care about stealing the works of others. had there been hefty fines from the start, or isp's suspending access then it may have worked itself out.

iloks are there to ensure a user has a licensed version. i am not a fan of them, but i buy my software and deal with the protections bakers add to their sw.

iloks will probably go away sooner as cloud and subscription monthly services take over. adobe and other daw sw bakers are going this route.
 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,360
HATE the idea of making legitimate customers pay an extra $50 just to protect the developer. Not to mention taking up a USB slot for no reason other than to protect the developer.

It is absurd and I do not support it.

Companies like Cakewalk historically treated customers fairly, and I have supported it with cash.

(in many cases, the product offered is not worth what is being charged - thus fueling piracy).
 
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iamspartacus

Member
Messages
494
But it's really a one-time purchase (depending on how many computers you use). I'm fine with paying $50, one time, to ensure that the plugins makers I like are able to stay in business.

I much prefer the ilok to cloud-based or computer-based authorisation, especially when going from computer to computer, which is what I did a lot.

Again, necessary evil.
 

Badside

Member
Messages
1,224
I wanted to download a new plug-in for free but it required iLok so I bought it... said no one ever

iLok is not keeping anybody in business, iLok is not protecting anyone's revenue, iLok is just a nuisance to paying customers.

Look, I used to run pirated software when I was a teenager with no ethics and no money. Had they figured out a 100% hack proof copy protection, I wouldn't have bought anything, I just would have stopped making music until I could afford it.

I'm not saying I was justified to do that, I'm just saying nobody lost any money because the theoretical "lost revenue" will never turn 100% into actual revenue, not even 10% of it.

What did happen though was that now that I only use fully paid for software (what a relief to get support and updates), I still use the same software. So by not making it impossible for me to pirate their software, they won a paying customer.

Copy protection is a nuisance to paying customers, 99% of the time.

You know what truly turns "pirates" into paying customers? Affordable options.
Reaper figured that out a while ago, and there are now a bunch of sub-100$ DAWs that are good enough to not feel limited, while still leaving room to justify upgrading if you have the money for it. Also, most audio interfaces ship with a decent DAW software that can be upgraded easily and cheaply. THIS converts users into paying ones, not iLok.
 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,360
But it's really a one-time purchase (depending on how many computers you use). I'm fine with paying $50, one time, to ensure that the plugins makers I like are able to stay in business.

I much prefer the ilok to cloud-based or computer-based authorisation, especially when going from computer to computer, which is what I did a lot.

Again, necessary evil.
Not convinced it is "necessary"

There are quite a few developers that don't use it and your argument assumes using it on multiple computers would be necessary. You still have to install the software on another computer, if it is copy protected or not.

(I also prefer to work 100% off-line)

I agree that reasonable priced software is a great deterrent to piracy. My spending habits are proof that it works. When sales hit, or a company offers something at a great price, I buy it. Gone are the days of needing to spend thousands to get a usable DAW or to Pirate it. Many plugin makers need to get up to speed on this. No reason a compressor plugin should cost $300.
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,232
I just went through the whole upgrade to ProTools 12. I was pretty disgusted when I was informed that I had to buy a new iLok - this is why: The iLok 2 looks ABSOLUTELY identical to the iLok 1. There is no apparent difference. Even the light is the same. They could've, at the very least, changed the design a little - but nope. I felt that this was done solely for financial purposes. Pace (the company that makes the iLok) saw a necessary need to create a new iLok - because if they didn't, people would just keep using their iLok 1s. So...I get it.

On the other hand, it seems to do the job for the time being, but I think that the direction everything is going (cloud), the iLok will soon be a thing of the past - especially as connection technologies potentially change (and always do) i.e. SCSI, USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt, etc.

Remember the Palm Pilot?

It seems that the industry is still learning how to manage digital material. There eventually needs to be a way that artists don't have to worry about illegal downloads and copies. I think that technology would be used on software too. We're just not there yet.
 
Messages
347
iLok is the most ill-conceived protection mechanism ever since it foists a huge annoyance upon every user and alienates customers.
 

jammybastard

"I'm losing my edge, but I was there..."
Messages
5,825
Almost every piece of software that uses Ilok has been cracked and available all over the 'net.
That answers the question right there.
 

cjcayea

cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce
Messages
4,032
I bought slates VMR when it was introductory prices to include the dongle. before that, I'd committed myself to never bothering with ilok. then, because I had an ilok, I bought waves gold. two days later, my authorization disappeared. waves allows one license recovery per year, but since there are plenty of high quality alternatives, I see no reason to ever buy anything from waves again. slate however . . . is sone of the best and worth the ilok hassle.
 

StratoCraig

Member
Messages
3,218
I don't buy software that requires hardware dongles. Period.

As a software developer myself with 30 years in the industry, I think cloud-hosted license authorization, on a one-time per-user per-machine basis, is more tolerable, more reliable, and less annoying to the user. You unlock the software once and after that you don't need the cloud to keep using the product. Problem solved.
 

mattball826

Member
Messages
20,814
Not convinced it is "necessary"

There are quite a few developers that don't use it and your argument assumes using it on multiple computers would be necessary. You still have to install the software on another computer, if it is copy protected or not.

(I also prefer to work 100% off-line)

I agree that reasonable priced software is a great deterrent to piracy. My spending habits are proof that it works. When sales hit, or a company offers something at a great price, I buy it. Gone are the days of needing to spend thousands to get a usable DAW or to Pirate it. Many plugin makers need to get up to speed on this. No reason a compressor plugin should cost $300.
not true at all

best deterrent to piracy would be bakers building in nice viruses that format that pos persons hdd. now that would be great!

most people that pirate **** are pretty much full on thief mode. music, software, anything.

only when companies start fighting back with things like seeding viruses or destroying the user torrenting's files will it matter to those thieves.

cost of most digital albums and singles had been lowered a great deal yet piracy doubled. software from many vendors have come down in price yet piracy still remains high.

piracy abusers have this notion of "oh well i'm not taking anything i would not buy anyway"

we had a musician in another forum bragging he don't pay for anything. steals all of it. same guy months later had his gear stolen at a gig. turned into a huge cry foul baby! i lol'd at him, as did many others. karma sucks

people that steal software feel justified to do so because it is not enforced and companies don't seed nice doctored up files. if the price was $100 for pro tools the same numbers would be pirated. thieves are thieves.
 

stratology

Member
Messages
1,497
I'm curious about the OP's questions as well. Why would any reasonable developer choose iLok as a copy protection scheme??

When releasing a software product, thinking about pirates rather than thinking about paying customers is the wrong approach, IMHO.

I'm one of those paying customers, I had an iLok protected product once, never again.
The Pace/iLok software is crap (on OS X, iLok uses a crappy proprietary kext rather than OS X's default USB driver), that is famous for its issues. iLok/Pace has arguably the worst support in the industry.

So why would a developer with a great product compromise it with a crappy copy protection scheme??
 




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