Monthly Archives: December 2008

Oh… Five Oh

…and on a personal note…

I normally don’t talk of such things in public but I guess I can’t resist noting the semicentennial anniversary of the parturition of a certain ornery, perpetual outlier whose accomplishments are to be judged with mixed results.

I only bring this up because I want to take this moment to thank all the people at Creative Commons, past and present, especially Neeru Paharia, Mike Linksvayer, Lucas Gonze and Professor Lessig for their ongoing support to the ccMixter project which I am lucky enough to continue as project lead. Their devotion to the project’s integrity over any personality (including myself) has been an inspiration, a model for how I treat it. I hope I live up to their ideals. I’m also grateful and humbled by the musicians who have taken up the cause at ccM and have been so generous with their time and music. I often worried at the beginning of the project that we weren’t going to attract anybody serious but then along came teru, spinmeister and MC Jack in the Box who have stepped up and given so much to the community and in the process, given me more than a break or two.

While 50 may feel like I’m numerically halfway to something, I’m grateful for all my friends, colleagues and fellow travelers through our online trek for making what I’m sure is the short end of the ride such a fun, greased downhill slide.

If now, or ever, you’re feeling in a giving mode consider the Ella Baker Center, Green for All and Creative Commons.

Here’s a wall stencil I recently saw in Stockholm. It made this old hippie smile.

Fruity Gone Batty

For the most part, a programmer who is good at algorithmic back-ends can’t be trusted with user interface. There are fantastic examples of exceptions, where there is an overall aesthetic that permeates the programmer’s approach to both coding and interface.

Unfortunately, FL Studio is not one of those exceptions. The back end stuff is as good as it gets: hosting all plugins, overall stability and clean mixer output. This, plus an unbeatable pricing model (lifetime upgrades for free) made it somewhat more palatable to overlook the painful, unusable, un-standard, ever-changing-without-a-direction user interface. Of course, this will incur the wrath of the cult-like following the overtly arrogant makers of FL have gathered over the years. (I finally had enough and dropped using FL completely after the rewrite of the Ableton rendering engine in version 7.)

I’m not generally bothered by a little arrogance. If the folks at Image-Line didn’t have at least a little arrogance they never would have conceived of Fruity Loops or continued it’s growth over the years; in a crowed field such as music software, you have to think you have a better way of doing it than everybody else. But theirs is a somewhat special brand that always struck me as an object lesson in humility that went something like “just because you had 3 good ideas in a row, doesn’t mean you’re next 7 won’t suck.”

It started when Deadmau5, a “big” recording artist I guess, noticed that someone else had released a song on iTunes, for sale, that sounded almost exactly like some tracks he had licensed to Image-Line to include in FL Studio. The tracks were marked as ‘demo’ but, you know, it shipped with FL Studio so, you know, you can use ’em.

Or not.

Turns out that was never part of the deal according to Deadmau5 and he’s holding Image-Line responsible and everybody’s pissing over themselves and copyright and looping and sampling and ain’t life grand.

As Peter over at CDM is reporting the Image-Line folks are now saying “We’ll remove all melodic loops from FL Studio to avoid this kind of stuff in the future…”

To say that none of this was thought through with a modicum of intelligence is an insult to modicums. According to this logic there are two paths: Including all rights reserved samples in FL studio OR remove all “melodic loops” all together.

I can’t begin to parse the lameness running throughout this. I’m pretty immersed in copyright/copyfight stuff and there’s a world of esoteric stuff that makes my eyes glaze over when serious CC or GPL people start yammering away. But how ignorant of artists’ rights issues do you have to be to come to any of these conclusions. And how arrogant do you have to be to flaunt it.

Any wonder I’m on Ableton.