Updated: A PACE Anti-Piracy official has officially requested that we remove an image of the iLok product. While they asked not to be publicly quoted, they have challenged the technical accuracy of Adam’s blog post, saying they don’t believe their product caused the Blue Screen of Death. If PACE chooses to release an official reply, we will share it.

The debate over copy protection in music software and anti-piracy tactics continues to heat up. Now Adam Schabtach of Audio Damage, the popular plug-in developer, has fired off a call for a boycott of products that use PACE and the iLok hardware dongle. And that means that Waves is again a target, in this case because Adam himself had technical difficulties resulting from the copy protection scheme. But here’s his argument: the problem isn’t copy protection per se, it’s that developers have to cede control to a third party when the technology breaks.

This points up the biggest problem with PACE: if something goes really wrong, the maker of the PACE-wrapped product can’t help you. They didn’t invent PACE, they can’t fix bugs in PACE, they often don’t even know enough about PACE to troubleshoot it (which is not so much a reflection of their ignorance but of the sheer arcane complexity of PACE and the amount of information about it which its makers do not release even to their customers). Their only recourse is to tell you to wipe your hard drive bare and start again. This is one of many reasons that Audio Damage doesn’t use PACE: we want to help our customers make music, and we don’t want to be in a position in which we have to say “sorry, can’t help you” if something goes wrong with one of our products. Of course, unlike Audio Damage, Waves doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee for their products, so in the end I was stuck with software I’d paid for but couldn’t use.

Adam just doesn’t like copy protection, right? Well, no, in fact. The issue is that while PACE fails to stop piracy (something admitted by Waves themselves as they sue studios around the world for millions of dollars), PACE did succeed in stopping Adam from using his software:

I went to the Waves website, logged in to my account, downloaded the latest installer, and retrieved my iLok from the shelf upon which it was gathering dust. I backed up my hard drive (”once bitten, twice shy” and I’ve been bitten way more than once by PACE), launched the installer, and held my breath. The installer almost immediately informed me that it had to restart my PC, so I let it. It launched itself automatically after the PC rebooted, started the installation process, and then my good faith and efforts were rewarded with [a Windows Blue Screen of Death].

… A PC running Windows puts this up when something goes really, really wrong and the OS makes the unilateral decision to bring all proceedings to a halt in order to prevent further mishap. Seeing this screen is the computer equivalent of seeing your car deploy its airbags.


The final analysis:

PACE doesn’t stop piracy; any copy-protection system can, and will be, defeated. What PACE does do is prevent legitimate users of software products from using products which they’ve paid for.

Why I Boycott Products That Use PACE/iLok (and Why You Should, Too)

PACE/iLok is the leading provider of this kind of copy protection, so I expect we may hear a response. If I can get a statement from them, I’ll post that soon. But I will say, Adam is not alone in his frustration. Developers will continue to make the choices they feel are right for their business, which is their prerogative — but it’s likewise the choice of their customers to vote with their wallets. I do know users who are perfectly comfortable with iLok. Let us know how you feel, and whether copy protection has influenced your purchasing decisions.

Updated: Note that we’re talking about two different kinds of copy protection offered by PACE. One is the PACE software protection, which does not use a hardware dongle (or “hardware key” as PACE prefers to call it). The other is the iLok.

Already, readers are split: we’ve got Max/MSP users (myself included) who haven’t had problems with PACE software protection, and even some iLok hardware users who haven’t been bothered. But there are some strong arguments against the hardware dongles, to the point of cutting into sales, something developers may want to watch closely. Keep the feedback coming.

  • Thomas Cermak

    Thanks for this Peter.

    I'm a heavy Ableton Live user and have to say I don't mind their copy protection scheme too much. I find it less intrusive and prone to failure like the iloks – why I will never BUY/USE waves products. I did have to abandon Live for a show once because I had to reinstall Tiger and Ableton took too long to unlock my copy of Live. They've been quick to respond ever since though.

    Also, another note: I can't believe how many donations and purchases I've made to/from smaller developers (the smart electronix crew, dblue, etc.) compared to the big names. And it's not because they're cheaper products. It's because they put their heart and soul into their products, and trust their customers. I haven't used Audio Damage stuff but every one I know that does has purchased their products and really dig them.

  • Darren Landrum

    The only reason I never took a look at the YellowTools Independence sampler is because of its use of a dongle. Likewise, several links to some great plug-ins have come my way that I've passed by because they require the iLok. I'll probably end up buying Komplete 5 along with Reaper. A lot of great software and no dongle. That works for me.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    One note about Live: you can use the demo version (not the full download) to run a set. You can't save it, but you can run the set.

  • Adrian Anders

    I've had no problems (yet) with the c/r version of PACE used on Max/MSP… of course I got Max/MSP for free about a year back… If I hadn't I probably would never have purchased it due to PACE.

    Here's some other dongled products that I would have considered buying had it not been for the dongle:

    Arturia Jupiter-8V

    Arturia Prophet-V (

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I'll chime in with that — I've used Max/MSP for years, used it with students, etc., and aside from brief incompatibilities with new operating systems (which are being resolved more rapidly), I haven't had ANY problems with PACE software protection.

    As a reviewer receiving lots of software, though, I've personally stopped using software because of having to deal with the dongle, especially as being mobile is important to me. And Arturia does rank really high on the list, sadly, as I love their stuff otherwise. Now, I know other people who don't mind the dongle — so very interested to hear what others think, honestly. We may follow up with a survey … not scientific, but could be interesting.

  • Mike

    While I agree with Adam's rant, I think it's only fair to point out that I have never encountered a problem running PACE with iLok's on any of my systems. Nor for that matter with my Syncrosoft dongle.

    I would prefer software not to come with a dongle, having to give up two USB ports (three before Apple dropped the dongle from Logic), or clog my desk with a hub, seems a little ridiculous just to run software I own. But I can't see much changing in the short term.

  • Grimley

    Yup, I was planning on buying Motu Mach5 until I discovered it uses a dongle, but now I'm really disappointed after reading the post above because I had no idea Max/MSP used one and I've recently been lusting after it. I'll never buy another dongled product after the headaches I've encountered with syncrosoft in the past (mostly refusing to recognize the dongle) and from all accounts iLok seems to be much much worse.

    I'm all for unobtrusive copy protection as used by Ableton and NI and I do vote with my wallet.

  • Mike


    As a reviewer how do you avoid dongles? Do you have a separate system purely for reviewing?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Mike: I don't avoid dongles; just have to use them. They tend to collect dust in a drawer. But it's really striking — when you can choose software, 9 times out of 10 I'll choose the non-dongled software to use in my own stuff, because I can just install and forget it. In fairness, the iLok is better than some of the dongle alternatives, because you can load more than one software license on it. Some of the other dongles are proprietary, so you actually have multiple dongles to carry around.

    For the record: Max/MSP does NOT have a dongle. It uses PACE's software copy protection scheme.

  • http://www.pegritz.com Derek C. F. Pegritz

    I flatout refuse to use ANY software that requires a hardware-based copy-protection scheme to use. If it has an effin' dongle, I simply will not use it. I was a hardcore Cubase user until Version 3 SX, which introduced their own ridiculous "key." I've since switched over to Sonar, which may have a fatally-cluttered GUI, but does not involve any form of annoying copy-protection and gets the job done just as easily (if not better).

  • eric

    Yep, I stopped using dongles several years ago, and will not look back. I use Komplete and Reaper and Plogue Bidule, all legit and paid for. I don't mind NI's copy protection. So far it's worked just fine for me.

    I pull out my old cubase and logic keys to open songs to transfer to reaper, that's about it.

    For the record, the cubase synchrosoft dongle has never crashed my system, but it did trash a usb port on my old computer when it caught on a cable!

  • Brian

    what kind of copy protection does ableton live use? because im pretty sure its the only one ive heard of actually working..

  • http://www.musotalk.de noneric

    The truth is that that I know professional musicians that only buy and use software of which they can obtain and install a "cracked" version. Because that want to be able to reinstall it at any time without time consuming " challange and respponse " or worse copy protections. Why do we have to buy and use crippled software when the guy next door can use a "Crack" with comfort and ease. Does not make sense nor does it encourage a purchase. Sort this out guys…

  • http://axiom-crux.net axiomcrux

    I have the korg ms20 usb controller and korg analogue collection. These products are truely wonderful, the downside, the dongle: If I start up a logic of ableton session without the dongle for these plugins attached, the session will crash. In the case of logic it trys to reopen the same session over and over. In the end I have to take the Korg components out of the library and start up again so it cant find them, and proceed. THIS IS OBNOXIOUS! and Im so glad logic ditched the dongle. I think Korg needs to do the same. I also think hardware developers should take a hint from korg and start making physical representations of their pluigns, this integration will play a big role in new music software and the quicker developers catch on, the faster we can further the evolution of music hardware/software.

  • http://axiom-crux.net axiomcrux

    good point noneric, but then couldn't you install the software on all your friends computers? would it even need a crack then? wouldn't people just do the same thing they are doing with mp3s and hand it out to everyone?

  • http://openlandscape.wordpress.com Toranaga

    I hate any hardware dongle copy protection. I will rather use another similar product (even if it's a little bit inferior) without a hardware dongle, than one with. I don't mind copy protection of any sort, just not hardware dongles…

  • http://www.digitallofi.com/words/ digital lofi

    In all fairness, and as much as I hate and avoid ridiculous copy-protection – dongle free here, no PACE – copy protection *does* prohibit casual copying. As in, we can't just borrow our friend's Live and load it up and call it day. No, you'd have to search out a crack. Not hard, granted, and the kind of people who use Live would be probably be savvy enough to nab a copy. And, as Adam points out, the buying than cracking solution is solving nothing and arguably contributing to the problem, as you're encouraging both the companies that use excessive copy-protection and the brats who release the cracks. You're probably getting a product that is less stable, and let's see you explain that one to tech support. If you have problems with invasive copy-protection on principle then support companies that are building working, relatively painless procedures for it: NI, sonicCharge. If you're having technical issues then pressure the company to provide you with a solution. But turning to a torrent site when you want install your Diamond Bundle or AutoTune is heading down a slippery slope.

  • mj

    I was dead set on getting Arturia's Jupiter 8v until I found out I'd have to give up a USB port for it. On mobile setups that's just not acceptable. I had to walk on by.

  • Dr Fau5tus

    "…any copy-protection system can, and will be, defeated."

    Well it's 13 months and counting for Cubase 4…

  • Kyran

    I currently have a syncrosoft dongle for my Korg legacy analog. I bought the ms-20 with controller first (which uses C/R) and liked it so much that I just had to buy the other plugs as well.

    I haven't had any problems with it so far.

    From a technical point of view: a dongle is just as prone to failure as C/R. Try upgrading some stuff in your computer (like a new harddrive or partitioning it to install linux or something).

    The benefit of the dongle is that you can use it on multiple systems, the downside is that it uses a usb port and can break.

    I've worked for a company that used all sorts of copy protection (among which license servers, C/R and dongles) and they were going to ditch the C/R because the algorithm that generates the machine specific code was just too unstable.

    The sad part is that it doesn't prevent people from hacking it. Any copy protection scheme will be hacked. Getting more intrusive protection scheme's will ensure that it takes the hackers another two weeks before they can get a stable "release", but will cause exponentially more problems among your userbase. If it works for you, be happy (I'm very happy it works for me, because I love my korg plugins), but there's a lot of people out there that are encoutering serious problems. That's just not fair.

    I will never buy a C/R or dongled product again, and I'm trying hard to find replacements for the ones I already have.

  • Rui Penha

    I actually chose to use MaxMSP with the iLok key instead of the PACE C/R. This way I can use it in several computers besides my own, I can test my software on different operating systems and I can use a cheaper windows PC to run installations using runtime, while still being able to edit the patch in loco if (when, really…) something goes wrong.

    Sometimes I get tired of plugging and unplugging the key everyday to use MaxMSP, and I've even had times when I didn't check some interesting file or object I downloaded immediately because of this hassle.

    But in the end, the convenience of being able to use the software on just about any computer does justify it.

  • http://seismo.blogspot.com/ seismo

    i bought the korg ms-20/legacy plugs just before korg switched over to the synchrosoft key. so my upgrade path essentially ends here. i won't use the dongle version… even if it's a free "upgrade."

    i do enjoy the word "dongle", though, and say it as often as possible.

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    To be fair, dongles have uses.

    I am setting up audio production for an old-media company now. We're probably going to go with Cubase, because A) it's cross-compatible with our Mac and PC systems, and B) with the dongle, we can install it on every machine, and users just have to come borrow the USB key when they want to run it. Makes our production process less centralized, especially since Cubase will also use built-in sound cards for editing purposes.

    I worry about something happening to the dongle, and we'll have to take measures for that eventuality, but overall the solution fits what I want it to do, legally.

  • http://www.heatseeker.it motor

    my main tool is MAXMSP and I have no problem with the dongle, but I don't wanna have other dongles around my laptop.

    The point is that I'm happy with MAXMSP and I just want to carry it around everywhere; I want an original copy for supportand updates.

    Basically, as with GNU software, I'm happy to pay for crucial tool for the support.

  • Nick

    I use iLok on Wave and McDSP plugins for Protools. So far, no problems. Using the iLok, I can try McDSP products befor I buy, which is convenient.

    I dunno, I find the iLok soluton quite stable and neat: fill it up with licences and go. Then again I don't gig, only use one Mac for music and never had to wipe my hard drive. I'm definitly not a heavy plug-in user 😉

    – Nick –

  • llamastorm

    The worst part of DRM systems like this is that they hurt "good" users more than they hurt bad ones. Losing a registration number, installing on different hardware that doesn't match, or having a driver glitch or become unsupported keeping folks from using very expensive software is not a good way to treat honest customers. Adam's right — the solution is not to treat your customers as criminals.

    The good will you generate by having reasonable products generally helps you find a lot more customers.

    Registration numbers don't bother me too much — but anything above that starts to become a major annoyance.

  • Fintain

    The final analysis:

    Buy a mac!

    Seriously though, I don't like iLok myself, because each time you load your host you have to click through all the authorise windows. If your using sound toys plugins, this could mean anything up to 6 of these windows appearing.

    Also, ilok is quite temperamental, I need to put it on a usb hub due to lack of ports and maybe 50% of the time when I load a host I have to take the key and put it in and out inorder for it to work.

    There are benefits though, not so much the ilok, but with syncrosoft, I really like the fact that I can install the software anywhere I like and just pop the key into another computer and it works straight away. No need for a silly app (native instruments) or online authortisation every time I reinstall the os or start up under boot camp. (Native give you two computer code, boot camp is counted as one even its the same computer)

    Again, if everyone used the same key (need for only one key) and it was transparent to the user it would be perfect.

  • http://briarmonsmetrach.googlepages.com/home runagate

    I'm baffled by the argument "a dongle hasn't personally caused ME a problem"

    It's impressive that Cubase 4 hasn't been cracked in 13 months. I didn't know that.

    Nevertheless, I'm not buying anything that blue-screens my colleagues computers regularly and I've seen too many of these stories to ignore.

    I personally use so many USB midi interfaces I couldn't just start adding dongles anyways, so I'm lucky it's already out of the equation.

    Oddly, every time I see this under discussion I can't help but think that 1) we're really lucky this isn't more common with non-musician computer tech (iTunes used to disable PC CD-ROMs quite often) and 2) the reason this is even a problem is that it's in the hands of only a couple companies and there's no way for us to tell if it's those particular companies' technology that is inept or not. I certainly am sick of being a guinea pig.

  • http://www.jeanfrancoischarles.com Jean-FranÃ&se

    Actually, this post is rather scary. I am a Max/MSP/Jitter user on a Mac laptop, and have never had major problems. I use the "software" version of the protection. I hope PACE direct customers (meaning cycling74 for Max) will be able to put enough pressure on PACE.

  • http://www.stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    If we accept software piracy as inevitable, we also have to accept copy protection as inevitable. While no copy protection is 100% effective, it certainly helps to slow the spread.

    That said, the iLok is the most user-friendly copy protection scheme, because it is the only scheme that decouples authorizations from the computer.

    If you have one computer, and one computer only, then the benefit of an iLok may be lost on you. If you have several boot partitions, a desktop machine, a laptop, and a work machine, then an iLok is heaven. My authorizations are tied to me, not a particular computer. If anything happens to your hard drive, corruption, crash, whatever – it doesn't affect your authorizations. You don't need to re-authorize or find serial numbers or 'activate' all your software again after a hard drive crash.

    The other benefit of the iLok is it manufacturer-agnostic. You can have authorizations from many different companies living on one iLok. You don't need a separate dongle for each application.

    Then there is the excellent iLok.com where you can move authorizations to other iLoks, and even receive authorizations via email and load them on the iLok.

    It is understandable why people are irritated by copy protection, but, as schemes go, iLok is flexible and transparent. It sounds like people hate it not because it sucks, but simply because it exists.

    If Adam doesn't want to use PACE on his products, fine, no one is forcing him to, but is it really necessary to call for a boycott of all products that use PACE? His business model is to sell small affordable plug-ins which responds well to the absence of copy protection. This model doesn't describe the entire industry and projecting his desires on everyone else is frankly irresponsible.

  • maxamillian

    The main thing is that iLok has been cracked now (Pace CR has also long been cracked). That's the problem with these generic schemes – once it's been cracked, everything that uses it is a sitting target. And the fees that developers have to pay are ridiculous.

    Synchrosoft looks like it may be somewhat more effective than iLok, but for me it's even worse as a user – the software has to be decrypted in real time in the dongle, over a crappy USB1.1 connection. I have no idea why someone would want to cripple the performance of their computer in critical real-time record/playback conditions in this way. There's actually a plugin I really want to take a look at that uses Synchrosoft (Virsyn V-Tape) but I would rather hook up 16 old Revoxes than install a USB software-wrapper dongle.

  • Eric


    You seem to have overlooked a significant aspect of Adam's issue with PACE's DRM: it blue-screened his system. Despite all the wonderful possibilities of hardware-based copy protection you outline, if it actively interferes with the user's productivity by bricking their systems then there is _no_ benefit.

    It's great that you have had such a pleasant experience with copy protection, but folks who don't have the same experience (and their numbers appear to be significant) end up wasting time and money. That's reason enough to think twice about buying products which use DRM.

  • Adam Schabtach

    Hi Matthew:

    I'd like to respond to two points you make:

    1) "That said, the iLok is the most user-friendly copy protection scheme, because it is the only scheme that decouples authorizations from the computer." This is true in a sense, but my problem is that I can't even install the PACE-protected product, and this isn't the first time that this has happened. So to say that the authorizations are decoupled from the computer is true, but being prevented from installing the product at all doesn't strike me as user-friendly. (Also note that Synchrosoft provides the same decoupling, as does the system that Emagic/Apple used to use for Logic. It's interesting that Apple stopped using dongles with Logic 8.)

    2) "This model doesn’t describe the entire industry and projecting his desires on everyone else is frankly irresponsible." Sure, of course our business model doesn't describe the entire industry, but I was speaking (or attempting to speak) primarily as an end-user rather than a manufacturer. In retrospect maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut, since it's understandably difficult to see that distinction. If asking people to examine their own buying habits is irresponsible, well, okay, I'll plead guilty to that.

    If Peter conducts the poll he mentioned and finds that a majority of end-users are happy with their PACE experiences, I'll cheerfully put up a post saying that my experiences seem to be the exception rather than the rule and link back to his poll as substantiation. Maybe I just have bad luck, or maybe I just have had to deal with too many incarnations of PACE over the years.

  • http://www.stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    @ Eric

    Understood. It sucks that there was something about PACE that blue-screened a Windows system. However, blue-screening is not an aspect that is unique to PACE.

    As a Mac user, I've never had any problems with PACE, and it is difficult for me to see this as a PACE problem, and not a Windows problem. Sorry for sounding glib here.

  • http://www.stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    @ Adam

    As a manufacturer, your voice has a different weight. You can't leverage your weight and then claim you're speaking as a user.

    Apple abandoned a dongle because none of their software uses a dongle. Copy protection doesn't matter to Apple because they sell hardware. They want their platform to be the standard of production, and pirated copies actually help this.

  • Adam Schabtach

    @ Matthew

    Regarding weights of voices: Point taken, although it seems to imply that as a manufacturer I sacrifice rights of an end-user. That's a sticky one. :-)

    Someone else brought up the Mac vs. Windows issue on my blog. Therein I stated that most of my PACE experiences happened on a Mac because most of my music-software experiences happened on a Mac. If PACE is rock-solid on OS X these days, that's great, I'm glad to hear it. But blue-screening my PC actually is unique to PACE on this particular PC. I've got software on there from a bunch of manufacturers, and two DSP cards and one PCI audio interface card, and it never blue-screened before I tried to install this PACE-protected product.

  • ian s mcdonald

    I have a MOTO library that uses an iLok.

    Never mind that I suspect it of destroying one of my laptop's sorely needed USB ports, which has never worked since I installed the iLok (can't prove this of course, MOTU support told me this happens sometimes, but should remedy itself after reboot – but the port is dead).

    But it's also not 100% and I find myself seldom using the library simple because I never know if I'm going to have to fight with the iLok.

    Never again iLok or MOTU.

  • http://www.stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    Adam, I believe you that there is something about PACE that blue screened your Windows system. It sounds like a complex system you have there. But, what if the issue is an interaction of *several* components you have installed. What if you had an iLok on there and everything was rock solid, and then you install a DSP card and THEN the system blue screens? Do we call a boycott on DSP cards? Do we call for a boycott every time some software or hardware component blue screens a computer?

    The point I'm trying to make is I believe you're holding PACE to a different standard simply because it is a copy protection scheme. I appreciate your passion, which is why I read your blog.

  • Patrick

    Fwiw there's an increasing trend in academic IT support environments to avoid ALL software requiring dongles. The support burden imposed by dongles is relatively steep, even in a dedicated multimedia computer lab with a fairly savvy clientele. In the major university where I work, any software requiring iLok or any other dongle is simply no longer purchased, no matter how much music faculty or students may want it to be installed on the university machines.

  • http://briarmonsmetrach.googlepages.com/home runagate

    Are you being serious, Matthew, or just trying to scare him from some other motive?

    Hurling the world "irresonsible" around and then implying that he's discussing a boycott simply because *he* has incured a blue-screen is plain and simply slander.

    Anyone who has followed this issue is perfectly well aware of the fact that this happens more often that is at all acceptable, and unique to the discussion is the fact that there's no one to turn to, no solution – not even for those supplying the software to be copy protected!

    Is there some reason we're to censor discussion based on the idea that because someone might lose profit based on poor business practices we're to keep it a secret and quietly acquiese?

  • Kyran

    Even if pace is just a factor in the blue screen, than it's still paces problem. Then their copy protection system still keeps legitimate buyers from using the software.

    You seem to follow the logic that if it works for you then there is no problem.

    Softwarecracker are like bike thieves. If you don't put a lock on your bike, everyone will take it for a ride. Just adding a simple lock, will keep the casual guy from taking it. Crackers on the other hand are not casual guys: they want your bike, so they'll take your bike, no matter the size of the lock you place it. Placing a big lock on it is actually an incentive for them.

    Bottom line: if they want your bike, they will steal your bike, but you don't want to have to spend 15 minutes unlocking it each time you want to take it for a ride I suppose.

    A simple protection scheme like a serial is most likely just as effective as a big ass dongle protection. But a serial is much easier to use for both your customers as your support department.

  • http://www.itchmerry.com/ MRKisThatKid

    I bought Waves Power Pack quite some years ago and I'd now like to sell it because I feel the equivalents in Logic Studio sound just as good to my ears.

    But unbelievably you have to pay Waves in order to transfer a license, and it isn't an arbitrary sum, it's something like 100 dollars. It doesn't take a genius to work out that this is almost certainly due to the complexity iLok causes.

  • http://www.stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    @ runagate

    If a user calls for a boycott of products that use PACE, I'm cool with that.

    If a developer calls for a boycott of products that use PACE, yes I feel that is irresponsible. You don't see a conflict of interest here?

    I understand that Adam was 'speaking as a user' but as a developer, I feel he forfeits the privilege of calling for boycotts of products his may potentially compete with.

  • http://www.otownmedia.com Richard Lainhart

    I prefer the iLok system to any of the other CP schemes. Of course I'd prefer not to deal with CP at all, but since I do, and because I use several different computers, I find iLoks to be the least inconvenient method. I have three, and two backups, supporting something like 10 different applications and plugin sets.

    For what it's worth, I'm on Macintosh, and have never had a problem with iLok reliability or software issues, going back to OS9.

  • http://www.myspace.com/pax lost

    Dongles don't make no sense. Maybe they could make waves an internet app, in about 10 years. No install, just a registration to use the service. No dongle, use it from any computer at anytime. Sounds nice if we can get the necessary bandwidth.

  • http://www.musiccomposer.com mediawest

    i have the same issues with the ilok and other so called copy protect. all they do is stop the legit user from either using the purchased software, or migrating to newer systems. i have had nothing but issues with Waves for years, and have stopped our studios from purchasing any waves or eastwest products. too many bad experiences. but i can tell you because of these companies short sighted implementations, i have seen the young musicians coming into our studios and others with TONS of cracked software…. something we dont condone, but understand. and the cracked software usually works as well or better than the installs that are legit.

    open source is the only way, and there are TONS of free vst and rtas stuff we are using that are as good or better than the waves stuff.

  • JDSampo

    The thing that scares me off dongles is the possibility of losing the dang thing. I know that many companies will not replace lost or stolen dongles, for good reason obviously. But it does put one in the position of having to either repurchase software or buying insurance to cover the dongle. Not being a professional, insuring a dongle seems kind of ridiculous to me but so is re-purchasing software. Better to not be in that position in the first place.


  • http://myspace.com/peephole4eva JeremyCox

    Digidesign is the worst about all this. Every time a new OS comes out they make you buy an upgrade so you can use your hardware again.

    PACE is WAY less annoying.

  • http://www.mauxuam.net maux

    @ Adam….tnx again for your amazing "cheap and best" plug ins… I like your work and expecially your attitude.

    I agree…boycott them…let them chase the flyes with naked hands.

    PACE is probably the most unsuccessfull software company out there (possibly worst than Norton).

    all their effort are just patetic…and the result is only annoying for the unlucky legal users.

    I do also keep a K version of the software I legally own…so many times saved my ass…

    come on…mac or pc doesn't really matter nowadays…same shit inside the box…leopard or vista…just fancy makeup and cheeky wallpapers.

    I had a dream :

    soon nanotechnology will kick in….and probaly humans will be telephatic again.

    this will be a huge technology level shift.

    and FINALLY we will be able to COPY the hardware too…and spend more money in software and MUSIC.

    Copyright and Copy protection companies will be out of business…and possibly credit cards too.

  • http://www.johnnyrandom.com/ flip


    @Dr Fau5tus

    "Well it’s 13 months and counting for Cubase 4…"

    It is most definitely cracked: I've seen copies of it floating around "the intertubes".

    I've been using Logic for 10 years and I'm glad they dropped the dingleberry/dongle. It did feel like I was being punished for being a paying customer.

    I've posed a simple question on most of these iLok/Waves threads that has yet to be answered:

    Are there any plugin out there that aren't Waves or doesn't use PACE/iLok that can master audio as good or better than Waves plugins? I've seen a few suggestions, but they were pathetic alternatives according to my ears. L3 16 alone is incredibly powerful if you know how to use it. I'm not talking about brick walling your 2-track mixes either. I simply haven't heard anything that I would call a viable cross platform alternative. Past that, I hope Waves goes out of business simply for adopting RIAA techniques.

  • Adam Schabtach


    Hey, it's been a few years since we last corresponded, and even longer since we first met at a NAMM show. At the time you were working for MOTU. Would you mind stating for the readers here whether or not you're still working for them? I think it's relevant since you've brought up the topics of conflict of interest and "privilege".

    Obviously, no, we don't call for boycotts every time a computer crashes. I wasn't talking about a single instance of a problem caused by PACE; I thought that was readily apparent on my blog entry, but perhaps not.

    You stated that "I understand that Adam was ’speaking as a user’ but as a developer, I feel he forfeits the privilege of calling for boycotts of products his may potentially compete with." I'm afraid that I don't agree with this opinion for a couple of reasons.

    First, saying bad things about your competitors is hardly unusual or "privileged" practice. Consider for example Apple's "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" TV advertising campaign. If Apple has the privilege to directly attack their competition on national television, why do I not have the privilege to air my thoughts on my blog?

    Second, my posting could just as easily generate negative publicity for my company. People could read it and think "wow, this guy's a nut and he can't even keep his PC from crashing–I'm not gonna buy anything he writes."

    Third–and perhaps most importantly–free speech is a right enjoyed by citizens of the United States. As far as I know, that right is not a "privilege" I sacrificed by becoming a software developer. Yes, there are laws regarding libel, but I believe that my post does not cross those legal boundaries.

  • Dr Fau5tus


    Just because you can type "Cubase 4 Crack" into google and get hits doesn't mean the "intertube" can furnish you with a copy. There are sites claiming to have cracked versions , but these all link to files so obviously trojans (i.e. 1 meg in size) that I'm amazed anyone is stupid enough to download them, and if it was cracked it would be all over isohunt and piratebay by now and it isn't.

    And to counter the obvious questions, I look because I'm curious about the fact Cubase has evaded piracy for so long – I'm a perfectly happy, and legal, user of Cubase SL2

  • dead_red_eyes

    @ Dr Fau5tus

    "“…any copy-protection system can, and will be, defeated.”

    Well it’s 13 months and counting for Cubase 4…"

    Who in the hell would want to crack that piece of shit program anyways?

  • http://www.johnnyrandom.com/ flip

    @Dr Fau5tus

    Google would be the last place I'd use if I was looking to steal anything.

    I also don't think bit torrent sites are a good barometer indicating the spread of a crack. (sorry that sounded perverted)

    As far as trojans (sorry again) I've never suffered from any Greek malware.

    Btw, that Adam Schabtach is a nut. He can't even run his PC…I'm never going to buy anything he writes. :) JK.

  • Doug Rouxel

    I'm a lecturer at a college and we've jut changed over and entire suite of Macs from Cubase (which uses steinbergs own Dognle) to Logic, simply because Logic has abandoned the hardware copy protection, and it is next to impossible to (financially viably) police hardware copy protection with a suite of Imacs…

  • http://www.paulsop.com Doktorfuture

    I'm always worried about my dongle being stolen. Maybe we should have dongles for our dongles.

  • http://www.andivax.com andi vax


    all my friends buy cubase 4 because it's not cracked yet. and if it will be cracked they will kill yourself :)

    i think there MUST be unbreakable protection or MEGA device.

    Another side of this case – little developers (like Audiodamage) can't use pace/ilok. because PLUGIN cost 30-50$. And USB Dongle cost me the same price :)

    Also, bad iLoc thing is a big program code – so, it means "CPU HOG", bugs, etc.

    anyway, i use cubase 4.1 with usb dongle and i have no choice :)

    ps Audiodamage plugs are AMAZING!!!

  • ponk

    I haven't read all the comments, but I haven't seen mentioned that audio damage doesn't have demos of any of their products. Now guess why.

    The obvious answer is when they had demos, they got cracked in no time, and they significantly lost sales (there has been a post on analogindrusties or on BBL confirming this). I dislike CP as much as the next guy, but I would never purchase software based on a screenshot and 3 audio "demo files". Imagine buying Max based on that. Or rather not buying it. If their model of distribution works for them like this, fine. But this rant is marketing in ther own interest, no more.

    Using pace for years on mac without problems, from what I gather from the bad guys disscussion boards its a rather difficult adventure to get arround it (demo resets of past versions etc).

  • nooga

    @ Doktorfuture :)

    @ ponk. @ $39-49 a pop, AD plugs exist in such a compulsive territory that who cares they don't have demos? By the time it takes to create a demo, test it, and release it, they could be well on the way to the next thing. Even if you didn't like the product after purchase, you could transfer your license. Try doing that with a Pace/ilok product.

    I'm so happy this discussion has sparked up. I went over to the cycling74 forums and someone has already brought this up. For someone interested in upgrading to Max5, I can at least hope that Cycling74 would consider changing their copy protection in the future. I've ran into trouble in the past with their c/r systems with pluggo, and mode. Yuck, there's nothing worse then sitting dead in the water on software that you've paid for.

    I'm gonna go grab some popcorn.

  • http://www.audiodamage.com Chris Randall

    @ ponk :

    If it was a marketing ploy, I'd be the one posting that article, not Adam, as that's my department. You can rest assured that he was pissed that a product he'd paid not an insignificant amount of money for caused no end of headaches and he felt compelled to share his opinion on the matter, and that's the simple truth. We don't operate with ulterior motives, and I think that's plain to anyone that has purchased from us. If we were under any illusion that our demo policy (or distinct lack thereof) significantly affected our sales, it would be changed. It doesn't, so it isn't. But that's neither here nor there in this discussion.

  • llamastorm

    @ponk —

    Spectrasonics doesn't have demos either, and I think Stylus and Atmospheres have been doing incredibly good. (Admittedly, they use an annoying challenge/response registration system, but they are known to transfer licenses between computers and let you install it twice).

    Anyhow, I have bought AD stuff based on their demos, and if you read the FAQ, they also offer a 30 days no questions asked refund policy (and free exchanges for some time after that).

    Copy protection is about inconveniencing users.

    iTunes and Amazon are learning this, good to see the discussion sparking up among music software folks also.

  • Fintain

    LLamastrom, Trilogy bass and Atmosphere has been out selling everything else.

    Think alot of the success was due the fact that it sound great but also 5 cd-roms is as good a copy protection as any key.

  • ponk

    @nooga: AD's policy is fine, I was just saying there is audio software where this doesn't work, an audio file won't cut it if you want to know for example wether a daws/editors workflow fits your needs.

    @Chris: Now that I read Adams post: I shouldn't have typed the marketing thing, the CDM Headline "Developer to Users" has much more of that vibe than Adams original frustration. However, as he is part of the game, the "Pace doesn't stop piracy" statement seemd a bit of a contradiction to your earlier posts I was refering to. Of course I don't want developers to spend money or time to implement CP, but your area of expertise (low cost plugins giving a specific sound) is a lot easier to sell without giving away a demo, so others might be more dependent on that, for better or worse.

    @llamastorm: I'm glad you posted this, cause now I can come up with the lamest software analogy in existance, but I can't resist as I haven't seen this patricular version yet: If I'm about to purchase a car, I don't have to pay upfornt to take it for a testdrive! (I kid, I kid, yes, I'm looking forward to less hassle with this issues as well, reaper for Mac ftw!)

  • Nipcho

    I'd like to point out that there are plenty of times companies pay for chunks of code written by other companies or consultants. While it may not be as secret as it is in security products such as PACE, it wouldn't always be cost-effective or possible for the developer to figure out what was wrong in the purchased solution and so they often have to defer to the other company to fix it. Part of what you pay for when you buy the code is support; inevitably there are problems which take cooperation from both sides to resolve (obviously nobody wants to take the blame). If Adam's problem is 'PACE is really uncooperative with its anti-piracy customers,' that would be something for new software developers to look out for.

    That being said, if there is a hardware driver problem/conflict on some computers without even using PACE-ified software, yes, the hardware is a new variable that comes into play which the software developer can't do anything about whatsoever. I would think it behooves both PACE and their customers (and their customer's customers) to fix problems like that as soon as possible; obviously you have to retain a good public image if you're trying to sell anti-piracy goods because it's everybody's favorite whipping boy these days.

    I myself love the iLok because as long as it's around, I don't have to think twice about using Max/MSP on any computer I like. Like some other posters, I've never had any trouble, but I realize that's not really an argument for or against.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I feel responsible here in that I should have been clearer: Adam is both a user and a developer. It's as simple as that. I spend a whole lot of my time talking to developers, and they're also users, just like the rest of us. And there's no WAY Adam is alone in venting just these kinds of frustrations. The fact that he also writes software to me just illustrates that he knows what it is to have to live off of software as intellectual property. And this isn't a rant against copy protection — the concern is what happens when copy protection isn't developed and supported in house. I share that concern: you create the potential for developers to be MORE at risk, since once cracked the scheme gives you access to a whole bunch of software, you create costs to the developers, you have a scheme that can't be supported by the same entity that sells the software.

    Anyway, I may have stepped out of bounds with my headline here, but I think it's important to realize that developers are also users and they have opinions. These concerns don't come just from selfish users who want to blast copy protection so they can pirate software. There are significant concerns even from people with a stake in the whole issue. And they react like the rest of us — they get upset, and they respond strongly. At the end of the day, maybe you still determine PACE offers the best solution, but it's well worth at least talking about it and figuring out how to make the system better.

  • Peter

    "I haven’t read all the comments, but I haven’t seen mentioned that audio damage doesn’t have demos of any of their products. Now guess why."

    Audio Damage also allow you to sell your software licence to a third party if you don't like the plugin.. how many other companies offer that?

  • http://kief.net/ Valis

    I recall the late 90's there was a fellow in the UK (Dave something?) that spent his time tracking down 'pirates' online who traded audio warez. The name of this fellow and his 'company' escapes me, but he seemed better at getting support from multiple companies than the current 'BanPiracy' effort does. At least in the case of BanPiracy the effort seems to be targeted more at those who benefit financially from the piracy of certain products. Given that the product in question uses a copy protection system which can potentially cause issues for legitimate users (which seems to be part of the thrust of Adam's rant), and given that the workaround for dealing with these headaches seems to be to use the cracked version, I wonder what the 'penalty' is for owning unused licenses of a given product and using the same number of 'cracked' versions, assuming the studio in question makes damn sure the versioning and accessible plugins is identical, etc.

  • rich

    I think it's unfair to bereate companies for using hardware dongles in principle, since they've certainly staved off piracy in the case of Arturia and Steinberg. But I can appreciate that certain systems work better than others. They are not all alike.

    I'm surprised at some of the reasons people have for not buying syncrosofted products though – is "losing" one USB port when you can get a hub for £5 off EBay really that bad a prospect?

    @ Derek: plugging a little USB stick into your computer means you won't get the software of choice? Can you clarify what you find 'ridiculous'?

    Personally I think Syncrosoft is the best hardware key solution out there. It's simple in operation, and they are always fixable if they break (even if they're properly smashed…talk to your distributor), but yeah they can't be replaced if lost. You've just got to think of Cubase as hardware instead of software. It's simply old preconceptions that cause people to think software has 'no value' and so must be replaced for free.

  • rich


    "That said, the iLok is the most user-friendly copy protection scheme, because it is the only scheme that decouples authorizations from the computer."

    @ Matthew: Syncrosoft does this too…

  • Oliver

    One more reason to hate the iLok:

    PACE is not compatible with non admin accounts on XP!

    I would never buy PACE protected softwares, synchrosoft is OK, though.

  • Peter

    Syncrosoft seems to be more effective than iLok in terms of theft prevention, but you take a big performance hit from it's encryption algorithm's. I've noticed quite a huge difference between Cubase with a syncrosoft dongle versus other DAWs with no dongle.

  • http://symbioticaudio.com Symbiotic

    This particular bluescreen issue is common – it happened to one of my coworkers, and there is a simple patch that resolves it.

    Doesn't mean I don't strongly dislike PACE and iLok – but it does mean that Adam could resolve this issue.

  • Fintain

    Its a known fact that hardware dongles do not increase sales. Ask any software provider this. Most really don't want to use keys as it puts an extra cost on the software for no increase in sales. The keys in most cases are strongly pushed by the distribution networks, as it means that you have to go into a shop and buy a boxed product. Anything that prevents direct download of a new product from the company website is what the distributors want.

  • rich

    "I’ve noticed quite a huge difference between Cubase with a syncrosoft dongle versus other DAWs with no dongle."

    Eh? Comparing two completely different programs isn't really much of a comparison to be frank…

    "Its a known fact that hardware dongles do not increase sales."

    Where is this written in stone? Besides, the point is that hardware dongles are there to minimise the LOSS of sales. Loss of sales should be a concern of both a distributor and the developer!

    "Anything that prevents direct download of a new product from the company website is what the distributors want."

    You what? Who creates the product and therefore dictates how the product is licensed? The developer!

  • Fintain


    What happened is that the developers were enticed into adopting the key by a promise of a big increase in sales. This never materialized, and now they have the added cost of putting a key in the box. If they went with the key on say 2 products before they realized this, they had invested a serious amount of money in the concept, but by this point they were past the point of no return. IK multimedia cut their losses, bit the bullet and dropped the key. Others will follow suit, especially in the low value sector. Distributors take a 50% cut of software sales, so a plug-in that goes for $200 on the street, the developer gets $100. Taking $10 out of that for a key is a big burden especially without any increase in sales, and remember it doesn't go down well with the user in the first place either.

  • http://www.audiodamage.com Chris Randall

    It should be mentioned that you, the consumer, pay for PACE, either iLok or c/r. There is a per-unit cost associated with the PACE license, which is built in to the price of the product. it's not just the cost of the key itself, but also the code. PACE doesn't give that shit away out of the kindness of their heart. They are a for-profit company.

    That said, the entire conversation is ridiculous, in my opinion, as the thrust of Adam's entire argument is that PACE, aside from being ridiculous, doesn't actually prevent anything. So it's just a big fat waste of time for everybody concerned. The argument wasn't against dongles in general, or copy protection in general. It was against PACE specifically. The Syncrosoft protection works fine in almost all cases, generally actually protects the product (the rarity of Cubase, Nuendo, and GVI cracks proves this), has a lower per-unit cost, and is unobtrusive.

  • Kyran

    I think I can check if the syncrosoft dongle causes a performance hit. I have both the C/R korg ms-20 and a dongled version installed on my machine. I'll see how much the cpu differs.

  • Dr Fau5tus


    "Google would be the last place I’d use if I was looking to steal anything."

    Why not? You would save yourself a lot of work! Unless something is only available in irc or 'members only' boards inaccessible to google, it's the easiest way to find it, by a huge margin.

    "I also don’t think bit torrent sites are a good barometer indicating the spread of a crack. (sorry that sounded perverted)"

    I'm sorry, but you're wrong, it's precisely the way to measure the popularity of a crack. It's the means of propogation used by the vast, vast majority of people who download this stuff these days. Popular software does not languish in irc purgatory for a whole year, or even more than a couple of weeks, without making it to torrent networks. You don't have to be particularly savvy to find this stuff anymore, those days are long since over. Unless it's been cracked in the last couple of weeks Cubase 4 is nowhere to be seen because it has not, in fact, been cracked. Why is Cubase 4 hidden away when every other popular application of the same type is there for the taking on the likes of torrentreactor (or google for that matter)?

    "As far as trojans (sorry again) I’ve never suffered from any Greek malware."

    Neither have I, and I fail to see your point?

  • http://www.johnnyrandom.com/ flip

    @Dr Fau5tus:

    The reason I wouldn't use Google is because of what you mentioned: IRC and members only boards. Google also tries to filter out sites that offer cracked software.

    I don't feel I'm wrong about torrent sites because although they seem to be a huge source of files, rarely would you find anything for pro audio OSX that is usable. You'll find loads of PC files though. For instance, if you wanted to crack Waves mercury bundle for mac: Nada. You'll find some PC stuff, but that's about it. I just looked on isohunt just now. Regardless, the OSX crack is out. I know because I have friends who have taunted me for buying it while they run it for free! The Leopard iLok reset out there, although it's nowhere to be found on bit torrent sites or google. I've seen plenty of cracks that are not easily found, therefore I again assert my opinion that bit torrent & google are not the barometer to a crack existing.

    My Greek malware comment was in reply to "but these all link to files so obviously trojans".

  • flip

    @Dr Fau5tus: Btw, to be clear, I don't advocate stealing software. I buy all of mine for a number of reasons which plenty of other posters have already said on these threads. Even though I use Waves plugs, I'd gladly give someone else my business if they made something as good or better since I am disgusted by the whole iLok/BanPiracy crap going down lately.

  • Stig

    I was recently in the prossess of buying DAW + softsynths (still buying some of these). One of the synths that was on top of my shoping list was Arturia´s Jupiter-8V, but it was a dongle so my money went to other softsynth producers that just uses a licensecode.

    So companies that uses dongle should think how many customers they loose vs. how many more are stealing their software, cause I´ve read other forums where customers also claim they dont buy software with dongle. So too much anti-piracy is sometimes anti-customers as well.

  • http://www.johnnyrandom.com/ flip

    @ Everyone: Wouldn't it be interesting if there was some actual hard data that revealed how much is bought, hacked/stolen? Then past that, why the end user made the choice to buy or hack/steal? I think it would benefit everyone to have this knowledge.

  • Cliff

    When I was using Logic 7 I lost my dongle. It cost me a hundred bucks to replace it! plus the downtime of waiting for it to be sent to me. I didn't loose my computer, or the software, just the dongle.

    Now that Apple has dropped the dongle I find Logic less of an inconvenience to use. Especially since I spend most of the time traveling. It's an upsetting feeling to open your laptop on a plane and then realize your dongle is either packed away or at home..

    What if Waves stopped using PACE and lowered its prices? I'd sure its sales would go up dramatically..

  • Gerry

    I flat-out refuse to buy software with hardware dongles.

    I don't like to buy software that requires a 'net activation – I've seen WAY too many companies go under and then leave their users high-and-dry with no way to reactivate their software.

    I'll gladly get anything that uses a serial number and then burn the installers and serial text file to a CD or DVD and will NOT share it.

    I'm honest and trust software manufacturers with my credit card, but THEY have to show some trust with me and leave me with a serial number to a product that WORKS….

  • http://www.gitarrenunterrichtberlin.de andreas

    I use an I LOK under mac with a lot of Licences on it. I use it since 3 years by now and I have had never problems with it.

    I can fully understand that companys such as waves like to protect their hard work.

    There are several other reasons for your Blue Screen maybe.

    And at least I have to say if you have a problem with waves or pace protection waves is so friendly if you write them they answer within 2 hours.

    You have a blue screen maybe your system is not up to date maybe you did something wrong………

    I use the I lok 8 hours a day and never have had any problems since 3 long years…. buy a mac.

  • http://syncretism.net Niall

    Wow, it's too bad Prorec.com seems to have gone tits-up, because this would be a great time to revisit Rip Rowan's PACE article from 2002. Archive.org has no hit, so we'll have to settle for Google's cache:

    <a href=" :www.prorec.com/Articles/tabid/109/EntryID/134/Default.aspx+rip+rowan+pace&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ie&client=firefox-a” target=”_blank”>…” target=”_blank”>:www.prorec.com/Articles/tabid/109/EntryID/134/Default.aspx+rip+rowan+pace&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ie&client=firefox-a

  • Tim Clarke

    I HATE iLok. There, I said it. My intel Mac (still on ver 10.4.11 mind you) will NOT recognize my iLok (I know it's not a defective iLok because it works on a G4 powerbook running the SAME OS). But because of this, I can't authorize expensive and critical Waves plug-ins. What a monumental PITA iLok is!!!

  • Jon Peters

    I buy all my software but, absolutely refuse to purchase any product that relies on contacting the company if my Hard Drive fails. What happens if that company goes out of business? The whole situation sucks and it's a never ending situation of being forced to pay to keep using your PAID for software.

    Arturia No

    Waves No

    They suck big time and I won't support their products while they use Ilok etc

  • Dan

    "What if Waves stopped using PACE and lowered its prices? I’d sure its sales would go up dramatically.."

    I agree, they need to realise they are making it incredibly difficult for alot of their customers. Waves should follow Logic and ditch the dongle and treat their customers with some respect.

    Plus alot of people are avoiding using Waves due to Pace. I believe they'd make more money if they made it simpler for their customers who are spending ALOT of money to use there software!

  • Zobeck

    I think ILOK is evil and not making the world a better place or anyone, including themselves.

  • Stephen


    Who cares about the iLok part, it's just overpriced anyway and there are better alternatives. And the WUP? I got some free waves stuff w/ PT and after finding out about WUP decided to NEVER buy anything from Waves.


    Unlike Waves, these plugins are unique enough and priced right to make me go ahead and purchase. It still annoys me because my Mac Pro could handle all this processing and already has HD cards and will require me to buy an expansion chassis for no real reason (i don't actually need the processing if I could just use my COMPUTER for what it was made for).


    I don't mind using one, it's just stupid that a TINY (128mb? i dunno) USB costs $40 when a flash drive costs like $15 for a whole GIG. And they break too often. Mine hasn't lasted a year. They need to drop the price to $10, which would still be overpriced for the storage, and all would be even.


  • Stephen

    PS. buy plugs from masseyplugins.com , it doesn't get any better bang for the buck. all his stuff sounds sweet. No, I'm not affiliated in any way.

  • Chris

    I'm an Ableton Live user who has several plugins that require the syncrosoft dongle (Arturia, Virsyn… etc.) While I generally don't have too many problems with it, I have had occasions where the program quits because the dongle fails to register/be read. This is a bit of a nuisance and I will definitely hesitate to purchase any more products that use this system. I've avoided iLok entirely…

  • George

    It's the same old story, over and over: one buys the legal software, and then uses the pirate copy. Because it just works better.

    Even if the copy protection worked well on the configuration of the day, as time goes on and standards (e.g. ADB) change, the only way to use a piece of software one LEGALLY bought once is to use its pirate copy. (You don't think so? Show me a G5 with an ADB port where I could plug in those ancillary dongles.) So yeah… hare-brained copy protection gizmos come and go, pirate software stays. It outlives them all. It's just another studio expense.

  • Dinos

    I was Looking into Arturia products a long time.. and when i saw the offer this summer i was going to buy 2 products. Then i saw the Hardware requirement and i gave up.

    I do not like whatever takes resources of my PC or using my USB port. and i have already 8 ports occupied.. enough!

  • http://www.tagr.net Stacy

    I found your site today because I did a search for "leopard ilok reset." My computer suddenly will NOT recognize my ilok with$4000.00+ worth of software on it that I PAID for!!!! I am pulling my hair out and have to turn in this project! I've used iloks on protools HD systems since the ilok came out, never a problem till now. This particular ilok is only about 3 months old. This is going to completely shut my system down for a week or more while i mail my ilok in. AND they want to CHARGE me for something called ZERO DOWNTIME (where they give me temporary copies of the licenses on my ilok) they are forcing me to look for the reset crack online!!!! Ive got friends running it flawlessly while i sit here F**ked!!!

  • http://www.connellybarnes.com/ Connelly Barnes

    The reason programs like Cubase aren't cracked more quickly is that society doesn't reward crackers with prestige, money, or other reasonable rewards. So they're working for free for your benefit, and you provide them with jail time or other punishments if they're caught.

    You guys sure demand a lot from volunteers.

  • George

    Basically anytime you buy a product with a hardware key of some sort, you are buying a time bomb that will q at some point of time. It's not a question "if", only "when".

  • George

    It might quit because the dongle electronics failed, it might quit because the connector went the way of the dodo, it might quit because the driver won't run on the new OS, there are many possibilities. Even if the manufacturer is still around, it's no guarantee they'll help. Look at Digidesign (Avid), they treat some of their own software (e.g. TurboSynth) as abandonware. So any time before you plunk down good money for a software with ANY kind of hardware key, make sure you are clear in your mind: you really want to buy a piece of software that will NOT be there for you at some point of time. Even if you'll still legally own it, even if your computer could still run it, one day it won't work. Do you still want it?

  • http://www.tagr.net Stacy

    TurboSynth! haven't heard that in years! …..it used to ROCK! :-)

  • Stevie

    I use an iLok for almost all my authorizations (running Logic, Pro Tools, on Leopard with WAVES, URS, DIGI, McDSP, plugins to name a few). I've had zero problem with iLok and find them to be very conveniant and reliable and easy to use. The thought of not using software that you would otherwise love to create music with because of a USB dongle is shocking to me.

    I'll admit that authorizing a WAVES bundle used to be very convaluted, but with version 6 it's VERY easy now, and WAVES are awesome, everyone knows it. Yes, there are things that are just as good and sometimes better, but they're great, and that's why there used in every studio. Also, is buying a USB hub really THAT big of a deal to so many people?

    As someone who sells entire profesional recording systems that often have components using iLoks, I look at a lot of these complaints and I can picture the type of people that are complaining about things like the iLok "not being recognized" and "not working" and I know that these complaints are not coming from the thousands of professionals that have no problem using iLoks as part of a system that they make a living off of every day. I know that there are a lot of people who update their operating system and then get angry and head right to a message board when their iLok isn't recognized, rather than head to the iLok site to download the latest driver…just as an example.

    And do they really break that easily? Buy a USB extension to keep them from being cracked…or behave like an adult around your gear. And if you don't want to, buy their protection plan and go back to playing frisbee in your studio.

  • George

    Stevie, you are a vendor who sells systems with dongles. Of course you are praising them. That's your job. But Digi, Wave Arts and others don't create products for you. They create products for me – the customer.

    I am the customer, and as many other customers, I will *not* buy anything with hardware copy protection, no matter how great product it is. If this shocks you, hey… people used to be shocked of the thought that the Earth is round too. Relax, if you give it some time, it will settle in.

  • Pingback: Bending Over for Copy-Protection. Or: Did PACE F#@K My System? | digital lofi()

  • Ken

    Our college studio runs MAC OSX Tiger and Leopard on over 50 workstations. All plugins are ilok protected with access to Waves, McDSP, Digidesign, AiR, Sonnox, etc.

    We have NEVER had a problem with this scheme. We update the ilok drivers when necessary to support operating system version changes, and sometimes we have to reinstall the ilok drivers when a plugin vendor's installer insists on installing an outdated ilok driver (Not Pace's fault). Our iloks are tethered to each workstation and each have over 80 plugin licenses in them.

    The biggest problem we deal with is occasional theft, just like the plugin developers. When penniless musicians try to rip of struggling software developers, it is a sad thing. Consider that plugins are replacing $$$pricey hardware units for a fraction of the hardware price. Just because the hardware was expensive, did you try to justify stealing it? Who will develop the next plugin or plugin update if they can't make a living at it. Do you personally enjoy having YOUR music ripped off, or do you believe you can produce music for free and a good fairy will take care of you, your family and your retirement?

    I you, like George above, are avoiding ilok dongle based products just because of the dongle, then you really didn't need those products in the first place. Stop whining and get better day job so you can afford the tools you need.

    I think I can speak for thousands of professionals willing to pay for the tools they use. Stop trying to hide piracy behind a smoke-screen of indignation and self-righteous chest beating about "the customer". Pirates are not customers. Customers are the ones who register their products, read the manual, update when necessary, and don't mind spending an extra $40 for a spare ilok or $80 for the privilege of having readily downloadable backup licenses available 24/7 so they don't lose productivity in the studio or on the road (it's called insurance and every business has it).

    Customers also realize that a sale creates a relationship with the developer. The customer wants value for their dollar, but also realizes that product manufacturers need to turn a profit to pay developers, research new products and generally stay in business. 'nuf said!

  • decapitor

    Just wanted to add my name to the list of people who will never buy something with so much DRM in general and especially from a dongle. I just can't stand the idea that when ilok goes out of business I will no longer have access to my property.

  • secars

    I work in the industry and downloaded pirated software in the old days. I support company's (like mine) need to get paid in almost every way. Where Pace/iLok is truely offensive though is how cheaply they made the iLok. Its like they want it to break by putting it on a cheap, fragile design. I've used many dongles for many years and have never been burned, but I've seen many break over time. Other companies make their dongle with a form factors designed to minimize breakage. iLoks seem to be designed to break frequently and that ultimately is a crime, literally.

  • George


    In terms of affording dongled programs, for what my Synclavier alone cost me so far I could probably build a new studio room with them. You are right in your remark, however, that I do not need those. It's correct because (as I learned from buying quite a few pricey ones before) no dongled software masterpiece is irreplaceably unique. Good luck with your endeavours at the college studio.

  • Jefro

    Check this out: I'm a beta tester for Pro-Tools and in order to beta test the software, I have to go out and purchase a dongle. The cheapest I've found is $40. Do people ever sell them used? Ebay has some but they're all new from dealers.

    I haven't used a program requiring a dongle since back in 2001 or so when Maya and most highend CGI software required them. Fortunately, those companies saw the light. I wonder why Digidesign doesn't get the picture. At least make it so your beta testers can test your product without dropping 40 bones for something they'll barely use.

    Death to the dongle!

  • Jefro

    And what is it that's different on a dongle from a regular USB flash drive? Is it hardware or software? Has anyone ever gotten a regular USB drive to ape a dongle?

  • JB




  • Red

    I use FL studio because it doesn't use a dongle or any nefarious system. I can take it on the train and make music while blasting through rural Australia. I can no longer do this any other application that uses iLok or PACE. NI (I have over $2000 of older applications) lost me to using cracks with their convoluted rubbish. Cracks are risky, but I am looking for another way that can let me use my audio gear away from telephone lines. BTW I recorded several hundred sound files of native wildlife in full surround using FL studio and a laptop. It was nice camping but I can't use iLok there.


  • Jim Franputin

    I love PACE Ilok. I produce and record on a mobile set up (laptop). I love having my slots used up by dongles. I have bought a USB hub to drag around with me so I can plug more dongles into more slots.

    I love having these USB dongles sticking out of my slots. I love the feeling of having a tactile connection to my software. In and out. In and out.

    Thank you PACE.

  • olivier

    Today , i must reinstall windows XP on my computer, i try to enter the challenge and the response manually, but it'not possible , it's very complicated i think. Must Cycling send me an other challenge? it s very complicated because come times you have lot of problems on your pc or on mac viruses troyens….My first licence is not accepted now ? How must i do but i paid more of 500 euros for software, But if cycling do not accord me a challenge i must take an ilok resseter, it's very absurd, and i m very angry after cycling,i dislike a pirate i buy all my software but i think it's very big bullshit marketing; i prefer licence syteme like adobe with serial code it's more efficiency to authorise software. if any people know i lok resetter for mac and pc, i'm very happy to see them because Today i m very frustrated if i Never use a soft MawMsp witch i paid.


  • Dan

    ILok is a great way to get people to not use your software

  • Matthew Buckley

    As a music producer and an owner of a modest but profitable studio, I was scandalized by the behaviour of Waves and their tailor-made solicitors, when they resorted to their cheap and nasty agent-provocateur stunts a couple of years ago. They stung many studios by sending in fake clients with cameras to collect evidence as proof that the said studios were using un-authorised copies of Waves products.

    Unfortunately, one of my friends was a shareholder in a studio that was victim to Wave's dirty deeds. The studio had to be sold, having been weighed down by the debt incurred through litigation. He now works for a friend of mine.

    Whilst we can all argue over the morality of using cracked and un-authorised software, Wave's sordid little plan has back-fired on them dramatically. The shame is that no one wants to stand up to Waves, and it's because of this that people don't seem to have noticed that Wave's victory was a pyhrric one.

    Before all of this palaver over grubby filming and toxic lawyers, my studio was full to bursting with Waves products (paid for, I might add, before I get the Waves police bursting through the door). As a conservative estimate I would guess that I had perhaps twelve thousand pounds worth of Waves products. Now I have none, nor will I ever buy another product from a company who treats it's customers with such utter contempt. I know a fair few people in the U.K music scene and, again conservatively, I would say at least 20 of those will never use Waves products again. It doesn't take a lot of maths to figure out that this adds up to a fairly handsome amount of revenue lost for Waves. I would guess this phenomena could be duplicated by other conscientious studio owners around the world.

    Further, Waves have suffered a huge loss in profit over the years 2008/2009. I know this is a fact, and one that was sourced reliably. However, this fact doesn't in the least bit surprise me. I hope they continue to lose revenue.

    Waves products were de facto for many, and in every way, my parting from Waves plugins has been a blessing. This is because buying Waves is a bit like buying Windows. Windows is de facto, but let's face it, it aint perfect, and neither is Waves. I blindly went into my studio business thinking "I can't get better than Waves, it's the best, because everyone else uses it". Since my Waves liberation I'm now using software that is at least equal to, if not better than Waves. The advances in computer speeds also means that I can use hardware with my DAWs, without any latency issues – this has liberated some of my long-forgotten, but super sounding compressors and eqs again.

    My feeling is, is that Waves have, over the last few years, been trying the 'Get Rich Quick' plan, by invoking the ilok, hiking up their prices, and doing their Gonzo-Litigation. Clearly this has failed, magnificently.

    The ilok has been cracked – indeed Waves 7 is now cracked too, but cracked or not, it will never exist on my computers for one simple reason; Trust is an essential part of the transaction between buyer and seller and there is no trust between me and Waves, because they won't allow it. By resorting to the arcane and needless ilok and by their underhand practices with their clients they have signalled that We Are Not To Be Trusted. That's not the kind of relationship I'm interested in.

  • bob grimsly

    Ilok is inly cracked on a PC.

    It's never ever been cracked on Mac systems. All they do on macs it reset demos which is risky and no you even need an ilok for demo's.

    So ilok is a complete success on Mac OSX. Anyone using Antares, Altiverb, Waves, Duy, Nomad Factory,Sound toys, Serato, Mcsp (and so on and so on) on a Mac has bought them.

    It's only, and only PC users that use cracked Ilok plugins.

  • thruthman

    ilok has now been cracked for mac.. i wonder if it will get dropped by the big boys now?

  • topi

    Ilok is dead, long life to ilok.

  • http://www.nomorekisses.com NMK Dom

    Using a Mac and a PC in the same studio really screws up iLOK and also Arturia dongle protected software. I have Analog Factory, and Jupiter 8, neither of which work anymore. And just this week my Propellerheads Record dongle works only in the Mac – not in the PC anymore!!!!!!

    I hate dongles, and as a point of policy will NEVER buy another piece of software that uses one.

  • test

    I will never support any company using ilok / dongle. I didn't know ilok had been hacked for PC…..i hate how companies treat legit buyers like pirates

  • mitts

    I have had no problem with dongles designed for specific software such as Lightwave or Cubase. They work fine.

    But I am skeptical about iLok. It is essentially a secure flash drive with a limited number of reads and writes and no protection policy for your licenses.

    If there were an online protection system such as Steam where you could freely re-download your licenses with a simple log-in, I wouldn't see a problem with it.

    There is such a service for iLok called Zero Downtime, but it requires a subscription fee. Very unfortunate.

  • Aaron

    I have been a Max/MSP user for almost 5 years now, and as soon as I undated my system to Windows 7 I started to get BSOD crashed when opening Max. Windows minidump explicitly identifies tpkd.sys as the problem. So given the fact that this only happens when I run the full authorized version of Max/MSP and not the run time version, I am 99% sure that ilok is the problem. If anyone has a solution to this please let me know. The people at cycling74.com have been great, but they can't do anything about the problems I am having with ilok. The most frustrating part of all this is that the program doesn't just crash, it goes to BSOD. My system never went to BSOD until I installed ilok. I am totally for the boycott. I now have software I paid for and cannot use because of copy protection. Somehow I feel like a dupe.

  • http://www.none.com George

    After posting remarks earlier on this thread, I opened my email today and – gee! Waves AudioTrack in only sale (compressor + EQ + gate) for $15!

    Someone is getting really desperate here… "anything to get the marks on iLok!" Sorry guys, it doesn't matter how cheap you set the price. For all I care, it could be free or *you* could pay me $15, I still wouldn't take it. Copy-protection *did* work, after all: now you cannot even give your product away for free. Good job.

  • Webhamster

    I do buy all software that I actually use, but almost always start with a cracked copy.

    So many software and plugins end up not being used on my system. 14 day trials mostly don't work for me because I do not always have time to work on music in those 14 days.

    I have to honest that things have improved from the floppy disk days, but iLok software is outdated and as for many users for me does not always work (and thus I can't use the plugins I paid for).

  • Kevin Johnston

    1. I bought an iLok for the sole purpose of testing a trial version of the Pro Tools software package.
    2. I accidentally downloaded the wrong trial license (the HD version instead of the non-HD version).
    3. I cannot remove the license or replace it with the non-HD license.

    Basically, it's a useless piece of plastic now and I'm $80CAD poorer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Fuerth/100001489996875 Dan Fuerth

     This may be too late but Waves just dumped Ilok, finally!!!!

  • Pingback: [Muzaq] Waves V9 Abandons iLok-Dongle Finally()

  • VHS

    Here I am, 5yrs after this article was published with over half of my licenses no longer working due to PACE/iLok’s recent fiasco. This shit is absolutely absurd.

  • Seth Newberry

    I have recently purchased a Avid Protools student edition from a former student and now ilok says the iLok (which was fine before the sale of the product) I should have known better since I owned a Digidesign Mbox and it had all sorts of problems…still sitting in my computer bag..worthless since they will not update anything from previous companies…..I have new software Windows 8 and I cant use my old box because they cant find my registration info from 2007….anyways Protools and this iLok sucks

  • Daniel

    And now. iLok and PACE made a BSOD on Windows 10. They didn’t learn.

    • Francisco Zarabozo

      That’s an stupid argument. PACE/iLok is not supporting Windows 10, simply because Windows 10 doesn’t exist yet as a released product.

    • pukus

      Windows 10 exists now. iLok and Pace haven’t done shit but make expensive software un-useable on these systems.

  • pierce500

    At least in my experience, Ableton has the best authorization system.
    I don’t know the specific technology they use, but it sure has been seamless for me.
    Propellerhead is a complete headache, and Waves…. Horrible.

    • GofGs

      …you can register you computer or you can run reason with internet verification from any computer all around the world…. – where is the headache pierce500 ??

  • pukus

    Switch to Reaper or Cubase. Don’t support Avid or any other software company that insults you by making you plug in security hardware. I spent ridiculous money and time on protools and it basically accused me of piracy after I upgraded my OS to Windows 10. ALL of my other software work just fine with Windows 10. Software like the Adobe Creative Cloud, which doesn’t cost a fortune and doesn’t treat you like a criminal if you dare change anything about your computer configuration. Fuck iLok and fuck protools. Both these companies will be kaput in 10 years for shitting on their customers.

  • pukus

    I purchased ProTools and went the whole “screw you” iLok route that hogs a USB port because it assumes I am a criminal. I resented it, but my band recorded some base tracks in ProTools so I put up with it. Constant hassles ensued. I’m ready to record a track, feeling the creative juices — iLok won’t let me open the program for some reason. I uninstall all the software eventually, reinstall it, uninstall the drivers, reinstall them, finally get ProTools up and running again 2 hours later — creative juices gone. No new track. Repeat scenario. Another day: power goes out while computer is on. iLok won’t function after…no ProTools, no new track when I feel like making some music. All other programs work fine, of course. Hours later, Protools reinstalled and running again, but creative juices used up with all the computer hassles. Recently I upgrade to OS10. All other programs work perfectly, as if they somehow believed Microsoft was putting out a new OS when Microsoft announced it. Everyone else is prepared. But guess who won’t work? iLok wont verify me anymore, assumes I am a pirate again. DONE WITH THIS BULLSHIT. Bought a different recording program. Writing off the tracks I recorded on ProTools — which are by design incompatible with everyone else’s — as a complete loss. Thinking of suing them. At best, I will never EVER use ProTools or any program that uses iLok (Pace) again. If you are into paying a lot of money to be abused, fine. I am not.