Home Forums Pianobook Can we talk about redistribution for a moment?

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    Paul Davis

    All of the sample libraries have been freely contributed by members of the Pianobook community. They can be used freely when making music/audio works. All of this is just lovely and wonderful, and I send thanks to everyone who has contributed to this amazing (and growing) library-of-libraries.

    However, the terms of use for PB also prohibit redistribution of the sample libraries in any form. On the one hand, given that it is free (and easy!) to download from PB itself, this isn’t much of an issue, practically speaking. I can tell anyone I know where to get a particular library from, and they can access it in a couple of clicks.

    However, it makes it impossible to redistribute the libraries in the same way that most open source software is redistributable. For some people, that’s a bit of a problem.

    While I would imagine that nobody in the PB community believes it would be OK for anyone to repackage libraries found here as a commercial (for-a-fee) or proprietary (secret format) version, I wonder what the attitude is of the library creators to the idea that their libraries must ALWAYS be fetched from PB and cannot be shared between people. Was that your intent when you uploaded a library? Did you intend for it to be only accessible via this website, and nowhere else?

    Not looking to start any kind of fight. There’s just been a bit of discussion on one of the Linux audio mailing lists about what actually constitutes “free” sample libraries, and the restriction on redistribution at PB came up.

    Oh, and btw, since I’m new around here, I’m the lead developer of Ardour (the cross-platform DAW) and the original author of JACK (letting you route audio & MIDI around inside & outside your compute).


    …not to mention helping keep Harrison Mixbus daw improving. Lots to learn from it’s massive manual!

    As someone who has downloaded around 15 of these soundsets, it never dawned on me to read any terms, as I never distribute anything more than links in a few emails,and that’s usually youtube content.

    Now that you mention it, I like the idea of a little exclusivity regarding access to the sounds. Plus, there are interesting back-stories being posted with most submissions, which I enjoy and learn from.

    I would vote to keep things as they are for now, since creators can always extend their offerings as they see fit, and this project is still finding it’s way. Maybe in a year or two, things might be different.

    As an aside, I love jackd, and buy Mixbus and updates as a way to indirectly support your work, historic and in the future. If you have a post somewhere detailing Pipewire, I’d like to know your

    Paul Davis

    Part of the definition of “freedom” in the open source world is the ability to do whatever you need/want to do with the thing in question. Some of this is about immediate needs, some of it is about the future. Consider, for example, what would happen if pianobook.co.uk folded one day, but you wanted to collaborate with someone using the (marvellous) Winter Voices library. You have a copy yourself, but you’re in violation of the terms of agreement if you give it to them. Similarly, if there is another “tectonic shift” in sample library formats in the future, and someone wants to repackage the samples in a PB library for some new format, that’s problematic right now.

    There’s been a bit of a tradition in the audio tech world to generally ignore this kind of thing – hence the bazillion cracked copies of your-favorite-DAW or your-favorite-plugin that just roam around. The open source world tends to care quite a lot about trying to both (1) honor current license arrangements (2) use license arrrangements that are “future proof”, both in terms of legality, but also functionality. It’s one thing, for example, for the company that produced Bias Peak to stop making it anymore. It’s something else to no longer be able to even use Bias Peak because nobody can keep it working on later operating systems. Sample libraries might seem initially as if they are immune to this sort of problem, but if you think about harder, I think they’re more similar than one might suspect.


    Paul, I think using the term ‘open source world’ needs to be more accurate to fit the narrow circumstances being discussed. For actively producing, money-earning artists whose careers might benefit from the speculative future collaborations you mention, how many can be named? Five? Ten? Devoted members of the sometimes tightly wound ‘open-source-only’ “world” expend a lot of energy promoting ideals, but I can’t name a single touring band, published singer-songwriter, or mixing/mastering guru with a waiting list of clients, that is fully open-source, should their hard-drives be analyzed.

    In fairness, I don’t get out much, and I’m not on any social media, so until a real open-source star is born, I’ll assume ‘open-source-world’ you speak of is just some number of rabid hobbyists clamoring for their freebies. I would say to them, ‘if you can traverse a daunting linux/bsd learning curve, surely you can secure sounds for future use in times of calamity. Pay some money if you have to. You’ll still be able to see yourself in a mirror, unless the check bounces. (I’ve been using linux since it erupted out of a caldera, when text was green, screens were black, and a vst was something you didn’t want to get from your girlfriend.

    My, how times have changed!

    Stephen Tallamy

    Just to clear things up a little here. Pianobook is a non-exclusive library. People can submit their sample packs to Pianobook whilst also hosting them on their own website (e.g. as Jon Meyer does) or other website/libraries. They can choose to give their library away for free on Pianobook whilst asking for money on their own website.

    The terms that we came up with for Pianobook were simply that people, other than the original contributor, cannot redistribute the sample library obtained from Pianobook. This provides a level of control for the contributor around the distribution of their work. There is nothing to stop someone from approaching the original contributor to gain permission to redistribute. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when Spitfire Audio redistributed some of the libraries as Spitfire LABs instruments.

    On the flip side, we do ask contributors to agree that people can use the libraries submitted to Pianobook in music productions including any commercial music. This encourages people to use the hard work of those who submit to Pianobook without concern for their own music distribution. We ask contributors to only upload contributions where they own the rights to distribute the recordings within their submission, again so we don’t end up with people redistributing a commercial library in some form on Pianobook.

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