Author Topic: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others  (Read 18400 times)

Jamiroking

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Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« on: March 09, 2012, 08:37:26 PM »
So with all my recent builds, I've been having a lot of people start asking me to build stuff for them.

Now, I value my time since I'm a pretty busy guy so I don't want to be building stuff at cost, especially since I spend a lot of time and effort on the aesthetics of my pedals. But on the other hand, I don't want to do anything to disrespect the community and especially Brian who has put so much work into this and given so much to all of us.

So basically, what should I do to be most respectful to all the intellectual property that I've been working off of so far?
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 10:10:12 PM by Jamiroking »

culturejam

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Re: Selling/ building for others
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 09:00:14 PM »
Not sure about how the B-man feels about IP, but I personally can't stand building stuff for other people.

To quote Mall Rats: "The customer is always an asshole!"  ;D   :D

timbo_93631

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 12:20:17 AM »
If I build something and grow out of it I try and sell in the buy and sell subforum here.  On ebay I sell modded/repaired wahs and Rangemaster clones at will, on the build doc for the Rangemaster the disclaimer states that you can freely use the PCB for commercial applications.  I will give away stuff to friends that play if they don't have the ability or skills to build it themselves or the money to buy an equivalent.  I really try and encourage friends to give pedal building a go and give assistance where necessary, that might be the best route for you.
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juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2012, 02:03:24 AM »
The disclaimer on my site pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter:

A note on clones & DIY stompage

First things first. No I will not make you a clone of a pedal if it's currently in production and not a glaring rip off of something else. This is a hobby for myself and Mr Clegg. Yes we do make quite a few pedals for friends, so in that respect it's a self funding hobby (to a degree... at the time of writing it's very much in the red by some hundreds of pounds). But it's in no way a commercial venture.

Moving on to the nature of clones. Because of the wide variance of components, the accuracy of the schematics and how they're built, no clone is going to sound exactly like an example of the original pedal. As such when I say something is a clone, I say it's 'based on' whichever pedal it's a clone of. It ain't the same!

I also try and credit the peeps I've got PCBs from and the like. I'm not claiming credit for anything. Even the Boobtube which is a lot of our own work was based on an idea that someone else came up with first, which we then tweaked quite a bit. Plus we've thrown that one straight back to the DIY community to build should they wish to. Which is the whole point of this. As without that community, we'd have no cool pedals to build.

My parting thought is thus; the pedal market is full of contradiction, hypocrisy, deception and ever so inventive marketing bullshit. Yet within that same market there are some really good guys turning out some great gear. There are also a lot of DIY enthusiasts, and I like to think that we can co-exist. So I really don't want to piss off the enlightened guys who are currently supportive of the DIY scene. The rest though.., well they can just suck my hairy balls.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 02:06:55 AM by juansolo »
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juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 02:06:02 AM »
...and on that note, we have a surplus honey dripper that I should maybe shove in the classifieds here!
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madbean

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 07:54:15 AM »
Jamiroking, I appreciate you bringing that to a public discussion. Since you are posting it here on the MBP forum, I will of course remind everyone that the majority of the PCBs and PCB artwork that are available here is for non-commercial/DIY use. I've always tried to be reasonable about how much control I can actually have over that sort of thing, and I think the policy of doing "one offs" now and then (and of course, selling of your own personal builds that you don't want) is a fair attempt to keep customers and community members happy (while maintaining some ethical standard for how my own work is used).

But, I do have to draw the line somewhere, and the line is no commercial production. That's pretty easily defined by 1) being a commercial pedal maker, i.e. you advertise, have an online presence through a website or through eBay or 2) offering yourself as "work for hire" on a regular basis. If you fall into either one of these categories, you need to bone up and do the work yourself, i.e. create your own layouts or hire someone to do them for you. And, you should want to do this anyway if you are going to be a legitimate presence in the pedal business.

Also, let me be clear that my main concern revolves around the projects that are clones of current production, "boutique" effects. Stuff like the Klon, ZenDrive, the zVex stuff, etc. I don't care if people use Mudbunnys or GreenBeans to build Big Muffs and Tube Screamers, or Fuzzes and Rangemasters, etc...even on a semi-regular basis. I haven't been more explicit in stating that because 1) I don't offer bulk discounting and 2) if anyone planned on doing those kinds of effects in quantity they will pretty quickly figure out that it is much cheaper to have their own design made in bulk by a PCB manufacturer than to buy my PCBs.

Just to give you an example that I mean what I say: a few months ago a very well known pedal maker asked me to remove a certain PCB I was offering for sale. We came to an agreement since he was pretty nice about it, and the pedal maker offered to buy the remaining PCBs to build some one offs for his customers. I refused, reminding him that the PCBs were for DIY use only. IOW: I'm serious!

Personally, I don't care who builds clones or what...my only interest as far as MBP is concerned is that people understand that the restrictions I place on usage is for the good of my business and reputation. When I see folks (and there have been a few but none of the regular members here, thankfully) selling Klon clones or the like on eBay filled with MBP boards it really frustrates me. And, my overall tone here is probably a little negative only because I've gotten pretty hardened to this sort of thing. I guess having people outright lie to my face (which has happened) about what they are doing with the MBP stuff has made me a lot less trusting, in general. Even further: I have no financial interest in the boutique clone stuff because I don't sell those anymore....the only ones currently offered for sale are the EgoDriver and LaVache (both of which have been modded from the original design). While I could just take all the other stuff down, I haven't because I think it would be a real disservice to community members. MBP is not just a commercial enterprise---it's also a DIY resource.

Obviously, that has nothing to do with you...you are being honest and totally upfront. So, while I do not want to drag you into the muck here, I do want it to be clear and unequivocal: If you want to be a commercial builder or a work for hire I totally support you, but please do not use MBP artwork or PCBs to do so. Build what you want, of course, but do the work. Anything less is a short-cut.

Now, on a positive note, I very much hope that MBP will be a sort of "training ground" for future pedal manufacturers and king-makers. I would be honored to play some small part in influencing the future careers and endeavors of pedal hobbyists as they make the transition into their own small business. It's actually a training ground for me as well, because it has allowed me the opportunity to learn a lot about effects design and building...stuff that I will take with me when I launch my own pedal company someday. So, we are all very much in this together and that's something I care deeply about.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm doing two "one offs" myself right now (a "two off?)--a delay and a phaser for two different customers who approached me. I agreed because both sounded like fun and were not the standard "will you build me a Klon" type request. These are actually the only two pedals I've built for money in about 4 years. Of course, I don't expect people to limit their "one offs" in terms of years...I'm mentioning this to illustrate that I do my best to follow the rules, too. :) These are not even boutique clones---they are classics.


Anyone reading, please feel free to give feedback if you think I've missed the mark here in this (incredibly long) response. I always welcome comments so long as they are honest and fair.

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gtr2

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2012, 08:33:34 AM »
This response should be a sticky.  It clearly defines the purpose of this site and pcbs!

Josh

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2012, 08:47:36 AM »
But, I do have to draw the line somewhere, and the line is no commercial production. That's pretty easily defined by 1) being a commercial pedal maker, i.e. you advertise, have an online presence through a website or through eBay or 2) offering yourself as "work for hire" on a regular basis. If you fall into either one of these categories, you need to bone up and do the work yourself, i.e. create your own layouts or hire someone to do them for you. And, you should want to do this anyway if you are going to be a legitimate presence in the pedal business.

Sorry to cut your entire post down to this, but this is what is essential to the topic starter, I think. Building effects for yourself is what this site is for, and Madbean helps the community with his great PCB's, PDF's and forum.

If, for instance, you bring a DIY pedal to a band rehearsal and the other guitarist of your band really likes it and also wants one, you should be able to build him one as well. Same goes for a guitar playing friend who wants a type of certain type of effect he otherwise can't find/afford. For instance, a friend of mine is a big Steve Albini fan and he really wanted a Harmonic Percolator because nothing else can get that sound, so I built him a clone. I don't think Madbean would/should mind if I'd have used one of his PCB's for this project. This all happens in the family/friend circle and is not of negative influence to the Bean at all.

The area starts to get dark grey, however, if a friend of a friend who you may not know so well asks you to build him a clone of a commercial pedal he doesn't want to shell out the cash for. Where the exact line between this example and the previous one is, I do not know. It's a pretty foggy area and I think you should trust your gut. How well do you know the person, what is the effect he wants, what will he do with it, etc? But like you said, you don't have lots of time to keep building stuff for others, so I'm sure you will make the right decisions.

But to get back to the quote, when you start a website or eBay profile offering services and make money based on the hard work of the Bean or others when selling to strangers, you definitely know you're in the wrong.

Then there's also the issue of what to do with a pedal you built that you've used, but don't have a use for anymore. Lots of people here have built several, evens dozens of pedals and you can't possibly keep them all. Is it okay to sell them on eBay or Craigslist or whatever? Where exactly is the line in this area? I don't know. I usually re-use boxes, switches, pots, jacks, etc for other new projects and take the guts out. But I'm wondering how others forum members look at selling built clones on Madbean PCB's that you don't use anymore.

djaaz

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2012, 09:06:36 AM »
I would add another argument:

Don't make money out of it, it helps draw the line in a very clear way. It's either a hobby or a side job.

Then, if you want to sell personalized & ready to use enclosures and advise your friends to build their own stuff, i can't see any issue with that.

madbean

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2012, 09:27:05 AM »

Then there's also the issue of what to do with a pedal you built that you've used, but don't have a use for anymore. Lots of people here have built several, evens dozens of pedals and you can't possibly keep them all. Is it okay to sell them on eBay or Craigslist or whatever? Where exactly is the line in this area? I don't know. I usually re-use boxes, switches, pots, jacks, etc for other new projects and take the guts out. But I'm wondering how others forum members look at selling built clones on Madbean PCB's that you don't use anymore.

Selling off the unwanted stuff is perfectly legit. I'm going to have quite a bit of unwanted stuff for sale here very soon, myself. I think it's okay to go the eBay/Craigslist route for this if that's your only choice. But, don't ignore the possibility of selling those types of things through the DIY forums, too, and here. #1 - most people are already familiar with you, maybe your work, and maybe the project itself so they know what they are getting, and #2 - when you sell a DIY pedal to a DIY pedal maker, they can always fix it themselves if it ever breaks (no joke, this is a HUGE advantage).

Also, I think people SHOULD make money off their work. It's very easy to tell when someone is looking to make back their money and time invested in something they built and when they are trying to make a gross profit. You only have to look at the asking price.

Here's an example. I built two Sunkings for a fellow DIYer a few years ago (actually the last pedals I built for $$). He wanted one but could not build it at the time due to a hand injury. So, I built a nice little Sunking and I charged something like $75 for it. A couple months later he wanted to give one to his brother for a birthday present as a surprise. So, I built one more and charged less the second time.

Anyway, these are just examples to illustrate my thought process in all this---don't take them as "instructions on how to sell your boxes". That's up to you. IOW, I believe a lot in people's ability to make their own judgement calls in this area, and I've been proven just how awesome and honest folks in the DIY community are time and again.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 09:34:31 AM by madbean »
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Ang3lus

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2012, 09:39:15 AM »
i only sell mine if i need to fund another one, money is always tight here in Israel.

I would love to keep most of the pedals to myself, but if i want another one, I gotta get rid of another one.

juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2012, 09:52:30 AM »
Then there's also the issue of what to do with a pedal you built that you've used, but don't have a use for anymore. Lots of people here have built several, evens dozens of pedals and you can't possibly keep them all. Is it okay to sell them on eBay or Craigslist or whatever? Where exactly is the line in this area? I don't know. I usually re-use boxes, switches, pots, jacks, etc for other new projects and take the guts out. But I'm wondering how others forum members look at selling built clones on Madbean PCB's that you don't use anymore.

I tend to recycle a lot of pedals. Doesn't stop me having a set of drawers full of the though ;)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 09:54:50 AM by juansolo »
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pickdropper

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2012, 11:23:30 AM »
I think this is a great sticky to have because, frankly, I think this scenario pops up a lot.

I'll tell you about the one I hit recently.

I am good friends with the guys down at a local Mom and Pop guitar store.  I sometimes bring down pedals I build because we BS about gear all the time and it is fun.  The owner has a decent pedal selection there and usually finds the stuff I build interesting, but nothing more.

The one pedal that really captured his attention was the Chunk Chunk (Dr. Boogie).  He directly asked me if I would do some builder for hire stuff for him.  To my knowledge, this isn't a commercially available design, so the water is a bit murky, but in the end I decided that, if I ever decided to pursue this (I haven't thus far), that I would do my own board layout with some modifications I want, NOT use a madbean PCB.  I have even thought about hunting down the person who did the original layout from the Boogie preamp and discussing a small royalty.

In the end, the two main reasons I would consider doing it:

1.)  I really enjoy pedal building
2.)  Building for store credit would allow me to trade some pedals for other cool gear.

I am relatively new here so most of you don't know me, but my day job is working R&D so intellectual property (as it pertains to commercial sales, not DIY) is something I pay attention to.  There are clearly no patent issues at stake with a freeware design such as the Dr. Boogie, but I still haven't totally reconciled how I would feel about doing a modified version, even if I do my own board layout.

Thoughts?
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jkokura

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2012, 05:54:52 PM »
I'll chime in, cause my story may help a lot of you. I hope Brian is okay with me sharing, and I think he is.

I'm one of those guys who has transitioned from DIYer to Commercial builder. I started in DIY, and part of my reason was wanting a good music hobby, and another part was getting some pedals to use that I couldn't afford to build. I made a mistake thinking that I would save money building my own, but we all know that one right?

So that's how I got in touch with Brian. He had some PCBs that he was doing that kept popping up on DIYstompboxes, and I asked some guys who were using them where they were getting them and they pointed me to Brian. I ended up ordering from him, and started watching his one page website that listed the boards he etched.

When he launched this site, I was there and probably among the earliest registrations. At the time, I had started selling off or trading extra builds that I wasn't using or didn't like. I was learning how to build, and learning how circuits work was the next step. I became really involved on the forum, and it wasn't long until I was the guy with the second most posts, and because of my experiences and my own talents, I was now helping a lot with the Tech and education parts of the forum, and then one day Brian makes me a Moderator.

In the process of my own DIY thing, I was getting requests to build, mostly from guys who saw my stuff I was trading and selling. Brian shared the one off/extra build info with me, and I agreed with it. I wasn't launching a Commercial building company, I was funding my hobby and that was cool. However, there came a time when the cloning and one off work began to become more demanding, and it necessitated a decision on my part - quit doing it, or go full in.

Brian mentions this above - he WANTS to promote the process of going from DIY cloning to innovative creativity. I may not be very innovative, but there's small niche for what I LOVE to do, which is the process of building custom pedals for people who want solid products on their pedal boards. I rarely build for myself anymore, and there are a growing number of clients who seek me out.

In the process, Brian has helped me with learning about how circuits work, how to build and understand schematics, how to use Eagle to create my own circuits, and even in some ways how to market and provide solid customer service experiences. He passes business my way when it's appropriate, and I'm always yaking about how DIY is the way to go if you have any inclination and Madbean is the place to find projects, learn to build, and get primo tech help!

Now pretty much all my products are designed and produced by me. Brian is part of that process. I recommend that if you have any desire to build, get working on learning to do it ALL yourself from start to finish. Madbean's PCBs should not be a crutch for you to avoid the very rewarding experience of finding a community that will help you learn to TRULY DIY - from design to manufacture to production.

Jacob
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jkokura

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2012, 06:05:47 PM »
The disclaimer on my site pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter:

A note on clones & DIY stompage

First things first. No I will not make you a clone of a pedal if it's currently in production and not a glaring rip off of something else. This is a hobby for myself and Mr Clegg. Yes we do make quite a few pedals for friends, so in that respect it's a self funding hobby (to a degree... at the time of writing it's very much in the red by some hundreds of pounds). But it's in no way a commercial venture.

I have a similar answer to the question in my FAQ's on my site Juan. I don't build current production clones. I do build past production clones, and I build modified versions of current production stuff. I'll build you a modified Fulldrive 2 that doesn't include the boost section and with hardwired Mosfet clipping, but I won't build you a Timmy, or a modern Hotcake, or whatever. People who want those things want you to undercut, and I think that's the true ethical dilemma in this business.

Truthfully, I hate it when guys come at you expeciting you to build something they can get from another manufacturer. They can usually get it cheaper from them actually! Thos places set up their production in such a way as to reduce the cost to the customers to something reasonable. I cannot build a Timmy for less than Paul C.! No really, he sells them for 129 plus shipping! My custom work starts at 180 plus shipping BECAUSE each pedal I build is a one off. I don't get bulk prices on enclosures, I don't do silk screen pedals by the hundreds, and I don't buy only 20 parts in the thousands. I have a huge stock of a large variety of parts, I buy enclosures one at a time as I need them, and my process of getting graphics on my pedals is both individual and expensive to do.

I can't undercut, but more than that I won't. Too many DIY guys think, "I can get in on this and make a few bucks." So they get some stuff together and do a run of some sort of Muff, or screamer, or more commonly some klones. They sell them for $50-75, and if they were to really think about it they actually make almost nothing after considering their time, effort, and of course their materials. But then some guy emails me saying, "well this guy will do it for this much..." and then I have to explain what my costs are and end up not getting the sale anyway.

These guys undervalue the true work that goes into pedals, and they teach others to undervalue us as builders. My caution to ALL of you who get into building, do not simply price your product haphazardly, truly think about the VALUE of the product that you offer. Doing things for your friends is one thing, but if you ever build for a stranger add up the cost of parts, time, effort and overhead you put into your work before you actually sell that box.

/rant

Jacob
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