Author Topic: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others  (Read 17887 times)

juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2012, 02:59:51 AM »
Yup, agree totally. I've a couple of requests to make Catalinbread stuff for people and refused. I don't really see the point and mention to them that you can get the real thing for fractionally more than I'd charge for a pedal of that type with the added bonus that they could re-sell that one and get most of their money back, which is unlikely with mine!

The Klon clones are the contentious issue as they're OOP and stupidly expensive second hand. So there's a demand for them. Rightly so, they're a great pedal (if needlessly over-complicated). I think Brian's problem is that his Sunking board was so damn tight and good that really, if you wanted to make one, it was by far the best choice for a tidy, robust and professional looking build. Hence that Monk fella took the piss and we're in this situation. Shame really as I didn't mind knocking out odd one's for friends ( kept me in capacitors ;) ).
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 03:03:45 AM by juansolo »
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culturejam

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2012, 06:31:31 AM »
Call me a heretic, but I really don't see any ethical issues with selling a clone of a current-production pedal. I've always thought that "being in production" is an odd benchmark for ethics. I suppose mainly because it is so inconsistently applied. For example, the Rat has been in production continuously from its introduction, and yet nobody gives a shit if every boutique brand offers their own clone of it. Same for the Tubescreamer. The Muff did cease production for a bit, but it's been back for ages, and it's one of the most cloned circuits in the boutique world. The Fuzz Face, I believe, briefly ceased production, but obviously it is now owned and produced by Dunlop.

I think people *really* view it as big company vs small guy builder, even if they won't admit it. It's okay to clone some big company, but small guys are off limits.  

I see it playing out  like this:

Don't clone the Klon! You're stealing food from the mouth's of Bill's kids!!!!!

Fuck ProCo! They're rich greedy corporate bastards. They deserve to be cloned!!!!

 ;D


You know, another possible reason that Rat, Muff, TS, and FF clones are so popular might be because the owners of the brands aren't very likely to sue a cloner. But the boutique guys seem to be a lot more litigious...or at least they like to threaten it. Trust me on this (first-hand experience).

juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2012, 07:57:23 AM »
I see it playing out  like this:

Don't clone the Klon! You're stealing food from the mouth's of Bill's kids!!!!!

Fuck ProCo! They're rich greedy corporate bastards. They deserve to be cloned!!!!

 ;D


You could only steal from Bill if he actually sold the damn things. ;-)

Muffs are so insanely inconsistent that god knows what it's going to sound like. Fuzz Faces are the same to be fair, there have been so many varieties of them that chances are that one you make will sound nothing like a 'real' one.

The Tube Screamer I accept, but if we stopped making that, would we actually have any pedals to build? ;-)

I get what you're saying, which is why it's all so contentious. I also get what Brian is saying. Brian is wanting to support the DIY community and not be exploited by some wankers get rich quick scheme using his parts bought at a discount using deception then sold on using further deception as to what the circuit is.

The biggest threat to low volume builder IMO is the high volume builders that rip of circuits that are reversed on FSB, make a clone in China and sell them for peanuts. The DIY community turning out the odd pedal for mates isn't a big threat, but when it's purely sold to undercut an in-production pedal and not offering anything different then ethically I find it a little dodgy. Custom on-offs are exactly that, I have no issue with these. Doing a production run of a clone becomes a different matter.

It's an odd debate, as I've mentioned the pedal industry/DIY community is full of hypocrisy, bullshit, deception and downright lies. So it's all a very grey area seeing as there's so much of it about already. I suppose it comes down to your own personal morals and what you're comfortable with doing. How you're viewed from this point is more than likely going to piss someone off who's point of view differs. I don't think you can appease everyone.
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madbean

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2012, 08:14:35 AM »
Hmmm, I can see your point CJ. I certainly try not to grandstand or moralize....but the line is murky to me  (in terms of commercial clone production). I guess I can sum it up as "if you are gonna steal, do it from the best, but put something of yourself into it and make it your own".  :D

That said, I definitely reserve the right to express some disgust with well known boutique companies who mercilessly clone their peers (you know who I am talking about), use whatever shortcuts they can (i.e. other people's PCB designs) and get away with it. I find that very distasteful.
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eldanko

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2012, 09:01:17 AM »
That said, I definitely reserve the right to express some disgust with well known boutique companies who mercilessly clone their peers (you know who I am talking about)...

Actually, I'm blissfully unaware.  I think you should name them.  All. 

 ;D
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djaaz

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2012, 09:50:36 AM »
I have a question i should probably know the answer for:

Is there some time before a particular design/circuit falls within the public domain?

And then, where is the IP stuff? Within the circuit and/or in the PCB? How are these two different objects relates?

For instance, if i want to build & sell massively a basic fuzz face pedal using the publicly available circuits, am i allowed to do so? Should i negotiate royalties with Dunlop even if i use my own layout & materials?

jkokura

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2012, 10:01:31 AM »
Call me a heretic, but I really don't see any ethical issues with selling a clone of a current-production pedal. I've always thought that "being in production" is an odd benchmark for ethics. I suppose mainly because it is so inconsistently applied. For example, the Rat has been in production continuously from its introduction, and yet nobody gives a shit if every boutique brand offers their own clone of it. Same for the Tubescreamer. The Muff did cease production for a bit, but it's been back for ages, and it's one of the most cloned circuits in the boutique world. The Fuzz Face, I believe, briefly ceased production, but obviously it is now owned and produced by Dunlop.

I think people *really* view it as big company vs small guy builder, even if they won't admit it. It's okay to clone some big company, but small guys are off limits.  

I don't call you a heretic. However I will say, as I said above, that the real ethical/moral issue I see in this is the undercutting and undervaluing. It's capatilistic in nature I guess, and if you can make a product cheaper than there's some merit to it, however, I don't see it as a big guy vs. little guy debate, I see it as an undercutting issue and that's where I draw my moral line.

I do see what you mean about cloning the big corporations, but my thought is that if you can improve something you have something to offer. Part for part clones aren't exactly ok with me from big companies, but if you can take a rat and improve it, or remove/improve the buffer in a TS and offer that with some different clipping configs, that's enough to set your product apart.

My problem is that a lot of these cloners I've seen out there aren't very innovative, but guys like Austin at Coldcraft are creating some unique products that are heavily based on other designs that are innovative, as is Taylor at Iron Ether. Both of them started in the DIY community, and both of them produce PCBs for public consumption while still selling their own designs.

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jkokura

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2012, 10:07:18 AM »
I have a question i should probably know the answer for:

Is there some time before a particular design/circuit falls within the public domain?

And then, where is the IP stuff? Within the circuit and/or in the PCB? How are these two different objects relates?

For instance, if i want to build & sell massively a basic fuzz face pedal using the publicly available circuits, am i allowed to do so? Should i negotiate royalties with Dunlop even if i use my own layout & materials?


Generally, as soon as it's in the public. The only protection on a circuit available is copyright protection on the artwork of the schematic and PCB. So in other words, if you draw your own copy of the circuit, copying it, you now have a schematic you own the artwork for too.

I'm not sure what you mean by publicly available. Most of the time, manufacturers do not make their circuits public. If they are in the public, those schematics have been provided by reverse engineering, or by the manufacturer's service package being released.

What do you mean by IP?

As for building and selling, yes. There is nothing to keep you from making your own schematic artwork, making your own PCB, and then manufacturing and selling a direct clone of almost any pedal. There are a select few circuits that have been patented. In those cases, if you change ONE part value incrementally, you can still make that pedal.

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culturejam

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2012, 12:19:19 PM »
You could only steal from Bill if he actually sold the damn things. ;-)

Yes, of course. But that just ties back into my position that people see it as big guy vs small guy. Bill discontinued the Centaur Professional Overdrive. By the prevailing sense of ethics, that would me it's now fair game for cloning. But yet people still get fired up that there are guys out there cloning this now-discontinued circuit. So it's NOT about a given pedal not being available. It's about the "small guy" getting a bit more bias (har-har) than the big guys.

Quote from: juansolo
Muffs are so insanely inconsistent that god knows what it's going to sound like.

See, I see the opposite. There's so much feedback built in to the Muff that you can just about throw any parts in there and it will still sound like a Muff. Different strokes, I guess.


I guess I can sum it up as "if you are gonna steal, do it from the best, but put something of yourself into it and make it your own".  :D

That said, I definitely reserve the right to express some disgust with well known boutique companies who mercilessly clone their peers

I guess I wasn't really talking about *your* PCBs being used so much as cloning in general. I'm definitely in the "make your own shit" camp when it comes to taking your pedals pro. And honestly, I can't think of anything more boring than straight-up cloning any given circuit. So we are in agreement all around. :)

I don't see it as a big guy vs. little guy debate, I see it as an undercutting issue and that's where I draw my moral line.

Well, as you've already pointed out, that's just business. I'll bet that in many areas of your own purchasing, you go with the undercutter rather than the original. I don't know anybody that pays as much as possible for everything they buy. I buy store-brand medication, crackers, soda, deli meats/cheeses, etc. It's cheaper than the big-name brand, and as far as I'm concerned, it's practically identical. We all do it. And I don't see why pedals should be a special case with a special set of ethics. But, I can see where some people would feel that way.

Granted, I don't necessarily like when any given company is a total chicken-hawk on other people's circuits. But it's business, and there's nothing inherently unethical in such tactics. If you stand still, you're dead. You have to keep moving if you're an innovator. Copycats can sit on their fat asses and wait, but innovators have to keep moving forward. It might not be nice, but it's just how it is.

Quote from: jkokura
Part for part clones aren't exactly ok with me from big companies, but if you can take a rat and improve it, or remove/improve the buffer in a TS and offer that with some different clipping configs, that's enough to set your product apart.

I see that kind of thing as a slightly modified copy of the original, and not a new product. But I also see nothing unethical about selling such things. It's just not very creative. In my opinion, of course. ;)

juansolo

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2012, 01:26:01 PM »
It's a minefield. I don't think we'll ever successfully find a stance that will please everyone. I just don't think it's possible as everyone seems to have a perfectly reasonable defense for their own position (name calling aside on other forums).

I think the pedal ethics debate has reached the same level as religion and politics. Things that are best stayed well away from on internet forums. Life's too short to get pulled into the debate that cannot ever be concluded.
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nzCdog

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2012, 01:41:09 PM »
I think the pedal ethics debate has reached the same level as religion and politics. Things that are best stayed well away from on internet forums. Life's too short to get pulled into the debate that cannot ever be concluded.

+1
/thread

djaaz

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2012, 01:43:07 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by publicly available. Most of the time, manufacturers do not make their circuits public. If they are in the public, those schematics have been provided by reverse engineering, or by the manufacturer's service package being released.

Exactly what you guessed: a circuit that has been either provided by the manufacturer or redrawn in a way or another.

What do you mean by IP?

Intellectual Property.

As for building and selling, yes. There is nothing to keep you from making your own schematic artwork, making your own PCB, and then manufacturing and selling a direct clone of almost any pedal. There are a select few circuits that have been patented. In those cases, if you change ONE part value incrementally, you can still make that pedal.

This is good to know. Thanks. Weird though.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 02:39:22 PM by djaaz »

djaaz

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2012, 01:46:10 PM »
I think the pedal ethics debate has reached the same level as religion and politics. Things that are best stayed well away from on internet forums. Life's too short to get pulled into the debate that cannot ever be concluded.

+1
/thread

There's some distance from religion, politics and pedal building. Actually, there's a link between them.
But guys, good or bad idea, religions are still discussed and so should the pedal building stuff when it comes to these kind of questions.
No need to be afraid as long as respect drives the conversation and this is certainly the case here.

My two cents, ohms, pf (as you prefer)

Jamiroking

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2012, 03:28:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for your responses so far. I'm glad to see this thread get so much action since I think it's something that really needed to be addressed. Even if we don't come to a consensus, its really useful just to read everyone's opinions to get a general feel for the viewpoints that are out there.

I think its been especially useful to hear from jkokura since your move to having a web presence is one of the prime examples that jumped out in my mind. But also hearing how a lot of big name builders have pedals that are basically clones of others sorta complicated the matter for me.

Since the pcb artwork is the copyrighted material, I was thinking I would probably just design my own 1) so I'm not using brian's boards in the ones I'm distributing and 2) so I get some experience doing it and can add that to my bag of tricks.

My other issue is, while I would love to mod circuits to feel more "in the right", I feel my knowledge isn't quite that deep and any mods I've come up with are purely superficial (eg. true bypass toggle on the sunking or creative LED/switching designs) That being said, a lot of the attentino my pedals have been getting has to do with the creativity and effort that I put into the aesthetics of the pedal. For instance, yes, people can buy the commercial version of the krankosaurus, but it won't look road worn and westerned themed and that's one of the main reason people want mine. To me, this conversation gets even more complicated considering that we aren't building standalone circuits but ones that are part of a larger product.; much harder than if I was going to be selling clones in plain metal enclosures but I think also evidence that I'm not trying to undercut anyone and am offering something unique.

djaaz

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Re: Ethical issues - Selling/ building for others
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2012, 04:31:12 PM »
What about rehousing services?
I can't see any ethical issue with that and it looks like it may address a lot of what people are actually asking from you.
In the meanwhile, you could jump on your breadboard & eagle and try your own things.