Grow Up And Stop Using Cracked Plugins

2013 Sep 06, 2013

If you will permit me, I’d like to get on a soapbox for a moment and say something very important. To all of you home and project studio owners out there using cracked plugins (aka stolen plugins), grow up and stop destroying your own industry!

This post might sound harsh, but it’s time to put on your big boy or big girl pants and start paying for what you use people.


Via JM Flickr



Downloading Cracked Plugins Is Theft

To this day I have never downloaded or used a cracked or stolen plugin. Why? Because I have integrity. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not boasting about myself as if I’m some great person. I make many selfish mistakes, just ask my wife. But to me, stealing is wrong, whether it’s a car, someone’s wallet, or a plugin. Just because you can download something in the secret doesn’t diminish the crime.
If you download plugins illegally (i.e. they normally cost a price to purchase) then you are committing theft. You are a thief. What are you stealing? Not just software. No, you are stealing someone’s livelihood. You are stealing someone’s income. In a real tangible way you are stealing someone’s rent money, grocery money, and money to pay the electric bill. In a long term way, you are stealing a company's ability to invest in research and development, which means there’s no money to create new products. Which leads to my next point.

Downloading Cracked Software Destroys Our Industry

Downloading pirated software destroys the audio industry in many ways. In a landscape where people demand everything to be free or cheap, manufacturers are having to lower their product prices to stay competitive. Couple that with software theft and you have even less money flowing through their doors. This eventually leads to only two things: higher prices for the rest of us, or companies going out of business.

This may sound like a good thing to those of you who are into corporate conspiracy theory and you hate “big business.” Down with the corporations! But let me tell you first hand as a business owner it is very hard to run a profitable company. Add to that the fact that (at least in the United States) small businesses (defined as having fewer than 500 employees) create the most jobs and grow the economy the most, and we begin to see the immense need for companies to thrive.

Software Theft Destroys Innovation

I recently asked my friend, plugin manufacturer Steven Slate of Slate Digital what actually goes into creating one of his plugins. Listen to what he says:

To make just one Slate Digital plugin, it takes over a year of dedicated work from dozens of individuals to get them perfect.  It can be an excruciating process, but in the end the reward is worth the struggle.

To have our plugins cracked would be absolutely devastating, and would make it impossible to be able to maintain the necessary resources required to do business.  But even more importantly, it would take away the motivation of the entire team. – Steven Slate

Did you catch that? It takes Steven’s team over a year to make one plugin! How much money and how many man-hours were spent in a year’s time, only to be unrewarded? It’s crazy. And he brings it to the logical conclusion: his team’s motivation can be stripped away. Can you imagine working on something amazing for over a year and then have people simply steal it from you once it’s available? How would that make you feel?

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard

If I offend anyone today, then good. Downloading cracked plugins has got to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of. Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. We live in an era where plugins sound as good as their hardware counterparts but cost a fraction of the price! Right now you can buy a handful of wonderful sounding faithful emulations of an LA2A compressor for less than $150. To buy an actual hardware unit today would cost you $3,500. That’s over 2000% cheaper than the hardware unit!
  2. Once you buy a plugin, you can use it on every track in your mix! This is what is so ridiculously amazing about mixing in the box. Your $150 LA2A plugin purchase is actually hundreds of LA2As. It’s almost unfair how good we have it!
  3. You can actually use plugins on your mixes for free for a few weeks before you buy them! No need to borrow or rent a hardware unit to test it out. You can (in seconds) be trying out a plugin on YOUR mix and actually figure out if it would be a good fit for you. All before spending a dime!

If you feel the need to steal a plugin, then you are simply unaware of just how good we have it these days. Add to that the fact that every major DAW ships with an entire suite of fantastic sounding and useable plugins stock, that you don’t even NEED any third party plugins to make great tracks.

In essence, downloading cracked plugins only proves one thing: that you are a thief who can’t get a good mix with stock plugins.

Call It what It Is

As human beings we are very good at minimizing our faults and offenses. We do it all the time. So let me paint this picture as clearly as I can. Every time you download a cracked plugin to your computer you are basically “breaking into” Guitar Center, grabbing some rack gear from behind the counters and speeding off in your car. Call it what it is people: downloading cracked plugins is theft.

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