This afternoon, I feel obligated to offer some explanation. Following my post about Julien Bayle’s LFO Everything module for Ableton Live, several readers and a forum thread on the Ableton Live forum raised concerns that a portion of Julien’s Device was adapted from another developer’s work without attribution. Heated discussion on the Live forum spilled over into our comment thread. I was contacted by Edward Majcher, the developer of the original patch in question, entitled Device LFO, and have been in communication with Mr. Majcher and Mr. Bayle since. This would certainly qualify as a violation of the Creative Commons license under which Device LFO was released, as it would infringe upon the intellectual property rights of any non-public domain patch. Over the course of the weekend, several readers on the Ableton forum were able to demonstrate what Mr. Majcher had told CDM, that a portion of Device LFO was reused in LFO Everything without being attributed. (See the two threads, if you wish: the original LFO Everything thread, and one following allegations of plagiarism.) I was unaware of any of these concerns when I originally posted the article.
The portion in question is not the entire patch, but a specific subpatcher that handles parameter control in Live.
Mr. Majcher expressed a desire to move on from the incident, and as the original developer, I think the best course of action is one that benefits his work and the developer community as a whole.
I can say that the tone of discussions on the forum (and to some extent comments on this site) have become what I would characterize as emotional, independent of the parties directly involved. I did not wish to add to those discussions. I know Mr. Bayle, I’ve performed on a program with him, I can verify he’s an experienced and capable developer, and he’s in the past contributed to the Max community and music making community at large. I am not arguing his original release was in the right, and I don’t defend the way he responded to the situation, but I’m sorry to see that it’s happened. Having been introduced to Mr. Majcher’s work, I’m equally impressed by his output, I’m very sorry indeed that his work was appropriated without credit, and I’m sorry that I was not fully confident of the sequence of events until today.
Looking beyond this particular case, to avoid this happening in the future, it’s hard to over-emphasize the importance of careful attribution, particularly when things like Max patches are routinely constructed from snippets lying around your hard drive. Whether or not you believe Mr. Bayle was in the right, it is all to easy to do something similar. I do not see this question as directly connected to whether or not something is “open source.” Whatever the license – including popular free software licenses like GPL, BSD, and Apache – whether open source or proprietary, any work that is not explicitly public domain requires attribution. Any work in the US (and many other countries) automatically receives copyright protection. This is an area about which we all must be very careful, both for legal and, more importantly, ethical reasons. Whether any of us is perfect, we can, at least, endeavor to do better, and to communicate with other developers. That’s not a direct comment on this case; it’s simply a lesson worth taking away, whether you’re an “open source” developer or not.
Also, independent of this issue, since readers brought this up, CDM can’t cover everything, our coverage isn’t perfect, and not every single blog post should be considered an endorsement. Maxforlive.com has a superb library of Devices and resource, and worth exploring. If there are devices of particular interest, do let me know about them; we have an open comment form. Feel free to send in tips more than once if you feel strongly; my inbox is a crowded place. Even before concerns about LFO Everything, I heard from readers who felt I had omitted other work somehow by design. That is, believe me, never my intention.
Thanks to those who were directly in touch regarding LFO Device and LFO Everything.