You heard it hear first. For those of you who just joined us, Mono Touch is a simple clone of the Ableton Live template from Lemur, though without the Lemur’s multi-touch capability, hardware, physics, customizability, and essentially everything other than the look of the interface. My criticism of this effort — which gave no credit to the Lemur and charged money for the results — divided readers here on CDM. But evidently feedback from me and others got the attention of the creator, because he’s now removing the price tag and making the software free.

You can read DJ Grobe’s comments on the original story. Basically, he says he didn’t originally intend to make money off of it and has removed the price. He then goes on to make a very strange argument, that his interface is closer to Tetris than Lemur. That’s just silly; as others have pointed out the button-for-button layout of the Lemur template, down to the color of individual buttons, was translated into his design. You can see for yourself, side by side. But I am happy that he’s making this free.

Some readers responded negatively to my criticisms, I think because in some cases, intellectual property arguments have been applied unfairly, and that stops forward progress on ideas. But leave the legal arguments aside for a moment. If you pass off someone else’s work as your own, the word is plagiarism. It’s actually pretty cool that someone would create their own clone of something they can’t afford, but the intent changes when you sell the results online. That’s why I’m pleased to see that the creator is doing the right thing and removing the fee. I don’t agree that this looks like Tetris, though. That would actually be cool — a Tetris / Ableton Live mash-up. (Or, more likely, Breakout + Live.) But that’s the thing about copies: they only become original if there’s some unique twist.

I think we can all agree that the best step next would be for people to try their own designs, to do something different. I’m not all that crazy about the Lemur’s Live template; I hope someone does better. (And in this case, so do the makers of the Lemur, as the whole point of the interface was encouraging custom layouts.)

We’ve covered lots of DIY control surfaces here on CDM, and what’s exciting to me about them is that they’re all different — different from commercial products, and different from each other. Hardware and software alike are spawning new variety. So, I’ll be rooting for that side.