Quick! What do you do in an emergency when you need to re-authorize software for a gig?

Good news: Ableton will not be “evil.” (see photo at right; thanks, Amanda.)

It happens: a hard drive dies, or you lose an entire computer and switch machines. Now, in an ideal world with no copy protection, this wouldn’t be such an issue, but most of us are fairly resigned to some kind of copy protection being a necessary evil. There’s software we rely on that requires some kind of authorization or unlock, if not a hardware dongle. That means you need to get a functioning copy of your software of choice up on your machine – fast.

Ableton Live, for one, has always had a relatively generous demo. It runs unlimited, with only saving and bouncing disabled. I have known Live users to, in a pinch, use that demo to save a live gig – just load your set into a backup machine and play. (For the same reason, I keep a fully bounced version of my sets, in case there’s some problem with third-party instruments.)

Ableton had made some noises over the years about adjusting this policy – which always made me nervous that they’d take away the unlimited demo-only version. (I even got students I taught in a class at Hunter College making use of this.)

Happily, what Ableton did this month was to extend the demo, adding 14 days of saving but keeping the unlimited save-disabled mode. In short, says a representative here in New York:

Get a serial:  saving and exporting enabled for 14 days

After 14 days (or without a serial):  old demo behavior; no saving and exporting, but everything else still works indefinitely.

And naturally, if you’ve been holding back from giving yourself a good Ableton Live test drive to see if it’s for you, you’ve got no excuse now. (Bravo not only to Ableton but the various vendors smart enough to offer a demo. After all, you can try out a guitar at the store before you buy it. It’s an instrument.)