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Software Companies Clandestine Listening Activities??
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author Software Companies Clandestine Listening Activities??
A greater and greater number of software companies are requiring online connections for various reasons. Most give the option to not "send Data", but I was wondering if anyone actually knows of any software companies listening in to what is being played either through the plugins or the DAW itself?

I have to imagine that at least one of them has done this (or at least tried) and in my opinion it would be a huge transgression against their paying customers. Why would they do it? Various reasons could be given up to and including outright theft.

What do you all think? Do you think this has been tried or are there any rumblings about this sort of thing happening? Would it be ok with you if they did (would not be ok with me)? Is this an inevitability?
With country after country and state after state adopting strict privacy laws, I would be very surprised if a modern reputable software company did not disclose all of the data they collect and the purpose for the collection. Additionally, they should allow their customers to opt out of any and all collection.

Are there unscrupulous companies who don't give a shit about privacy laws? You betcha. You could always sniff your home network (use wireshark or something similar) and check all of the communication in and out of your DAW. If your DAW or plugins are phoning home, you'll see it in a wireshark capture.
I'd have thought most bedroom musicians would love to have an audience!

If I was an evil software company collecting data unscrupulously I would much rather do it in a way where there was the possiblity to catch someone masturbating.
I don't think there's a software company out there grabbing and streaming audio data from a DAW, and if they were, they'd not be doing it to steal said tracks and release music compilations.

Sure, they're definitely collecting data on how you use the software, what features get the most use, how things are normally used during a session, etc. That type of data is being sent home all the time, and a lot of modern apps send back analytics and stats, usually completely anonymously, so that Developers know where to focus their attention and to see what features, and how those features, get used.

But, yeah, nobody wants to steal your session.
I mean, if there's one thing we should've learned from the last five years or so, it's that "surely that would be such pointless maliciousness that no big developer would bother with it!" is practically a guarantee that some big developer out there has at least had the idea over lunch and fired off an inquiry to the legal department about it. And there's certainly plenty of reasons to be concerned about programs that shouldn't need Internet connectivity requiring Internet connectivity. But yeah, there's so little point to doing anything like that. If they wanted to steal your work, they'd do it by hiding a clause in the EULA that gave them the rights to it, like Instagram tried to pull a while back.
They won't be streaming audio, that's for sure! 99.999% of what is going on in the average DAW session is garbage anyway. razz

In any case it is best to disconnect from the internet when using the computer for music making... You can actually switch off the computer's wifi.... if you're using MIDI you definitely want to do this, as any wireless networking is likely to affect MIDI clock stability. Browsers can be quite demanding on the system these days, too. On my Mac simply starting up Firefox with Ableton Live running (at around 40% CPU load) makes the project glitch out for a couple seconds...

To prevent scumbag developers (there's a lot of them) from getting your computer to connect to web servers without your knowledge, use an app firewall (on the Mac it's Hands Off or Little Snitch, on Windows I used to use TinyWall). These apps intercept almost everything running on your machine before it goes online. Once you fire up one of these apps you will be shocked at the amount of apps and Apple/ Microsoft non-essential (metrics/marketing related) system processes that go online in the background without you ever knowing.

We need legislation to prevent this, yesterday.
Streaming audio data would be very obvious and easy to spot. Collecting user data around the computer wouldn't but I doubt they are much into that.

Maybe the plugin collects data use data, hours, number of instances, etc? to use later for marketing purposes?

Sounds more useful.
Rex Coil 7
Kummer wrote:
A greater and greater number of software companies are requiring online connections for various reasons.
Put the enormous power of the dollar to work for you. Do not purchase crap that requires internet connection just to operate. Then configure your audio system to work physically disconnected from the web.

Don't let that lure covered with cheese and bacon entice you into buying shitty software that requires online connections to operate.

George Orwell is screaming at the top of lungs "I TOLD YOU MORONS! .. I TOLD YOU SO!!"


Yeah I don't know.

I could definitely image someone somewhere, in the audio/production world has done something like this (or at least thought about and planned to possibly execute).

Either stealing audio or production secrets via usage data. I guess that most people would be willing to share anyway, but I feel like if someone had done or is currently doing something like this, it's a definite red line for most people. Really though, any DAW manufacturer could look at a famous producers projects and see how/what he or she has done and at the very least glean info that the producer may not want to share. As an example, say there is a super fan of James Holden who works at Ableton. If that person chose to do so, they could take a peek and see how he produced and arranged a piece of music. James may not care, and I don't think I would either to be honest if it were me, but doing it behind my back WOULD be a red line in principle.

Yeah I'm probably being paranoid, but I'm a little surprised that this kind of thing isn't brought up more often.
I would be super-surprised if audio-production software companies were "listening in" on the audio passing through them. Not because "they wouldn't stoop to that", but because there is nothing to be gained. Audio production secrets have very little monetary value.

Look at how much ghost-writers charge big-name DJs for full tracks. It's in the 4-figure range. Hardly worth the effort of industrial espionage.
Look at the depth and breadth of tutorials available for free everywhere.
Look at the prices proper experts charge for tutorials and project files - i.e. Mr. Bill for his Ableton tutorials. It's peanuts for what it is.
Look at how much producers are willing to share, for free, in interview videos or studio tours when Fact or MusicRadar come around.
Look at how Deadmau5 has been live-streaming his entire writing process ever since live-streaming has existed. He's very successful, and him sharing all the details of his process hasn't really changed that.

If people really want to copy a sound, they don't have to use spies, they can just sample it.

There are legitimate questions to be asked about software always listening. Facebook Messenger always listening, and targeting ads based on what you and your buddies talk about, is a pretty scary thing to see. That said, even the larger music software companies are tiny compared to Facebook, Google, Palantir, etc. They don't have the resources to process this kind of data in a useful way, or the user-base to justify the expense. Big Data is expensive, and multi-track audio is very big. Recorded music, however, is quite cheap.

I'll be more worried when they start having ads in DAWs - then they might have an incentive to try and sell sound-packs that fit your genre.
Doubt its going to occur via an audio company but... if you have an Amazon Alexa product in your studio for voice control then it is definitely listening, and who knows what they do with the data it collects... Ad targeting is a weird blurry line of privacy - I've seen people comment that they start getting targeted ads for a subject that they only ever discussed verbally, ie not via online/google search etc...
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