“If you can’t explain it to a six year old then you don’t really understand it.”-Albert Einstein
What’s the worst term in your typical end user license agreement? Is it that you can’t sue the company that sold you the program? That they can remotely shut it down at any time for any reason? Is it that you sold your soul to them? No. The worst term in any EULA is the one that seems the most innocent. That you can’t reverse engineer the program.
Hatsune Miku is a scam. Here’s how the scam works.
A computer program is just a series of instructions that a computer follows.
It’s basically just commands that tell the computer what to do.
A file is just a bunch of ones and zeros that is meant to
Let’s take a look at some real world examples of this in action:
Imagine that you own a small business. As a business owner you have a lot of documents you need to keep. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are, you need to keep records of things.
So let’s imagine that you chose to use Microsoft Word to write those documents. Microsoft word is a computer program. It’s just a set of instructions that the machine follows. When you save your document that program follows instructions that tells it how to turn the text you’ve entered into the ones and zeros that go into a file.
When you open that file with word later on there’s another section of the instructions in Word that tells it how to translate the ones and zeros from the file into the document you see on your screen. Those instructions that make up the program are proprietary. You aren’t allowed to know what those instructions are.
That’s just how it’s licensed. As a result nobody knows how to translate word files into documents except Microsoft. So if you’ve got hundreds or thousands of documents in Word then you can’t go through and open each of them up and copy and paste the text into another word editor. That’s just not practical.
You need a word editor from another competitor that can be compatible with Microsoft word documents, but Microsoft tried to make that impossible by keeping the code for processing word documents a secret.
This is the main strategy of Microsoft. It’s called vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in is when the vendor, in this example Microsoft, sells you a product that you become artificially reliant on, which means you’re
locked in to them. This is very common in the software world. Nearly every proprietary program you’ve ever used does this. It’s gotten so bad that many people reading this article might be thinking:
“So what if you can’t open word documents in anything but Microsoft Word? It’s a word document. It’s only reasonable that you can’t open it with anything else.” But that’s not how things have to be.
The point of vendor lock-in is to make it so that the vendor is not held very accountable to their customers.
That’s what vocaloid does. It’s designed so that you can’t open up vocaloid project files with anything other than vocaloid.
There is another way. There’s free software.
When people speak of free software, they’re referring to freedom, not price.
Free software is software that is licensed in such a way that you are legally allowed, and even encouraged to look at the instructions that make up that free computer program. Companies that write and distribute free software are held more accountable to their customers because if their customers find a bug in the product,
or want a new feature added they can send in a bug report and/or feature request, or they can hire a programmer to fix that bug and/or add that feature.
To prevent the customer from switching over to the modified
product the people who wrote the software have to care about their users.
How you make money off of free software when anyone can legally modify it, and give it away for free is really another story for another time, but there are ways for programmers to get payed while still being held more accountable to their users.
They often don’t get payed as much, but that’s partly because it’s hard to compete with vendor lock-in. Free software projects tend to be underfunded, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If there was a demand for vocaloid to be free software then it might become even more popular than it currently is.
It breaks my heart when I see people saying things like “Oh, Vocaloid is so great”
“Oh, it changed my life.”
“Oh, I’m crying every time I watch a vocaloid concert.”
“Oh, I wish Miku were real and Noah wasn’t.”
It’s okay to love an idea but not condone a dishonest business practice, because this is a corporation. They don’t care about anything other than profits. This whole community looks like a bunch of Apple fanboys if Apple fanboys were an actual cult. It’s a product that is created and controlled by a single corporation, but when a thing becomes free software it becomes something more than that. It becomes a thing that is owned and controlled by multiple corporations and a community. It becomes something that can be permanently embedded into the digital world.
The future is free.