Everyone who cares about music has probably debated the artistic validity of sampling at some point; indeed there is much to discuss when considering where the boundaries between creativity and plagiarism lie. But it’s not just musicians who are open to accusations of excessive imitation; companies who manufacture their gear are too…
Behringer In The Spotlight
Behringer has developed a reputation as something of a cuckoo in the music technology arena, although whether this is entirely justified is certainly open to debate. The philosophy of the company is clear – to provide musicians with affordable gear, packed with features that rival much more expensive equipment.
This is of course a fine strategy in itself, and is to be encouraged in principle.
However, it is claimed that Behringer are often guilty of simply imitating other companies’ products by reverse-engineering, thereby saving on R&D costs and enabling them to drastically undercut the original’s pricing.
The Dangers Of Flattery
CDM recently brought up the issue of Behringer’s imitation policies, firstly with regard to their new website being very similar to Apple’s, and then regarding the older issue of gear imitation.
As Oscar Wilde put it, talent borrows, but genius steals. This may be a valid argument for artistic creations, but does it hold up for circuit board design?
Personally, I don’t care how many websites have a similar design to Apple’s – Behringer is not the first, nor will it be the last – but there may be more far-reaching consequences for home studios if there are inadequate legal protections in place for music technology producers and their innovations.
Getting What You Pay For?
Having said that, Behringer have a well-defined target market – the budget sector. So, it’s clear that some of their products won’t be as robust or sound as good as more expensive alternatives, and it would be naive to expect otherwise. However, many of their products represent very good value and do a solid job. There may be issues with the corporate ethics involved, but in a capitalist marketplace, no company is based on altruism. The question then must be – is Behringer any worse than any other manufacturer in this regard, to the extent that studio owners should avoid their gear on principle?