MATRIXSYNTH: Is it Time to Ban Behringer on the Site?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Is it Time to Ban Behringer on the Site?

Last night I received an email from Nan Tang, the founder & CEO of Chinese computer music portal Midifan and co-founder of plugin vendor 2nd Sense Audio. He wrote in to let me know that Behringer apparently sent him a letter threatening legal action for defamation in some posts critical of them. Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music has a write-up on the situation here, and Synthtopia just published a humorous report here.

So, most of us know that there are essentially two camps when it comes to Behringer:

1. Those that love that they are reproducing vintage analog synths and offering them at super affordable prices.

2. Those that perceive them as ripping off others.

Midifan falls into the second category, and Behringer has a problem with how they are communicating that. I have no problem with either of them. What I do have a problem with is when a company threatens legal action to shut someone up.

So... what do we do...

Considerations on my end as a publisher:

1. As a site dedicated to capturing what is happening in the synth community on a daily basis, should I continue to post new Behringer product announcements at a minimum?

2. I don't want to ban content my readers create. If readers submit content featuring Behringer products, I will post them. Not for Behringer, but for my readers.

3. I usually do my best to remain neutral.

That said, I can definitely scale back on Behringer content that doesn't meet 1 and 2 above. I don't want to get sued, and if Behringer threatens publishers that voice their opinions, then why bother supporting them?

If you have an opinion feel free to leave a comment below.

Update: I asked Nan of Midifan what he planned to do regarding Behringer coverage on his site. He replied with the following:

"I will continue reporting all the news and new products from Behringer as usual, give them applause for the good products, give them a shit for the bad products. As an online media, we have to report everything for our reader, whatever someone sued us or not."

Update2: MUSIC GROUP COMMERCIAL BM LTD (Behringer's parent company) sued TONY KARAVIDAS, ET AL, including Dave Smith Instruments, for defamation, and lost. Tony is an engineer for DSI. He is also the man behind Encore Electronics, and he has an extensive history in the synthesizer industry, including work on the original Oberheim OB-Xa. The case is covered in detail by Create Digital Music here.

What surprised me was the following:

"The twist here is that in addition to Dave Smith Instruments, the manufacturer, and employee Anthony Karavidas (an engineer at DSI), the lawsuit added as defendants an additional twenty individuals posting in the same forum thread. Since the identity of those individuals is unknown, they’re named as 'DOES 1-20.' In the words of the lawsuit, 'the true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate or otherwise … are unknown to Plaintiff.'"

Did Behringer go after individuals as well, or were they trying to discover if the 20 individual accounts were actually the same person or persons?

Update3: worth a read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation
And discussion on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/synthesizers/comments/8sb3a0/behringer_sues_dave_smith_instruments_and/

You can read the original filing of the lawsuit here, the judgement here.

23 comments:

  1. It's an issue between those two camps. Right now it's a "he said / she said" situation. But having that company running around crying like that just looks suspicious to me.

    Just keep doing what you do best
    Which is posting all things synths related.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cant believe this! Was interested in the DeepMind Desktop, Neutron, ModelD and excited by all the interesting CLONES they showed at SuperBooth... wont go near any of their products until they withdraw this and apologize to Midifan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. CircuitShack6/13/18, 6:43 PM

    It's more than just name calling- everybody should read the Midifan report on behringer factory conditions which prompted the reactionary threats of legal action: https://www.midifan.com/modulenews-detailview-28353.htm

    Translated: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.midifan.com%2Fmodulenews-detailview-28353.htm&edit-text=&act=url

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This should really be widely spread in this industry!! It's already not in the level of ordinary brand of products but matter of human rights. Maybe it's time for people to seriously rethink, not just try to get to camp 1 and defend their source of affordable gears.
      I realized THIS NEWS ABOUT FACTORY CONDITION was not mentioned in that letter about legal action, obviously the reason is because it's FACT.

      Delete
  4. I've never owned a piece of Behringer gear and with stunts like this, I probably never will. I was so glad when the Grandmother came out so I don't have to be tempted into buying a Boog. Behringer can suck it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this thoughtful post. One critical question: Why do you believe you have to maintain a neutral voice? There has been a strange push in the media to give both sides of every argument equal weight. The trouble is that it gives Hitler the same legitimacy as Ghandi.

    You have an opinion. It's ok to share it.

    My ipinioo: Behringer is taking advantage of famous designs to give the company legitimacy it wouldn't have if it relies on releasing original designs. It's dirty business.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends on what it is of course. In general I prefer a neutral voice on the site so people can come to their own conclusions. As for clones, there really are too many arguments for and against them. KORG was universally praised for coming out with their Odyssey clones. Behringer wasn't. The reason? The reputation and history of each.

      Delete
    2. I'm for opensource, and circuit designs can fall into that legal grey area. Then there's the issue copying overall design and layout. Behringer has built there business on questionable legal copies though, with a history of being in court from Aphex, BBE, Mackie, Roland, dbx, etc.

      They have a proven record of copying designs which would align with the word "copycats" (which doesn't need to be a derogatory word). With that said, my issue with the entire thing is they are threatening a blogger/person's opinion with financial damages and physical damages (3 years prison) in a country with a dubious court system.

      Removing someone's right to speech, threatening them harm, for a word that Behringer obviously embraces as a business model. Speech is like music, would matrixsynth promote a company that tried to ban and jail people that made music they disagreed with?

      I understand the need to report as what they do could be considered "news" (yes, even their vaporware) but at the same time it can also be considered Advertising to some degree.

      As I would never suggest to another how they should use their right to free speech I won't impose my beliefs on what matrixsynth should do, you must decide your own ethics on how to proceed. As for me, if I had a site, I would put up a disclaimer about them, block the obvious ads while maybe only including a link titled "Behringer" (no picture, no write up) with my disclaimer and people could decide to follow it, but I would keep musicians links to videos of them creating music with the gear as long as it was creating music and not advertising/review. What I will be doing though is never buying Behringer gear and contacting local music businesses with my opinion on Behringer's attack on free speech.

      As musicians we should all be concerned with free speech rights.

      Delete
  6. Simply put, I would never buy anything by Behringer.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have been writing You, but you never reply. Please reply to my emails.

    Sincerely Kittie Kat ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just don't like the way they operate. The way they run their social media campaigns is awful, Uli's constant chatter about his "Tribe" and the business language he uses makes him seem like some sort of AI Chat bot when he posts on Gearslutz. I guess this story about striking workers and the conditions they deal with would go some way to explaining why they cant get enough units out to people who want them.

    I think you will be safe in this situation and you should carry on posting user created content regardless of the reputation of the manufacturer, maybe just try and stay away from spreading all the unreleased\hyped up product posts as we already have plenty of other news sites happy to do Uli's work for him

    ReplyDelete
  9. I used to be willing to be indifferent to the cloning stuff, but this is the end of it for me -- I won't buy from them again.

    One of the sketchy things about Behringer is their PR/marketing stunts, like the way they announced their possible entry into Eurorack, the "leaks" several months ago about their various clone projects, etc. Reposting that stuff plays right into their hands -- but OTOH, people should probably be aware that's the sort of stuff they're doing.

    I think I'd continue to post whatever seems like relevant news, without endorsing them or taking them as an advertiser (and maybe even adding a disclaimer about not endorsing them? I don't know).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PatchingGuy6/14/18, 8:45 AM

      Starthief, I cannot agree with you more. People should be aware of what's happening. We don't need to fear of that company because we are talking the truth with justice. THAT very bad treatment to their staff, as posted by CircuitShack above, is what this community should be paying attention on now.
      I think this is very unfair for other companies who are paying effort in ensuring their staffs' health, no matter in China or not. People pay for their low priced gears are actually supporting this company to treat their very own staff like crap.

      Delete
  10. If you don't want to post Behringer news, don't post it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Stay neutral, there are plenty of people who buy synths based on the sound and price and could care less about some politics of the manufacturers. I understand if some stop supporting them, that's fine. At the end of the day everyone is making music with what ever they can afford.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was troubled to read about the condition of Formaldehyde in the Behringer run factories. That stuff is certainly a known carcinogen, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    Did conditions for the Apple employed Foxconn employees end up get better?
    I realize that this is slightly different, as we are talking about factories owned by the OEM, not a 3rd party contractor.
    But people seem to have not voted with their feet and surrender their iPhones or iPpads. Although, it's not always possible. One sometimes needs proprietary software available on Apple equipment to do your job or function in your place of employment, or you or someone you love may have a disability and use communication software on Apple devices to interact with the outside world.

    Behringer have always had questionable business practices. I saw one magazine article summarising new audio equipment starting with "What's on the Behringer Photocopier this month?" (or words very close to that, I no longer have the magazine".

    Sound on Sound reviewed a Behringer mixer and ha one of the points raised was "Fees like someone else's desk".

    I, however, am poor. If I want music equipment, I have to go with what I can afford. And, well, I can afford nothing more than Behringer.

    I had aspired to own a Behringer Neuron when they started up on the 2nd hand market.
    Maybe I should get back to learning PureData and PIC assembly language instead?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Midifan did not write "critical", he insulted Behringers people beeing "dogs", "plagiarists", "crazy" and "copycats", which implies illegal work.
    Very bad style for a blogger.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Who else is doing a Model D for $300? If people want to bait Ulli Behringer on their own heads be it. What can't be denied is Behringer have a market for their products because they make them to a price point. Who are they "ripping off"? All their clones are totally legal.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I came upon this story backwards, as from Uli Behringer's rebuttal on Facebook, so my perspective was rather favorable to Behringer until I read the link posted by CircuitShack above. Wow. I think Uli Behringer should really apologize profusely to his workers for being such a jerk in this case. The post doesn't have the other reported comments where he calls the company names, but that seems minor in relationship to the management not allowing workers to access fresh air.

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  16. Whatever is going on between Midifan and Behringer is between them and Matrixsynth should not be involved. I am against banning Behringer. I don’t believe we're getting the full story. Midifan probably should study up on the laws passed in his own country only a few years ago in regards to the new internet rules that allow websites to be sued for defamation. China has been cracking down on the internet on top of their strict defamation laws.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In China, defamation exists if (i) the defendant has committed an illegal act, (ii) the plaintiff’s reputation has been damaged, and (iii) the illegal act caused the damage. Such defamation exists in three circumstances:

      1) Written or oral insults or libel that damage a person’s reputation

      2) Unauthorized disclosure of personal information that damages a person’s reputation

      3) A news report containing “gross error” that damages a person’s reputation

      Midifan's reviews weren't just critical, but insulting and insinuated copying/theft/stealing when nothing illegal was done. Add to that China's new internet rules passed in 2014 holding websites accountable for defamation.

      Delete
  17. Well, i have read a lot of complaints about how Behringer copies others companies' products. that's may be true in the beginnings of the company, recently the have arrive with their own products (X-air, X32 series, ...), but in the synthesizer market they have again use others companies work as an starting point to make their own equipment (as many other companies that do the same).
    DeepMind 12 is a good example, this synth start as a "clon" of the juno 106 but the result has almost nothing in common with the original, the model D is an almost 99.999% the sound of de original and, except for the midi and usb, and patchpoints, and form factor, has not added anything new to the original (well...), the neutron is a new instrument, so no copy here, except for the cem's VCOs, but wait a minute, there's a lot of companies who copies this an others cem and ssm chips, yes, but they are not Behringer.
    And at the end I think that's the point, if there is a company who copies or make clones of other equipment (without infringing patents), and there are a lot of them, well, they are giving musicians the opportunity of using "classical new" instruments, but if this company is called Behringer, they are *^%$##.
    And about the "freedom of speech", well, you can disagree with a company's policy, but that freedom ends when you start insulting or even telling lies (unless you can prove that) about that company. And when this come from another's company workers, well, it is so shifty because they are an interested part in the business.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I one does not like Behringer or components they use, then dont buy their products, simple as that.

    While looking for court files I found this one with Behringer ... they wanted to IPO ... SGX then NASDAQ !

    Straits Advisors Pte Ltd v Michael Deeb (alias Magdi Salah El-Deeb) and others - Supreme Court of Singapore
    https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-source/module-document/judgement/2014-sghc-94.pdf

    ReplyDelete

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