I was quite surprised last night when I looked at Twitter trends and noticed that Audacity was trending. It’s been a staple on computers around here for as long as I can remember. If you find any list of top free or open source programs, Audacity always makes any Top 10 list.
It’s very visual in its presentation, has always worked perfectly, and records audio incredibly well. If you need to edit files afterwards, it’s intuitive and the visual representation of your file makes it so easy.
It’s a standalone application. It just installs on your computer and doesn’t need to run anything from the web. Files are stored locally and then you decide what you want to do with it.
So, as I saw it trending, I wondered just how it could be any better. Apparently, the software is now owned by a for profit company, the Muse Group. I hadn’t realized that the software hadn’t been upgraded for nine years. What a testament to a piece of software that just worked. It’s now been upgraded to version 3.
The first issue was the inclusion of a statement that you must agree to before you install the software. It gives the company the right to collect various pieces of data, including information that could be passed along to law enforcement.
By itself, that’s pretty standard these days. If you dig through the terms and conditions of any software that you install, something like that can usually be found. It’s just such a big change from the previous terms of the Open Source software that got people riled.
The second issue is the one that I think all educators should be aware of. The newest terms preclude it from being used by anyone under the age of 13. I can tell you, from days gone by, that Audacity was always on the computer image that was produced over the summer for student use in the classroom. The interface was so useful and the program just worked. Teachers love it for its use; IT Department loved it because you just installed it and it worked.
I can’t recall any issue with the program; any requests for support was about file format, importing, editing, and general use.
Many people who are using the software for podcasting love it. It’s simple and straight forward; you just use it. How often can you say that about a piece of software?
So, in a call to action, there are recommendations for alternative editing programs and a suggestion that people may take the original Open Source and make it into another piece of software.
I’m still at a loss to understand how a company can acquire an Open Source piece of software and then inject their own terms and conditions. I could kind of seeing them forking it on their own. But how do they get to keep the name and change its fundamental functionality?
In the meantime, these two issues should get serious consideration on your part as to whether or not you’ll use it going forward.