Bernie himself defending himself

J.D. McEachin jdm at
Fri Sep 6 09:18:41 CEST 1996

At 01:54 PM 9/2/96 -0400, Bernard Hutchins wrote:

>I find
>that much of the net has apparently decided that since I was not on the net,
>I couldn't be around at all.

I'd guess much of the net doesn't know who your are, or care if you're on
the net or not.

>Now, I have had some very nice and helpful email, and also some relatively
>unpleasant exchanges.

Given your tone of discourse, I'm not surprised you've had some unpleasant

>The latter I attribute to individuals who were - how
>shall I put this: "caught with their hand in the cookie jar and were trying
>desperately to rationalize their actions." Even as they were being pleasant
>to me by email, they were plotting to continue their activities with such
>flimflam as attaching to personal email, hidden links, redrawn
>schematics, and surface mail.  These facts I found when a student of mine
>showed me how to find posted messages.   I even found my personal email to
>one individual posted.  I didn't know this was proper.

Since I wasn't in on this "flimflam", and have not participated in any PCC
distribution "schemes", I'll attribute the unpleasantness of this email to
my irritation with your display of hubris.

>For the moment, no one is authorized, or ever has been, to post my
>schematics on the web.  My objection is first, the general lack of
>attribution (to me and to the original designers).  

You have a valid objection.  Credit should be given where credit's due.
However, if given proper credit, you should look upon the posted schematics
as a free advertisement.

>Secondly, dispite what some people would like you to believe,
>all the schematics that I saw were scanned from a copy of the Preferred
>Circuits Collection dated somewhere from 1983 to 1986, and are copyrighted
>material.  Copyright claims, and related claims of intellectual and/or
>commercial property are something that we all need to take seriously, and
>rigorously defend if necessary, particularly on this web
>where things are often so chaotic.  

In that case, let's seriously consider your claim.  As I understand it, the
material in the PCC was previously printed in NON-COPYRIGHTED issues of
ElectroNotes.  If the material was previously published unprotected, then
you had no LEGAL right to try to retroactively assert your claim to
copyright.  Therefore, the copyright on the PCC would appear to be null and

As Sean Costello wrote previously:

>Concerning copyrights on Electronotes material:

>I did some browsing on the web, and found some informative material at
>gopher://  Here's some
>of the relevant information:

>>NOTE: Before 1978, statutory copyright was generally secured by 
>>the act of publication with notice of copyright, assuming 
>>compliance with all other relevant statutory conditions.  Works in 
>>the public domain on January 1, 1978 ( for example, works published
>without satisfying all conditions for securing statutory copyright
>>under the Copyright Act of 1909) remain in the public domain under
>>the current act.
>>For works first published on and after March 1, 1989, use of the
>>copyright notice is optional, though highly recommended. Before
>>March 1, 1989, the use of the notice was mandatory on all published
>>works, and any work first published before that date must bear a
>>notice or risk loss of copyright protection.

I'm not an intellectual property lawyer, but you may want to consider
consulting one before you go flouting your questionable PCC copyright.

Ric, if you want a copy of the schematics as they originally appeared in
ElectroNotes, let me know.  Since they're not copyrighted you can scan and
post them on your web site with impunity.  I think you'll find them to be
identical to the schematics in the PCC.

>When everyone is in agreement as to who
>it was that originated the material, and if the originators still want to
>retain their interest, can any person of good conscience endorse the
>appropriation of this material by those who
>suppose that they have found some loophole, or who just profess disdain for
>any such rights, claiming a public's right to all information?
>[Rhetorical (?)]

I've got a copy of the first 130 or so ElectroNotes, but I can't find a
copyright notice on them, so I'm not losing any sleep since I'm within the
letter of the law.  FWIW, putting a copyright notice on material was not a
mere loophole, but pretty much the cornerstone of copyright law until 1989.

>But there is still an additional problem here.  When you get a schematic off
>the web, you are getting it instantaneously and largely, for free
>(truthfully - how many of you are
>actually paying for your web access - not many heavy users I bet), or at
>least very cheaply.  If you get the schematic from Electronotes, you have to
>order it and wait (NOT wait and wait and wait - more on this below), and you
>have to pay for it.  My prices are not excessive, essentially what we
>charged years ago, allowing a bit for inflation.  But,
>they are very expensive, compared to free!  

Uh yeah, it doesn't cost me anything to pay US$240/year for net access and
then tie up my $3000 computer for hours and hours and hours downloading
schematics [sarcasm mode is ON, for all who can't detect written sarcasm].

I think it will be a while before people can afford the "free" download of
such a vast quantity of information as the entire ElectroNotes collection
over the Net.  

Say, why don't you OCR/Scan the complete ElectroNotes and put it all on
CD-ROM? I'd buy a copy.  I'm sure others would too.  You'd also save a lot
of trees.

>You people on the net,
>accustomed to getting information free, are likely to be disappointed from
>the start.  Does anyone have an idea how to deal with this problem?

"You people"?  I haven't heard such prejudicial language since I left my
(sadly) racist family down South.  You're on the Net too now - like it or
not, you're one of us.

>I guess the next issue to deal with is the much rumored problem of
>(supposed) bad service.  Now, if I make a list of the principle players that
>I have been dealing with on
>the net in the last weeks, I would have seven names.  Most of these have
>expressed the opinion that we give bad service, do not respond to requests
>for information, and in perhaps one case, cashed a check and did not send
>any material.  What is the basis of these ideas?

Ideas?  Facts would be a better choice of words.  If Juergen says that he
sent you a letter requesting pricing information and he got no response,
then it must be so.  Juergen is one of the kindest, and certainly the most
helpful person I've encountered on the Net.

>Well, it's certainly not first hand.

Bzzzt! Of the four people I mentioned, one of them told me verbally about
his experiences, two have come forward on this maillist, and the fourth you
aparently know about.

>Of the seven people I have in mind,
>only one requested information.  He got the ordering information, chose not
>to order (ostensibly,
>because of the rumors of poor service) and FAXed the forms on to someone
>else (who did not order - but whom, it seems FAXed my answering machine but
>never left a message by voice.)  The other six never wrote or called to ask
>for information, and I think they will (several have) admit that they never
>even tried.   Yet, they were keen to pass along the general scuttlebutt of
>bad service.

Well, where there's smoke there's usually fire.  My personal belief is that
you've been very slack and you're now trying to weasel out of it (but that's
just my belief).

>We do not keep records of who requests information, so I can never say for
>sure (but most names I do remember, and some I could not forget).  We are
>not perfect.  We probably loose a few things.  At one time, my answering
>machine died and would not respond except by pushing the reset.  I lost four
>messages last December, but they may have been for Marty anyway.  (Marty is
>the state assemblyman who has phone number 277-8030 and 277 is a virtually
>unused exchange here in Ithaca.)   A fair amount of mail that is apparently
>addressed properly comes back.

Excuses, excuses.

>Now, to continue on, it is simply untrue that we do not respond to requests
>for ordering information.  

...but this seems to have been true in the past.

>I have asked those who think this is true to give me examples.  

As one of those persons you asked, I have to say that I don't keep records
of who says they requested ElectroNotes information and didn't receive it.
I've read or scanned about 100,000 email messages since I got on the Net
(100 a day for 3 years), and the names weren't what my brain remembered -
what was remembered was that no one said they had successfully obtained
ElectroNotes from Bernie Hutchins.

Just to put your request in perspective, hopefully in terms you can relate
to - if I asked you to name the authors of every article or paper you've
seen in the last 3 years on a subject (say, improved Fast Fourier
Transforms), could you do it?

Given that I've been able to come up with 3 out of 4, I'd say I'm doing
pretty well.

>It seems
>to be always "a friend of a friend" type of assertion, or someone thinks
>they saw something "posted" about it.  

Actually, a very good personal friend of mine told me that he spoke with you
over the phone about obtaining ElectroNotes copies a few years ago.  He said
that you didn't want to talk about old ElectroNotes and reluctantly agreed
to send him a price list - which you never did.  Given the genuine
disappointment he demonstrated, I can hardly call this a rumor.

Before you demand to know who he is, I'll say that he's on this list and has
chosen to stay out of this.

>My student looked pretty carefully through your various archives.  

Which are finite and only go back so far.

>One guy got only 2/3 of his order.  What he
>does not ever add later is that he
>got a full refund and kept both the refund and the 2/3 of the material.  One
>had a problem in 1985.  Someone felt that "Mr. Hutchins is no longer
>interested in analog synthesis."   Is there anything of substance here?  

Just out of curiosity, when WAS the last time you published something on
analog synthesis?

>Alas, it is true that I am no longer interested in doing any more work in
>analog synthesis. This remark is hopefully understood as being distinct from
>saying that I am not interested in selling you people my back materials
>and/or that anyone else can provide
>them to you, free or otherwise.   I do still very much love that circuitry.
>[Incidentally, and truthfully, I do at times get too much credit for these.
>I did a few creative things that I am somewhat proud of, but so many of the
>really good ideas came from others.  You will see this if you read the text
>material that accompanies the diagrams, as I always tried to acknowledge
>them.]  What I did was mainly refinements, testing, standardization, and

Do any of the other contributors get a share of the proceeds when you sell a
copy of the PCC?

>[And, you people really need to look at digital more.  It is SO convenient
>for experimentation.  Make one digital equivalent of a VCO for example.
>Want 5 more in parallel with slightly different parameters?  Essentially cut
>and paste an assembly language file.  Rosin smoke is pleasant, but....!]

I have nothing against digital (digital control of analog circuits is my
main interest). It's just much easier for most people to experiment with
analog.  For instance, a friend of mine wanted to build his own synth, but
barely knew the hot end of a soldering iron. I showed him how to read a
schematic, buy the parts needed and build a circuit.  I also taught him a
little about breaking down a circuit into functional modules. NO MATH
WHATSOEVER.  He went on to build a pretty big modular, and got to the point
where he could mix and match parts of circuits.  He's very keen on
experimenting, and probably more inventive than someone who knows
theoretically what they're doing.

I just can't imagine sitting down with him and a DSP evaluation board and
going "here's the code for a VCO, here's the code for a VCF - go for it!".

>OK.  So I have to get around to talking about the PCC.  I've been putting it
>off.   It is
>evident to all that there are a lot of pirated copies of the PCC out there,
>some on elaborate distribution (copy and mail on) schemes. 

What's so elaborate about making a copy and mailing to the next guy on the list?

> [I see that some
>of these have crashed.  Welcome, guys, to the wonderful world of mail order
>to unknown people!  Gosh, these things never happen to us!]

The distribution lists seem to have had a higher success rate than the list
of people mailing to Bernie Hutchins for information!

>rationalization for launching these seems to have been the idea that I was
>not (would not) provide these,

And all evidence we have so far says this is still true.  When someone
writes "I've actually received something from Bernie Hutchins" (heaven
forbid!), then our evidence will begin to tip in the other direction.

> that everyone had an inalienable right to them,

People just wanted to build their own synths to make music with, and the PCC
is a great place to start.  That's what pisses me off - this wasn't about
"Gee, let's rip off Bernie Hutchins for a few bucks" (which is what you seem
to think), it was about getting information to build synthesizers to make
music with.

> and that they were not copyrighted.  

The validity of that copyright is questionable.

>None of these three is true.  

Sounds like your batting average is worse than the Mets'.

>Requesting information (not just clicking), ordering (not just
>filling out an on-screen form), and particularly paying for them (ouch) is
>an idea some have trouble with. 

Have you ever gone into Kinko's with a stack of papers to copy?  Believe me,
you definitely pay.

>It is my intention to collect a fee for
>each of these pirated PCC's that
>I can, so some of you may be hearing from the people who sent the PCC to you
>asking you to chip in your share (three people already have contacted me and
>asked to pay).  This is the easiest way to handle this I think.

As Gene Stopp wrote:

>     Probably I should mention that my original distribution of the PCC was 
>     verbally authorized by Bernie via telephone over one year ago. Perhaps 
>     he doesn't remember, and to be honest I don't really remember the 
>     actual verbage used. I do remember mentioning an "email list" which 
>     didn't seem to have a big impression at the time. However he is 
>     perfectly proper in his requests, so let honor be our guide here. This 
>     thing may have well gotten out of control beyond his or my 
>     expectations.

Gee, thanks Bernie!

>For any of you who want to get in contact with Electronotes, the address and
>phone are the same as they have been for 20 years:
>          Electronotes
>          1 Pheasant Lane
>          Ithaca, NY  14850-6399
>          (607)-273-8030
>Please do not request information by, or to be sent by, email.  We do not
>have the information except in printed form, and anyway, Cornell of course
>does not allow commercial activities over email 

What were you saying about the Net being "free"?  If you were serious about
selling ElectroNotes, it seems that a Net account would be a justifiable

>(If anyone asks, what I'm
>doing here is defending
>my reputation!)

What reputation there is left to defend...

You know, this whole exchange just amazes me.  It seems like you've
essentially accused everyone on this maillist of stealing, spewed a lot of
venom, and made a lot of enemies in the process.  Several people here
worshipped you, one to the point of naming his modular after you.  I don't
think anyone's going to be worshipping you now.  You've burned a lot of
bridges with what is probably the best source of customers for ElectroNotes
you're going to find.  Whatever respect I may have for your electrical
engineering skills certainly doesn't extend to your social skills.

I'd like to contrast your actions with those of Barry Klein, also publisher
of a near legendary book of electronic music circuits, who got on the Net,
took the time to get to find out what the analogue heaven maillist was
about, asked if there was interest in an updated version of his book, and
then spent time revising his book and making copies available at a very
reasonable price.  He also did a great job of telling those of us who bought
the first edition what the errors were.  A tip of the hat to Barry. Bernie,
I hope you've figured out how I feel about you.

Now, can we PLEASE get back to analog circuitry?

JDM - channeling Mr.808 ...

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