[LAU] VST and legal issues

Dave Phillips dlphillips at woh.rr.com
Sun Nov 23 08:40:13 EST 2008

Grammostola Rosea wrote:
> I don't get the licence issue of VST on linux completely, help me out with this.
> - Building Ardour, Qtractor, LMMS with VST-support is illegal, right?
No. It is illegal to redistribute the Steinberg SDK (required for 
building VST plugins). Its license is incompatible with many free 
software licenses and the SDK cannot be added to typical Linux distros.

Btw, the developers of LMMS have reverse-engineered the required header 
files from the Steinberg SDK, so it may be legally feasible to use that 
code instead of the Steinberg headers. However, I think that at this 
time you can legally build Ardour (for instance) with the Steinberg 
code, but you cannot legally distribute the resulting binary.

I know, it's a f*cked-up mess, and Steinberg has shown approximately 0 
interest in helping make matters more amenable to Linux developers. Too bad.
> - And energyxt? Are they allowed to use VST technology?
> - Installing JOST and using it, is illegal right?
JOST and eXT2 use the so-called native VST technology. Some VST 
developers have released their source code (some even under the GPL), 
and a few enterprising Linux developers have ported those plugins. 
AFAICT there's nothing illegal about what they're doing.

> - And FST and vst-dssi?
FST requires the Steinberg headers, but I think the dssi bridge can use 
the LMMS code instead.

> - And wineasio?
Similar circumstances. IIRC the SDK is again not freely redistributable. 
However, it appears that some distros have taken an adventurous stance 
regarding these technologies, and you can find the wineasio software in 
some distro repos.

> - using VST plugins on Linux?
Works, but your mileage will certainly vary according to your setup and 
the particular plugins you want to use.

> - Installing Reaper on Linux?
Works fine with wineasio. I've stopped using it. Nothing against the 
software, I just got tired of explaining and defending Linux audio on 
the Reaper forums.



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