Advice And Guidance On Buying & Selling Licenses On iLoks

09-11-2013 10:58 PM

Following a question in Podcast 81 from Michael Lux asking now to get a copy of Pro Tools 11HD software, because he wanted the surround features that are now only available in Pro Tools HD. We talked about how it was possible to buy it secondhand but that the seller would need to put it on an iLok and send the buyer the iLok as Avid have now blocked transferring Pro Tools HD licenses from one iLok account to another. In the podcast we also discussed how the iLok would show up on the buyer’s iLok License Manager.
You can still buy a surplus Pro Tools HD license and this is how….

  • The seller buys an empty iLok, if it is PT11HD then it will need to be an iLok2 but earlier versions are OK on an iLok1.
  • The seller links the new iLok to their iLok account and transfers the Pro Tools HD license to the new iLok.
  • Note it is no longer possible to unlink an iLok from an account so this iLok will stay registered to the seller. The only way to remove an iLok from an account now is if it has no licenses on it which defeats the object of buying and selling a Pro Tools HD license.
  • Once the buyer has paid the agreed sum, the seller sends the iLok with the PTHD license on it to the buyer.
  • The buyer plugs it into their system and they can benefit from all the Pro Tools HD features.
  • Note that the Pro Tools 11 installer is the same for Vanilla and HD so you shouldn’t even need to re-install the software. For earlier versions of Pro Tools HD, you may need to download the appropriate installer to get all the HD features.

Following our discussion on Podcast 81, Andrew Kirk from iLok, reached out to us to explain what the situation is with the buyers iLok in this scenario. Firstly the matter of how it would appear in the iLok License Manager software…
When any user isn’t logged in, an iLok2 will show the licenses that are on it. However the iLok1 does not have this capability. The iLok1 will only show the count of licenses and not their details until you login.
When not logged in (you haven’t clicked on the Sign In button in the License Manager window) - it will not display who owns the iLok either, but it will, show the iLok’s serial number.
When a user is logged into their account….

  • An iLok will show the name given to the iLok and the licenses that are on either an iLok1 or an iLok2.
  • If you click on the Show Details button, it will show you the ownership details if the iLok is yours.
  • If you don’t own ithe iLok, it will simply indicate that the iLok belongs to “another user”. The iLok logo on the left will also be red - indicating that it is registered to another user. If you don’t own the iLok you will not be able to transfer anything on or off the iLok.

  • For privacy reasons it will not show the account name or the first/last name of the iLok owner.
  • The main difference, in this context, between an iLok1 or an iLok2 is that without logging in, you can see more information on an iLok2. This is because the chip inside the iLok2 is able to hold more information.
Returning to our Pro Tools HD sale and transfer scenario, Andrew says…
That would be an orphaned iLok. That is you cannot remove an iLok from your account unless it is blank. If you say, give your iLok2 with PTHD on it to a friend. They can use it but they will never be able to move licenses on or off it, RMA it or anything - it is essentially iLok non-grata because that user doesn’t have your account and password.
PT HD is not resell-able, period. That is the decision of the publisher - they set those rules for their products. So yes, an iLok will be usable, Pro Tools will run, but you will not be able to do anything with it. Getting an RMA on it is a no go, the transfer of the licenses or moving of them in anyway will not be possible. If (a big if, but it happens) the other user reports it stolen or lost - then it would be remotely terminated.
So Andrew Kirk’s advice is….
Don’t buy used iLoks for a number of reasons…..

  • They could be lost or stolen or RMA’d - thus unusable.
  • They could have expired demos on them.
  • They could poison your account if those iLoks have had demo software licenses before, which could mean you would not be eligible to demo that software.
  • You would not be able RMA the iLok or use it in any other way.
So yes you can buy a surplus copy of PTHD on an iLok and it will work. However if anything goes wrong with the iLok you won’t be able to send it back to iLok for repair or replacement, or do anything else with the iLok because in the eyes of Avid, and therefore iLok, the buyer does not own the license on that iLok, it still belongs to the seller and they still have control over it.
iLok implement the instructions and restrictions set by the software vendors. Some software vendors do not allow users to sell the plug-ins at all, but that is a software vendor’s decision, not iLok’s, they have to implement the vendor’s instructions. Remember the ownership of software is not simple like the ownership of hardware. With software it is normally licensed to the user, (simply put - we have permission to use it, but we don’t own it) in return for a payment, so it is debatable whether we actually ‘buy’ software, we have permission, with a whole raft of restrictions and limitations, (that thing most people don’t read when installing software), we just click ‘yes’ and use the software.
Coming back to Avid Pro Tools HD, as we have discussed before, Avid say in the User Agreement that the HD software is linked to the hardware and shouldn’t be sold separately but they also don’t give us the mechanism to sell the software with the hardware either, or more specifically to transfer the license even when we sell the software with the hardware. In the past Avid has had ways to to eble users to resell your hardware and software. They also have the ability to revoke a license and then replace it in another account - but it is up to them as to whether they want to enable such exchanges.
An alternative solution
The only other way to get Pro Tools HD software by itself would be to be an owner of Complete Production Toolkit 2 (CPTK2) and either Pro Tools 9 or Pro Tools 10 vanilla. We understand that these licenses are still transferable from one iLok account to anothervia iLok. Then once you have them, then apply to Avid to upgrade to PT11HD because Avid have provided CPTK owners the option to upgrade to Pro Tools 11HD.