I have tried the Mixed In Key software previously. The core technology seems really sound, however the useability of the app left my quite unhappy. For one it doesn't support AAC (version 5 will supposedly add the missing support) and managing large libraries of files seems a bit tedious. Anyways they were nice enough to give me a refund (if they would offer a trail version this would not have been necessary of course). At any rate the reason for this post is the licensing page that governs the "Camelot System" by the Mixed In Key LLC company. The camelot system is at the core an alternative notation for key's within the circle of fifths. This alternative notation eases applying simply math and sorting algorithms compared to using classic tonal keys. However from the point of view of Mixed In Key LLC it also includes their key detection algorithms. The problem I have is that they make large unsubstantiated intellectual property claims on things that are patent and trademark pending and other things that are simply not patentable by their very broad yet vague licensing page.
A short history of how things have played out for me. I think I was reading a thread on the NI Traktor Pro forums about adding harmonic mixing support. When I remembered limited support in beatunes. A quick search brought up a blog post that seemed to indicate that supporting the camelot notation requires a license which caused me some confusion. After reading up again on the circle of fifths it became evident to me, that indeed all the camelot notation does is assign a digit plus a letter to classic tonal keys. Surely not something that would be patentable. The actual innovation was the circle of fifths that visualized the relations between the various scales. Reading the licensing page, I came to the conclusion that since Mixed In Key LLC claims patents on the entire camelot system, they are patents trolls. Turns out that they are not patent trolls, because they have not applied for a patent for the mappings as Yakov, Mixed In Key owner, assured me by email and chat. What they do have is their key detection algorithm, which is either already patented or patent pending, their license page does not clarify this point. Yakov also told me about trademarks or pending trademarks on "camelot notation" and "camelot wheel". Again their licensing page does not clarify this point. Of course they have an automatic copyright on the exact reproduction of their camelot wheel. Of course anyone could draw their own circle of fifths and label it using the camelot notation. If of course they do have a trademark on camelot notation, you would not be allowed to call it that.
So the issue I have is that with the page like it is right now, making elaborate broad claims without any clarification of the scope of their intellectual property rights. This obviously scares of developers that do not want to get dragged into court lawsuits, which I find unacceptable. Especially if you consider this is all based on a much greater invention that is available for free for everyone! Yakov assured me he would talk to his legal counsel on the matter when we chatted back in August. I send him an email today and he said its taking time. Obviously its a question of priorities and to me its a high priority while for Yakov getting the next version out is probably of higher priority. Of course I can also see that he is not one of the biggest customers at his legal counsel, so things can easily take a few months instead of weeks. However as you can see my patience has ended.
During my discussions with Yakov I did get the sense that he is a good guy. That he has put in considerable time and money into promoting the camelot notation to expand the ease of use around the circle of fifths and the concept of harmonic mixing. However I think he is wrong in this case and I think he is harming the global community with this licensing page. So we disagree and with this blog post I hope to reach a broader audience so that the pressure on Mixed In Key LLC can be increased further. At this point I would ask everyone to not buy any products by Mixed In Key LLC, this of course also includes Platinum Notes until the licensing page is corrected to make it clear what intellectual property rights they actually claim to have.