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Posted: Feb 4th 2008 12:36PM (Unverified) said

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PERFECTLY Said.

And btw: I wonder how many of those content designers never ever downloaded a single MP3.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 1:22PM (Unverified) said

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I really feel for anyone who gets ripped off, in any life, and sympathize with several content creators I know personally who have been hit by texture or whole-hog content theft in recent days, but sadly, you are right. It's not a virtual problem. It's an everywhere problem.

I do hope LL will create a heavier-weight crimes task force, or a lot more will be undone by this...

FYI: Harper's Bazaar magazine in the US launched a fairly significant *ongoing* and multi-page campaign last summer to raise awareness amongst consumers of the consequences of purchasing counterfeit goods. You can learn more about it here though I should warn you that this is one of those ridiculously huge PDF files: http://www.acid.uk.com/pdf/acidnews27check.pdf

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 3:53PM (Unverified) said

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I'll admit openly that I do not play second life nor do I fully understand everything that is going on, but I've been reading a great deal about this controversy over the weekend and today. I haven't seen that many people demanding DRM, but rather, effective action from LL about thefts.

You say that it comes down to action and I agree. However, part of teh problem is that LL has been notoriously difficult to work with. Their DMCA process is needless cumbersome, many have reported that they are slow and some have said they do not respond at all. Whether they are understaffed or simply don't make it a priority, many creators are complaning that LL is not taking adequate action.

I suppose some are requesting some form of DRM, by fixing the system that was supposedly in place, but most of the outrage I've read has been at LL themselves.

That's just what I've seen.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 4:21PM (Unverified) said

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You don't want LL to come in and regulate copying in any form. This would be a HUGE mess with farther reaching consequences than you think.

First off, as far as I know it's about impossible to determine if someone has "copied" your work or simply made their own version of it unless one can see prims and/or scripts created by you in it.

Second, most of SL's content is essentially a rip off anyway. Other than sex junk the biggest sellers I have seen in SL are things like Star Wars and Naruto stuff. It's obviously not made or approved by the companies that own rights to these properties and yet it keeps on keepin on.

If LL got involved in monitoring the originality of content in SL then we would have little left to do. They've proven themselves to be heavy-handed with their decisions without fully understanding what the whole situation even is. There's also the fact that they are hard to work with or get responses from as mentioned above.

LL realizes this which is why they try to keep as uninvolved in the commercial aspect of SL as possible.

I think it should stay that way.

The risk of copying is inherent to all commerce and creativity. The best thing to do is adopt a business model that would minimize the impact of copied material getting out and/or keeping a creative edge that would make it hard for others to copy successfully.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 4:42PM (Unverified) said

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Who the f is Ziggy Quirk? Does she actually sell anything? That whole damn youtube vid is so full of s**t that I couldn't even bear watching it to the end. I make my living through SL and I don't care about people ripping me off. Usually they don't know how to sell my stuff so .. meh.
Wanna know what makes people buy your product for 400L when they can have it for 20L from someone else? Good marketing, honesty, you showing that you love your customers. Excellent support.
Just to name a few.

Jesus... Microsoft Windows only got famous because people pirated it. It's a new world - get used to it and adapt. And if you don't - please spare me all that whining.

A Content Creator in SL

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 6:05PM (Unverified) said

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Everyone knows DRM doesn't work. Tis a scientific impossibility to conceal the content you deliver from the recipient of it when you've erm delivered it and have no control over how they use it.

We know that even when it acts as a deterrent it's often more of an annoyance than a help. Im sure anyone who's had their dvd player region locked for playing legitimate dvds they bought will agree. Pirate dvds don't have that problem (nor do they imply that you're a criminal every time you play them with an unskippable anti-piracy movie.)

We all know that paranoia about copying forces limitation on our systems which reduce their utility and elegance, even when the means to copy already exist. http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-224 for instance. The argument against adding a useful function to LSL is that it will make copying easier, when in reality it is already trivial and denying a useful function reduces the options for designers to create new and more innovative scripted products. Scripts themselves are not currently copyable by the way (as they exist on the server). So reducing the useful functions available to scripters stifles innovation in one of the few areas in SL where the DRM actually still works.

The only solution to copying is for designers to be pro-active about asserting their digital rights, and to continue producing high quality products. Digital products are all development cost, no production cost. If they're priced well so you sell a million for a buck each that's a million bucks ROI (minus the cost of making the sale of course). If they're priced foolishly you won't get rid of many, and pirated copies will be more attractive to the consumer.

It takes effort to pirate products in sl, just as it takes to design them. As your day to day running costs are EXACTLY the same as that of pirates, being the primary designer presents a competitive advantage - you will always be ahead of the pirates at your game.

When it comes to high quality free items released by folk, usually
that's after they have done their run as commercial products. As a designer you have had a LOT of lead time to respond to the market before your competitors leave and free up their resources. If you have ceased to innovate and refine your product then of course free items of a similar quality will present a threat. If you're doing your job right and continuing to improve your merchandise you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

I remember one day when some folk came to me infuriated that somebody had "ripped off my design" for one of my products - a pair of steampunk glasses. At the time I made them there was nothing quite like them in SL, which is why I made them in the first place. I checked it out to see, but it turns out they had just made something better than my originals. I bought them and wear them often. My product after all hadn't been updated in months and I'd already made enough lindies from it to cover the rent and buy a bunch of random lovely stuff. They still sell.

Having said that it is a shame that we don't have better disciplinary procedures for dealing with content theft, or the sale of free items without consent of the owner. Policy is the gap here, and obviously that kind of policing can't go to the lindens alone.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but DRM it is not. Methinks has more to do with residents understanding and asserting their intellectual property rights from the outset. DRM is not enough, as the application of DRM is not a statement of rights - it's a lock. If someone breaks a lock to get into your house and steal something, breaking the lock itself is periphery to the primary crime comitted. We need to focus on the crime itself.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 6:34PM (Unverified) said

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I don't believe that "A Content Creator" is in fact A Content Creator at all. The only people who are that cavalier about permissions in my experience are (a) contractors who are paid by the hour to produce things for other people who are the ones who have to defend any copyright, and (b) scripters, because they know that their products are all purely server-side and thus immune to ripping at the moment. I have argued against many of these people in the past; they would be up in arms if their source code was publicly revealed.

Compared to other bodies that I have dealt with recently (e.g. Yahoo, who have actually given up their safe harbour provisions by non-compliance with the DMCA, though they know I haven't the money to sue them) LL are the models of probity when it comes to the DMCA.

But it isn't that which is the problem, it is in-world governance and enforcement. The demand is that LL actually take action against people seen to be redistributing content without permission, never mind the DMCA or anything else. Meaning proper hardware bans of all alts, confiscation of inworld assets (yes, problematic) and investigation beyond the minimum.

Really, DMCA compliance means nothing apart from "this company doesn't want to get sued". It does nothing to prevent or punish copyright breach. That sort of enforcement must actually be performed by the company concerned, and the question is how far LL is prepared to go, when the alternative may be losing the content creators who have made SL what it is.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 9:21PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly, yes. Well said.
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Posted: Feb 4th 2008 10:40PM (Unverified) said

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Thank you, Ordinal. That's exactly what this is all about.

What bothers me about this article and most of the comments here is the suggestion that the creators are naive whiners who dont understand how the big bad modern world works. "Suck it up, crybabies, better people than you have been dealing with this" seems to be the sentiment here.

But this isn't just about run of the mill content theft. Creators arent idiots. We all realize that our stuff will get stolen eventually and that there could be stray copies floating around anywhere. But this is not just a case of some thieves selling stolen goods in back-alleys.

Instead, what we have is a situation where the #1 classified ad is for a store that is selling stolen skins right out in the open. In case you haven't checked the classified ads recently, that's L$ 242,000 or almost US$900 per week to advertise stolen content. You tell me, "Content Creator", how are you going to outmarket THAT.

This isnt people selling out of the back of a van, and its definitely not a "purse party." Its the SL equivalent of someone robbing your house and then running a Superbowl ad to promote the sale.

The reason these thieves can operate so brazenly is because the Lindens have demonstrated again and again that they will do absolutely nothing to stop it. All of the burden is placed on the creators. Just today, LL finally banned the accounts of the thief who was at the center of this weekend's protests. But they left all of the stolen content in place where it can still be bought by anybody. Why? Because they wont delete them unless each and every OBJECT is AR'd as "Content from a banned avatar." That's how Linden Lab protects its creators.

What's most frustrating is that it might be the creators getting screwed right now, but at the end of the day, if LL continues to allow SL to turn into a hostile business environment for the independent businesspeople who fill this world with everything in it, its Second Life and Linden Lab itself that have the most to lose.

Posted: Feb 4th 2008 11:06PM (Unverified) said

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Whiners definitely isn't an appropriate description. They're people facing a genuine problem.
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Posted: Feb 5th 2008 1:46AM (Unverified) said

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"I don't believe that "A Content Creator" is in fact A Content Creator at all. The only people who are that cavalier about permissions in my experience are (a) contractors who are paid by the hour to produce things for other people who are the ones who have to defend any copyright, and (b) scripters, because they know that their products are all purely server-side and thus immune to ripping at the moment. I have argued against many of these people in the past; they would be up in arms if their source code was publicly revealed."

Who do you tink you are, you paranoid know-it-all?
My real name's Juliet Ceres, owner of Bitter Thorns - a Cyberpunk store, you can find my store at Virago, I've been writing a thesis about copyright law and I've mayored in marketing. If you ask real nicely, I'll give you my RL address and we

Sadly it's obvious that people who aren't actually part of the economy that are whining about pirating in SL here. What's even more sad is that other content creators don't really get it, to. Instead of concentrating on marketing their products and creating more they try to sue that little geek in some US-suburb that found out how to roll back a simulator to copy their items.

Sad truth: sueing minors and pirates DOESN'T WORK. They'll just make another alt and come back after 3 days. There's nothing you can do about this. EVERYTHING IN SL CAN BE COPIED (except scripts). Yes, animations, too.
So either deal with it or don't. I for one really enjoy my work in SL and I love working together with scriptors, animators, graphic designers and whoever likes to help me in creating the stuff that I really love.

Ah... I could go on for hours here but meh. You guys prolly wouldn't listen anyway.

Posted: Feb 5th 2008 5:37AM (Unverified) said

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Holy toledo! If a pirate can afford 900USD per week to advertise their secondhand skins then there must be a pretty reasonable return on development costs for them. Also though if there's the kind of margin to justify that kind of advertising expense it's a problem for the courts rather than LL. SL content pirates that can justify such large sums are operating at a professionally criminal level - let's not forget we're talking about running costs of close to 50 grand per year here when land and other expenses are factored in. They must be rolling in cash to invest that much - or stupid.

So if Mis Annykas figures are correct then legal action is the best course. Much as I hate to say it the example cited is larger than can be reasonably expected to be handled by LL's standard procedures, and would require external arbitration to establish facts and damages. It strikes me as another case where, if one derives their livelihood from SL, then unambiguous statement of IP rights from the outset is the best protection. Then if piracy becomes a problem at least the creators have a strong legal position from which to assert foul play.

Posted: Feb 5th 2008 10:48PM (Unverified) said

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I could be wrong as I'm no expert in economy, cultures etc, but I think that LL should be kept out of this (including removing the locks on copying, modding and transfering of inventory itens), and have people either resort to real life law or in world legal systems and such


ps:perhaps the mod permission could be modified to allow similar modification abilities as people have with real life products, allowing for example the rearranging of prims etc, but keeping "formulas" of stuff out of reach of people unless if by deduction and stuff like that (like how it happens with stuff like pictures, devices etc irl), but like I said in the beggining of this comment, this might not be as good of an idea as I think it is

Posted: Feb 6th 2008 1:51AM (Unverified) said

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I agree most with Pavig Lok; DRM will make more problems than it solves. It would be in LL's best interest to earnestly protect it's content creators on a case by case basis. It seems to me that failing to do that will eventually cause their in-world economy to collapse.

Also, does anyone notice that the emerging generation is beginning to look at the thief as the good guy and the content creator as the bad guy? It's pretty sad to see more and more people justifying the theft while berating the victim? The usual response, or something like it, always seems to pop up in these types of discussions:

"You've probably illegally downloaded an mp3, so that means I can steal whatever I want from you!"

Or, "Your idea for the product you created isn't completely original, so I am totally justified when I sell copies of it."

For all of the problems a content creator has to deal with, it would suck far worse to be stuck living life as someone who resents, yet has to depend on, the content creators they rob to make their own living.

Posted: Feb 7th 2008 5:25AM (Unverified) said

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It's one thing to rip a texture and then call it your own--that's simple wrong. Seems that in most cases the person doing this know exactly what they are doing.

Bigger issue is when people purchase something that is ripped-off. I am not talking about add value to a design or reworking something into a style. I mean a rip-off that is sold at a lower price than the original. In the real world this happens all the time.

In some cases the fake and the original are simillar, but in most cases the quality is not at all the same. Fake sunglasses don't have polarizing lenses or eye protection. Fake handbags fall apart. So it is really the buyers who create the market for fakes, buying stuff at unreasonably low prices and pretending to think seller is legit.

Are digital fakes the same as the originals? They cannot use the same brand--that would be copyright violation and you don't need LL to deal with that at all. Can a ripped texture on a object also grab the script? Is a fake going to get an update? Is a fake going to get customer service? Do fakes buyers get special customer offers? So fakes are not so close to originals.

However, if the marketplace is not protected and consumers do not respect the licencing terms/costs of the creators then the market will collapse. From our side we will pursue action against any content theft.

Posted: Feb 10th 2008 10:28AM (Unverified) said

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"You've probably illegally downloaded an mp3, so that means I can steal whatever I want from you!"

I never said it's ok to steal from content designers in SL.

I just wanted to make clear the entire: "He who never sinned, throw the first rock" kind of thing.

Posted: Mar 6th 2008 6:12AM (Unverified) said

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Yeah, let's bring in the lawyers ... why do you think the "trillions of dollars" have been spent? How much of that was spent on legal fees?

If you want SL to be just as litigous as RL, be SURE and get the lawyers in there with LL ...


The models are changing ... let's work on a way of making the new ones work properly.

Oh, and this was a pretty fluff piece, but then too much of what passes for "news" about SL is fluff ... which is kind of too bad.

~~ Aldo (who creates content both here and there)

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