| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (27)

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 1:41PM (Unverified) said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
Biggest problem for IP holders in SL at the moment are 3rd party viewers expressly designed to steal content (via menu options). Easy solution is to ban 3rd party viewers until a system for authorizing them on a per-viewer-version (Emerald, etc.) can be created. Locking out 3rd party viewers by putting proprietary encoding around the SL packets would quite doable.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 4:41AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Restricting 3rd party viewers would have little to no effect... it's possible, sure, although a lot of effort when it's possible, and easy, to insert code at a lower level. Basically, the way that graphics cards work means that they get told "create this 3d shape and apply this texture to it". In this context all you have to do is insert code betwene the viewer and the card (for instance, using GLIntercept) and it doesn't matter what viewer you use, you've got simple and easy access to grab meshes and textures.

The problem here isn't LLs technical inadequacy or willingness to impose technical limitations. It's a fundamental part of the technology to transmit certain information to you viewer (not matter who created it) and that data can always be grabbed and copied and reused. The only solutions are legal and social rather than technical.

Content creators (and I am one) really need to learn to live with the fact that certain aspects of their creations _cannot_ be protected with viewer-based or server-based technology and adapt their business models accordingly.
Reply

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 1:43PM MaggieL said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
What restrictions would you propose that actually would have *any* effect that wouldn't hurt the content market much worse than any beneficit they would deliver?

Especially since the extent of infringement isn't actually known? Since we don't know how much there is now, how would we even know it had been reduced?

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 1:46PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
How about needing to be a verified content creator to be able to upload assets and also to set objects for sale. This would make it more impractical for thieves. There could be a cost barrier to getting started with each new account they create and there would also be accountability because RL info would be linked to the account. It's unfettered anonymous accounts which is the issue since accounts were made free.

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 11:40PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Gwyneth Llewelyn discusses this problem in detail in her blog http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2009/09/25/step-up-for-content-creation-theft-awareness/

With the viewer and much of the server code going open source there is no feasible way to prevent copying, just ask the recording industry and game makers. They have been defeated every time they try copy protection. While it can take them years to build a copy protection system, it is usually defeated in days, if not hours.

Restricting the ability to transfer items seems to be the only enforceable protection that will work. ID'ing sellers and even those giving away free items is the only measure of protection that can be 100% server side enforced and extremely difficult to circumvent. Giving up the ability to transfer without ID verification is the least intrusive and most likely to work.
Reply

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 5:52PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Unless I'm mistaken we're pretty much arguing for the same thing here.

I'm proposing a content creator verification program. Given there are tons of other platforms which have paid dev programs, this isn't all that drastic. Once verified it would allow assets to be uploaded and/or ability to sell objects. Or just use the current verification system to enable that as you mentioned.
Reply

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 1:56PM Ergonomic Cat said

  • Half a heart
  • Report
I would accept nothing less than the complete and total shut down of Second Life.

Stupid mmo has cost me more money than anything else out there.

"I'm gonna go play with my dolls" has a whole new meaning when it's your wife, and the outfits she buys in the game cost real money....

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 3:26PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Greed should never ever stand over free creativity and fun. Nobody promised anybody that we could make any money whatsoever on virtual goods. Now in spite of everything, some people make money... great! fantastic!! But frankly it is absurd isn't it? I can only say: turning this playground (SL) into a corporate lawyers paradise is not my wet dream.

So I would say I wouldn't give up a thing. Nobody HAS to make money in SL and nobody HAS to buy anything as long as everybody can create for themself (and others if they wish to). So stop whining and start having fun instead, be creative, learn the tricks yourself to create unique clothes etc.

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 5:06PM Joystiq Login Bugs SUCK said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"Won't somebody please think of the Content Creators"

This call by an outraged rabble to impose DRM or other sanctions on the vast majority of people who don't steal is so reminiscent of the wowserism in society today which means a parent can no longer hug their child without being called a child molester. That is... every one is punished for the wrong doings of a few people.

The problem is not that bad that it needs a technical solution even despite it being stealing. The problem should NEVER be cause to restrict the rights of freedom of the other 99.9999% of people.

All it needs is for the Lindens to actually get up off their butts and act on people's ARs rather than filing them in the bottom draw.

This whole issue comes about because the Lindens are too lazy, or incompetent, to see that that bit of hair in the freebie box is a copy of a very well known creators hair.

Putting in proprietary packets or registering viewers or imposing watermarks will not prevent the wholesale theft of content by those who really do it any more than the DRM Apple and Microsoft use has stopped people stripping it out.

Please stop calling for measures to be put into the viewer... please start calling for the Linden's to police their world.

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 6:16PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
My personal take on digital property is that sellers should not have the right to dictate my personal use of any item I buy, including using it in different accounts and on different worlds.

I wrote "Copybot as Revolutionary" a three part rant on the topic in October of 2008.

http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2008/10/copybot-as-revolutionary-part-1-how-drm.html

http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2008/10/copybot-as-revolutionary-part-2-my.html

http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/copybot-as-revolutionary-part-3-legal.html

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 7:12PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree with the call for LL to police their world. Restrictions are going to upset more honest users than dishonest ones.

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 7:15PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
What sort of policing do you have in mind?
Reply

Posted: Nov 1st 2009 8:15PM (Unverified) said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
Speaking as both a third party viewer developer and as a content creator, I would not make any additional trade-offs to try to prevent copyright infringement in Second Life. Such trade-offs are way off balance: you have to give up a lot of freedom and useful features just to get a tiny bit of extra security.

For example, Linden Lab could try to block all third party viewers from connecting to the grid. That might stop bad viewers from connecting for a little while, maybe a week or two (if LL was really clever about it), before the baddies figured out how to fool the system to get around the block.

In exchange for that fleeting bit of protection, you would have to give up all the extra features in all the third party viewers. And not just avatar radar, rainbow beams, and jiggly boobs -- you'd lose all the third party tools that help content creators, too. You can say goodbye to free temp uploads, the asset browser, backing up your creations, and other tools that might be created in the future. Personally, as a content creator, that's not a trade-off I would make.

And even if no third party viewer could connect to the grid, that would only make infringement slightly less convenient, not stop it. Even the normal Second Life viewer downloads (caches) all the textures you see onto your computer, and they are available to anyone who knows where to look. But, in theory, Linden Lab could get rid of the texture cache to make it even less convenient to rip textures (but still not stop it entirely).

In exchange for getting rid of the cache, you would have to re-download all the textures you see in SL, every time you log in. That means content in Second Life would be a lot slower to rez, and Second Life users with bandwidth quotas (a very common situation around the world) would run up their meters a lot faster. Linden Lab would also have higher bandwidth bills, so they might increase the upload cost or other fees to make up for it.

So, nearly every action Linden Lab could take to prevent infringement would have negative consequences much greater than the protection they would offer.

But, there's a much more effective way to deal with copyright infringement, with much less severe consequences. Instead of prevention, the focus should be on detection and enforcement.

For example, Linden Lab could conceivably employ a system like TinEye ( http://www.tineye.com/faq ) to compare uploaded textures to existing assets. Of course, there's a trade-off there, too: the system would cost money for Linden Lab to set up and run. But, they could perhaps recoup their investment by charging a small per-texture fee (say, L$10-L$50) to register a texture in the system, for content creators that want to do that.

A few extra L$ to instantly find out when someone rips off your texture anywhere in the grid? Now *that's* a trade-off many content creators would be willing to make.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 12:02AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
For the terrabytes of data LL has to sort through this would be a huge undertaking. L$10 for registration won't even cover the cost of the electricity to run the needed comparison.

Plus it is easy to fool image comparators without much change. A slight rotation of the image completely defeats TinEye. To check all possible rotations adds an enormous load to the servers checking images. (Took less than 2 minutes to find this trick online). Not only do they have to check trillions of images they have to check hundreds of thousands of variations of rotation. Then scale them and shift hue... and make those checks...
Reply

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 1:56AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Nalates: I agree that it would be a monumental and expensive task to scan the entire collection of existing textures, which is why I didn't suggest that.

What I suggested, as one possible method of detection, is that new textures could be compared at the time they are uploaded to the fingerprints of all registered textures (not the entire collection of all textures). The task of comparing an individual image to a large set of image fingerprints is feasible, as the TinEye service demonstrates.

Your claims of the amount of processing that would be necessary to provide a useful service are grossly exaggerated. "Hundreds of thousands of variations of rotation" is just nonsense. Even if the system needed to be robust against rotation, such a high degree of precision would be unnecessary. TinEye is not fooled by small amounts of rotation, so at most a few hundred rotations would be needed, and more likely only a few dozen.

But speaking practically, it could catch all lazy rips (textures re-uploaded without any modification) without any variants, and many other rips with only three rotational variants (90°, 180°, and 270°). TinEye appears to be fairly robust against scaling, cropping, some perspective shift, color changes, and many types of visual filters, so it would not require checking a huge number of variations of the image, as you suggest it would.

But even though it can be fooled in some ways, it would still be a useful method of detection. And more importantly, the trade-off for it would be a measurable investment of material resources, whereas most methods of prevention would require a drastic reduction in the quality of the service and user experience, and would still be less effective at deterring or punishing infringement.
Reply

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 2:07AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I would stop using certain third party viewers that make it easy to make modifications that enable content theft. I am not referring to Jacek's.

I would also make the huge sacrifice (not to me, though) of having LL make third party viewer developers give their RL information and be on file, as well as issuing a key to each approved viewer that must be in place for the viewer to connect to the grid. Any changes, aka, recompiles, and the viewer needs a new key.

The problem with viewers such as emerald that do make it easy to tweak your way into a content theft ready viewer, as well as those that are blatantly for content theft, is getting way out of hand. If this happened where I worked, someone with lots of firing power would drag some people in a room and say "you need to lock this down. Now." Unfortunately, LL is rolling over and letting people have their way with the grid via third party viewers.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 6:34AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I'm perfectly aware the adept programmer can get to the information regardless. But the majority of those using 3rd party viewers to commit IP theft are not programmers and are not going to be able to use GLIntercept or anything else like it. If the viewer can't do it, they're out of luck. Fwiw, there is no way someone who makes skins, for example, can "adapt their business model" to people stealing the skin textures. Some theft cannot be prevented, but that's not a valid argument for not doing something that will frustrate the typical (and lazy) IP thief.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:56AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
When the content creators stop creating, what left will there be to steal?

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 9:42PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Does your question imply that you really consider that scenario?
Reply

Posted: Nov 3rd 2009 4:13PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Didn't Thomas Jefferson (or one of those old farts) say something to the effect of "If you sacrifice freedom for security, you'll have neither" ... ?

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW