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Friday, March 21, 2008


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Ann Otoole

rippers feed off the ignorant. people will still buy from them.

the correct action is a DMCA with possible rl legal action to follow.

the entire purpose of a ripper account is quick gain and vanish. they are throw away accounts. the rippers know they will be found out. the object is to get what they can on one account before moving to the next of possibly hundreds of accounts.

perhaps peer pressure could be a positive thing if a resident buys from a ripper and then later finds out they could have had it cheaper from the true creator. then they go ballistic on the ripper. but we can't endorse TOS/CS violations can we?

i still hold the opinion that LL should be more proactive about it when the evidence is overwhelming. and the rl information on the criminals be published for all to see. nothing like your identity showing up as a crook when that potential employer is googling you.

Annyka Bekkers

Personally, I never quote understood this strategy. I've seen a lot of designers make their products free upon finding them stolen. To me, that makes no sense. Its bad enough your product was stolen, but that still doesn't destroy your ability to sell it. Making it free is just forfeiting any additional sales you might make. Its like punishing yourself for being stolen from, or stopping someone from stealing apples from your apple tree by chopping down the tree.

Ran Garrigus

So long as rippers can turn even a few L's profit, it doesn't matter what creators do with their content that has been stolen. The most I could see happening is that maybe rippers will move on to ripping the more expensive stuff on the theory that few creators are going to give away dozens or even hundreds of hours of their own work (as with skins) in response to theft.

In this particular case, if the ripper notices a significant decline in their sales, they could always just one up her by reducing their price below hers, or just put it out for free to attract people to their location.

SL is large enough that people who buy from a ripper are largely going to be unaware that the content they're selling is stolen, and that they can then check the original creator to discover that they've undercut the ripper.

The DMCA ought to be effective. LL is just not handling it as they ought to handle it.

Jaymin Carthage

Well, iTunes makes a living about making it really easy to buy, for nominal amounts, things that, with a little effort, one could get for free. This looks a little like it is evolving towards that model.
In the computer world in general, software has become terribly easy to steal. So the focus on "where you make your money" has shifted from goods to services. The games that are making the most money are the ones that have on-line services you need to subscribe to. Commercial software is less about the price point but more about the cost of ongoing technical support.
For the subject under discussion, I wonder who will be the first Second Life merchant not to sell fashion goods, but to sell a subscription to their store such that each week/month they receive new items...

Laetizia Coronet

If I start again with my shop, all my stuff will be branded - something curiously absent in the SL fashion world. My stuff will carry a (modest) logo.
It would be good to have an in-world trademark registry.


"If established content creators quickly and ostentatiously undercut every suspected infringer, wouldn't that eventually destroy the incentive to even try? "

Yes. Except this is very similar to what we have in the real world as well, with "bottom-feeding" strategies.

Example: I once designed some products which were then sold to a variety of retailers. Our costs didn't change among their limited variations, so retail prices didn't vary substantially among them. That is, until one large retailer decided to use the product as a loss-leader; they dropped their retail price well below their cost. We, of course, still made money; more in fact, because this tactic drove volume (for a while). Now because their strategy depended on recouping their losses on other associated high-margin products, on the whole they still profited. The other retailers, however, had no quick strategy with which to respond, and with no recourse thus found themselves competing in a no-win situation. And they did what anyone would expect: they stopped selling the product.

A year goes by and there is only one retailer still ordering our product. All other retailers had decided to stop carrying our products and, in fact, exited the broader category of products, thus forcing other manufacturers to stop production on product lines (i.e. related products). Because of this new relationship, the lone retailer forced us to lower our selling price... while they raised their retail price. So we were losing our profit margin. Only we had not yet recovered the investment costs for manufacturing the product.

Then the final blow was struck: the retailer decided to no longer even sell the product. In fact, like the other retailers, they exited the category entirely since profits weren't sufficient to meet shareholder demands. As a result, you couldn't even buy the *kind* of product at retail; it wasn't being sold anymore.

Of course, without a way to move product, my company stopped making this product as well. Because we'd not had sustained profitability to cover the initial investment, the product was a loss for the company.


This is what can happen following a bottom-feeding strategy: everyone, including the creator, loses the incentive to make product.

So long as the originator's investment in the creation of the product is greater than the investment made by someone stealing the product and reselling it, as a whole we lose.


Couldn't have been timed more appropriately: Bruce Sterling makes comments ( Link to his blog entry ) which now echo mine (well-documented on my own blog) and appear to be in opposition to Cory Doctorow.


You know, if we're all "pirates," every one of us, everywhere, what are we gonna call ourselves? You're supposed to have somebody to predate upon in order to be a "pirate," and if they're all dead, what are we supposed to do?

Maybe we can call ourselves "scavengers," since, if there's no commercial motive to produce new content, we'll be spending most of our time running search engines over the decaying installed base.

cincia singh

Don't get me wrong, theft is wrong and I applaud anyone who can come up with a way to stop it. I also think the designers have a valid grievance as long as their designs don't come from the pages of RL fashion magazines (that's theft too).

That said, theft of designs (RL or SL) is always driven by two factors; 1) the high cost of the original item compared to the low income of purchasers, and 2) the easy money to be made by the thief satisfying the desires of the less well-off purchaser with illegal copies.

Again, theft is wrong. But rising prices coupled with a population that can't afford the asking price insures it will continue, both in RL and SL.

Laetizia Coronet

the high cost of the original item

Let me be blunt. That's bullshit. So you think a good skin for say, 1500 L$ is high cost? 1500 L$ is less than 4 euros.
Most in-world prices do already not reflect the amount of work going into an article. If you want to drop prices, prepare to find only crappy, hastily made, ill-fitting garbage to hit the shops.

Hamlet Au

That's a good point, which makes me wonder how much camping chairs are contributing to the appeal of knock offs. As Laetizia says, high quality skins are really not that much in terms of real dollars. But if you're a noob making just L$100 an hour or whatever sitting, that's gonna seem like a lot of money.

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