According to CNN, virtual Playboy Bunnies are leaving their island paradise to track down unauthorized Playboy products being sold in Second Life. This is not a sentence I ever imagined writing, but it happens to be the case, with voluptuous managers Kimberly Laughton and Kattatonic Yates showing up in full regalia at sites advertising knock-off Playboy items, and scrupulously taking notes.
Contrary to the CNN report, Playboy Island manager MSGiro Grosso tells me, it's not a "crack-down"-- at least not yet.
"I asked the managers to find out who was doing knock offs," he tells me. "I just wanted to know how widespread it was." In real life, Grosso is Marc Girolimetti of Green Grotto Studios, the metaverse development company that's running Playboy's official presence in Second Life. Concerns over content theft have wracked SL's grassroots content creators for months, but this may be the first instance of a real world company actively joining their cause.
I ask Grosso how widespread the Playboy knock-offs are.
"It's enough to justify me asking who is doing it," he says.
For the moment, he adds, "I just want to know, and will decide what to do when I see the list."
Grosso's even offered a few partnership deals with knock-off creators. "In some cases," he said, "we have already said, 'We love what you designed. Are you up for a rev share for using the brand?'
"Some are up for it because we will help promote them," he says. "Some are not so cooperative." In those cases, they've occasionally turned to the vendor's landlord. "Some have signed lease agreements with landlords that say 'no copyright infringement'," Grosso explains, "and when you alert the landlords they shut the store down."
Those are two options that don't require invoking the DMCA, or other outside forces. "The harder ones may be dealt with through Linden. I'm still deciding."
For now, the investigation continues, led by leggy babe avatars in rabbit ears who are themselves so integral to the Playboy brand. Perhaps other real world companies in Second Life will take a cue from the Bunnies, sending out their own virtual emissaries. Supermodel avatars patrolling Second Life fashion emporiums in search of L'Oreal rip-offs, for instance, or Mario and Luigi flying off Nintendo Island, looking for violators to hop on.