So You've Bought Stolen Virtual Content in Second Life: Here's What You Should Do Next
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
In a perfect world, everyone who wanted to avoid buying stolen (or dubiously derivative) content could do so easily, but the reality is that most of the time we just don't know. Even with the help of the tips I posted yesterday, there's always something out there that can slip through the cracks. Maybe the stolen part isn't obvious, maybe we just wouldn't recognize it even if it was; no one has both the encyclopedic knowledge and psychic abilities that it would take to avoid every single case of content theft in their path.
So when youknow you've been duped, here's what you need to do:
Make sure the creator is aware
In most cases it'll feel like you're the last person to know, but the community has become increasingly active at seeking out and exposing content theft in all forms. Usually the designer will already know, but it couldn't hurt to double check. Give them specific information about what product it is, who made it, where you bought it, and what specifically was stolen from them (be it a bow texture or an entire outfit).They're the ones who need to file that DMCA, so the more info they have the better (especially if they're banned from the thief's store.) It feels really shitty to have your IP stolen as well, so knowing that they have a community supporting them can really help a designer on an emotional level.
Ask for a refund
I can hear many of you rolling your eyes. "Why the hell would a scammer give refunds?" Well, the majority won't. The most malicious copybotters will laugh and call you and idiot and act the way you'd expect them to (and obviously you should mute and AR them if/when they do and leave it there), but there are others who will act much differently. The people who though they could steal a ruffle texture and no one would notice, for example, are sometimes so cowed by the experience of being caught that they will refund customers who ask. It's cold comfort to some, but it's worth trying. However...
Don't be an asshole
Remember that a lot of designers make use of the same free resources which can and have caused many false accusations in the past, so keep things civil. You will never know the full story, you will never know how Bellybutton A got into Skin B. Even beyond the thief themselves, it is not your job to badger other people you see wearing the stolen item either in world or on blogs. You should absolutely let them know what you know politely, but assume that they're as much of a victim as you are. Most educated SL consumers would be horrified to think they'd supported content theft, so make sure they're aware and informed and let them decide what to do with that information.
Sometimes it's entirely fair to assume the worst, but you absolutely should not ever harass anyone or do anything that could jeopardize you or your account if they decide to submit an abuse report about you (or ban you from any sims they have access to.) Keep your nose clean.
Bloggers: Edit your posts
If you're a blogger, it should go without saying that you need to change any content on your blog that is advertising items or brands containing stolen content. What you do it your call. Some bloggers will choose to delete the post outright, others will redact store credits, others will add a note or a link explaining the situation. For most bloggers, essentially every post we make is an advertisement: We are directly telling our readers "Go here and buy this!" and if we don't want someone to buy something then it has no business on our blogs.
Delete the item... Or don't
Here's the part no one likes talking about: When everything is said and done, what do you do with the item? The most outspoken and active consumers will unflinchingly tell you to delete it immediately, empty your trash, set it on fire, spread the ashes and salt the earth. That's very easy for us to say, because we have dozens (or even hundreds) of skins and shoes and so on, and if we feel bad about deleting one item there's no reason not to immediately shop for a replacement. Every item is replaceable.
That's not how it is for a large number of SLers though. There are plenty of people who will be in Second Life for years, buying one skin, one or two hairstyles, one or two dresses, and so on. They opt not to invest as deeply as heavy consumers do, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's your choice to spend what you want. Here's the thing that heavy consumers need to remember though: when you're in that position deleting one item could be equal to deleting a tenth of your inventory. You paid good money for that item, you own it, you didn't do anything wrong, so why should you be punished?
Well, you shouldn't be. You should be able to keep that item if you really want to, and wear it. It's yours... But it will always be tainted. Some people might ask you where it's from and you'll have to explain or worse, some people might know where it's from and call you out on it. If you're comfortable with it then don't feel obligated to delete it, but do look for the nearest opportunity to replace it with something without quite so much baggage attached.
Please share this post with people you like:Tweet
Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.