Top Skyrim Mods Being Ripped and Sold in Second Life
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
Not all of the ripped content in Second Life comes from 3D marketplaces, game files, and victimized Second Life designers. At this point it shouldn't be surprising that some "enterprising" residents with serious ethical shortcomings are using mods made by passionate members of other gaming communities to stock their SL stores with mesh goods, much like they may use the original resources from a game. One affected member of the Skyrim community is straight up quitting the scene after a frustrating ordeal trying to get his work removed from the SL Marketplace. Here's how it went down:
At some point, DoctorPepper became aware that some of his work was apparently being sold on the SL Marketplace (alongside several other items which appear to be taken directly from Skyrim's own resources) by someone who was definitely not him. It had been retextured (terribly) but look closely and the similarities seem unmistakable. DoctorPepper put development of his mod on hiatus, filed a DMCA and even tweeted at Second Life's official Twitter account. He seemed pretty optimistic at that point, claiming that he would continue working on the mod once it was all sorted out.
DoctorPepper posted an update on Monday, and things have apparently gone south. The issue of his content allegedly being taken and resold was enough to push someone already frustrated with the often demanding nature of the modding community out altogether. It might feel a bit like an internet "flounce" (when someone storms off dramatically to make a point only to quietly return later) but he absolutely has a right to be pissed off, to feel betrayed, and even to leave.
For anyone who knows how to make a game mod, breaking one open to access its contents is essentially child's play, and the unfortunate side-effect of mesh has been that now it's easier than ever to import ready-made models with less-than-honest origins, from games and game mods alike. There are tons of stores in Second Life that make a habit out of ripping off custom content. The most popular targets are easily The Sims games, like this store which appears to be reselling content from dozens of different Sims 2 & 3 modders that can all easily be traced with a reverse image search (a technique I've mentioned previously.) Here's an example of what the reverse image search results look like for one of that store's necklaces:
Like many of their items, most of the results seem to point back to popular Sims 2 & 3 modder RoseSims2.
Designers beware: These kinds of ripped items are often sold as full-perm merchant resources, which could land you in trouble if the original creator sees your work before they see the ripper's.
Now, it should be said that modders are not always the original creators of a piece of content, and it's common to see models from one game modded into another by fans. I can't say for sure that DoctorPepper made his masks and robes himself just like I can't say for sure that RoseSims2 made that necklace herself, however it's important to remember that for every person just swapping models around between games there's someone making their own content as a hobby, essentially working for free for the love of a game and its community and delivering amazing original content to both. Stealing from creators like these just to make some pocket change in Second Life is pathetic, and it's a problem that is currently plaguing the SL Marketplace, and it makes us all look bad by association.
Remember: If something looks like it's taken from a game, or if the pictures look like something other than SL... They probably are. Don't reward that kind of deceitful bullshit, and if you can contact the original creator so they can take the appropriate legal action. You can read my tips on how to avoid stolen content here, as well as some advice on what to do when you've already bought it.
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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.