Google's just-announced Poly, a repository for 3D objects for VR and AR, looks like it has a lot of potential (and it does). But metaverse evangelist James T. Reichert, who does a lot of cross-platform VR/AR experiences such as this one and this one he did during his recent stint as Senior Creative Technologist at Microsoft, raised some serious concerns with me:
"I think it's an IP time bomb," as he puts it. "Their OBJ format is super open. I believe that a new data format is needed, one that can only be unlocked when the data is in the walled garden. Blockchain style, something like what High Fidelity is planning. As soon as data gets outside the walled garden it's up for grabs."
He even recommends that other 3D artists avoid using Poly for their bread and butter content for now: "I'd urge content creating professionals to direct their efforts toward the walled gardens of Second Life and Sansar. My biggest concern with Poly is that it doesn't really have a social substrate (upvotes, reviews) yet," he adds. "[It doesn't] have the DRM/closed pipeline like Sansar or Second Life that protects content creators' works. Until those systems are in place, it has exactly no safeguards at the moment, and no way for the community to self-police -- which is why the data needs to be scrambled when OUTSIDE the walled garden."
By the same token, he still sees a lot of potential for Poly -- and suggests it will be a boon for creativity in virtual worlds:
"I am most excited about downloading the work of 'radical sharers' via Creative Commons and using their work for commercial purposes," he says. "For example, there is absolutely NOTHING standing in the way of me transcoding these textures and .OBJs into formats that Second Life or Sansar understand. From there, I add some value (scripting, animations, etc) and charge for the value added work. Sansar, High Fidelity, and Second Life all have wonderful monetization systems that'll make me a tidy profit because the free content I get through Poly and Remix.com (the Microsoft competitor) makes my ROI incredible."
That said, without some licensing system, he's worried about importing his own content into Poly: "The data needs to be scrambed when OUTSIDE the walled garden. For example, if i were to download the data from Poly or Remix... and it is sitting on my drive. It's fricking scrambled unless I have the key to it, right? As soon as a non-owner takes a work OUT of the Metaverse (or a walled garden) it should turn to ASH."
I kinda doubt Google has the corporate culture to do something like he's suggesting (as smart as it may be), but will instead implement a system similar to Google's YouTube -- allow IP rights owners to tag and claim existing content they've already copyrighted (usually after the fact, on infringing content), but not slow down user-generated uploads in any way. After all, I'm looking at the Poly homepage now and seeing 3-4 models that are likely infringing a company's IP rights -- like this "tribute" to Stranger Things:
We're truly in the Upside Down on this question!