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Friday, January 18, 2008


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Cyn Vandeverre

Much of it is opinion, which is ok, of course. However, the "land barons" while some are doing good business, they aren't, I think, raking in the dough at exorbitant per-hour rates. Desmond Shang, for example, has posted his costs and profits recently in the LL forums, and anyone who likes can go do the math.

Porsupah Ree

It's possible folks running many dozens of sims are actually managing to make a living, but much below that level? With sim rental at $300/mo, there's no easy fortune to be made in being a landlord, any more than in being a skin, clothing, avatar, or jewelry designer.

But even where items are given away, that's far from any path to rendering profitable works unfeasible. Many may be quite content with the freebies, but some, sooner or later, will want something that more directly appeals to themselves, just as the glorious wealth of artwork on sites like DeviantArt doesn't diminish the call for commissions. (Not, of course, that it's remotely easy for even very good artists to make a living through their talents either, one should note)

Harle Armistice

I've always felt that quality will trump quantity in the long run. Many content creators are artists with jobs as artists who simply create things in SL for the fun of it, and are not on some mission to create a living from it. Thus they happily give away their content; after all, it's just a skin, and it's not like they have a limited quantity of copies they can make.

This argument has some interesting parallels to the arguments that music publishers make when musicians release free music. In fact, if memory serves correctly, most contracts prohibit artists from giving away their music for free on the internet.

From my perspective, this whole dilemma arises because of the infinite availability of certain kinds of media; music can be recorded and then freely given away to everyone who wants it, along with any kind of content in SL. And for a lot of people, an instinctive desire to share what they have with their community, when it is particularly abundant(in this case infinite), kicks in.

People like to share, it sets off the same pleasure centers in the brain that giving to charity does. It's an instinctive desire that has evolved as a way for individuals who find great success(say, on a hunt) to support their community by sharing when they have more than they themselves need.

Now suddenly we're in this virtual environment where everything is infinitely copyable, and we're seeing the effects that this environment is having on our traditional notions of economy. More of what people want is freely available, infinitely available, and that means that people aren't strong-armed into a position where they absolutely must pay other people to enjoy Second Life, if they don't want to.

I sometimes feel that those who come to Second Life with an intent to profit are seeing a different world from those of us who are here to socialize and consume what content is available. I am a content creator, though a very casual one, and I have a shop that I basically use to pay for other people's things that I couldn't make myself. So I'm not completely in one group or the other.

I feel for the businesses who are losing money in this exchange of freedom of content versus economy. It sucks to not feel that you are adequately rewarded for your efforts.

But it's worth noting that SL was a perfectly healthy place long ago, back before the idea of profitable businesses ever sunk into our collective minds, and the only content available came from artists who simply wanted to enrich Second Life with their work. Not to turn a dollar.

Iris Ophelia

An interesting dimension to this debate? eloh Eliot's skins from Another shop are being given away with full permission, on top of that the source .pdfs are available for download from her website. A group has taken this and started "Another Fundraiser" which will take modified versions of eloh's skins and resell them (at 50L$ apiece) for charity-- UNICEF, to be specific. ^^

Luce Imaginary

This is foolishness. If I don't want to put a price on something I've made, I don't owe it to you to do so.

I made it. I can give it away. Deal.

Peter Dunkley

There are some excellent points raised here, but I see a distinction between an individual creating something and giving it away for free and businesses entering Second Life and giving stuff away that might cut the legs out from under residents that are making a living in here.

It has to be said that the clothing and skin that I've paid for in SL has been far better than any of the free stuff I've picked up on my travels – but the free stuff is definitely delivering a great benefit to those residents that choose not to engage with the SL economy – or just don’t have the cash. There is a danger, however, where real life companies come in and see free clothing or skins as a marketing tool for their real life products. This can be, in my opinion, a bad thing.

I actually don’t know of any instances where real-life businesses are producing virtual products that are as good as those of the established SL businesses - I remember the heated debate over the Herman Miller furniture but I’ve not actually seen any of their stuff to compare it to Max’s. This doesn’t excuse IP infringement, of course

I do think that a real life business entering any new ‘territory’ has to be sensitive to the environment they are engaging with before planting their size-nine boots onto a seed-bed of small businesses. If they want skins, clothing, etc. it’d perhaps be better if they engaged with the top SL designers rather than creating unfair competition into a nascent market.

John Branch

This debate seems to me part of a much bigger set of questions and issues: free music on MP3 blogs; online versions, which are free, of print publications which cost money; all of the freeware and shareware and free-trial-use software. It goes all the way up to government-subsidized businesses (e.g., Airbus) competing with others that aren't (Boeing), and entire government-subsidized economic sectors (e.g., farming in the EU), and tariff-protected agricultural products (e.g., American-made cheese). It's all pretty complicated, and most of it is evolving as people watch what works, what generates too much backlash, etc.

Some of the declarations made above seem a little too narrow to be useful (e.g., the suggestion that it's unfair for a business to give away products in order to break into a market)--unless we want SL to be reconfigured as a controlled economy. Others sound like they spring in part from resentment or envy (e.g., the notion that land barons are raking in bucks).

Cyde Weys

I don't really understand the argument that people shouldn't give away free skins. Why? They have every right to give it away for free if they wish. They enjoy the act of making their creations and they want it to benefit as many people as possible. Just because other people are trying to make this stuff for money doesn't mean that everyone should be forced to.

This is actually a really good analogy for the free software movement. Look at GNU/Linux; it's a fully featured operating system that is released absolutely free of charge (compared to the several hundred dollars it costs to buy Microsoft Windows Vista). I'm sure Microsoft (our for-profit skin creators in the analogy) would love to force GNU/Linux to be sold at a roughly comparable price to Windows, but they cannot. And the end result - a vibrant ecosystem of operating systems with many alternatives - is good for everyone but Microsoft.

I say, good job, free skin creators.

dandellion Kimban

I have some clarifications to make here:

I am not a skin creator.

I do share all the full permission freebies I get, though. That includes skins from Another Shop.

I don't think anybody can tell the creator what prices s/he should charge. Nor to (or not to) give them for free.

In the post linked here I questioned what happens if some types of products are on market (and some of those even free) while other (like land) is with fixed prices.

Cyn Vandeverre

"In the post linked here I questioned what happens if some types of products are on market (and some of those even free) while other (like land) is with fixed prices."

And it's a good question.

I expect what will happen, if it becomes pervasive, is various sorts of inequality, such as we see in the real world. For example, a stay at home parent essentially working for nothing, while land prices are fixed or rising.

Joe Blow

I don't think it's anybody's damn business if I want to give stuff away in SL, if you are trying to make a career out of SL you need your damn head examined, or you need to be REALLY good at what you do. If somebody else giving something away for free pisses you off, then you obviously have issues that scream you have a self-confidence problem and you are doubting your own ability to sell your crafts. Get over it.

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