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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


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Actually the discussion's been a bit longer, it started in October or so (see the posts and links in them here) http://yolto.com/FeedTopic.aspx?Id=220

Princess Ivory

"Barring official notices posted in the Linden viewer, can a media campaign really become widespread across Second Life enough to have an impact?"

I think so, if enough people start displaying those posters in their shops and even on the land of their homes. If you don't want to post the nude ones, there is a more generic IP theft one (I think it's green). Everytime I walk into a shop and see one, or in it's front window, it serves as a reminder.

But really, we need Linden to step in here and close whatever hole it is that is allowing this exploit, before we lose all of our top designers, because they've been driven out of business.

And we need to reach the n00bs. They are the ones most likely to be taken in by the content thieves. What about putting some of those posters (again, they can stick with the non-nude version) at Welcome Centers, NCI, ASL, etc.?

Princess Ivory


What good would these posters do even if every new resident were "handed" one at Orientation Island? "Content theft is bad. Don't buy stolen content." If I were a newbie (and even as a seven-month resident), my follow-up question would be, "How do I recognize stolen content? What clues should I look for?" The poster doesn't say - because there's no easy answer.

And that's my problem with this campaign. It seems to implicitly assume that the people who buy stolen content do so knowingly, and merely need to be convinced to stop doing so. This isn't like downloading music on Bit Torrent, where people are generally well aware that they're obtaining files illegally but simply don't care. This isn't like buying a "genuine" Gucci bag from a table in Times Square. Quite the contrary. Two recent highly-publicized theft incidents involved stolen products displayed in apparently legitimate shops.

There are many, many designers in SL - far too many for most of us to be able to recognize their stuff even if we should happen to focus our camera on it amidst a sea of blurry display boards. Even for items I own, I may not recall where I bought them, so if I saw one in a store I might just assume I bought it there.

I sympathize with the designers and I admire the creativity of the campaign as well as the "let's work together" tone. The music and movie industries could learn a lot from these folks. But a lesson in ethics and self-interest isn't sufficient in this case.

Kit Meredith

Hamlet, once again, a great post. Thanks for calling attention to this important issue. I do think your commentary slightly misses the mark in two respects.

First, as Princess Ivory just pointed out, I think you're narrowing your vision of the campaign by limiting it to mass media. I will agree that there is no one source of info that reaches all (or even a majority) of Residents. On the other hand, the campaign images are being distributed in other ways. As Princess notes, designers are posting them in their shops, and Chez Nabob has made the pack of posters available for free on OnRez for anyone else who wants to put them up on their land.

I've also seen the textures being distributed in-world packaged with items purchased from shops, and even as part of freebies distributed through groups such as FashCon. Since SL opens the textures by default when you unpack the box containing it, that's a great way to issue a reminder to people upon purchase.

Second, and although I'm not involved in the campaign and don't want to speak for Chez and the others, but I don't think the point of the campaign is to reach every single Resident and convince them not to steal IP. That's unrealistic, as I said in the follow-on post to the one you linked to. Hopefully the campaign will educate some people and make them aware of the consequences of their actions. But the broader point appears to be trying to mobilize a critical mass within the community that can then lobby the Lindens for action, more attentive enforcement of the DMCA, and potentially new technological tools. You don't have to convince every last Resident to go straight before that happens.

Ann Otoole

LL would have to close source the client, never open source the server, and encrypt the data stream as do other VW "games".

Not gonna happen. LL is committed to commiting business suicide via open source.

there is no way to stop what is happening. LL does not take a hard line stand against theft. this position is taken as support for theft by those who steal. to them this is just a game and people take it too seriously.

and the more you rally against theft the faster they come and rip your stuff in an attempt to burn your business down.

and LL stands by doing exactly nothing.

LL could delete stolen content from the asset system but they don't. therefore the rippers who have things taken down due to DMCA just set it back out. Seems to me LL may be not be properly enforcing the DMCA provisions here.

if LL deleted the ripped skins and associated textures from the asset server then those people that spent money on them would certainly begin to learn not to buy stolen stuff.

The problem of theft in SL begins with and ends with Linden Labs. everyone else is just a middle man in the theft game.

LL will do nothing till served a court order. not gonna happen. good luck with it.

Only a sufficient sized mob with torches and pitchforks at LL's door gets any attention. maybe a total boycott of SL by people paying a lot of money to LL is called for. Loss of big dollar customers usually grabs some attention.

Nexeus Fatale

This campaign doesn't work unless it embraces all of the social media (which Second Life is a part of). It does need it's own website, it needs some sort of vendor, or banner system, a flickr, is needs to push into some of the advertisement portals in Second Life. While I applaud the effort, as it stands right now, I don't see it gaining a lot of more momentum.

I'm also afraid that it will cause a rash of reporting for legitimate content. The campaign does talk about content thievery, but as we've all seen in Second Life some people equate content knock-offs (similar but not the same idea) as the same.

Chez Nabob

Wow, great points being raised here in the blog post and in the comments section.

Clearly there are definite limitations in terms of distribution channels in SL that do make it difficult for such a campaign to be successful. As has been pointed out there is no single medium that would allow a majority of residents to receive this message, and that is a hurdle we have to clear. I think over time we can do that.

This is an issue that isn't going away any time soon, and it is not my intention that this campaign will be a flash in the pan. We want to continue launching new rounds of the campaign featuring new content creators over time, and hopefully build on our methods of distribution as we do so.

There are some great ideas posted here for ways we can get the message out to newer residents, and no I don't think we can expect them to recognize what is stolen and what isn't right off the bat. However, over time I honestly believe that residents do come to recognize the work of their favorite creators (in fact the vast majority of reports coming into creators regarding stolen content come from regular customers). The point is to simply make people aware that this is happening, and to try as best they can to be vigilant.

Will this take patience and discernment from all parties involved? Of course. Witch hunts and false accusations over what content is "stolen" and what isn't are clearly damaging to the cause, not to mention damaging to the person falsely accused. Content creators need to be reasonable and responsible when they receive information about possible ip rights violations. I think the vast majority know this, though there are isolated incidents that have unfortunately occurred in which that has not been the case.

I do not assume residents of SL set out to buy stolen content. In fact, my belief is quite the opposite, as I have said many times in interviews and blog comments over the past week and a half.

Unlike music piracy where someone crawls over a peer-to-peer site looking for music they know isn't theirs and download anyway, I believe the vast majority of SL's residents buy stolen content because of a lack of awareness that content theft is occurring.

I WISH there was an easy way to be able to tell residents how to spot stolen merchandise, but, as stated above, it's just not that simple.

Are there problems and issues we need to overcome? Without question. The point is, though, that we need to start somewhere, and I felt the idea behind this effort just might be the simplest way to begin to organize SL's content creators to join a collective effort and educate as many of SL's residents as we can along the way.

As I told someone yesterday, SL's residents are the content creators' biggest asset. They are our customers, and they allow us to do what we do. If we can make them aware of the issues, and get them to understand the ramifications, perhaps with their help we can lobby LL to give content creators better tools to defend their intellectual property.

This campaign is a grassroots effort, and so while there are still many challenges ahead and many questions we need to answer down the road, I'm glad we've finally taken the first step down that road.

Thank you again for your constructive critiques of where we stand with this idea. Many of the things suggested here are being considered already, and some are flat out fantastic ideas I wish I could say we thought of already. But we'll definitely try to take as much of these suggestions to heart as we can as we move forward.

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