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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


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Arcadia Codesmith

From the SLUniverse thread -- "Firstly I should point out published Incident Reports are only those AR's which have been resolved and where a warning or suspension has been made."

I'm not certain, but I would think most complaints about content theft would be referred to the DMCA process, with no immediate action taken by the rep, and therefore would not register on this particular metric.

But I could be wrong, as a handful of incidents did register for one reason or another.

Adric Antfarm

Hamlet handed the bat by batboy Daniel.

He swings.


It's out of the park!!

Please Please. You do not need a chicken to make you life complete people. PLEASE. There is no such thing a rare digital object. If you can make one - YOU CAN MAKE 1000000. If you do buy, make it my pretend one.


Nyoko Salome

;0 well with all due respect to the numbers (and what published feeds they rely on), -i've- filed at least 17 times.

in fact, i've got 17 people in my 'open case' folder, and 17 persons in my 'on parole' folder. ;0 and a few of which have each been filed multiple times individually.

:\ i would not trust that published feed as the end-all indicator of the number of claims the lab has handled; it obviously does not account for all of them.

Doreen Garrigus

I wonder if those are the only filings that can be completed. As you have said before, Hamlet, the honest-to-goodness copiers tend to evaporate at the first sign of trouble. Then there is the endless back-and-forth between designers and the other designers who are "inspired" by them, like this incident reported on Shopping Cart Disco.

I'm not sure how LL is supposed to react to designers filing complaints against people who make things that *sort of look like* their designs. In the real world, making and selling an outfit that *sort of looks like* someone else's design is legal.

A popular fashion magazine runs a feature in which they highlight a designer look worn by some celebrity and then detail how to get the same basic look for a much, much smaller cash outlay. And that's exactly what you are seeing here, so much of the time: not copies designed to confuse buyers about the authenticity of the product but interpretations, designed to provide buyers with less expensive but similar looks.

The point is that ideas and themes cannot be copyrighted. A jacket with a spiky lapel, unless it is an exact reproduction of your jacket with a spiky lapel, is not a copyright violation.

Now Stroker Serpentine's trademark infringement is a whole other thing, and scripters might be able to patent their works. But most of what we are talking about here is complaints filed by designers of clothing and skins. And most of it is completely unactionable.

Ann Otoole

The more interesting line on that report is the one about gambling.

But nice try at attempting to minimize the problem Hamlet. Cryolife detections are on the increase and that is just the one of many of those viewers that can be detected. (Sort of says something about the operator to use a theft viewer that can be detected doesn't it?)

If you want to see what is going on then ask everyone in SL using the detectors to send you all the names being detected. Doesn't have anything to do with Linden lab. The Second Life TOS that does not make connecting to the SL grid with theft clients unauthorized should explain why. the vast majority of the content theft is for personal use and you will never see a DMCA filed on it.

We are on our own in the public grid. Any corporation considering this "platform" should keep that in mind. I'm sure izod would not mind a million pirated copies of izod polo shirts with the little gator getting spread around.

As for universities? Why should they care? They are exempt from copyright law.

Toxic Menges

Ann's cryolife detector is a great tool, but increasingly, I am seeing people who are undoubtedly using "that" viewer to hide their client version. This typically shows itself by coming up with a "?" in the radar on Emerald (unless they have decided to clone a different viewer).

I stood next to a friend's store last night changing the texture on a statue to stop someone from copying it, this person had hair on that they had created themselves the previous day - was named "hair - Liz" in their own language. In the end they either managed to copy the statue while I was changing the texture on it every time they changed it back (it's like two clicks to copy a linkset), and they went, or I stopped them and they gave up.

My friend AR'ed, but what will be done? We have no proof apart from the hair and what they were doing.

Until recently there was nothing on the AR form that could be used to report content theft.

This leads me to this question about these abuse report stats:

-Do these count ALL AR's submitted? or merely the ones acted upon.

Ann is right .. I believe the vast majority of theft is personal use - you cannot file a DMCA for that.

So what happens when you know something is being copied, or you are 99.9% certain? You have no proof. There is nothing physical to be seen, unless you manage to find it inworld after the event - and that's not really likely is it?

There's no safeguard, no comeback, and soon no point in making content.

I'm glad I create nothing in this world - I am a proud consumer in SL, but I wonder how long I will be able to find anything worth buying.

I think it was Cory that wrote the seminal piece on virtual world economies - I don't think he envisaged the economy dying by the inaction of it's creators?

Saffia Widdershins

I would back up Arcadia's point here: most cases of theft are filled under DMCA and not AR and so wouldn't appear on the blotter at all.

The fact that some actually do appear might be encouraging to content creators who've been the victim of theft - it suggests another avenue they could explore.

@Doreen: Of course there are some cases of content creators claiming to have been copied from by another content creator who has made something similar. Often these are cases that receive a lot of blog coverage. But most content creators will be able to tell you about examples of outright theft of their goods; the case affecting Rebel Hope, RH Engel and Susan Ramos was just the most egregious to come to life recently (and if you missed the details of that - you can catch up on Angie Mornington's special Fabulous Fashion: http://archive.treet.tv/node/3454 )

@Ann - I don't know about US universities, but here in the UK, we are bound by copyright law. And that does worry people in SL and on Open Sims.

Arcadia Codesmith

There are limited "fair use" exemptions in American copyright for academic purposes, but these are not nearly as broad as some people in academia think they are.

Copying for personal use is most definitely a violation of copyright. I would expect anybody caught doing it to be banned.

Ari Blackthorne


Just... wow.

First, there is no "unauthorized" viewer. Yes, even "cryolife" is "authorized" on the grid. Is that good or bad? You decide. As you think on it, think about the freedom of speech argument (those of you in the U.S. anyway).

As for copyright violation: personal theft is not a copyright violation. The simple transfer of a product from one person to another does not violate copyright (regardless if it is paid for or not, authorized or not) - else we all are in violation based on everything we own in Second or First Life.

I agree most "ripping" of content is likely personal use. Most people are basically honest (I know it's not a black and white issue - so I mean to say they lean heavily toward honesty and more away from dishonesty) and wouldn't try to resell these things they've "shop-lifted".

Then there are the idiots who do 'rip' content and turn around and resell it.

Either way, I genuinely believe the "problem" of ripping is a minuscule amount as compared to the grid "population" as a whole with regard to the ratio of 'honest' people versus 'dishonest' people (shop-lifters) and only a tiny fraction of those 'shop-lifters' are actually crude enough to try to resell the content. Litterally an eyedropper drop of water into a lake. It is the most vocal who are violated that make the 'news'.

This doesn't mean it's nothing to be concerned with. I just believe there is too much hype and hysteria going on.

As for the comment above about how a viewer shows-up as a ? in the radar of Emerald: this does not mean it is a 'naughty' viewer. I use Emerald myself - however I have particular features turned off and I am often asked why my viewer shows as a ?. So does Meerkat and I believe the Imprudence and so on. A viewer that does not report what it is does not a "ripping" viewer make.

The problem here is that there are too many loose assumptions being thrown about. Guilty until proven innocent? That seems to be the case here.

As for creators who decide to stop creating because of the very existence of these things: that's your choice. Then they 'win'. Perhaps you should focus on actually trying to enjoy SL. Build for yourself - for fun, rather than trying to take it all so seriously as though it were a life or death struggle.

Some of you might blow a gasket if you aren't careful with all this paranoia. Second Life is an entertainment MMO and platform. I remember back in 2006 the shrill shouts to Linden Lab demanding a means to "back-up" prim creations because of the ridiculous instability of the grid at the time.

So now that capability is here, but because (like Video Tape) it can be *misused by some* it is suddenly the evil incarnate. I suppose we all want our cake and to eat it, too.

Please understand my comment here is not to make light of the situation. But rather to attempt to put things into a more realistic perspective.

The example of the person wearing a hair prim that *appeared* to be a "rip" (How do you know they didn't actually create it - did you ask them?) and attempt to copy a statue while you worked on it... as to the hair: so what?

That is not a lost sale because that person is too cheap to buy anyway. They would never have been a customer to begin with. As for the alleged theft of the statue... how do you know they stole it? Did they rez a copy of the statue right before your eyes?

If not then you are the evil incarnate because you are now paranoid, presuming everyone in sight to be a thief. Guilty until proven innocent by virtue of suspicion alone. I am not saying you are wrong or right.

I am saying that you are losing sleep over something that firstly nothing can be done about by you, me, anyone else, even Linden Lab. And secondly, something that is meaningless in practicality and the larger scope of things.

I am not defending people who do this stuff. I am saying we all need to get our priorities in order rather than running around with pitchforks and torches in our hands looking for any excuse to use them.

You can earn yourselves ulcers over the wrong reasons. As for copyright and Intellectual property rights, if you are serious about your creations in Second Life that you lose sleep over the fear that someone *might* come along and steal a copy, then register it, perhaps even file a patent?

If your creations are that important to you then a federal registration is the appropriate way to handle it. I will not call Second Life a "game" as I know better. But at the same time if so much of your real life concerns and fears are based on the grid and what goes on there, perhaps a reevaluation of your life priorities are in order?

I have been copybotted last year. I agree it is infuriating. It is flustering and I will not deny the anger that bubbles-up from it. But at the same time, I know the majority of people on the grid, those people who never even see these blogs, the ones who run around Zindra with prim-genitals all day look upon the Second Life grid as a *game*, and entertainment, a diversion and cannot be counted-on to consider taking anything on the grid, including creations seriously at all.

This is why it is a "losing battle". I agree awareness is important. But anything beyond that, especially the high blood-pressure that arises from just the very thought of all this stuff is a reason to reevaluate the value and worth of the Second Life grid as a whole with respect to rest of your life and exactly how it fits-in and what priority you are giving to it.

So my advice is: Breathe. Nice and slow, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Now close your eyes and go "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" and a soft, low tone.

Dedric Mauriac

It appears that these are only "ressolved" issues. There may be much more that were never resolved. (Still pending or thrown out for lack of information, etc.). Also, I believe it was in the news recently that people who file content theft violations through AR are being told to file a DMCA notice instead. It is my guess that these AR reports are then discarded rather than being ressolved.

Hamlet Au

That's quite possible, Dedric.

Another interesting point: Unauthorized use of Copybot-type programs is a TOS violation, and TOS violations are reported in this Incident log. But there's none listed in this list that I can see.

Arcadia Codesmith

Let me make this perfectly clear, as there seems to be some misunderstanding; if you copy a copyrighted item you do not own, you are guilty of copyright infringement. It does NOT matter if you intend to resell it, give it away, or keep it in your inventory and treasure it forever. Personal use is not a defense; you are still legally liable.

When I said that people who copy items for personal use ought to be banned, I was misstating my view. What I meant to say is that they ought to banned and then sued by the original creator to the maximum penalty allowed by law.

That might finally put the lie to the absurd notion that "fair use" is anything that a THIEF thinks is fair.

Toxic Menges

@Ari - yes you may have a few good points, but I stand by what I saw and now the account in question is no longer accessible via search. They were last night, and now they aren't. I am not going to tar everyone with the same brush, or become amazingly paranoid - all I am saying is that this problem exists, and this person appears (from all the evidence I saw and the fact they are no longer searchable) to have been indeed doing naughty stuff. We don't action the reports, we make them, and then LL decide.

Doreen Garrigus

Saffia, off course there are people who are actually copied---but most of the time the major offenders just disappear, leaving nobody to hold accountable. (No, you can't ban based on IP address. Businesses, universities, libraries, and roommates share IP addresses.) Linden Lab cannot just disable the stolen content that people have purchased without a great backlash. If you bought something in good faith, without any idea that it was stolen content, and LL disabled it, you would be rightly irate, and would probably demand to be reimbursed. Who would reimburse you? LL is not required to, and the person you bought it from is long gone.

The Rebel Hope, RH Engel, and Susan Ramos case was probably a relief for LL. It was a clear-cut case of theft, rather than design inspiration. It was an obvious attempt to hurt the designers' sales. The value of the items stolen and distributed was above $2500 US, which makes it a felony(I hope they press charges). The content was given away for free, so nobody would clamor to be reimbursed if they disabled it. It gave LL the opportunity to do something direct and immediate about content theft. That does not happen very often.

Some background information: copyright infringement is only a criminal offense if the infringement was committed (a)for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain; or (b)by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000 US; or (c)by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

(The information above was copied directly from the United States' copyright website which, being a production of the US government, is in the public domain.)

Everything else requires civil action: that is, a lawsuit. It is not worth anybody's time, money, or effort to sue someone for personal use of a pirated design. How much are you selling your design for? L$300? L$500? L$1000? How much does that work out to, in US dollars? How many of your designs does someone have to copy and dump in their inventory to make it worth suing them for "actual damages"--the value of the product? And how much time is LL required to put in on a $4 personal copying issue? A data entry clerk in that part of the world gets paid about $20 an hour. It doesn't make any economic sense for anybody to chase people making copies for personal use, even though it *is* in violation of copyright.

So here is the list of DMCA filings:

1.Major criminals who disappear after they make their money, abusing their anonymity and the ability to make free accounts. If they're smart, they're doing it from the library or the university, not their home IP.

2.Personal copiers who aren't worth pursuing.

3.Designers "inspired" by other designers, falsely understood to be in violation of copyright.

4.Grudge and malice filings, designed to hurt someone's business while they are dealing with the DMCA attack. (I hadn't mentioned those, yet, and I'm sure they're rare, but they do happen.)

5.Real, trackable, actionable filings that can LL can actually provide resolution to.

I believe that the kinds of filings in #5 are the ones showing in Tyche Shephard's data.

Arcadia Codesmith

"How many of your designs does someone have to copy and dump in their inventory to make it worth suing them for "actual damages"--the value of the product?"

You can elect to sue for statutory damages instead. That amounts to between US $750 to $30,000 (at the discretion of the court, but $750 is the minimum for willful infringement) for each item copied, plus costs and lawyer fees.

RIAA suits were known to coup almost $10,000 per song in some cases.

Doreen Garrigus

Statutory damages? You are going to take a single or even double digit financial injury to court and try to sue for statutory damages? You will be laughed right out of the courtroom. Even if you aren't, good luck collecting that money from the person you sue.

In addition, there is the possibility that awarding statutory damages amounting to dozens or hundreds of times the value of the item copied is in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US constitution. It is an excessive penalty, like debtors prison. Just as it is an offense to fairness to fine a teenager millions of dollars for downloading seven songs illegally, it is an offense to fairness to press for statutory damages for a ripped outfit. If content creators pursue that avenue, they will lose popular support, just as the music industry has.

Think about that: even honest people feel justified in copying their friends' CDs.

Sigmund Leominster

Protecting copyright and intellectual property is, indeed, a complex and costly process. There are laws in place that allow someone who believes they have had their copyright breached or IP stolen to sue. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done in a virtual world because identifying the alleged criminal can be stunningly difficult. Being able to track an IP (internet protocol) address does not guarantee you find the person involved. Of course, this is also true of real life - good counterfeiters don't sew their addresses onto their ripped off labels.

Another alternative is to go for the easy target i.e. someone who is perceived as part of the chain but who is (a) easier to find and (b) wealthier. Hence the reason to try to sue Linden Lab. This can be slippery because you have to show negligence or complicity on the part of the entity being sued. Add to that the need to establish a degree of "culpability," you tend to end up with either out-of-court settlements or long, expensive actions with only the attorneys really coming out of it in pocket.

A limited analogy in reference to culpability would be trying to sue Smith&Wesson because someone shot you with a gun they made; or perhaps suing Pizza Hut because you had a heart attack and their pizzas probably contributed. Although its not a direct analogy (and it never is) the point is that establishing how "guilty" or "negligent" LL is turns out to be gray around the already ill-defined edges.

Yet even supposing Linden Lab were to be found guilty of egregious negligence and ordered to (a) stump up huge amounts of cash in compensation and/or (b) take steps to control future problems, how would that affect people? Effectively, Linden Lab have to become (or set up) a police force, checking and monitoring all and everyone and spending time and money to reinforce copyright and IP law. There's a reason the real world police do NOT do this! To pay for the "police" would mean raising prices of things such as tier fees, or introducing a "safety tax" or something. Whatever the solution is, rest assured someone has to pay something - and the someone is always the customer.

I'm neither suggesting a police state in SL nor a laissez faire "Wild West" - just wanted to add a few comments.

Arcadia Codesmith

RIAA sought and got $9000+ awards for a song that might cost $0.99 to download. And they weren't laughed out of court, and none of the defendants got off on a fourth amendment defense (unreasonable search and seizure? In a civil suit? I think not.)

Are they hated by the pirates? Loathed and despised. Oh well. I'm sure the RIAA lawyers cried themselves to sleep every night over it.

Now if the Lindens would build anti-theft measures into the system, there'd be no need to nuke the little roaches. Barring that, I think it's only a matter of time before a virtual thief gets bent over a real world bench and taken for a ride. Not pretty, but better than seeing creators getting hosed over and over again by a culture that doesn't think theft is a big deal.

Ari Blackthorne™

@ Arcadia who said "Now if the Lindens would build anti-theft measures into the system..."

How do you propose they do that? The problem is that the "theft" occurs after the content is downloaded by the vewer to the local system?

The point being, no one can stop it exept in one case: all content in SL is streamed to you like a video - nothing happens on your local computer. This is why my comments above are in the hope of making the point:

Adjust your priorities. If the fact that your stuff can be stolen bothers you, then you must adapt. You adapt by going somewhere else, or stop altogether. Either way, there is no reason to grow ulcers over it all.

As for Hamlets article itself: the reason I.P. theft is so 'rare' in the list is simply because they perpetrators are not caught, the offended creators do not report, all Abuse Reports (and other contacts to Linden Lab) over it are redirected (curtly, I might add) to the DMCA filing instructions on the Second Life knowledge-base.

The point being that Linden Lab chooses (and I believe is required by law so not to run afowl of it) to direct people to "properly" file a DMCA claim (in order for the DMCA law to remain a legal option).

Unfortunately, this process just plain sucks. It is slow, cumbersome and expensive. But that's not Linden Lab's fault. It is the fault of the Congress of the United Staates. *They* wrote the law, not Linden Lab.

So - what can Linden Lab do to aleviate any of this? Am I an apologist for LL? No, Substitute Linden Lab for Open Sim. Or Tribal Net. Or Blue Mars.




This entire argument is moot. people making other people out to be the bad guys (like Linden Lab when legally, their hands are tied in this regard.)

Ann Otoole

Ari has managed to destroy his/her credibility completely. Ari you go steal a copy of Windows Vista. Or go steal a copy of Maya. And tell us how it is legal for you to do that. Content in Second Life is licensed not purchased. Taking a copy without a license is theft and Second Life is not going to survive if Linden Lab does not turn on their anti copyright friends and change the TOS so unapproved viewers are not authorized. Right not the entire fault for this problem lay with Linden Lab for not having an enforceable TOS. This fact is not an accident. Linden Lab needs to fix this hole and begin filing unauthorized network access charges and let the kids go to jail. Maybe the big bad violent convicts can explain the facts of life to these kids in meaningful ways.

Besides Ari the way you talk about Second Life I am surprised you are even wasting your immortally precious time on it at all.

Doreen Garrigus

Nothing to See Here: RIAA Lawsuits Continue

A quote from that article: "To be clear, the RIAA has never sued anyone for downloading — it’s the sharing that gets you noticed." Sharing - like passing ripped content out as freebies or posting it for free on XStreet - not downloading - like putting ripped content into your inventory. It's an important distinction.

Please note that the RIAA vowed to stop suing, after more than 30,000 lawsuits. Why, if they are getting $9000 per song, would they stop suing? Because it costs them more to pursue the matter than they are getting back.

The RIAA has successfully sued exactly one person whose case went to trial. After more than two years of litigation, a jury ordered Jammie Thomas to pay $1.92 million, but she has not, as of yet, paid it. She is, as a matter of fact, appealing on constitutional grounds because the penalty is so far out of whack with the crime. Ms Thomas may lose, of course, but then she'll have to declare bankruptcy because there is no way a middle class mother of two can come up with two million bucks. In the meantime, the whole thing has been a PR nightmare for the RIAA. They look like bullies pushing a frivolous lawsuit, and they still won't see any of that money. Ever.

What Jammie Thomas did was illegal, clearly and without a doubt, but what the RIAA did was pointless and expensive. There is just no way to stop that kind of piracy---not even with the deep pockets of the music industry.

Doreen Garrigus

Forgive me: there's also Joel Tenenbaum.

Arcadia Codesmith

Every upload should trigger a database search to match existing resources, with a degree of tolerance sufficient to detect trivial alterations (recolor, adding a tattoo to a skin, etc). Any upload that matches, unless the original is specifically declared open source, should be rejected, and the account flagged for a possible violation of TOS. A manual appeal system would handle cases where the uploader thinks the rejection is unfounded and can document that the upload is an original work.

It would slow uploads, particularly bulk uploads. I count that a reasonable trade-off to halt theft.

This may not be the most efficient solution, but it's an example of how the problem could potentially be addressed with a technical fix.

To be perfectly honest, I don't want to sue anybody, but if it's the only effective tool available to protect my rights, I can and will make use of it. I don't like being the bully, but I will NOT be a doormat.

Theft is illegal, unethical and inherently dishonest, and I won't "adapt" to any subculture that believes otherwise.

Ari Blackthorne™


Downloading a copy of Maya or Photoshop or Vista is not stealing and in fact, those developers invite you to do it. It's not theft until you locate a hacked or otherwise non-purchased LICENSE number or file.

As for credibility, some have it with others and others have it with some. My having credibility with you matters to me, How? It's important to anyone else but you, how?

By spinning the definition of "theft", you do yourself and others a disservice. But that's okay. I like you a lot because your comments are often most entertaining for me.

As to the issues of "content theft" (which I prefer proper grammar and definition by using the term plagiarism - which is what it all really is in SL) - the reason it doesn't show-up on the SL "Police Blotter" is because the LAW (A.K.A. DCMA) *requires* that a "take-down' notice be filed, be filed a certain way, and be acted upon a certain way.



And because Linden Lab, by the very law known commonly in short as "DMCA" *must* handle all I.P. claims a certain way - any Abuse Report, email, support ticket and even live-chat with Concierge will all be deferred to the proper method of filing a DMCA.

As for the few that actually appeared there: I suspect a Linden probably acted on their own without understand of the policy (and legal requirement of the law); on their own for a friend; or otherwise on their own for a lesser "offense" that was mischaracterized or otherwise the description of broad enough to cover a lesser "offense".
(Just trying to stay on-topic here.)

The problem isn't how Linden Lab reacts to this DMCA law. They (Linden Lab) are following the law to the letter, even when a counter DMCA is file for a "put-back" after a "take-down".

There is a penalty for filing a false DMCA take-down or put-back. However, it is up to the parties involved to persue that through legal means. Linden Lab is just the neutral middle-man - and they must remain so in order to not become legally involved in the dispute.

I find it utterly humorous and ironic as hell that people will jump-on the proclamation that Linden Lab gives you all Intellectual Property Rights to all your creations and yet, all these people who proclaim offense to their Intellectal Property don't even *know that very law* they are claiming protection in.

As I've said above:


Simply wow.

Ari Blackthorne™

@ Arcadia: "Every upload should trigger a database search to match existing resources"

Thank you for actually suggesting a solution! No, really - not intended as a snarky comment! It's a good idea. Though a lot of false-positives would occur (I have "picture-duplicate" scanning software and it can be tricky to set the right ratio of likeness).

Though the that 'right ratio' would have to be found, I think it's a wonderful suggestion. Unfortunately the real question comes down to what resources are needed to implement such code (engineering time) and what recourses of the system to actually perform that service.

It might be implausible - but a very good suggestion just the same.

Arcadia Codesmith

Thanks, Ari. I don't know if it's practical either, but I think it's worth considering. Even if it doesn't pan out in code, it might suggest an approach that does.

There are unsightly consequences to using a shotgun to swat flies. I'd much prefer a system tailored to the nuances of a microtransaction economy rather than a civil lawsuit.

Peter Stindberg

No need to crawl the page - the RSS feed still exists: http://secondlife.com/community/blotter-rss.php

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