PostHeaderIcon Watch Your "(Step)-UP! For Content Creators"

The CopyBot Protest in Second Life

There is big news making the rounds in the SLogosphere this week about an effort (boycott) regarding content theft in Second Life. The effort is called "Step UP! For Content Creators". Many bloggers have called it many things. Many others, including Gwyneth Llewelyn calls it what it is and should be: an awareness effort. But I think it actually goes too far.

The untiring Gwen Carillon, one of the best jewelry creators in Second Life, and the long-time president of the Content Creators Association, a [sic] SL organisation “to support, inform and assist creators in protection of original content and other content related issues”, has launched a new project: Step UP! for Content Creators, a new way to raise awareness for content creation theft in Second Life.

[From Gwyn’s Home » Blog Archive » Step UP! for Content Creation Theft Awareness]

Fair enough. However, there is a problem. A big one, too. Gwyneth also writes:
Gwen, perhaps unlike many others, is a firm believer in a positive approach to the whole issue, that is, to find solutions to problems and get people to spread the word about what can be done.

Gwyneth's emphasis, not mine. But also the very emphasis I would have made myself. You see, there is no solution. At least none that I can think of in knowing what I know about how computers and networking works (I have first life I.T. experience.)

There is the issue of "copybot" we all have heard about before. Frankly I am tiring of... well some might call it a 'discussion'. I consider it all more of a one-sided paranoia diatribe. I don't mean this in an offensive way to any who speak of it. I am only saying it's a futile worry. "Copybot technology" is here and it is here to stay.


Gwyneth briefly and accurately covers the history of copybot and what it is from first inception and public knowledge in 2006 through now:
Enter Fall ‘09. Content pirates now aggregate around illegally tweaked copies of the Second Life viewer, and a soon-to-be-released version of one of these viewers will feature an easy, user-friendly way to copy basically everything you see in your line of sight[.]

The bold emphasis is mine and brings home my entire point. The RIAA and MPAA are going ape-shit in panic mode trying to inject Digital Rights Management (DRM) in order to prevent the "theft" of their respective works. However, in so doing they are punishing you, dear honest consumer - the majority, in order to do nothing more than slow-down the minority. A ratio, by the way, that is ridiculously out-of-whack.

One in a million motorcycle riders kill themselves so the rest are forced to wear helmets. Music and Movie files are easily copied by the tiniest fraction of consumers and the rest are forced to deal with DRM that doesn't work and causes far more problems than it fixes.

The simple matter of fact is: if you can hear it, you can copy it and steal it. If you can see it, you can copy it and steal it. As for copybot: it works the exact same way. If you can see it, you can steal it. it always has been this way on the internet.

Every web page you view must be copied (albeit temporarily) to your local computer before it can be displayed on your screen, including every single element. All of it, except for Flash - which loads completely into memory (and is why it is a horrible, resource-intensive bloatware behemoth I personally block in my web browser.) These temporary files on your local hard disk drive used to actually display the information. It is what is called "cache".

If you siphon through your internet cache files you can copy every movie, sound file, photograph and everything else you've seen or heard while on the internet browsing the world-wide web. The web site has absolutely zero-control over what you can or cannot do with that stuff.

Second Life works much the same way. The difference is the cache is not so easily browsable - unless you have a software tool to decipher it for you.

Hence: copybot.

Missing bikeCopybot will grab this stuff and reassemble it back into the grid for you. But only the stuff you can see - thus why copybot cannot copy scripts and animations and any contents inside prims - such as what is inside resale vendors.

So with all this the way it is, my question to Gwyneth, and you and everyone else... and Gwen Carillon, is this: Why are you punishing Linden Lab by boycotting the upload of images or whatever else you have planned and are asking others to participate in?

I mean, what would you have Linden Lab do specifically? Surely Linden Lab can placate we creators by adding more permissions restrictions or whatever else, but then we will chastise Linden Lab for not going far enough.

Linen Lab is between a rock and a hard place because they cannot win in this situation. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Content creators will never be satisfied with anything Linden Lab does, short of eliminating the problem, which is utterly impossible to do.

Linden Lab has no more control than you do with regard to your content being plagiarized (not stolen - you are not deprived in any way.) Oh, and to proclaim that you are losing sales? Get real, will you?

Like Microsoft and Adobe and so many other software companies who proclaim "lost sales" due to piracy, you are not losing any sales. The simple fact is those pirates never would have purchased what they have "stolen" to begin with. They would have simply found a less expensive, other alternative. Thus it is not a "lost sale" - because no "sale" would have occurred otherwise.

Second Life also is massive. Subtract the camping-bots, subtract the campers, subtract the alt accounts, and finally subtract all those with entitlement attitudes (the "I deserve it for free because the world revolves around me and owes me everything for nothing" crowd) and there are at least a good 100 people or more on the grid who will buy your stuff.

Haha I don't care what you think, this is funny.Your business is down and sluggish because of the economy, not because you've been "copybotted'. Most who "copybot" I suspect do so just for themselves. A smaller fraction will actually be stupid enough to try to resell what they plagiarize.

Linden Lab does provide a way for you to file a take-down notice. It is not easy or lightening fast. But this also prevents false initial reports. Yes, the problem is (and Linden Lab will matter-of-factly indicate to you) the one you report against will simply file a counter-claim to have the stuff replaced. A no-win scenario? Blame the idiots known as the Congress of the United Sates.

Sure, Linden Lab could make filing take-downs easier, but then the flood-gates for false initial DMCA reports will open. Besides, the problem isn't with Linden Lab in this regard, it's with the law. The way Linden lab handles DMCA notices is in accordance with the way the law is written. The boneheaded idiots in Washington bending over to placate the RIAA and MPAA and those guys have created a nightmare law and it should be challenged in the Supreme court based on it's very Constitutionality. But that's expensive and takes years.

The awareness aspect of this effort is something I agree with. However, even awareness would only matter to a fraction of the grid. The fact is no one really cares about the things we would hope they care about. The majority don't care about quality of your creations. They don't care that it took you a lot of work and hours and hours of prim manipulation, scripting, and texture generation. They don't care that you rely on those sales to pay your tier fees. (if you rely on anything in SL for first life - you are a fool.)

They really don't care if you are here tomorrow or not. That, dear friend is the majority attitude on the grid. Copybot and entitlement attitudes were given their birth at the onset of the open-sourcing of the Linden Lab grid viewer. The cat already is out of the bag and there's no setting him back in.

I am most happy that Linden Dollars are tracked and transactions occur only through the server, because if anyone got their hands on that code, woe-be-the-grid.

I don't mind people who debate, argue, shout, even become passionately vitriolic about something. But it's all cry-baby whining unless you provide an alternative solution to what you are crying about along with your crying - then it's not crying, it's debating.

[Edit: The question has not come up, but it occurred to me that I must mention that Gwyneth does, in fact mention her idea of a solution - which I applaud - regardless how feasible it is or isn't. —Ari]

Since the copying of prims and skin and clothing textures and basically your complete avatar and what you wear, along with anything rezzed on the grid is 100% out of Linden Lab's control, what exactly would you have Linden Lab do to placate you at all?

My own solution is to simply shrug and continue on with as minimal stress and worry about it all as possible. As for the "Step UP! For Content Creators effort"? I think it's based on the right idea: awareness. But to punish Linden Lab (or anyone else for that matter) by attempting to "hurt them" through boycotting uploads is a bit over-the-top and based on emotion, not logic.

I know, I know - the idea is to send a strong message to Linden Lab itself. Trust me, I have it on good authority Linden Lab is well aware of our plight. However, there are many reasons, many of which we are not privy to where Linden Lab must move forward carefully. And some of those reasons are entirely out of their control.

It's okay to "think with your heart" - but sometimes it is simply healthier to think with your head instead.

What is your solution to the problem?

art: Kevin Lim (Inju); Reachneville; FamilyGuyFan221
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