I’ve been rather quiet on the copying/ripping fiascos that happen in what seems like a weekly event around SL. Mostly because it’s a debate I just don’t have time for anymore. I’ve personally never had my stuff ripped (well… that I know of), but I sure have been copied. It’s annoying and frustrating but there isn’t much I can do about it. Ripping on the other hand is an absolute shitty thing that something should be done about.
There are three victims when it comes to content being ripped. 1. The content creator who slaved over that item from conception to creation to marketing. 2. The buyers who unknowingly supported the rippers because there is no sign clearly pointing out fakes. 3. The customers of creators who get ripped and loose all faith in SL and humanity.
In this slew of conversations about copyright issues, we seem to forget about everyone but the person getting ripped off. Which is an actual shame.
The reason why it’s so rampant in SL is because it’s easy to do, people can make money off of it, there are little to no repercussions for it, and it’s generally a fluke that anyone finds out about it. The lab needs to get off their asses and do something to combat it on all fronts instead of these constant broken promises. But I’m bitter enough to believe that’ll never happen.
Those far more in the know about the tech than I am say you can’t actually plug the holes. Granted, opening up the client to things like copybot (LL helped with that if you remember) and alt viewers that have copying capabilities made the situation far worse. Go LL. But there are things we as a community and LL can do.
Back in 2006 when copybot came out, some Lindens sat down with some of us content creators to discuss what can be done. Part of the list of things was metadata tags help with the DMCA process. Where is that? Is anyone actually working on that?
XStreet was where most of the exchange of stolen goods happened. Mostly because no one wanted to file a report because the retards who ran it gave out personal information to the offending party. With the recent purchase of XStreet by LL, why has this not changed?
Or how about that seller directory that has been talked about for a while and still nothing has been done about it?
Today the shit has sort of hit the fan with two rather controversial sides that I’d like to blather on about.
Copybot is good for the economy?!
Get out the tar, feathers and pitchforks kids. If there was anyone in the SL universe that I wanted to punch in the face more than our least favourite LL lapdog Hamlet Au, I’d be rather shocked. If anything to wipe that constant smug look off his face and maybe make him cry like a little bitch.
He’s been annoying us with his trite rhetoric and lack of journalistic integrity for a better part of 6 years. It isn’t reporting, it’s biased spin. I mean who can forget his calling libSL “talented hackers creating cool applications” directly after LL in their infinite wisdom supported the release of copybot? And of course that content creators who were upset about the entire situation and foreseeing what SL is like today with rampant content theft as “having the crazy mob mentality.”
His latest spin on the copyright infringement issue is actually worse. He contends that with the release of the latest PR spin of economic figures by LL being on the rise, that copybot has actually helped the economy.
That is poorest example of false correlation that I’ve ever seen.
1. Figures released as PR from the lab can hardly be counted as proof of anything. Every content creator knows full well what is going on with the economy. I don’t know a single person who isn’t feeling a hit. The lab telling us that it just isn’t the case doesn’t make us feel good; it’s a bloody slap in the face. Just not as demeaning as Hamlet is.
2. If the figures are correct, without side by side comparison of the population increase and what people were spending on, this point is impossible to prove. Therefore even bringing it up is demeaning to the many who have dealt with this issue first hand.
More people = more land rented = more transactions. More people = more purchases. More people = more content creators = more content = more purchases.
I don’t even call myself an economist, let alone an internet economist and I still call duh on that.
3. Copyright infringement does not help the economy, no matter how you’d like to sugar coat the current situation. The more people get copied, the less likely they’ll make anything worthwhile. The less worthwhile things to buy, the faster the economy will go into the toilet. This is happening as we speak since there are many who are creating less or have stopped all together because what’s the bloody point anymore if someone can rip us off with a couple of clicks with little to no repercussions?
4. Did he even think to bother to get actual data from someone willing to give absolute proof of what copyright infringement has done to their business? You know see what happened to the sales of their copied item? It’s not like this is being done on a small scale. Many people are getting hit and sometimes in mass, so it’s not like it’s difficult to find a few people to interview. That’s kind of what being a journalist is all about isn’t it? Getting all sorts of data, lay it out in an unbiased way and let the reader decide for themselves. Or at least that’s what it should be about.
5. At first many people really weren’t using copybot. It wasn’t until the easy to find and easy to use alternative clients that it became as much of an issue as it is today.
6. The last quarter of 2006 is when SL blew up. When we all thought we were going to get rich. My sales exploded. As was the same with everyone else I’ve talked to. Copybot couldn’t do animations and yet my sales during the x-mas season that year was 7x more than all the rest of the year combined.
The 5th of November Boycott
First of all, thank you for taking my favourite holiday. My birthday is on the 6th and going to fireworks in the park was one of the best things about living in London and one thing I’ll very much miss. I mean what is more awesome than a celebration over parliament almost being blown up?
Even if you could get enough content creators to join in (you won’t) the fact of the matter is is that LL doesn’t care. They. Don’t. Care.
Does the copybot boycott of 2006 ring a bell? A decent percentage of creators got in on that (including me) and it did fuck all. Or how about the letter to the lab which I believe was the same year with all sorts of signatures and surrounded by bad press?
That kind of thing worked in 2003 and not a single time since. Because they don’t care. They will still get tier. They will still get their precious money. They don’t care about bugs. They don’t care that animations have been broken for years. They don’t care about copying because it’s not like they don’t know what’s going on with it. Getting LL to care is about as useless as repeatedly bashing your head against a brick wall. And about as fun.
Even if they did care, what exactly would a boycott do that the current class action suit won’t? It’s giving them bad press and the potential to hit them where it hurts – their wallet a bit more effective? Honestly I don’t know if this entire thing will do anything, but it’s certainly more potential than a boycott will ever do.
Next up, why punish the people who are already being punished by this issue? Content creators are struggling so let’s punish them. Customers are already being punished by other drastic theft prevention measures and from knowing that what they spent their hard earned money on someone else got for free or cheap, so let’s punish them too while we are at it. The people that need to feel it are the copiers and LL. This will not accomplish that.
One of the suggestions for how to survive 48 hours of no sales is to set out freebies and have a sale afterwards. Uh… what? You do know that one of the reasons for falling sales is the over saturation of the market with freebies right? Just as much as the saturated market of an unthinkable number of items for sale is. And that when everyone is having a sale, it pretty much doesn’t do what it used to because it gets lost in the commotion.
The upload boycott is a bit of a better idea – at least less harmful to those who are already being punished – but it still won’t do anything.
LL is going to do whatever it wants no matter what you do. Call me bitter but after more than 5 years of this sort of thing, you can kind of see a pattern. You could pick up your toys and go play somewhere else, but there are many other people chomping at the bit for your sales. LL won’t notice you are gone. You are a blip to them.
Stop blaming content theft as the sole reason for your sales decline. It’s not, but it’s the only one that gets mentioned. It’s part of a large puzzle of suckage. Other stuff is the RL economy, drastic increase in content creators, over saturation of the market, over production, lower quality and innovation due to over production, glut of the market from freebies, SL is just too big now for the lack of advertising options, and probably a bunch of other things I haven’t thought of.
Yes it fucking sucks to get ripped off. But your sales before came from your customers who I very much doubt are going out looking for ripped copies of your items. The people buying those things either don’t know they are ripped or don’t care and probably wouldn’t have paid full price in the first place. Those who didn’t know were potential customers and sucks to have lost them, but the meat of your biz should always be the returning ones. Return customers buy partly because they want to support your work because they want to be able to buy more down the road.
There are many things you can do to be proactive without causing harm:
1. Educate. Get the word out on what is going on, how you can spot a ripper, and what to do when someone finds copies. Do this in a way that isn’t insulting. Most people who buy copies don’t actually know that they are copies. Textures and notecard givers in stores are a good step in the right direction.
2. Others have said this and I don’t really think it’ll work, but start bugging the fuck out of Lindens during office hours. Pick a Linden and go to every single office hour. They are people and people will do just about anything to get you to stop annoying them, just be careful on taking them at their word. Get proof. Just not Jack cause he’s kind of a douche. Well I think it would be funny if everyone chose him, but he’ll do fuck all.
3. There are loads of ideas of what LL can do to combat this in many different venues. SLU threads are a good place to start. Gather them up, list them in a notecard and start harassing Lindens with them. Email it to them. Again, I doubt LL will listen but it’s better than a boycott.
4. Have some extra time and know the players of an industry? Wander around the grid and XStreet looking for those mischievous rippers. They are pretty easy to spot. Ugly stores, ugly adverts, usually new, and a wide rage of products in different styles. Just please leave the pitchforks in the garage and quietly inform the original content creator.
5. I’m kind of tired at this point so if anyone has more ideas, feel free to post a comment