copying, copying, copying…

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.

In Closing:

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

Cheers
Luth

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14 Responses to “copying, copying, copying…”

  1. Chez Nabob Says:

    /me applauds vigorously

  2. “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? ”

    Wasn’t that the explicit aim of his article? Everybody’s pillorying Hamlet, but NOT ONE person has taken up his challenge and offered up any evidence, anecdotal or empirical, about how ripping has hurt their business. I’m reading a ton of conjecture, but absolutely nothing solid. I’d love to hear some solid evidence of what the true impact of all this theft is.

    • Chez Nabob Says:

      Anyone who has lost a single sale to someone who has ripped their content has been hurt. Logic tells you that if someone knowingly buys ripped content from a thief instead of buying it from the original creator, then that creator’s business has been hurt.

      You could also make the argument that the time a creator spends chasing down IP infringers, filing DMCAs, talking with legal representation, etc. is time taken away from them running their business, creating more content and thereby making more money. Again, it’s clear they’ve been impacted financially by IP theft. None of those numbers will EVER figure into LL’s economic figures.

      The real question is to what degree has their business been hurt. Well that question isn’t quantifiable without knowing how many sales of stolen content have been made.

      The problem with Hamlet’s argument (as has been pointed out by Luth) is that he isn’t taking into account the influx of users and dollars into the game since copybot was released on the grid, not to mention the fact that all the transactions of stolen merchandise are being counted by Linden Lab as part of their economic figures.

      Of course the numbers don’t show a decline!

      Again, I think it’s obvious creators have lost sales to copybotters, but I think the decline many creators have seen in sales are due to a lot of other factors (a few of which Luth mentioned above) and not just sales lost to content rippers.

      It would be next to impossible for an individual creator to say how much they’ve lost without knowing who has infringed their intellectual property and how many sales those infringers have made.

      Only LL would be able to come close to determining an estimated number of the entire market for sales of stolen IP, and even then it would be an estimate. I seriously doubt they’d be willing to ever do that since they are facing a possible class-action lawsuit and doing so would reveal how widespread a problem this is.

  3. @Annyka Bekkers – 10 points for completely missing my point.

    I was calling him out for being a douche for his crass and irresponsible post based completely on false correlation.

    If you want people to counterpoint with actual facts, starting it with wild accusations and unsubstantiated conjecture is the wrong way to go.

    @Chez Nabob – All excellent points. +20 points for sheer awesomeness.

    It is impossible for anyone to give complete facts as it stands now. There are too many factors and too much information not available to us.

    If copying was the only problem with sales, if we could track down every single transaction of a stolen item, if we could get factual data on each transaction on if the person would have paid full price and get LL to release said data then we would have solid data on the effect of copying. But that is impossible.

    You also can’t get actual hard data on how much is lost due to time spent dealing with the infringers. We don’t make an hourly wage here. Whether a specific product will sell is a complete crap shoot. The item may just not be interesting to buyers. There may be hunts that people are focused on. Someone “bigger” could have released on the same day. There could just be too many releases that day and it gets lost in the shuffle. Competitors could be having sales. The grid could be shit that day. It’s the reason why most people produce on a constant basis, because 1 thing could take off while 4 others flounder.

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money is being lost. The social implications of it is devastating enough. And ignoring that especially for false correlation is a slap in the face. Hamlet it touting the party line with fingers in ears going “la la la everything is fine, nothing is wrong, you people are crazy to think otherwise.” And frankly it disgusts me that anyone would give him merit.

    A person put in blood, sweat and tears to create something from nothing and some jackass comes along, takes it for himself, passes it around and many times profiting from it. The more that happens, the less likely someone will put that effort into it. The less amount of interesting places to see, things to do and items to acquire, the less fun SL is for everyone.

    It’s giving content creators a bad reputation as greedy for wanting to protect their rights.

    It’s illegal and LL isn’t doing a damn thing to stop it.

  4. hawksrock Says:

    /me loves when Luth gets all fired up on a topic. Go get em tigress! Seriously, well stated points and counterargument… Although I am still a lil shocked that this even has to be argued.

    • You know full well I just wanted an excuse to talk about punching Hamlet in the face. His blog comments were having issues and I was past due on posting here 😛

  5. […] copying, copying, copying… « theslrevolution.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/copying-copying-copying – view page – cached 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… (Read more)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. (Read less) — From the page […]

  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Luthi: Well look at that… I can still write for The Rev: http://bit.ly/qZKZS

  7. Seriously the best article I have read, one that actually reads like it was written by a real person. Calling boycotts is great when you yourself produce fuck all and don’t need your sales to pay the bills that still come in regardless of what you do because as you say LL don’t give a fuck.

  8. ” 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.”

    I never said that, Luth. A commenter suggested that. I replied that that was an interesting theory, much the same way many argued that song swapping on the Internet actually increases song sales. But I’m not sure in either case.

    Typepad had problems with Comments yesterday but they’re open now. You’re welcome to reply there if you can state your disagreement civilly and reasonably.

  9. Lizzie Lexington Says:

    Protests are often about empowerment for the individual. Yes it may not make a difference to the Lab but the simple of act of doing something to let your voice be heard can make a difference for the individual and their social connections related to the cause. Its about coming together and expressing concern for a common belief or issue. What one person views as a harmful protest another views as letting their voice be heard. Empowerment can help move an individual in a new directions and perhaps even help with the creative process.

    And I fully agree with your point that when it comes to content theft education is the key. And yes I am in artist’s voice but I am currently the lead for the consumer team. And in our first project we intend to focus on the newbies of second life – meeting with them in infohubs, newbie community locations, etc etc and helping them understand and learn how to identify stolen content. And with this being said, I am now going to shamelessly promote my little blog post LOL http://lizzielexington.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/yes-hell-has-frozen-over-lizzie-is-working-with-tenshi/ which gives even more details about artists voice. Thanks!

  10. @Hamlet If you read past the part about punching you in the face (mostly only humour value) you’ll see I did very much “state” my “disagreement civilly and reasonably.” I’d maybe post on your blog if you ever acknowledged comments that poked holes in your loose theories.

    @Lizzie Lexington Oh look. My voice was heard here and without punishing legitimate customers. That’s what a blog is for. What you are calling for is action. Action that is damaging to those doing it. Action with absolutely nothing to show for it is pointless.

    • Lizzie Lexington Says:

      I totally acknowledge the fact that you are doing your part in the way feel is best for you and I applaud that, but “punishing customers”? That seems a bit extreme in way to say they are being “punished”. I feel my inner snark coming out so I apologize in advance, LOL, but I don’t recall having to seek therapy for not buying a virtual product if a store was closed – I did not feel “punished”. If I wanted it bad enough I waited till the store was again open. This is not real life and we are not talking about a shut down on black friday. Okay enough said hugs to you.

  11. Punishing doesn’t have to be extreme to lead to therapy. There are a lot of people (myself included) who buy specific things for specific purposes. And generally it’s kind of a “I need it now” type of purchase.

    I look for very specific clothes/hair/shoes/whatever for my adverts all in one day. If I finally found the exact look I was looking for and the store was closed in protest for copyright infringement – which is something that I would never do – I’d get annoyed. Then go somewhere else.

    I also get a lot of frantic IMs from photographers who need a specific type of pose for that day’s shoot. If I have what they are looking for, I point them to the pose pack(s), if not I’ll point them to other pose makers who do. I would actually feel a bit wrong to say “sorry, I have that pose but I can’t sell it to you because I want my voice heard about copyright infringement even though you’ve never copied from me and LL doesn’t actually care.”

    A better course of action in all of this mess is to celebrate legitimate customers and content creators. By having a sale or limited edition items. It would get the word out while not punishing anyone.

    Speak of.. shameless plug… Lordfly is having a sale of protest instead of the useless shutdown protest. By his prefabs. They are awesome. http://www.lordfly.com/gridliving/?p=90

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