Copyright Law and Second Life
Filed under: Internet Life and Humanity, Linden Lab and Second Life, SL Marketplace
It’s no big secret that there are literally thousands of items for sale in Second Life™ that violate Copyright Law. When Mesh was added to the platform, the sudden flood of copied and otherwise ill-gotten items virtually exploded. For their part, Linden Lab has tried to keep a lid on things, but the attitude of most people using Second Life seems to be one of “everyone else is doing it.” To say it makes LL’s job harder is a gross understatement.
Today’s post comes about as a result of an interesting conversation I had with a fellow SL Resident about their intentions and opinions on Copyright Law. It was a follow-up of sorts to a post they made on the SL Forums asking for someone to help them break the law .. and my response to their post.
Copyright Violation Advertised on the Forums
The conversation started with the following post on the SL Forums:
The OP was obviously asking for someone to violate Linden Lab’s rules as well as break the law. It’s not often you see someone being so blatant about it, but figuring they might not know they were stepping across the line, I replied in a gentle manner hoping to wise them up a bit. (If the post is gone when you read this, you can still see the full post by clicking on the image.)
So far, so good, right? Not quite.
I happened to be logged in to SL after posting my reply when I received an Instant Message from the OP. Have to admit it kind of caught me off-guard. I thought I’d used the proper size kid-gloves, but apparently all I did was really piss this person off. Here is the full transcript of our In-World conversation:
[2016/03/02 01:14:26] HopelessEmotion Resident: So you do know there is people out there that make in-game avatars on the marketplace with every copyrighted name and they haven’t gotten banned for it at all right?
[2016/03/02 01:17:18] ?????? (hopelessemotion): Stop being a goody two shoes, and grow a pair.
[2016/03/02 01:19:21] Darrius Gothly: I know that .. and I said so in my reply. Goody two shoes? Yeah .. probably. But that’s no call for you to react so negatively. I just wanted to make sure you wer aware that you’d posted a potentially incriminating message in a public forum. Nothing like saying to the cops: “Hey, I’m gonna rob the bank. Do you know anyone wants to help me?” LOL
[2016/03/02 01:21:19] ?????? (hopelessemotion): I understand that it is against the rules, and I want you to understand that there is plenty of creators out there that use copyrighted avatars from games, I am certain that Linden Labs hasn’t even banned them once, comparing this to robbing a bank is apples and oranges so don’t make it seem like this is some kind of BIG crime.
[2016/03/02 01:23:36] Darrius Gothly: Look, at the very least I gave you Plausible Deniability. If anyone official asks you, you can always say “I was warned and so I didn’t.” I totally get that there are LOTS of people that violate copyright law all the time. That doesn’t make it smart to advertise your intention to do so. You’re not talking to some newb with a hair up his butt. i happen to have several decades of experience in Copyright Law and specifically Intellectual Property rulings in the past decade or so. Dig through the forums for some of my posts on the topic; you might be surprised who you’
[2016/03/02 01:23:42] Darrius Gothly: you’re talking to.
[2016/03/02 01:25:47] Darrius Gothly: Maybe you best ask yourself why you’re so all butt-hurt that I simply recited book, line and verse of the rules. If anyone is freaking here .. it’s you.
[2016/03/02 01:26:01] ?????? (hopelessemotion): Don’t make me laugh with your false threats, and acting like a big man over a computer screen, having “decades” of experience on a game like this is nothing to brag about, while you are hunched over your keyboard trying to bully someone, make sure you don’t choke on those prunes while you’re so flustered.
[2016/03/02 01:26:53] Darrius Gothly: ROFL!! Oh man .. you are priceless. I didn’t threaten a thing. I simply told it like it is. If you feel threatened it’s probably because you know you’re gonna do something bad .. and you just don’t like being called on it.
[2016/03/02 01:27:44] Darrius Gothly: This conversation IS going to make a delightful post on my blog though.
[2016/03/02 01:29:03] ?????? (hopelessemotion): Hey, I am simply just buying what the creators are pumping out, it’s on the Second Life Marketplace for a reason, if anyone is in trouble it is the people who are creating these avatars. Well, you post this on your blog, so you and your little virtual friends can come together and feel “accepted” by something in this world, since you have no life outside of this one. 🙂
[2016/03/02 01:31:49] Darrius Gothly: HAHAHAH!! I love it! Yup .. you got me totally figured out son. Glad I could help you achieve your required sense of self-worth by demeaning others and acting like it’s okay because “everyone else” does it. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Your attempts to justify it .. don’t make it any more right. Just makes you foolish. Have a good night/day. I’ll leave this IM open so you can blather away, but I am done talking back to you. Cheers!
[2016/03/02 01:33:28] ?????? (hopelessemotion): The same goes to you, and hey good news! Someone actually contacted me about the post and is interested with working with me! I am in a more than happy mood now, and I hope your day goes swell. Love you Darrius. <3
The Predominant Attitude About Copyright Law
As you can plainly see, the OP felt that not only were they in the right by asking for someone to break the law, they also felt justified because everyone else does it too. Maybe my folks raised me wrong or something, but all I could hear was Mom saying “If everyone jumped off the cliff …”.
The real heart of the issue is that there’s a good sized number of people that use Second Life that depend on the “everyone else” excuse to justify them stealing the work of others. This is especially obvious by the OP’s last comment about already being contacted by someone else willing to break the law. That’s a sad commentary on how people behave when it comes to virtual goods and online IP.
The Merchant Take on Copyright Infringement
It doesn’t take much searching to find a lot of posts on the subject of Copyright Infringement. It also doesn’t take much reading to realize the predominant attitude among Merchants is that stealing of any kind is wrong. Those that make any sort of income from SL also aggressively defend their products and their rights. Most Merchants have also had the “pleasure” of filing a DMCA Notification with Linden Lab.
But running into someone so clearly clueless, so blithely uncaring as the OP? That kind of took me back a bit. Not just their attitude about stealing, but their complete insistence that I was the bad guy in this interchange. It’s that sort of attitude that makes it hard for honest people to get ahead. It’s that sort of attitude that we should all contest whenever we can.
Ah well … that’s enough Preaching for me tonight. Keep your eyes open folks, and if you do see someone doing something like this … I hope you will do the right thing and report it.