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Emuna Zamani

Caught in the Middle

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I just ended a LiveChat session with a representative of LL and I am even more frustrated than I was before I called.

I got an email from an animator of a well known store in SL and he basically told me that the person I had purchased animations from was a Content Thief and had caused many animators problems in SL.  He went on to say that I had been placed on a "Watch List" and that other creators and business owners would be watching my items.  Basically, he spoke to me like I had stolen animations.  Needless to say, I was livid.  Not that he contacted me but the way that he spoke to  me in the email.

When I purchased the animations that costed me 10,000L, I found nothing that would have caused me to think that person selling them was stealing from anyone.  Granted that I do not know all of the groups that list Content Thieves but I used what I could; his name was not listed any place, at the time.  He had a store, people were there shopping, there was a group with others that were store owners like myself . . . I TRIED to make sure that I was dealing with a person that was honest.

I am making my own sculpts and textures now but I depends on others for animations like I am sure so many of you are.  It is not fair that we are caught in the middle and placed on some list like we did something wrong.  I lost money because I surely will not use the animations once LL tells me that he did steal them, so I am a victim too.  LL's  solution was that I file a complaint on the one that I purchased the animations from and the person that placed me on some  Watch List because he is tarnishing my reputation.  

I started my store in 2007 and recently became more serious about it which means putting in more money.  I do not need the slandering of my name and my store.  Any suggestions?

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It bothers me that this happens & yet nobody is posting the thief's name or store etc so nobody ELSE makes the same mistake. 

I don't understand what lies behind the fact that when this happens, it is all hush hush - perhaps if not then $ stops flowing??

Meanwhile, am also a creator in sl that uses animations from others - please IM me in world or whatever with the details.  I don't want to make the same mistake.

My advice is to get your story out there as best you can so your reputation can be UNtarnished as you've done nothing wrong here.

Hope this ends well for you and doesn't hamper your business in any way.

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I did not use either name because I did not want an issue to come up where the Mods had to close this topic.  I think it is important and I hope that merchants who buy items to use in their creations can get some help.

I will message you.

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Yes I totally understand why you didn't use a name.  I think it would be more than helpful if LL DID though in such a situation, publish the name somewhere so we can all be aware & not fall into the same problem.

I have no idea why there would not be such a procedure in place so other's will stop spending their money on items that will be taken from their inventory at later date.  There goes your product, money out of pocket - but LL still gets their percentage of sale from MP I;m sure.  Shrugs.

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It's up to the original creator of such animations to launch a DMCA if they believe their work has been stolen. If successful, LL will remove said items from the asset database, including copies in all items that have been sold. It's not always perfect but that's the system as it stands. Without proof it's just gossip.

SL is full of scummy business practices and jealous, competitive merchants - just be aware of that, do your own thing with integrity and carry on.

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This is true however, the OP was in live chat with LL with regards to this incident.  Her complaint is that the creator of the animations, the person that these anims were stolen from, sent her an email giving her the impression that she has done something unethical by buying them unawares.

She said she did due diligence so this reaction, is uncalled for.

I believe when such things occur, that LL would have a fudiciary duty to warn any and all potential customers of the situation.  Not work it all out in the background where nobody knows who the thieves really are.

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Sorry, I'm probably being obtuse, but was the person who sent you the email saying that the animations you'd bought from this store had been stolen from him?   If that's the case, why hasn't he followed the usual route of issuing an DMCA take-down notice?    

Whose name is there as the creator of the animations you bought?  The owner of the shop from which you bought them or the guy who emailed you?

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Sorry to hear that you had such an unpleasant experience. I don't know where that sort of watch list is available but you don't have to worry about it so much. People come and go so fast, especially in sl. Look at that infamous skin store which is still up and running even after such a scandalous doings and a big fuss.

The animation creator might sound a bit harsh on you in the email, but it could have been worse if he didn't send you the email to warn you (I wonder how he could know you bought the stolen animations, though). If you were not aware of that, you would have used those animations in your creations and put them on the market, then he might have had to file a DMCA notification against you. Your items would have been taken down and the customers who bought them would have got them deleted in their inventory. They would have asked you for a compensation and might never return to your store.

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Yeah, I'm kind of wondering how the animator that sent you the email knew you bought the animations, or even your email. Gosh, 10k. Those better be some awesome mocap animations. You could go to the animator's store that sent you the email and see if you can find the exact same animations.

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If the person that contacted you claimed to be the creator why didn't they file a DMCA? I suspect that they didn't because they could not prove the animations were stolen and if they can't than they probably weren't.  This sound more like anti-competitive behavior than anything else. I have seen it before. Likely they were making it up to get you to buy from them instead. Let them prove their allegations through the DMCA process, and until they do I would ignore them. Groups that maintain 'watch lists' are vigilantes and have no authority in SL.

I would be more concerned with who gave him your email address and information that you bought them.  I'd be asking some very pointed questions about this.

LL told you right.  File an AR against this person for harassment and slander.  If you find your name on a watch list I'd AR the group owners too and insist that LL force them to remove your name.  I dont' see a need to AR the person who you bought the animations from unless it is proven they were a thief or you find out that they gave information to the person who emailed you that they shouldn't have.

 

 

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Emuna Zamani wrote:

I just ended a LiveChat session with a representative of LL and I am even more frustrated than I was before I called.

I got an email from an animator of a well known store in SL and he basically told me that the person I had purchased animations from was a Content Thief and had caused many animators problems in SL.  ...

Stop right there! Does it not seem rather suspicious that the alleged original animator found out you had purchased the alleged stolen animation from someone else? How did they know?

 

 

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It is very likely that the said original animator looked at the OP's creations and recognized that the anims were his/her stolen ones.  Or, perhaps someone else gave him/her a heads up. 

If he/she had alreadly filed with LL then he/she would of course know the theif.  I get the impression that the OP is not the first person to puchase said stolen anims.

 

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>>SL is full of scummy business practices and jealous, competitive merchants - <<

no kidding !! yet the suggestion that the toy capitalism on which SL is founded is THE problem .. & that all these problems could be solved by eliminating the L$ & private "ownership" ~which is an illusion anyway~ & of running SL as a Socialist Utopia .. meets with scorn ... go figure! :catlol:

Jeanne

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Thank you for all the good feedback.

The animator was able to find me because he saw my name in the group of the man that supposedly stole animations from various creators.  He had no proof that I had purchased any (I had) so his messaging me with finger point was based on assumption and I find that unprofessional.  I have no respect for this man at all.  There was a much better way to handle that.

I did as the LL representative told me although I now know that I can do nothing against the one that may have stolen the animations being that they were not my content.  I also file one against the animator for adding me to some list.

At this point, I am in limbo because I have these items that I created using the animations but I can't sell them because I have no idea if they were stolen or not.  So my opening for the new location has been put on hold.  As for getting my lindens back, I doubt that I will but this sure has me not wanting to buy anything from anyone to use in my creations.  I have nothing to protect me, the merchant.

The animations were very nice.  There was a group for beds, showers and hotubs.

I did block the one that contacted me but I am going to send him a link here so he can defend himself and the store he works for, if he choses.

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Thanks for the clarification, Emuna.


Let me make sure I understand. This chap finds you in the other animator's group. He proceeds to make some unsubstantiated allegations about how the guy from whom you bought the animations supposedly ripped some unspecified animations from some other unspecified animators and tells you that you're on some sort of watch list in case you've bought ripped animations from this chap (and he has no idea what you've bought or not, of course).
Is that about the size of it?


If it is, then all sorts of alarm bells are ringing for me. The chap's tale is pretty far-fetched, and I call shenanigans.
To my mind, the most likely explanation is that he's simply trying to ruin the business of a rival animator by making wild allegations and harassing his rival's customers.


My suggestion to you is this. Examine the animations you bought. See who the creator is. If the creator is the guy you bought them from, then I would just go ahead and use them. It's not possible, as far as I know, to change the creator on animations -- ripped ones are ripped because of exploits with permissions, but as far as I know it's not possible to get a usable animation out of an animation in-world, download it to your computer and upload it again as yours.   

So if the creator is right, then my advice is stop worrying about this guy.   He sounds full of sh hot air and is best ignored.

 

 

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My advice? Proceed selling your creations. Ripping animations is not an easy task, and anyone that engages in it wholesale will also be short-lived. If the seller has any longevity in SL (like their account is a year old or more then it's a good bet the accusation against them is just hot air.

BTW: It's been my experience that those who actually do copybot (steal and sell copies as if their own) of animations and other things also usually price them dirt-cheap. They know they won't be able to last long, so they price them well below normal market value so they can get the most sales fast .. then cash out and run. From what you say, the animations were priced in keeping with normal market value and thus don't fit the "hit and git" mentality of the typical thief.

I would also suggest you look up some names in the animators group then go visit the stores of the people listed. See what products they sell, investigate their profiles and see if they are long-term accounts as well. If you find that the majority are new or inexperienced sellers then that tells you not many "wise" folks use those animations. But if you find a good selection of steady creators and sellers, find their works well built and their stores have good traffic then you can feel a lot safer about your own purchase decision.

We are a Community. Thus look at your fellow members and get the gist of what they're doing .. and use that info to help shape your decision. You might even ask some of them if they've used that animator before, for how long, and what their experience has been.

No matter what happens though, keep in mind that NO one with any experience or intelligence would blame you for making the purchase you did. There is no way to tell beyond doubt that something is stolen or not. There are hints .. to be sure .. but there's no red flags or obvious signs you or anyone else can use. What you've told us though would indicate the hints one normally uses are not there, so if you find that the Animators customer group has a lot of experienced people with a long track record, you can pretty well bet that everything is legit .. and that you are safe to proceed at full speed.

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After giving the matter further thought, I think I would be inclined to AR for harassment the chap who contacted you.   It's not a course of action I would normally recommend but I think if someone's contacting perfect strangers simply because he's seen them in a store's group and issuing vague threats that are nevertheless upsetting (as he's upset you), that's completely unacceptable.

If he says the chap from whom you bought the animations has ripped his content, then he has redress through the DMCA system and should use it.   If he says this chap is ripping someone else's anims, then he should notify the person whose anims he says are being ripped.  He should not be harassing other residents, though.

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What happened was a thief was caught in the act and Linden Labs has already begun to take action against him. Because you were in the Thief's store VIP group, then it is safe to assume that you may have purchased his items at some point in the past.  The Second Life Merchants that this thief stole from have already filed DCMAs against him, and they are now keeping tabs on you and everybody else that was associated with the thief just to be sure that you are not selling stolen merchandise, knowingly or unknowingly.

Right now, you are as much of a victim as the merchants who had their intellectual property stolen from them. As for the Merchants that might be keeping an eye open for any products that you may be selling...... what would you prefer them to do? You had access to their stolen items, and now you may have the ability to resell those stolen items. And, if you did resell them, knowingly or unknowingly, you would also be in violation of the DCMA.

Keep in mind that if you were selling products that you spent many hours creating, and a thief had stolen your items and was reselling them with full permissions, these same Second Life Merchants would be checking up on everyone associated with that thief and letting you know if they found your products being sold without your permission.

Don't blame the Merchants, blame the thief.

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The answer regarding a "take-down" notice is that it takes a whole lot of time. Linden Labs goes out of their way to avoid black-listing any items, and by the time they do black-list an item the damage has already been done. If it was your products the had been stolen I am sure you would want immediate resolution, but with Linden Labs nothing is immediate.


These Merchants are forced to fend for themselves while waiting for Linden Labs to take action. So, they form Merchant protection groups where information regarding theives is exchanged and the overall damage done by a thief is minimized. But, in the end, both the thief and the people that have purchased from him become victims due to loss of money and eventual loss of the stolen/copybotted product once that product finally does make it to the Black-List. But in the mean-time, it is the Merchants that lose out on sales.

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Hi, Xavier.    Since you seem to have some inside information on the topic, maybe you can assist me.

Are you saying that this alleged thief is selling other people's animations he has no right to sell or that he's supposedly made his own copies and is selling those?  

Personally, if I found myself in the OP's position, I would want to be told, by the creator who says his IP rights have been infringed, what the allegedly offending items actually are, so I can check to see if they're among the items I'd bought.    Otherwise I would start to suspect that one animator was trying to destroy a rival animator's business by making claims he could not substantiate.     

ETA -- you answered my point while I was writing.

When do you say the DMCA takedown notice was filed?    I take your point about the impetus behind SL Merchant Protection groups, but in my experience they almost invariably degenerate into vigilante groups pursuing personal vendettas and business rivalries, and are best avoided.

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That is exactly what I am saying. He stole from Silva's Animations and Xclusives Animations. I am the one that the original poster is so ticked off at, because it was me that contacted her and let her know that she had likely purchased stolen animations. I should know, most of them were mine. i am the primary animator for Xclusives.

If you end up selling stolen items then you are just as much subject to DCMA filings and lawsuits as the original thief. I was just giving her fair notice that other Merchants are watching just to be sure she is staying legitimate.

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The items that the thief was selling that had Silva's animations have already been removed, but my DCMA action was filed later and so now I have to wait because Linden Labs isn't smart enough to just get rid of all of this theif's creations and ban his IP address.

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Xavier Pomegranate wrote:

That is exactly what I am saying. He stole from Silva's Animations and Xclusives Animations. I am the one that the original poster is so ticked off at, because it was me that contacted her and let her know that she had likely purchased stolen animations. I should know, most of them were mine. i am the primary animator for Xclusives.

If you end up selling stolen items then you are just as much subject to DCMA filings and lawsuits as the original thief. I was just giving her fair notice that other Merchants are watching just to be sure she is staying legitimate.

So would you agree with me that the OP should be able to resolve her doubts simply by examining the animations she's bought and checking who the creator is?  If it's someone other than the guy from whom she bought them, she should check with them first (and if it's you, she shouldn't be using them).    

But if he is showing as the creator, then she's OK to use them, at least as far as you know?

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