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Sonya Bigboots

How do you protect the clothes and objects you make from being copybotted or pirated?

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How to stop your stuff being pirated or copybotted? Easy, don't sell anything.

Nothing you can do will protect against the threat of copybotting or malicious SL viewers. Thats the harsh but honest truth. No matter what permissions you set, or scripts you add, it doesn't make any difference. Why LL can block Emerald and older SL viewers but can't block copybot or ripper viewers is an interesting problem, which needs dealing with.

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How to stop your stuff being pirated or copybotted? Easy, don't sell anything.

Nothing you can do will protect against the threat of copybotting or malicious SL viewers. Thats the harsh but honest truth. No matter what permissions you set, or scripts you add, it doesn't make any difference. Why LL can block Emerald and older SL viewers but can't block copybot or ripper viewers is an interesting problem, which needs dealing with.

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ultimately there is nothing you can do to stop someone copybotting or pirating stuff if someone wants to bot something they will go out of their way to do it. not creating anything is probably the only way to not get botted but if no one is creating it's not going to help the grid

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As others have said, there is nothing you can do really to 100% protect your creations, just as there is little LL can do to offer 100% protection. Content theft is a problem on the internet in general sadly.

Thankfully, you are protected by the law and should make yourself aware of the DMCA process should you ever need to use it:

http://secondlife.com/corporate/dmca.php

Also note that, despite the drama you may sometimes see, content theft isn't quite as rampant as it is made out to be. Sadly, there are some of the major creators in SL who have had a lot of their content ripped over time but, as a small merchant starting out, the thieves are highly unlikely to target you (and I don't mean that in a rude way. It's just that the thieves are much more likely to target major creators!)

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Nothing really. As I understand it anything you see on your screen is uploading onto your computer on some level, certain illegal viewers simply allow you to access that information. I know if you use photoshop you can purchase extra features which allow you to watermark your textures, but that simply allows you to identify when something has been copied not stop it.

In the end you have to depend on the integrity of your customers. And look at is this way, if people are walking around with your stuff on, copybotted or not, it's free advertising. In fact, if you're getting copybotted it means you must be doing something right. The stuff that gets copybotted is the popular items, like truth hair or akeyo ao's.

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BoyTiny Aironaut wrote:

Why LL can block Emerald and older SL viewers but can't block copybot or ripper viewers is an interesting problem, which needs dealing with.

They can and do, where they are made aware of such copybot viewers.

However, there are still ways for copybot viewers to circumvent such things by spoofing an 'approved' viewer and, more to the point, there are ways for the thieves to steal content even without using a viewer. (Nope - i'm not going to go into details!)

Fact of the matter is though, that LL are fighting a bit of a tough battle. There is only really one way to curb digital theft, and that tends to be quite dramatic too (See RIAA and legal action against lone parents etc! )

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Sonya laughs - tell me something I don't already know!

I realise nothing you can do will eliminate all theft - that's why in real world retail you budget for security and shop lifting losses. Nothing you can do will stop all of the thefts, but you don't leave a shop unlocked and the alarm turned off when you close and go home on an evening. You do what you can to slow the thieves down and make life less easy for them.

So seriously, some creators say it is better to make items copy/no mod/no transfer. And others say it is better to make its no copy/no mod/ transfer.

Which setting will deter the copybotter for slightly longer, and why? Or does it really not make much differnce as long as your items can't be modified?

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Sonya Bigboots wrote:

So seriously, some creators say it is better to make items copy/no mod/no transfer. And others say it is better to make its no copy/no mod/ transfer.

Which setting will deter the copybotter for slightly longer, and why? Or does it really not make much differnce as long as your items can't be modified?

It doesn't make a huge amount of difference.

Personally, I make all my items modify/copy/no transfer. I'd rather offer good customer service by giving them the ability to modify to meet their needs and to copy to take a backup in inventory if necessary. I offer a gifting service too so that peopel can give my items to others as a gift in the absence of transfer permissions.

I honestly believe the people who sell their items "no modify" under the mistaken assumption it offers them any real protection against theft are doing their customers a disservice. There are many legitimate reasons for someone to want to modify a product for size, colour, texture etc and I have no problem with people modifying my items. Ok - so you could offer a range of modifying options via script, and I do occassionally offer that too, but I'll still make the items modify just for convenience.

The only thing I would say is to be very careful to check, double-check and triple check that you never accidentally make anything full perms. Also, when setting perms for prim objects, do so while they are rezzed in-world and not from your inventory. There have been know issues with permissions not sticking correctly when done from inventory (it is ok to set perms on clothing from inventory because obviously you cannot rez the in-world) Also be sure to check that you have set the right permissions on any items within an objects contents (scripts, animations etc) rather than just on the actual object itself.

ETA: Of course, there are those shoppers who prefer Transfer rather than Copy permissions too, should they get bored of the product and wish to give it to someone else, which I can understand. It can be a bit of a no-win situation for merchants. I prefer the Copy approach to give the buyer a safeguard so they can have a backup copy though. If you can afford the prims to double up on all your vendors, one solution is to offer both Copy (No Transfer) and Transfer (No Copy) versions. Ideally though, what we need is a change in the permissions system to offer Copy plus Transfer ONCE! This would mean a shopper can copy the item for backup but, should they then wish to give it to someone else they can do so ONCE but all copies are then purged from their inventory. I imagine that would not be easy to code though!

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All good points Suella,

I just want to get into good habits and ways of working from day one if I can - that is If I ever get to a standard where I would feel happy asking people to pay for stuff I had made

I don't think copy botting is everywhere - most people are decent and don't want to steal.

But I'm guessing if you accidentally left your items copy AND transfer it would appear in a freebie box sooner or later

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I think I agree with everything you have said Suella.

I don't like it myself when you buy an outfit but can't modify the prim accessories to fit your own body shape. I myself am less likely to buy no-mod items becasue I know they will probably not fit me right.

And thank you for pointing out it is better to set permisions on the rezzed object rather than from the inventory- that's the sort of thing you only normally find out hasn't worked when its too late.

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Technical measures

First of all, as others have already mentioned, what can be seen can be copied. That's how digital media work. But you can make it more difficult, so that the not-so-determined ones won't do it.

  • Learn the SL permission system. While the restrictions you impose through this system can be worked around, it still serves well as an easy way to communicate your intentions. It helps others to honor your intentions, because TPVp compliant viewers will not allow them to do anything that would go against it, so they won't do such things by accident. For that to work out, you have to know the implications of the different permissions and how they interact.

Legal measures

IANALTINLABBQETC

If the copying has infringed on your copyrights (note that that's not always the case, copyright law knows some exceptions), you can sue whoever has done it and/or invoke the DMCA process. If the copying required working around SL's permission system, doing so was probably a breach of the ToS and can be reported to LL.

However, all these steps are obviously only available after the fact and it's questionable if they are worth the trouble. That being said, reporting ToS or DMCA violations to LL is relatively easy, quick and painless, so probably worth a try (be sure not to make any false claims, though, or you can get yourself in legal trouble). Suing might be more difficult and can get expensive. Also, most courts probably won't even be willing to investigate cases that are only about some US$ worth of digital goods.

Social measures

These are probably the most effective, but they require you to understand why unallowed copying happens.

It's probably save to assume that there are three groups of potential copiers:

  • Those who do it for the sake of it
    • These wouldn't buy your products, even if they weren't able to copy them. Annoying but no real loss. Don't care about them, there are better ways to spend your time. If you can, try to be proud that they consider your stuff worth copying.
  • Those who do it for profit
    • They sell your products without your permission or use them as free advertisement for other stuff
    • If they are actually making profit, the legal measure above might have some more grip, because you could more believably argue that those gains are (at) your loss.
    • Make sure your products are more easily available from you (or from legal re-sellers, if any) than from the scammers. If the scammers can't offer a better shopping experience than you do, why would anyone want to buy from them?
  • Potential customers
    • They decided not to buy from you, but to go with an unauthorized copy instead.
    • If they learned how to do the copies themselves and if they experience the reasons not to buy often enough, they might over time turn into one of the first group (the for-the-sake-of-it copiers).
    • If they aren't technically skilled and determined enough to copy themselves, they might turn into customers of the second group (the for-profit one)

I think the third group is the important one. Key is to give them as few reasons to go for illicit copies and as possible, and instead give them good reasons to buy from you. How can this work? Don't have any customer regret a purchase

    • Reasonable pricing
      • If your products aren't worth the money you demand for them, but people still want them anyway (some people are like this), some will consider ripp-offs as an alternative
    • Reasonable permissions
      • If customers think they should be able to do something with something they bought and paid money for, but can't, they will feel betrayed and won't think they're doing anything wrong when working around those restrictions.
      • Make sure the customer is aware of restrictions before buying.
    • Apply to honour
      • Make your customers proud of supporting you with their purchases. It should be obvious to them that paying for your products is a good way to show appreciation for your work as artist and honest merchant. Of course, this can only work, if your products are reasonably affordable. (Which doesn't mean that you have to sell everything cheap. Quality may cost.)
      • Make clear that illicit copying is unright and hurting you. Be careful and gentle at doing so, though: If you are perceived as whiny, avaricious or threatening, it might even be counter-productive and you'd risk not to be taken seriously.
    • Make your customers love you
      • If buying from you is buying from a friend, you don't have a lot to fear. Helping friends is popular in SL.
      • Trust your customers (not beyond what's reasonable, of course) and they will trust you.

An interesting method to drive copiers out of business might be to employ business models where they have a hard time to compete (because they require artistic talent, and/or access to intermediate data that you don't distribute, e.g. the high-resolution multi-layer photoshop/GIMP file that you created a texture from):

  • Offer base products cheap or even for free and make the real money on customizations that cater to individual customers' whishes
    • Depending on how much work it takes to fulfil a customer wish, the commission can be rather expensive, as long as the customer knows what price to expect.
  • Offer you products at normal to high prices, but include a customization in the purchased package.
    • In this scenario you'd probably want to limit how elaborate the included customization may be.

If someone else is more successful at customizing your products than you are yourself, you must ask yourself whether you are in the right business. If you are sure you are, you should probably consider to partner up with them to be able to satisfy your common customers even better. Except of course if your business is to provide base products that are meant to be customized by anyone. (If so, be sure to set the permissions so that it is possible.)

I should probably mention that I myself don't have any inworld business, so I haven't tried any of the above. Use at your own risk and good luck with your endeavors!

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Sonya Bigboots wrote:

I think I agree with everything you have said Suella.

I don't like it myself when you buy an outfit but can't modify the prim accessories to fit your own body shape. I myself am less likely to buy no-mod items becasue I know they will probably not fit me right.

I even want modify ability on the system clothing - especially on the glitch pants to a skirt.

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LittleMe.Jewell wrote:

Sonya Bigboots wrote:

I think I agree with everything you have said Suella.

I don't like it myself when you buy an outfit but can't modify the prim accessories to fit your own body shape. I myself am less likely to buy no-mod items becasue I know they will probably not fit me right.

I even want modify ability on the system clothing - especially on the glitch pants to a skirt.

That's a very good point LittleMe. People might legitimately want to change the length of glitch pants, for example.

The way I look at it, a person has every right to modify one of my items of clothing I sell, just like in RL they have every right to get out the needle and thread to alter clothing.

I think some merchants get a little over-protective of their items. I mean, to be honest, I'd get a wee bit upset if someone applied all new textures to one of my clothing designs. I put my ego aside though because it is absolutely their right to do that if they so wish. Once they have bought it, it should be theirs to do as they wish with as a single item (not as an item they can copy and distribute freely unless I specify it as such).

(I'm concentrating on clothing here because that's my forte!)

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That was a really great read Boroondas, and I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestions of making potential customers want to buy with you as opposed to getting something free and/or illegally.

That's the key to good business. Provide quality products, a great shopping experience and good customer service and you will always get customers. That's why all the big popular merchants in SL continue to get lots of customers even though some of their items are copied and freely distributed.

There really are a majority of honest people in SL willing to pay for quality. It's unfortunate that a few prefer to copy and steal, but we just need to keep striving for honesty and quality and keep them in the minority.

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Id really like to know how you recognize something that is copybotted. when you click an item you get in my viewer (emergence) only able to see the creators profile and a couple other things to go by. most if not all legit creators have a store in their profile. I have noticed that on one particular person i know of that does not have full profiles on some items he is wearing, has the creator with nothing in the profile at all..its blank, and inded one of these so called creators is in fact his alt.

problem really is how do you track down the original maker? i kind of recognize the style of clothing but for proof how easy is it to find out?..and if indeed i should try and find the original creator or AR him or just let him do what he wants. part of me wants to get some justice for the original creator but another part just says mind your own business.

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Destiny.Dagostino wrote:

Id really like to know how you recognize something that is copybotted. when you click an item you get in my viewer (emergence) only able to see the creators profile and a couple other things to go by. most if not all legit creators have a store in their profile. I have noticed that on one particular person i know of that does not have full profiles on some items he is wearing, has the creator with nothing in the profile at all..its blank, and inded one of these so called creators is in fact his alt.

problem really is how do you track down the original maker? i kind of recognize the style of clothing but for proof how easy is it to find out?..and if indeed i should try and find the original creator or AR him or just let him do what he wants. part of me wants to get some justice for the original creator but another part just says mind your own business.

There isn't really a 100% foolproof way to know if something is copybotted.

Most of it is discovered by people recognising an item and seeing that the creator is not the person they know to be the creator, like you indicated.

If you do discover something like this, my advice would be to always contact who you know to be the original creator giving them as much detail (with screenshots) as you can. This will help them to file the relevant DMCA notices. If you are unsure who the original creator is, or are unsure if it is an illegal copy or not, my advice would be to just leave it. It's admirable to want to help in getting the right justice (I do too!) but I also don't want to go around making accusations that i'm not 100% sure of.

However, it should also be noted that if you see evidence of someone using copybotting tools you should then AR them (with supporting evidence - chat logs, screenshots etc) For example - if you see someone openly admit to illegal copying you should AR them with the chatlogs, or if you see someone standing next to an avatar and miraculously copying everything from them (skin, clothes etc) onto themselves.

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