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Is Copybotting a Real Problem?


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I have heard about copybotting for many years. Recently, I have read about it on these forums as being a problem.

Is it? Does it actually exist? Is it a myth?

If it does exist, does it really matter? I have argued here before that it doesn't. I am a woman who spends a lot of money in SL on clothing, avatar parts, furnishings, house parts, etc. I am not willing to spend time and effort looking on freebie sites for stuff that may or may not be good quality instead of just shopping at nice shops that have good-quality stuff and paying for it. I suspect that most people like me behave the same, and I suspect that that group includes most people who spend actual money in SL.


I am sure that there are many accounts who would drag whatever SL shops have copybotted content, but I question that they would be the same ones who would buy it from the original creators. I don't have the time or patience to  drag a bunch of freebie shops looking for free, copybotted stuff. People like me are the ones who matter to creators. It doesn't matter to their bottom lines that someone who would never have paid for something got it free. What matters is that I, and people like me, paid for it. So why are they so hung up on copybotting?

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i think is less of an issue now than it used to be

mostly because with mesh becoming more prevalent, there are a plethora of full permissions building kits on sale for reasonable prices, and also a lot of the copybotters have moved off-platform and are into ripping mesh assets out of games and uploading them to SL. Is "safer" for them to do this as a DMCA takedown of these ripped/copybotted game assets has to be instituted by the asset copyright holder who is less likely to be a vigilant SL creator

there is still a copybot exploit of no-transfer assets due to a technical flaw in the platform, but Linden are aware of this and have said that they monitor it closely, until such time as they can work out a technical solution for the flaw

 

 

Edited by Mollymews
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Copybot does still exist, it still is used to an extent, but hardly anyone uses it. I'm talking like 0.01% of the active SL population.

A major myth is that people believe setting no-mod will prevent copybot. Copybot doesn't care about permissions, if it is seen it can be copybotted.

With freebie shops, the new trend is asset theft from games, however this is easy to spot. Just view the store, if their style is all over the place, they are either:

  1. Selling ripped assets
  2. Selling free assets taken off sketchfab, blendswap, or other sites.
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as in the old days, if you'r affraid for copybotters, yell "Quit!Quit!Quit!Quit.........."  in public chat...
That had the name to help against copybot  (not working of course) But quite some stores had scripts doing that.

Edited by Alwin Alcott
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16 minutes ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

I have heard about copybotting for many years. Recently, I have read about it on these forums as being a problem.

Is it? Does it actually exist? Is it a myth?

If it does exist, does it really matter? I have argued here before that it doesn't. I am a woman who spends a lot of money in SL on clothing, avatar parts, furnishings, house parts, etc. I am not willing to spend time and effort looking on freebie sites for stuff that may or may not be good quality instead of just shopping at nice shops that have good-quality stuff and paying for it. I suspect that most people like me behave the same, and I suspect that that group includes most people who spend actual money in SL.


I am sure that there are many accounts who would drag whatever SL shops have copybotted content, but I question that they would be the same ones who would buy it from the original creators. I don't have the time or patience to  drag a bunch of freebie shops looking for free, copybotted stuff. People like me are the ones who matter to creators. It doesn't matter to their bottom lines that someone who would never have paid for something got it free. What matters is that I, and people like me, paid for it. So why are they so hung up on copybotting?

*blinks*

Yes copy bottling is real.  Yes it matters.  Because it is theft.

It is great that you choose to spend your time & money on virtual products.  
A lot of folks do as well. 
A lot of folks enjoy freebie gifts as well.

Free is not necessarily subpar, nor is it a guarantee that a gift is up to any particular individual’s standard.  I highly doubt it could be proven that folks who spend money in SL also avoid freebies.  Not sure how one would verify that, but you are free to believe whatever you want.  
Not entirely sure what “I am sure that there are many accounts who would drag whatever SL shops have copybotted content, but I question that they would be the same ones who would buy it from the original creators.” means.   Reporting blatant theft means a person wouldn’t buy the authentic product?  
Typically, in the past, accusations & news of intellectual property theft in SL finds its way into the grapevine via blogs & groups, especially when DMCAs are filed.  

It matters that someone takes a few moments to scan an item & uploads it for pennies, potentially selling pirated copies for untold amounts of money until they are stopped or exposed.  The creator who spent hours of their life has a bottom line that is impacted.  Imagine someone stealing a truck full of some expensive tennis shoes, or creating labels for knock off sneakers, sewing those on, & then selling them.  Taking in all that revenue.  The real sneaker creator lost man hours & materials and profits.  It’s not an exact correlation, but it’s as close as I can come up.

it happens- people  copybotting, or taking advantage of a mistake in permissions.
It’s totally okay that you don’t want to spend time investigating every potential purchase.  You shouldn’t have to.

But do not be dismissive of those who freebie hunt.  There’s no reason to suspect freebies are copybotted items.  That would be counterproductive.  Copy otters do what they do to make money.  

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51 minutes ago, Pixie Kobichenko said:

*blinks*

Yes it matters.  Because it is theft.

The act of copybotting is legally debatable. It is considered theft by those who think copying an original is stealing. That is not always the case. Aside that : copying is also part of natural selection. It' s inherit in nature ( monkey see, monkey do ). If it' s technically possible to copy, people will copy.

Copybotting became a  big subject here, because of a weakness of the system. As a result it' s possible to copy that which was intended to be protected by IP. That is what is failing here.

I do not condone copybotting. But I am held responsible as an enduser, which is often frustrating. I unawarely bought at one merchant, who banned me outright, because I was wearing a group tag of a perceived seller of copybotted stuff. It' s a means to stifle competition by accusing the customer for what is bought without malintend.

Edited by TDD123
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1 minute ago, TDD123 said:

The act of copybotting is legally debatable. It is considered theft by those who think copying an original is stealing. That is not always the case. Aside that : copying is also part of natural selection. It' s inherit in nature ( monkey see, monkey do ).

Copybotting became a  big subject here, because of a weakness of the system. As a result it' s possible to copy that which was intend to be protected by IP. That is what is failing here.

I do not condone copybotting. But I am held responsible as an enduser, which is often frustrating. I unawarely bought at one merchant, who banned me outright, because I was wearing a group tag of a perceived seller of copybotted stuff. It' s a means to stifle competition by accusing the customer for what is bought without malintend.

I think when profit for the copier & redirected revenue from the creator come into play it is theft.  Mayhaps my opinion, & I know virtual things might not be the same as tangible product, but if it were to happen to me, I know how I would feel.

it’s like Biff turning in George’s work reports in Back to the Future.  
 

I am. Sorry for your misadventure with the group tag thing.  Random & unfortunate.

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1 minute ago, Pixie Kobichenko said:

I am. Sorry for your misadventure with the group tag thing.  Random & unfortunate.

As I said before : I think the whole copybotting issue is abused amongst merchants to accuse eachother in any case.

Isn' t it up to the teacher or headmaster to decide wether George' s work has been copied or originally created by Biff ? And if they don' t , can we blame Biff, aside harassing George, for (ab)using the system that much ?

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I appreciate you're upset because your shoes got deleted, but that doesn't mean copybotting is mythical. It isn't as common as some merchants think and most of the things people think will stop it are about as effective as hanging a lucky horseshoe over the door, but it doesn't mean it's not real or that it shouldn't be reported if it's found.

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11 hours ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

Is it? Does it actually exist? Is it a myth?

No, it's definitely not a myth. Someone once pointed out a copybotted version of an item I made in SL. The sad part was that I sold the original item (made out of prims, no less) for L$10, so they wasted about 4 times that amount to re-upload the textures.

On a side note, I'm actually quite surprised that you doubt the very existence of the practice of copybotting--an 'is the earth really round'-ish type of question.

11 hours ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

does it really matter?

Not if the item relies heavily on scripting, as vehicles and games do. Scripts can not be copybotted, because the scripts you see 'inside' these objects are mere symbolic links to the uncompiled source code files. Also, a lot of original content can be easily associated with a particular brand in SL, so people who put copybotted items from established creators on display will be called out pretty quickly by members of the creators' customer base.

11 hours ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

So why are they so hung up on copybotting?

It's simply a big slap in the face of any creator of original content, relying on and trusting the permission system devised by Linden Lab. It's especially problematic and demotivating to new creators starting up a business and working hard to get established.

Edited by Arduenn Schwartzman
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Theft is theft.

It is one thing to see someone's work and REPRODUCE that work by regular 3D modeling and texturing (or even prims) and another thing to use copybot viewers to get the item in question.   The original creator may have taken a week of even long days to make an item. And oftentimes the "original creator" used a real life model as a reference so it was not THEIR creation in some sense.   The thief takes a few moments and then sell "the same" product to (usually unsuspecting) avatars. 

 

As mentioned above it "seems" like there is less copybotting these days and more ripping.  As I read the TOS it is not "illegal" (as far as LL is concerned to upload purchased models to SL. This all came about when that practice was not only OKed but advocated for Sansar and with both platforms having (at least in part) the same TOS Sansar policy became part of SL's policy.   The uploading of other people's models can STILL be illegal though  as many of the download websites prohibit uploading to Second Life.  And of course as we have seen in the past, some creators present these models as their own ORIGINAL work and then later get "caught" with fairly heavy backlash.   

 

Copybotting and uploading of stolen mesh is rampant in Opensim. There are whole grids dedicated to stolen work. Likely some of mine is there. I know for a fact there are models from Trompe Loeil, Dutchie, LAQ and MANY clothing and hair brands.    I have alerted some of the creators over the years. 

 

The people that are taking the time -- often many hours or days -- to make items for Second Life really ARE "making our world". They give us choices on how to portray ourselves and our environment. Without them we would all be in cookie cutter mode.  They do NOT deserve being slapped in the face with stolen models floating around. This not only hurts their income, but their egos and their dignity.   Just not good at all IMO. 

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14 hours ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

I am sure that there are many accounts who would drag whatever SL shops have copybotted content, but I question that they would be the same ones who would buy it from the original creators. I don't have the time or patience to  drag a bunch of freebie shops looking for free, copybotted stuff. People like me are the ones who matter to creators. It doesn't matter to their bottom lines that someone who would never have paid for something got it free. What matters is that I, and people like me, paid for it. So why are they so hung up on copybotting?

There is an old saying. "Never say never". By copying somebody's item you are removing all potential for a need to buy the item. Saying in the moment "I wouldn't pay for it" is no excuse. It isn't about whether we would get your money. Its about compensation for our work. If we sell 400 copies of our work, we earn twice as much compensation than if we sold 200. Twice as much - to the penny.

Secondly, creators have the right to sell to you with permissions such as no copy. We also have the right to determine which of our creations are given away free. Copybot takes control away.

Third, copybot enables my product to no longer be my product. When you buy an item, that store is the creator, which creates word of mouth and reputation for quality. Copybotted work can appear to come from the copybotter, which could totally kill commerce in Second Life.

Edited by Adam Spark
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22 hours ago, TDD123 said:

Isn' t it up to the teacher or headmaster to decide wether George' s work has been copied or originally created by Biff ? And if they don' t , can we blame Biff, aside harassing George, for (ab)using the system that much ?

I think we should clear up the terminology here: Copybotting is not the same as plagiarism.

There's always a grayzone when it comes to plagiarism since there's no such thing as a one hundred percent original work. Every creeative person is standing on the shoulders of others.

Copybotting is when somebody rips the actual files for somebody else's works and there's no grayzone there.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, ChinRey said:

I think we should clear up the terminology here: Copybotting is not the same as plagiarism.

There's always a grayzone when it comes to plagiarism since there's no such thing as a one hundred percent original work. Every creeative person is standing on the shoulders of others.

Copybotting is when somebody rips the actual files for somebody else's works and there's no grayzone there.

 

 

I know that they are not the same.  I was trying to draw comparisons as I see them to relate to “is copybotting bad?”  Was one of the examples I thought of to explain my position that yes, stealing someone else’s work & taking credit for it is bad. 

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9 minutes ago, Lillith Hapmouche said:

Well alright, but that's a bit like comparing cows and horses to prove the claim that cats have the softest purr.

& I think you are being very harsh.  
I don’t think it’s a difficult stretch to equate copying or stealing another’s Professional work & copybotting someone else’s SL creation & benefitting from it.  

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On 6/11/2020 at 11:01 AM, Chaser Zaks said:

Copybot does still exist, it still is used to an extent, but hardly anyone uses it. I'm talking like 0.01% of the active SL population.

A major myth is that people believe setting no-mod will prevent copybot. Copybot doesn't care about permissions, if it is seen it can be copybotted.

With freebie shops, the new trend is asset theft from games, however this is easy to spot. Just view the store, if their style is all over the place, they are either:

  1. Selling ripped assets
  2. Selling free assets taken off sketchfab, blendswap, or other sites.

 

Copybot is not a singular tool, of course. I'm sure there are many. A copybot is essentially just a modified/recompiled 3rd party viewer, that purposely ignores permissions. That's an inherent vulnerability of SL, but no more so than copying, say, a video is: if it can be seen -- aka, if a viewer can show an object, or a device a video, etc -- it can be copied. Other than trying to detect the tool, there's very little LL can really do about it.

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3 hours ago, ChinRey said:

I think we should clear up the terminology here: Copybotting is not the same as plagiarism.

There's always a grayzone when it comes to plagiarism since there's no such thing as a one hundred percent original work. Every creeative person is standing on the shoulders of others.

Copybotting is when somebody rips the actual files for somebody else's works and there's no grayzone there.

 

Don't wanna nitpick myself, especially since I know you to be rather computer-savvy, but 'ripping files' is not necessarily what I would say a copybot does. Rather, as I outlined earlier, it simply does what every viewer does: decode the Matrix, as it were, and show you the object/build. Your LL viewer, or FS, simply has every bit of information it needs already to potentially be a copybot -- except we don't call this kind of activity copybotting, of course. :) Only difference being, that a copybot will essentially just use the decoded info, and recreate the object, but sans the permissions set on it. This makes them difficult to beat.

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On 6/11/2020 at 6:35 PM, Jennifer Boyle said:

It doesn't matter to their bottom lines that someone who would never have paid for something got it free. What matters is that I, and people like me, paid for it. So why are they so hung up on copybotting?

So the people who wouldn't have paid for something should just get it for free? That logic is a bit strange.

Plus, if they can get it for free, then how would that be fair to the paying customers?

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13 minutes ago, AdminGirl said:

So the people who wouldn't have paid for something should just get it for free? That logic is a bit strange.

Should they? No. Is there a practical, material impact on the seller? I'm skeptical.

16 minutes ago, AdminGirl said:

Plus, if they can get it for free, then how would that be fair to the paying customers?

How someone else got something, and what it cost them, doesn't affect me. I paid what I paid because it was worth that price to me at the time---or, at least, I thought it would be before I bought it.

I'd never dispute that copying items in violation of laws and/or the TOS is wrong. What I question is how much it matters.

There is a practical way for creators to reduce the vulnerability of some products: add desirable features that depend on scripts. Such products cannot be easily duplicated.

I've wondered about why LL cannot do more in terms of recognizing when two items are so similar that one is likely a copy of the other? Pattern recognition by computers is advanced enough now that it mostly works for faces. Surely mesh objects and textures used on products are simpler than faces to compare and recognize. I've also wondered why there can't be some kind of system of signatures or fingerprints incorporated into low bits that would identify something as a copy.

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35 minutes ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

I've wondered about why LL cannot do more in terms of recognizing when two items are so similar that one is likely a copy of the other? Pattern recognition by computers is advanced enough now that it mostly works for faces. Surely mesh objects and textures used on products are simpler than faces to compare and recognize. I've also wondered why there can't be some kind of system of signatures or fingerprints incorporated into low bits that would identify something as a copy.

Because one person can have multiple accounts, the source files can be shared by the original creator outside of SL, etc.

LL can't guarantee that something is/isn't an illegal copy. It's literally not LL's job to spend the time making those decisions, since they operate under Safe Harbor. They will only take action when a DMCA is filed.

Edited by Wulfie Reanimator
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7 hours ago, Jennifer Boyle said:

Should they? No. Is there a practical, material impact on the seller? I'm skeptical.

How someone else got something, and what it cost them, doesn't affect me. I paid what I paid because it was worth that price to me at the time---or, at least, I thought it would be before I bought it.

I'd never dispute that copying items in violation of laws and/or the TOS is wrong. What I question is how much it matters.

There is a practical way for creators to reduce the vulnerability of some products: add desirable features that depend on scripts. Such products cannot be easily duplicated.

I've wondered about why LL cannot do more in terms of recognizing when two items are so similar that one is likely a copy of the other? Pattern recognition by computers is advanced enough now that it mostly works for faces. Surely mesh objects and textures used on products are simpler than faces to compare and recognize. I've also wondered why there can't be some kind of system of signatures or fingerprints incorporated into low bits that would identify something as a copy.

My view is that those who paid for that something should be the only ones who can enjoy the benefit of owning it.

As for practical impact on seller. I think in a way it does have one. I think if a seller is outright ok with copybotting by those who wouldnt have paid, then it sends a message to some customers that maybe they can get their stuff for free too. I mean, the seller obviously doesn't care so why not start copybotting like the others?I know you're not that kind of customer but not everyone's the same.

I think it should be made a big deal and creators should get hung up on it to send a message. The more taboo something is, the more we discourage and shame people from doing it.

I was never that aware of this issue until a popular creator had to deal with a copybot. Seeing the trouble it caused him having a thief keep visiting the store, it made me more aware of the issue and now if I ever notice any copybotted stuff I would contact the creator. But if I had thought that creators don't care either way, I wouldn't bother. And if that was the case maybe copybotting would become popular.

And the idea that people would only copybot things they wouldn't have paid for is a bit questionable. I don't think they go around stealing junk. It's more likely that they steal things they'd like to have but want to get away with not paying or have the perms to sell and profit off someone else's work.

But yes, I've wondered the same thing - why LL can't do more about it. Copybotting doesn't affect LL's bottom line. Maybe there's a connection.

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