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Growing Trend of Sims with Photo Restrictions


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With a trend that seems to be growing in SecondLife regarding the number of SL's most amazing Sims adding photo restriction rules in their sim / parcel conenents, I wanted to post a blog on the issue in hopes that many of my fellow SL Photo Artists are aware of these legal restrictions that SIM Owners can place and override teh LL TOS.

I also wanted to explain as fairly as possible to some of you amazing SL Sim builder / creators / 3D Artists how these restrictions might be doing your sims more damage than good by restricting SL photography for the the purposes of commercial use.

I have posted a blog this past weekend on the topic and I tried to fairly portay both sides as there is no WRONG OR RIGHT answer. I even IM'ed two of my fave Sim Building Artists - the Looking Glass and the Calas owners to show them the blog and talk to them. I asked them both to comment on my blog to tell their sides of the story.

Tymus Tenk from the amazing Calas Galadhon group of sims was happy I brought this to his attention and was not aware how his reent Covenent rules was actually impacting artist like me.  I ask Ty if he could comment on my blog to tell his side of the story - and he did in great detail with a very positive response.  You must read all comments including his on my main blog.

This blog is also to spark greater awareness to the countless SL Residents that are taking SL snapshots / photography for both personal and commercial reasons.  So many SL residents are not aware of both the LL Rights they are entitled to as well as the various level of limits / restrictions / precautions they should know when taking photos.

I encourage all my fellow SL Artists to read my blog, post your comments / opinions, and tell your fellow Sl Artists.

Main Blog on Growing Photo Restrictions on Sims

Toysoldier Thor

http://ToyTalks.weebly.com

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Thanks for the blog information on that.  yikes.

Where does one find a particular sim's rules on that?  is it handed to you when you arrive?

I'll tell you what....

I sure hope I don't hear a sim owner complaining about making tier fees or not being able to make it in SL....if they've got those regulations attached.

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If a Sim / Parcel owner decides to override the LL TOS, he/she must place the stated restriction in the COVENANTS section / tab of the Land properties.

So when you arrive on a land and click on the top of the window and call up land properties... the second tab after general is Covenants.  All rules stated by the owner regarding the land - including photography rules - must be stated here.

IF it says the land has no covenants, then the LL TOS rules as I provided a link to - is in place.

Basically this means photographers have a wide range of right to the photos they take and how they use it - including commercial, as long as all other copyright and IP rights are followed (i.e. you cannot take a photo of a copyrighted logo, etc.)

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ok, very familiar with that tab....just had not thought to examine each sim when I take photos.

going to have to go through some sims and revisit, as I post pics on twitter, and add to blogs.

although that might not be considered "commercial" use by some definitions....betcha some would make a correlation there.

hopefully someone will point out to them how having their sim mentioned several hundred times is not a negative.

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commercial means your photos or derivitives of your photos (i.e. photo art, backdrops, textures, etc.) are used in some manner to generate some form of income for you.  This could be selling backdrops of sim photos or SL photo art on the SL Marketplace or inworld galleries, or RL online sites or converted to rl print and sold.  If you derive a form of value from the exchange of your photos with another - its a photo used for commercial purpose.

Lets clarify that a Sim / Parcel owner (creator) often has a photo restriction that may only be a conditional use like "photos on the sim are allowed as long as any use of the photos in any way will include credit of the creator and the SLURL location".

Many photo restriction on sims are quite fair if they state one and often these restrictions are not much different than RL conditions or restrictions.  The only issue that Sim Owners should keep in mind when stating a photo condition / restriction is that SL Photographers and Photo Artists are often one of a Sim Owner's largest source of promotion.  If sim promotion is the Sim owners objective - they they should be careful that their photo restrictions does not scare aware some of SL's most famous and quality photo artists.

 

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If they take photos there for commercial use they are making money off the sim. 

My question would be: Do they ever tip the sim owner?

We had someone who told us they were using our land for their photographs and photography clients. How did we know? They complained.

They wanted us to landscape it a certain way to improve the quality of their photographs.

Did they ever tip? No.

If more land owners are saying "no photographs allowed" ask yourself why.

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This makes me laugh. "Fix your sim so we can take better pictures, but it's not like we'll ever tip you or anything with the money we make using your sim." The arrogance is hilarious, in a sad kind of way.

I haven't yet run into a sim with a "no pictures" rule, but then, I rarely take pictures. It doesn't seem to make much sense, anyway, since people taking pictures is free publicity for the sim. As long as the sim is credited, I don't see why it would be a problem.

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When you take a picture of a build that some one else does, you're taking a picture of some one else's artwork. That's what it really boils down to. It's the same as if someone walked into your gallery and took pictures of your work. A person's artwork is copyrighted at the moment of creation. So sim owners have every right to lock down their work how ever they see fit. You may attribute the work, but the sad truth is many don't. 

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Mylar wrote:

When you take a picture of a build that some one else does, you're taking a picture of some one else's artwork. That's what it really boils down to. It's the same as if someone walked into your gallery and took pictures of your work. A person's artwork is copyrighted at the moment of creation. So sim owners have every right to lock down their work how ever they see fit. You may attribute the work, but the sad truth is many don't. 

Mylar, I understand and agree what you are saying BUT you need to read the TOS on SL Photography / SNAPSHOTS to see that all SL residents (even if they did not take the time to read the TOS) have agreed that BY DEFUALT and unless the owner of the parcel of land deems otherwause - had allow photography of that creators build for what ever use the photographer sees fit.  EVEN IF the photographer took photos of a sim without any credit to the creator / parcel owner and sold these photos as backdrops.  This is the issue specifically that happened to Ty and his lands.  Is that sleezy and unethical to sell photos of Ty's work without credit at all?  YES... Was it illegal?  NO.

I dont want to focus on Ty's group of lands and I am only using his lands as an example, but if Ty did not want to restrict creative art inspired by his lands yet wanted to stop abuse like the person that sold photos of his land with NO CREDIT, he had and has the right in the covenents to state that ALL PHOTOS TAKEN AND RE-PUBLISHED or SOLD must provide attribution of the Calas Creators and the sim location.  But initially Ty restricted photos for any commercial use - which is his right but negatively impacts far more than what he intended.  He is not the only sim owner that had started doing this.

BUT, because of this blog and my talk with Ty, he didnt realize the negative impact his policy had on us honest photo artists and it was not his intention to discourage us.  So he has re-worded his covenent and countless SL Photographers are very happy.

But this blog was to address the bigger issue - not just Ty's lands... but a growing number of lands that are restricting without realizing the impacts of their decision.... including reduced traffic because of lost promtoion by photo artists.

As for taking photos of SL hanging paintings.... I guess technically you could be right but all my art is signed and in the note a copyright.  LL TOS states that SL photographers cannot violate any other copyright or IP content - photo'ing signed wallart would potentially violate copyright.  So no... photoing a sl painting on a wall is not the same as photo'ing a sim build unless the sim owner explicitly states the rights and restrictions of photography on the land.

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Basically you're saying pretty much what I said. And, yes, Ty is really an exception to this situation as he is not concerned about traffic or profit. And understand, what I'm about to say is not directed at you, Toy, you actually do something with your photos. But I've seen so many "artists" that simply take a straight on snapshot of someone else's build and call it their own. As a builder I find this offensive. Eventually I will need to expand to an entire sim build, and as long as this is going on I will put the same restrictions on the land. It's unfortunate, but the small amount of traffic I would lose from you and other legitimate artists will be worth the cost of keeping out those who abuse that right.

Not trying to start a debate, just pointing out that the issue goes beyond just some land owners arbitrarily locking down their land. They have concerns that also need to be addressed. I know who the big names are in the SL artist community, and you are among them, as are some of the people who commented on your blog. You're on the right track bringing this issue out in the open, you just need to take it a step further. If the sim owners know that their issues are also being addressed, they will be more likely to open their sims up to you and others again.

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Mylar wrote:

Basically you're saying pretty much what I said. And, yes, Ty is really an exception to this situation as he is not concerned about traffic or profit. And understand, what I'm about to say is not directed at you, Toy, you actually
do
 something with your photos. But I've seen so many "artists" that simply take a straight on snapshot of someone else's build and call it their own. As a builder I find this offensive. Eventually I will need to expand to an entire sim build, and as long as this is going on I will put the same restrictions on the land. It's unfortunate, but the small amount of traffic I would lose from you and other legitimate artists will be worth the cost of keeping out those who abuse that right.

Not trying to start a debate, just pointing out that the issue goes beyond just some land owners arbitrarily locking down their land. They have concerns that also need to be addressed. I know who the big names are in the SL artist community, and you are among them, as are some of the people who commented on your blog. You're on the right track bringing this issue out in the open, you just need to take it a step further. If the sim owners know that their issues are also being addressed, they will be more likely to open their sims up to you and others again.

No debate needed as to what both the builders of sims (which by the way I am one of and where I make most of my $ in SL and where I say that some of SL's biggest and most popular Sim builders have and are using my rocky terrains and waterfalls and hoodoos etc as part of their beautitful sims that are being photographed) and sl photo artists / casual photographers know is the problem. 

It is those photographers of sims that either knowingly or naively take photographs of sims and disrespect the sim builders (and more importantly the creators of all the 3D content on the sim) talents and efforts by NOT having the courtesy to at minimum post/publish/note that the photos they took and are displaying in sites like flickr and/or selling in some manner includes content from the creator of the sim/location/SLURL in SL. 

Even though without a stated covenent by the land owner - this practice by all SL photographers should generally be a minimum ethical practice BUT we must understand and keep in mind what LL's original intent was for the wording and rights of the TOS.  They envisioned (and I fully see their point here) that a publically accessible land is SL should be treated no different than a publically accessible land in RL. 

If you go to a state or even private park in real life - a park that was manicured and beautifully grooms by some caretaker of the lands - and you toook a set of photographs of these lands (or city scape etc), then you would naturally expect and rightly so be entitled to use your photographs in ANY WAY you wished - including framing them and selling them for profit.  You also would not have to contact the owner of park and ask if it is OK photo the park prior to taking photos or selling them.  The only time this would be an issue is if while you are driving into some private land and the owner puts up a sign saying NO PHOTOGRAPHY IS ALLOWED ON MY LAND - then you would have to abide by the owner of the land's rights or dont access the land.

This is exactly what LL envisioned with their photo TOS.  Only difference between RL and SL is that everything in SL is created by someone.  Even many sim builders/creators use other creator's textures, prim builds, rocks, etc.  So it might be their build and assembly but not all their creations.  but I digress...  As such, as sleezy as it sounds that a photographer goes onto a SL publically accessible land and takes photos of your sim and then sells them raw as a backdrop, its his right to do so and based on LL intention - he should have that right.  BUT... where I think ALL photographers of SL should be much more aware and be more courteous is to at least GIVE CREDIT to the creators of the sim lands.

Ironically, even if they did credit what they believe is the CREATOR of the Lands / builds, not all creators are being credited if the creator of the land used other creator's works as part of his/her build.  Again, I know several sims / parcels of lands that are built with my landscape rock terrains.  I also know my rocks and waterfalls are used on 100's if not 1000's of sim builds.  Many of my customers are SL SIM Landscapers for their customers. 

You know where I am going with this.... No one credits my and my work that made up at least a part of the beauty of that sim nor is 99% of the cases does a sim creator or owner put up a sign on their lands stating... "the following creators and their 3D components were used for the build of this sim...".   But... as much as it would be valuable for me and my rocks and water to be recognized as part of these amazing sims, I dont worry about it.  Its just the cost of participating in SL.

So I guess in many cases one can take this concern by sim owners abou this supposed abuse of photography of sims without credit and actually trickle down the abuse that sim owners are also not building sims without credit of the components of the sim that they did not build themselves but simply bought and installed.  But as a builder of landscape material for sims... I am not concerned if a sim creator / owner does not formally credit me.  Just would be nice if they say where the rock came from when asked as opposed to the sim owner simply saying - "look at the beautiful sim I created".

hmmmmm I guess this issue of abuse has a slippery slope. :)

Finally Mylar, my last point is something that both Ty and myself agreed on - it really doesnt matter if you or him or other sim creators put formal covenents on your lands banning photography... since the only ones that you will stop from abusing your sim creations are the honest artists and those are are also aware to read your covenent.  In honest truth, those that will blatently abuse your rights will not stop because you put up a covenent nor do you or most sim creators have the time nor energy nor money to police and enforce the policy.  So put on a restriction that in all honesty will only ban the honest ones that you actually do not want to discourage.  THAT IS WHY TY REWORDED HIS SIM COVENENT.

This same abuse happens all the time to many of us artists and our art.  I have a 6 floor art gallery with 50 of my works.  Do you not think that on several occassions some SL residents have actually come to my gallery and taken a snapshot of my art and used it on their own - even though they fully see I sell the art?  Abuse happens in SL regardless if I put up a sign at the front door of my gallery or not.

Just some thoughts to keep in mind.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 10 months later...

There are many issues here, and many things not clear enough... First, how many SL residents actually read TOS? We know it from RL, its a common thing that people don't bother to read long text and just click "I agree" (or sign contracts). The trickiest parts of RL contracts are written in small font and burried deep amongst pages of text. Actuall reading and gathering informations takes place after a problem occurs. 

What I think a common thing is that SL residents, the big majority, dont know TOS. Many of us who read it, forgot most of it. And not just that, there are many people who still find online activities as a kind where no rules are applied. They think its ok to do whatever you like, steal, cheat and get away with it, because in most cases they do. 

But, when it comes to photos, LL gave us right to do whatever we like with our photos taken inworld, as long as they are not protected. Any random stranger is free to take a screenshot and sell it. And every creator is free to protect his work. 

If there are people willing to buy a simple screenshot (named background/texture/artwork) then we have 2 problems, one is a poor taste of those buyers and other is merchants who use it. I've seen a screenshot taken inworld, released as a background for selling in one big well known shop, and after a group member pointed out that there is an avatar in that "background" (obviously that so called photographer didn't bother to edit it), a merchant decided to generously give it as a group gift. ???!!! 

I would be happy if more sim owners follow this trend, point out that the photos taken on their sims are free for selling as long as they are real derivative works and a proper credit is given. And even happier if they could actually have the ability to chase down every single f *** stu*** "photographer" who thinks its ok to earn money on someone else's work, presenting it as their own, and not even saying thank you to the person who probably spent hours if not days in trying to make something nice!

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I don't think you see the whole picture there... Advertising goes both ways. Lets say I am starting out as a photographer and I want to get some exposure. The easiest thing is to go visit a sim with big traffic, take few screenshots, post them on Flickr and tag with the name of the sim, name of the sim owner, and few other words. I would get many views not because I made a great photo, but because I used well known names that show up in search! 

But that's not the issue here, it is people who use others work and present them as their own. Lets say I go in your SL home (I don't know if you have one but imagine you have a beautiful home with a garden and everything) and take a screenshot of your garden, name it "Nature background" and sell on the MP for 299L$. And you see tons of reviews saying how amazing my work is. But the work is just a screenshot, with no editing at all! Would you be happy with it? 

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