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Maeve Balfour

Ripped meshes - How do we responsibly report MP breaches?

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This is a topic I hesitate to bring up, but I feel it's something that needs discussing.... that of ripped / stolen game meshes.

I browse through the Marketplace several times daily, searching via the keyword "Mesh" and sorting by "Age: Newest First". Mostly because I just love looking at what people create in general, and also as an occasional buyer myself. However, every now and then, up pops something (usually an avatar replacement), which is either a mesh ripped directly from a game, or a very blatant intellectual property breach (or both, if the merchant is really stupid - labelling their avatar mesh WITH the name of the actual game character, for example).

I know this thread is technically suited to the merchant forum or other.... but... for us as mesh creators, who are often familiar with content in general (from outside of SL - games related, Turbosquid, DAZ, Poser etc), we can often spot a mesh rip from a mile off.... BUT we have no clear avenue to report these issues. I know that copyright breaches can only be reported by the actual IP owners themselves... which I guess is there to prevent nasty actions from rival merchants in general.... but, at the same time, it prevents us from responsibly reporting blatant breaches.

So my question is... For us as responsible mesh creators, who can often easily spot blatant (or suspected) mesh rip-offs on the Marketplace... what is our best course of action? Just ignore it? Or is there an avenue we can use to alert LL directly?

(For the record - My only motive in this issue is to give LL a heads-up when I spot things like this, as they cannot possibly monitor everything with their limited resources - our eyes can help with keeping a lid on this kind of illegal activity).

Thoughts?

 

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Great question. Here's how I've always done it. Whenever I come across any obviously stolen content, I notify the rightful owner. They can then pursue it any way they see fit.

 

Notifying LL yourself really isn't the right approach. They have no way of knowing the owner's intent. What if the alleged infringer actually has the owner's permission? How is LL to know who does and who doesn't? Imagine the problems that could be caused if they tried to intervene on these things without first having been asked to by the owner.

 

It's crucial to let the owner handle it. Once the owner knows of the problem, they can have LL remove the content. If the owner is OK with it, then of course there's no problem in the first place. Either way, it's not up to any of us, or to LL to decide.

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Chosen: Yah, that's probably the best approach (notifying the rightful owner), and I have done that on a couple of occasions when I have spotted stolen DAZ content. And I can understand the potential quagmire with LL trying to police things (owner permissions etc).

Still, it's a really irksome topic. The sheer brazen stupidity of examples I am seeing lately is gobsmacking.

I'm not wishing to be a vigilante, ever. Just trying to protect LL, SL, and ourselves from the idiocy of the few. You're right though - that the owners of the IP are the best to deal with it. I guess going to the relevant websites of the IP owners, and contacting them from there, would be the best approach? A bit of legwork, but worth it in the long run.

 

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Someone suggested recently inb another thread that it would be good if LL required a statement like, "Used by permission of..." whenpeople sold items based on content owned by others.  I think that would be an excellent idea.  As it stands, no one but the seller of the item and the owners of the rights to its content know whether anything improper is going on or not.

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A statement along those lines would definitely be of help... but I assume it would only be reliable IF such statements were verified somehow. If it was just based on an honesty system (such as a tickbox to state that you have permission etc), I imagine it would be abused by those who simply don't care - just like uploaders of stolen mesh blatantly choose to ignore their obligations despite having done the mesh upload quiz.

I guess from a legal standpoint, it would be a bit of extra ammo usable against thieves, since they would have knowingly stated that they have "permission" to upload when they do not.... so if their actions were legally acted upon, I guess they wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

It's a pity that often it's the customer who gets burned in the scheme of things, when they buy in good faith. Buyer beware, of course, but still... it's such a minefield out there.

:matte-motes-sour:

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What is now a trickle will undoubtedly become at some point a flood. With the abundance of free-to-rip meshes out there, it is simply inevitable. If the IP owners want to spend hours monitoring SL Marketplace and more hours filing DMCA, they can. But I doubt many will, esp when LL does not remove content from infringers' inventories but just from MP or inworld. And once LL has done that, infringers are free to begin selling again immediately.

 

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Maeve Balfour wrote:

So my question is
... For us as responsible mesh creators, who can often easily spot blatant (or suspected) mesh rip-offs on the Marketplace... what is our best course of action? Just ignore it?

It depends. If there is a legal way to obtain that mesh/character in SL (e.g. from the original creator or a merchant with a distribution license), I will report the incident to them. Otherwise I will ignore it, because the IP owner obviously has no interest in the platform, and the infringer is merely filling the void.

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If you do want to get that straightened out... collect a list of items, point out how much they cost in realworld currency, send it to whowever holds the rights. I've done that a few times, it usually does get results quite quickly.

In the long run I'm afraid it's Don Quixote fighting windmills. The majority of people in and out of SL don't give a damn about IP, coming up with endless excuses of why stealing some electronic good just isn't so bad. It's up to the end user to not buy stolen content, IF they can tell it's stolen. I know I can't always tell.

It's not a new issue either. Look at gestures. Most of them are stolen. Look at music boxes and the like. Most are stolen. There's people making money in SL by renting out videos that I highly doubt they have licensed for that. And so on and so forth. Enter any popular movie as search term and you get pages of results.

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Pamela Galli wrote:

... LL does not remove content from infringers' inventories but just from MP or inworld....

 

I am curious about this.  I have had content (that I acquired from someone else and had no idea was not legitimate) removed from my inventory by LL.  Is mesh handled differently than other content?

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Jennifer Boyle wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

... LL does not remove content from infringers' inventories but just from MP or inworld....

 

I am curious about this.  I have had content (that I acquired from someone else and had no idea was not legitimate) removed from my inventory by LL.  Is mesh handled differently than other content?

That has happened on a few occasions -- most famous probably the stolen dances. (And if I recall correctly, all copies of the dances, stolen or not, were removed from inventories).  Last I heard there was some kind of beta testing going on where stolen things would be removed from inventory, I suppose what Rodvik referred to in his speech about content theft -- but have not heard anything more about that in months.  But I can tell you from experience, LL does not as a matter of course go through ppl's inventories searching for somone's ripped stuff, DMCA or not. The person who stole dozens of my sculpts and textures continues to happily crank out new content using them.

 

Second Life is well known as a thieve's paradise already; I suppose its fame will spread.

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Masami Kuramoto wrote:

Otherwise I will ignore it, because the IP owner obviously has no interest in the platform, and the infringer is merely filling the void.

You have no way of knowing what the owner is or isn't interested in, Masami.  For all you know, they might be planning to release SL content at a future date, but haven't gotten there yet.  They might well have an important time-release strategy across a multitude of platforms, and the unauthorized copies could interefere with the plan.

But whether any such plans exist or not is entirely beside the point.  Only the owner has the right to determine whether, where, and how, copies of his or her work are to exist.  No one else gets to step up and say, "You didn't put your stuff over here, so I'm just gonna go ahead and put it there myself." If the owner chooses not to put copies in SL, that's it, end of story.  That particular content just doesn't get to exist in SL.

This notion of yourse, of "filling the void", is pretty frightening.  You make it sound as if you believe the public is somehow entitled to have the works, whether the owner chooses to provide them or not.  That is a downright digusting attitude.  If the onwer has no interest in SL, then the owner's IP doesn't get to exist in SL, period.  It's that simple.

 

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Pamela Galli wrote:

 LL does not remove content from infringers' inventories but just from MP or inworld. 

Do you know this for a fact?  Under the law, they're supposed to remove all infringing copies from their system, once they've received a proper takedown notice.  That would include copies in all inventories, which of course includes the infringer's inventory.  I have a hard time believing they wouldn't comply with the law.  What (non-anecdotal) evidence do you have that they're not?

 


Pamela Galli wrote:

 The person who stole dozens of my sculpts and textures continues to happily crank out new content using them.

Assuming you filed a proper takedown notice, to get the stolen copies removed, how do you know the copies actually remained in the thief's inventory?  How do you know the the thief did not simply re-upload them after they poofed the first time?

In any case, service providers are supposed to delete the accounts of repeat offenders.  I would talk to LL's legal department about this if I were you.

I'd also sue the thief.  If you don't want to take it that far, that's up to you.  I would.

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Jennifer Boyle wrote:

I am curious about this.  I have had content (that I acquired from someone else and had no idea was not legitimate) removed from my inventory by LL.  Is mesh handled differently than other content?

It shouldn't be.

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Chosen Few wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

 LL does not remove content from infringers' inventories but just from MP or inworld. 

Do you know this for a fact?  Under the law, they're supposed to remove all infringing copies from their system, once they've received a proper takedown notice.  That would include copies in all inventories, which of course includes the infringer's inventory.  I have a hard time believing they wouldn't comply with the law.  What (non-anecdotal) evidence do you have that they're not?

 

Pamela Galli wrote:

 The person who stole dozens of my sculpts and textures continues to happily crank out new content using them.

Assuming you filed a proper takedown notice, to get the stolen copies removed, how do you know the copies actually remained in the thief's inventory?  How do you know the the thief did not simply re-upload them after they poofed the first time?

In any case, service providers are supposed to delete the accounts of repeat offenders.  I would talk to LL's legal department about this if I were you.

I'd also sue the thief.  If you don't want to take it that far, that's up to you.  I would.

I have contacted the LL legal dept., for all the good it did, but thanks for the tip. I too, had a hard time believing that they did not feel compelled by law to remove ALL infringing content -- and believe me, I made it clear that ALL means ALL. LL disagrees. ALL means SOME.

This particular thief -- the one that went through my 4 sim store copying every single thing she wanted -- is in Italy. If she was in the US, yes, I would sue.

LL told me they would only remove things from her inventory if I knew what she had named them.  I provided a list of what I called them, and UUIDs for each one (and photographs) but this was insufficient.  "Repeat Offender" is apparently in the eye of the beholder, because I filed on her more than once. She also used content from other creators, some of whom may have filed on her as well. Last I checked, she was still using my content.

My store supports my family and one employee; when it comes to content theft I make it my business to know the law. You don't want anecdotal evidence, but I have it in abundance from other creators -- my tale is hardly unique.

In any event, no, you will not see much action taken against mesh rippers. They, like other rippers, can do as they damn well please in SL. I suppose I should not be surprised when a non-merchant is not that well informed on the subject.

 

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Since I have been a developer for the Crytek CryEngine for a couple of years, when I saw a Crysis game "Nanosuit" soldier character, I notified Crytek directly.  Either they don't care, or the effort to swat the infringers is not worth the trouble, since the models are still there.  The game has sold 2.5 million copies, so do they really care about a few hundred ripped characters?  I don't know, I did my part and let them know about it, and leave it to them what to do about it.  If it was me, I would use it as an opportunity to sell more games, and let people sell the characters in SL as long as they include links to the original.

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I suggest starting threads on the forums at daz3d and renderosity. Over there post links and screenshots, asking for the creator to come forward, and a link to where on the SL website one can go to file DCMA claims.

If its Daz content, or some of the major makers - expect some smackdown.

Many Renderosity and Daz artists are SL users - so also by posting there you might get them to come forward and say "yeah that's me with that listing" from the same user name as its originally sold under - proving the SL one is legit.

 

I've already seen something as blatent as an official Daz3d mesh - the flagship female model, put out by Daz and not one of their partner-creators, listed as an avatar on Marketplace - using the same name as the Daz product... and if its not a rip, its an amazingly good remake...

Also saw a mesh set of a village from the middle ages that looked very similar to one on Daz - though this looked different enough that I think it was just similar style.

I've not been a regular on daz or renderosity for about 5 years though - so I'm no longer current with what is over there.

 

 

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DanielRavenNest Noe wrote:

Since I have been a developer for the Crytek CryEngine for a couple of years, when I saw a Crysis game "Nanosuit" soldier character, I notified Crytek directly.  Either they don't care, or the effort to swat the infringers is not worth the trouble, since the models are still there.  The game has sold 2.5 million copies, so do they really care about a few hundred ripped characters?  I don't know, I did my part and let them know about it, and leave it to them what to do about it.  If it was me, I would use it as an opportunity to sell more games, and let people sell the characters in SL as long as they include links to the original. 

 

The definition of UGC in SL will continue to evolve.

And there will be plenty of stuff that is not easily recognizable. At some point those who are investing their time in painstakingly creating mesh from scratch will probably ask themselves if the love of creation is enough to compensate for the competitive disadvantage, when it's so much quicker just to retopo things found online (legal or not).

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Chosen Few wrote:

You have no way of knowing what the owner is or isn't interested in, Masami.  For all you know, they might be planning to release SL content at a future date, but haven't gotten there yet.  They might well have an important time-release strategy across a multitude of platforms, and the unauthorized copies could interefere with the plan.

The fact that I have no way of knowing is precisely the reason why I won't get involved. As Daniel pointed out, the IP owner may simply not care. It's none of my business to figure this out.


But whether any such plans exist or not is entirely beside the point.  Only the owner has the right to determine whether, where, and how, copies of his or her work are to exist.  No one else gets to step up and say, "You didn't put your stuff over here, so I'm just gonna go ahead and put it there myself." If the owner chooses not to put copies in SL, that's it, end of story.  That particular content just doesn't get to exist in SL.

I am familiar with that aspect of copyright, and it is one that I find highly unethical. I agree that the IP owner deserves to be compensated, but I reject the abuse of copyright as a censorship tool or as a means to control popular culture.

If you look around in SL, what do you see? You see a virtual replication of the real world, with some modifications. You see houses, furniture and clothes copied from the real world. And of course you see pop culture copied from the real world: a virtual environment inspired by Neal Stephenson, with vampires inspired by Ann Rice, Goreans inspired by John Norman, cyberpunk inspired by Ridley Scott, William Gibson or Masamune Shiro, science fiction inspired by Gene Roddenberry or George Lucas. And of course you see live events where musicians perform someone else's works.

All these things exist on the grid without proper licensing. How many of them have you reported?

I don't want to live in a world where all culture is locked in and indefinitely controlled by corporations. Those laws are not democratic, and I'm not going to become instrumental in their enforcement by joining some kind of neighborhood watch.


This notion of yourse, of "filling the void", is pretty frightening.  You make it sound as if you believe the public is somehow entitled to have the works, whether the owner chooses to provide them or not.  That is a downright digusting attitude.  If the onwer has no interest in SL, then the owner's IP doesn't get to exist in SL, period.  It's that simple.

The public is entitled to have the works anyway, because all works enter the public domain at some point. What copyright adds to the mix is the IP owner's entitlement to attribution and compensation for a limited period of time. That's not frightening; it's the original deal as written down in the U.S. constitution. The whole idea was to encourage authors to release their works instead of locking them away. Why else would the public grant such a right in the first place?

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Pamela Galli wrote:


LL told me they would only remove things from her inventory if I knew what she had named them.  I provided a list of what I called them, and UUIDs for each one (and photographs) but this was insufficient.  

 

Just curious.  Again.  It seems to me that anything she had that you had had identified specifically enough, either by name, UUID, or description, for LL to identify it could and should be removed.  I can't see a reason for not doing that, and for not removing all copies in the malefactor's inventory.  Why not?

OTOH, if she had stolen items in her inventory that were not copies of (her) items the you had specifically identified, how could LL identify them?

 

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Jennifer Boyle wrote:

OTOH, if she had stolen items in her inventory that were not copies of (her) items the you had specifically identified, how could LL identify them?

That's exactly the point. You can't expect LL to go through someones entire inventory to compare the items to the original ones. They can (and I suppose will) act as soon as they have the UUID or name of the duplicate. Then they can simply look for that specific file and remove it.

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I don't know why not Jennifer; I specifically stated in both DMCAs (and the first one took my assistant and I 4 days to document and was 20 pages long) that LL was obligated to remove ALL infringing content, including in the inventory.  And yes, they can identify items by UUID, as we have seen with the stolen dances. They maybe be "compelled" by law, but unless someone takes them to court, they really don't have to obey the law. Since LL can terminate my account any time for no reason, I do not choose to do that. But others have done so.

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:


Jennifer Boyle wrote:

OTOH, if she had stolen items in her inventory that were not copies of (her) items the you had specifically identified, how could LL identify them?

That's exactly the point. You can't expect LL to go through someones entire inventory to compare the items to the original ones. They can (and I suppose will) act as soon as they have the UUID or name of the duplicate. Then they can simply look for that specific file and remove it.

Okay I don't know how I can say it more clearly than I have:  I provided LL with a UUID for each texture and sculpt map that I created. Anyone who thinks LL routinely removes stolen content from inventory has not been talking to merchants who have had content stolen. 

What purpose I would have for making this up I do not know.

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Pamela Galli wrote:


Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:


Jennifer Boyle wrote:

OTOH, if she had stolen items in her inventory that were not copies of (her) items the you had specifically identified, how could LL identify them?

That's exactly the point. You can't expect LL to go through someones entire inventory to compare the items to the original ones. They can (and I suppose will) act as soon as they have the UUID or name of the duplicate. Then they can simply look for that specific file and remove it.

Okay I don't know how I can say it more clearly than I have:  I provided LL with a UUID for each texture and sculpt map that I created. Anyone who thinks LL routinely removes stolen content from inventory has not been talking to merchants who have had content stolen. 

What purpose I would have for making this up I do not know.

What I am saying is they can't remove anything from the servers using YOUR UUIDs. They need the ones for the duplicates.

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