Means of protection from “content” theft

It seems every so often there is a rise in “content” theft that causes mass hysteria, protests, and issues across Second Life. In this case though, I use the term content very loosely, because a majority of the content threats are really texture ripping and stealing (a practice that has existed in Second Life for some time).

Unlike most other discussions on this topic, I’m not going to ask you to vote on a jira proposal; instead let me lay out what you can do to help protect your content. Texture ripping and other forms of content stealing are going to happen, regardless of what any one person does. I believe that while Linden Lab can add some additional protections for content (such as some sort of watermarking system? Or integrated Creative Commons), I feel that regardless of what they do, someone will always break the system. There are ways, while some costly, are worthwhile and do protect your content.

For object builders, there seems to be a nice bug that will render your items full permission. This is a random occurrence (http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-273) and currently no fix. There is an LSL work around posted by Mathieu Basiat on the Second Life JIRA. It requires having the following lines of LSL code in a script in your object:

default
{
on_rez(integer params)
{
if (llGetOwner() != llGetCreator()) {

integer perm_mask = llGetObjectPermMask(MASK_NEXT);
integer perm_mask2 = llGetObjectPermMask(MASK_OWNER);

if(((perm_mask & PERM_COPY) && (perm_mask & PERM_TRANSFER)) || ((perm_mask2 & PERM_COPY) && (perm_mask2 & PERM_TRANSFER))) {

llOwnerSay(llGetObjectName() + ” has bad permissions…”);
llDie();

}
}

}
}

This code checks to see if your object permissions are currently set to no copy and no transfer. If the permissions are incorrect, the item is deleted. There are several iterations of this script that could be made, one that ensures the permissions are always correctly set, another that sends a message to the creator if something is amiss with permissions. It becomes a really good idea for object creators to include a script that checks or requires a permission check when rezzed.

For texture’s (skins, clothing, etc), there isn’t a scripting solutions for you. Instead you are going to have to do some leg work. The first is by filing a DMCA claim. Yes it is a slow process, yes it requires some legal work, and yes you can sue a person but it is costly, but it is an option and it creates a papertrail. By making a claim any other action, be legal or otherwise, is further backed by your initial action. It does take some time but it is a very important step. I know most people would like to have their problems resolved yesterday when it comes to theft but that does not always happen. Remember, when you make your claim do have copies of evidence to help prove your case, pictures of the items you are filing a claim with.

There is also the court of public opinion, which has worked quite well in resolving other Second Life issues. Many content creators and designers have the resources to make the theft of their product a very public and well known issue, use them and call the people who are copying your stuff out. Heck, even create a public list of people who have stolen exact duplicates (read not created imitation or look-a-likes that’s fairly legal and EVERYONE does it.) Public pressure, while annoying and frequent in some circles, is very effective and quick.

While the stealing of skins and content is an issue, some people are ignorant to the rules about content stealing and theft. Content thievery in Second Life is a small part of a larger intellectual property discussion that occurs across the world throughout many different platforms. There is no one right or wrong answer and several complexities. Licentious Maladay at MODA Fashion SL made a really nice post concerning one of the complexities of this issue.

“For example, how many fashion designers get their textures from RL fashion web sites without asking permission or paying a royalty? Does a person like that have the right to say “stop thief” when someone in turn copies their work?”

The answer to this question is, it’s complicated!

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