Stroker Serpentine (a really good friend), Nyte Caligary (another good friend!), Sachi Vixen, Tigerlily Koi, among others have begun a campaign (as posted on the Second Life Herald) to make the public more aware of content theft in Second Life. While I’m usually on the fence about content theft in Second Life (reasons stated below), I applaud this resident based campaign. We can only rely on Linden Lab for but so much, mainly because they are limited in their resources. Starting a campaign like this is a great way for residents to not only express their frustration (Stroker has been the target of a major content thievery) but to encourage reporting those who may be participating in content or IP (intellectual property) theft. I AM surprised that there isn’t a flickr, website, or standard web banners to display on blogs or to easily use for posts (the above image was taken from the Second Life Herald article). Not having these things lead to a somewhat limited visibility, but there is still time to create such things! While I applaud such a campaign, I do have a major fear concerning it.
My fear, is that the Second Life content creation community has proven to be very knee jerk reactionary. As mentioned before, there have been many cases where people have claimed content thievery where it was more of an idea or concept that was being taken and adapted. That happens in real life all of the time, it’s even happened with one of my products. It does not mean that someone stole my product. They may have liked it and created something like it in their own way. That’s fine, many content creators use real life textures, ideas and apply it to Second Life. Content theft applies to the sole purpose of stealing content, such as sim crashing or Second Life hacking for the SOLE purpose of obtaining textures, scripts and objects to resale. Programs such as copybot and Second Inventory cross deep into that gray line of content thievery and practical usage.
While this topic has many points of views and answer, the real solution is more awareness campaigns and third-party organizations that help protect virtual and digital content. I.P. theft and content stealing is more than just a Second Life problem but a digital world problem. The major difference between the two is that outside of Second Life there are groups, avenues, and organizations that are able to directly influence content thievery. Those things don’t exist in the virtual world platform on any scale yet. It will take a campaign like this to begin that process.