Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Copyright issues of the digital era hits Second Life

November 16th, 2006 by Seb Chan

It was bound to happen.

Nick Carr posts about a fascinating development in SecondLife.

Apparently a SL user has created a tool that allows for direct replication of SL objects from within the game. Where many real people and organisations have started to make money from selling unique objects (themselves often virtual copies of real life objects), this new tool allows anyone to replicate, exactly, these virtual objects – in an instant turning the economy based on selling objects into one of endless abundance rather that scarcity, upside down.

As an irate Caliandras Pendragon writes at Second Life Insider, “Those people who are living the dream that is promoted in every article, of earning a RL [real life] income from SL creations, are now living a nightmare in which their source of income may soon be worthless. That’s not to speak of big commercial companies who have paid anything up to 1,000,000 dollars to have their product reproduced in loving detail, who will discover that every Tom, Dick or Harriet may rip off their creation for nothing – and then sell it as their own … If someone wanted to destroy the economy of SL I don’t think they could have found a better way.”

The furor took an ugly turn late last night when, according to the Second Life Herald, a “seething mob” surrounded a CopyBot operation run by Second Life resident GeForce Go. The mob shouted that Go was “ruining their Second Life.” Fearing for her safety, Go closed down her shop and sold her land. In a subsequent “tumultous meeting with dozens of angry and fearful residents all talking at once,” Second Life official Robin Linden “sought to allay fears of any further concern about mass copyright violations.”

Now officially banned by Linden Lab, the company that operates Second Life, CopyBot was, according to reporter Adam Reuters of Reuters’ Second Life bureau, “originally created by libsecondlife, a Linden Lab-supported open source project to reverse engineer the Second Life software … Amid increasing criticism, the group moved to pull the Copybot source code, but on Monday evening Copybot was put up for sale on the online marketplace SLExchange, raising the prospect that it could become widespread.” The resident who is selling the bot, Prim Revolution, demonstrated the machine’s ability by making a precise clone of Adam Reuters himself. Revolution defended the use of CopyBot, saying, “I think the idea of clones and bots is very cool, and I’ll be adding more new features for things like automated go-go dancers at clubs.”

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1 response so far ↓

  • Hopefully this kind of absurdity will help us all come to terms with the illogical premise that quality of life is only possible by enforcing scarcity.

    If we make this conceptual jump there is the possibility of a system emerging where creatives will be rewarded for their work rather than being exploited by an ineffective, manipulative middle tier.

    The current paradigm rewards consumption rather than creation. The notion of copyright has been undermined in an attempt to extend this consumption based economy from the physical realm into world of ideas.

    With any luck this house of cards will eventually collapse.