September 20th, 2010


Your building materials, MY finished product

I have been in virtual worlds for almost 3 years. I have dealt with Internet copyright issues for at least 10, so the following short essay is the result of much thought.

In the real world, if I buy your branded building materials and, say, I build a house, you cannot by law restrict me from selling that house wherever I can - whether it is in a different state, or a different country altogether.

So why are building materials creators on the Internet allowed to restrict where on the Internet I use a finished product made of their building materials?

A lot of virtual world building material creators attempt to just do that, and the tighter their restrictions, the more their paranoia is evident. I will be the first to say that illegal copying/reselling of such materials is rampant on Second Life, and some other grids. Unless and until a permissions system is developed that can prevent such reselling, it will happen, and it doesn't matter how restrictive you make your license. All you can do is hope that others who see such theft will report it to you so you can file a DMCA takedown with the provider in question.

I, personally, don't happen to think that restrictive licensing will stop the illegal copy and reselling of such products. Where I have a problem is when I am using those materials in one world, and wish to sell the product in one or more other worlds.

As long as I am not attempting to sell your textures or sculpts as my own product, I don't agree that you have the right to tell me I can't sell a finished product containing your sculpts and textures on any grid I want. That's akin to building that house I talked about, in California, and you trying to tell me I can't sell that house in, say, Nevada. The finished product is mine, even if it contains elements you sold me. I should have the right to offer it for sale anywhere I like.

This doesn't mean I will ignore your attempts to restrict my use of said items. In most cases, I will be honest with you and say I am on Grids A, B, and C, and likely to transfer MY finished products between them. Quite frankly I'd like to see a court back you up if you tell me I can't do that, because you don't HAVE any rights over MY finished product.

Building component creators who use a healthy dose of common sense realize that a person's finished product is their own, and they have no rights to restrict the maker from selling that product wherever it might have a market.

There will always be those who try to say you can't make a product on Grid A containing their materials, and sell it on Grid B. This is a gross misappropriation of the nature of copyright and any court will tell them that. Rather, I'd like to see them study copyright - or better yet, get a copyright lawyer to help them understand that they really have no rightful control over a builder's finished product.

Leveling the Playing Field

There are rumors - and I call them rumors, because I have no solid proof - that certain content creators and others with 'big names' get preferential treatment from Linden Labs on Second Life. At the very least, some of what I have encountered would tend to lend some credibility to those rumors.

On Inworldz, everyone is the same. Certain things are not enabled - traffic, paid classifieds - and that definitely levels the playing field. People are judged, not on how much money they can throw around, or how many bots they can infest their sims with, but rather, how they treat other people, the merits of their products, and their choice in pricing those products.

Nobody can "game the system" to get their name out when other people cannot afford to do the same.

Rules are enforced, across the board, and this goes hand in hand with the lack of preferential treatment.

I, as a mentor, have the right to remind others of those rules, when I am in an "official capacity" on Inworldz Desert Island, our form of SL's Help Island. I don't make the rules; I simply remind others of them.

The one thing that really bothers me is when so-and-so expects preferential treatment because of their status elsewhere on the Internet. I'm sorry, but on Inworldz you are the same as everyone else, and we are not about to bend the rules for you. Don't ask, and for the goddess' sake, don't threaten us. We are merely representatives.

If you have a problem with not gaining preferential treatment, by all means, take it up with a Founder. They are the ones who make the rules. I will warn you however that threatening to "take your toys and go home" doesn't carry much water. Furthermore, threatening to dispute legitimate payments made through PayPal can and likely will be challenged. Another thing clearly stated in the rules is that there is no refund, so don't pay if you don't plan to stay. Don't pay, then change your mind later and behave like a child because the rules weren't bent for you. We can't tell you how to behave, but I can tell you that most Inworldz residents pride themselves on their maturity (and rightly so) and don't have much tolerance for that kind of behavior. I think you'll find the Founders are of like mind.