Whose side is Linden Lab on?

Twenty pages. That’s how long my DMCA* notice to Linden Lab is, including the ten pages of photos.
Yes, someone copied my stuff again only this time they got carried away — houses, kitchens, dining rooms, furniture, accessories, you name it. All of it sitting full perm in her and her alts’ inventories, maybe some of her friends’. Thousands upon thousands of hours of work, worth many thousands of dollars, now belongs to her. Because she wanted it and took it.

The thief has an inworld vendor with 18 furnished houses, almost all of them cobbled together from textures and sculpts taken from houses and other things copied from me and many other merchants – and all of them on the marketplace (AKA  Big Fencing Operation). One look at these houses tells you I have spent far more time on this DMCA than the thief spent on any one of his houses.

Documenting every item (that I have proof of — most of it is still sitting in their inventories) and giving the UUID of every texture and sculpt map, taking pictures of the original and the stolen items — has taken my assistant and me four days.

That’s four days of work lost — no new content for this week, no new group gift, no notice sent to my group.  Think that helps sales?  Thieves steal not only things, but time — and joy.

Along with my original sculpt maps and textures, dozens of others by other creators are now full perm in the copiers’ inventories because I used them in some of my content. I can’t file a DMCA for those, though, but only my own original content (I did notify all the creators). That doesn’t count the hundreds of other textures and sculpt maps no doubt copied from still other merchants that I don’t know about, or the hundreds of others of mine that have not made it out of inventory and into the world yet.
Running my business is my full time job. My family and I depend on my income from La Galleria. Someone making some things with my content and putting it up for sale is really not putting that income much at risk. That’s not my great fear. That’s not the thing that could seriously affect my income. My fear is what can happen when people with no regard for others have thousands of dollars of full perm content in their inventories. It is a ticking bomb.
I am, of course, disgusted by the sense of entitlement: “You are entitled to work, I am entitled to the fruits of your work.” But I am even more deeply disgusted with Linden Lab’s failure to consistently delete the accounts of thieves — and I mean the ones like the thief of my kitchen not long ago.  I bought that kitchen he had for sale full perm on the marketplace and have it sitting in my workshop for any Linden to see, with his name listed as creator of every prim. But no slap on the hand for him. He is happily living his Second Life on the grid as he always has.

It will be interesting to see what action LL will take this time. Frankly, my expectations are very low. What I would like is for the accounts of the thief and her alt that did the actual copying to be deleted, since what she has in inventory is far more than what she has for sale. Not that that will stop them but it can slow them down.

And that’s really all we are asking LL to do: slow them down! Please!

LL may not be able to do much, but it can do that; and if it is the one thing LL can do, why do they allow thieves to keep their accounts — and I am not talking about gray areas but well documented thieves?  Does LL not want to hurt their feelings? Do they not believe that creators have the right to the fruits of their labors? Do they just want to give them more chances to steal? Why? What has LL  to gain by keeping theives on the grid?  What valuable contributions are these leeches making to SL that the grid will be poorer without them? What does LL have to lose by deleting their accounts?  Maybe they have so much free time they need to fill it by keeping people on the grid who will keep them busy with DMCAs.

I was talking to another merchant today, and she told a story I have heard over and over again:
[2011/05/17 13:52]  Pamela Galli: I have 10 pages of pics
[2011/05/17 13:52]  Pamela Galli: 10 page dmca
[2011/05/17 13:52]  Clothing Designer: that’s what I had…same here
[2011/05/17 13:52]  Pamela Galli: someone just decided it was easier to go into business with my stuff
 [2011/05/17 13:52]  Clothing Designer: they ripped it so completely it was unreal
[2011/05/17 13:53]  Clothing Designer: same here
[2011/05/17 13:53]  Clothing Designer: problem was that they took it out of inworld, but not out of inventories, so it still rezzes
[2011/05/17 13:53]  Clothing Designer: ripper is still in business today
[2011/05/17 13:53]  Pamela Galli: X#%@
[2011/05/17 13:54]  Clothing Designer: yup
 [2011/05/17 13:54]  Clothing Designer: they ripped from another designer too
[2011/05/17 13:54]  Clothing Designer: a much bigger designer than I am
[2011/05/17 13:54]  Clothing Designer: and still they are in business designing and built their rep off my work and the other person’s
 [2011/05/17 13:54]  Clothing Designer: I followed up three times and nothing was done
 [2011/05/17 13:55]  Pamela Galli: LL may not be able to stop ripping but they can sure as hell ban the rippers
[2011/05/17 13:55]  Clothing Designer: that’s what I had hoped that she would be banned
[2011/05/17 13:55]  Clothing Designer: but nope
I have heard similar stories over an over again. I have experienced it myself.
I agree that justice should be tempered with mercy, but we are not talking about jail time here. If you come into a virtual world and attempt to damage someone’s livlihood — or just the joy they have making and selling things — should you or should you not forfeit the right to stay in that world?  If someone drops a turd in the punchbowl, should he not forfeit his right to stay at the party?
And if LL decides that infringers should stay, are we not owed some sort of explanation? Because otherwise the only message merchants get is: WE DO NOT CARE.

It’s all very well to profess appreciation for creators, but actions speak louder than words. So far LL’s actions have been too inconsistent for merchants to see any clear policy about getting infringers off the grid.  Doing that consistently, no matter how much a game of whack-a-mole it may be, would at least send a message to merchants that LL is on our side, that it may not be able to do much, but what it can do, it will do.

Stay tuned, see what LL does this time, see if the new leadership has made up its mind yet whose side Linden Lab is on.
Oh, and if you have filed a DMCA, add your info to this new informal survey on SL Universe: http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/dmca-tracking/  
Interesting to see whether accounts are banned or not.
*Digital Millenium Copyright Act — a detailed notice that copyright has been infringed which obligates LL to take infringing content down. In theory, at least.

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