Lindens Boot Dueling DMCA Claims To RL Court

by Alphaville Herald on 30/09/07 at 6:19 pm

Can you copyright prim arrangements on virtual footwear?

by Jessica Holyoke

Coen boots – with three strands wrapping below the knee

A few weeks back, I was asked by a friend of mine to report on behalf of Panjomy Ames. The Avastar partially covered the story of Panjomy Ames and her dispute with Bax Coen. Both Ames and Coen are accusing each other of copying their boots. Specifically, the three strands wrapping below the knee on the boot upper.

If you look at Ames’ boot and Coen’s boot, they look nothing alike. The textures are completely different and the foot portion of the boots are completely different. The calf portion of the boots as bare prims look exactly alike. The nine prims of Ames’ boot look exactly like Coen’s. The reason for the similarity is that Ames’ purchased a demo of Coen’s boot and started selling her new boots the same day of purchase. When asked about this, Ames’ reply is that she came up with the boot upper design first, but Coen was able to get a perfected version of the boots to market first.

Ames boots – with three strands wrapping below the knee

The reason Ames believes that Coen copied her is that Ames was working on a similar over the knee boot since April. Coen states that the presented proof of the earlier creation is falsified, that Ames created the mock up of the boot upper by using other prims and manipulating them into the shape of the new boot. Although the creation date of April coincides with the creation date of portions of the foot portion of the boot.

When you look at the uppers, there is a question of what besides the three wrapped strands is being copied. Is it a design or is it a good way to make a boot that fits on a person’s leg? Looking at the three rope strands, is it something that is copyrightable or is it more like a fashion design? After all, there are many versions of top designers’ work in real life that are not copyright protected and find themselves in cheaper versions.

Coen Designs – with three strands wrapping below the knee

Looking at the background of the controversy, at least on the surface Ames appears innocent. Ames has more inventory of designs than Coen. Coen tightly controls the information that is going on about the controversy, even asking for the opportunity to review this article before it is published. On the face of things, Coen looks like the guilty party. However, the best Coen can be accused of is independent creation of a similar work if all of Ames’ facts are true. The better public policy is not to assign copyright to the bare prims due to the textures having the ability to transform what you purchase.

Although this is all slightly old news, there are several reasons why this is still an important story. The first is that both Ames and Coen went to the Lindens to make a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) request in order to take what they called infringing works down. Ames stated that she did this multiple times with other infringers, Coen solely with Ames. For both Ames and Coen, the Lindens stated that they would have to settle their differences in a real life court. Lottie Linden was quoted by Coen as saying this, but no response back was given by Lottie at the time of this writing. Which makes one wonder, if an in-world copyright cannot be enforced in-world, what is the point of advertising you own your creations in world?

Armyst Designs – with three strands wrapping below the knee

Due to Coen’s campaign, Ames was removed from a number of her retail shops. Additionally, some of the stores removed and banned her without refund of rentals paid. Again, the resident has no recourse against the mall owner but for taking them to a real life court in order to recover about $2-4US.

Looking at this controversy leads to the question of what should be the copyright protected portion of our creations. The textures are naturally expected to be protected. But what about the prims and how they are arranged without the textures? Where Coen is coming from, the copyright applies to the prim arrangement and can block anyone else from recreating the bare prims, even if the end products look nothing alike. Or even more simplistically, the bare box slightly adjusted could be copyright protected. At the other end, no combination of bare prims could be protected with copyright law.

Lastly, the only evidence a resident could use in a real life court case is very easily faked as far as date of first creation. It is true that you can manipulate older prims into a new creation without changing the creation date. There is no link date, there is no when was a prim last altered date. In order to protect our designs in regards to the bare prims, there is no consistent proof of how and when someone creates them.

21 Responses to “Lindens Boot Dueling DMCA Claims To RL Court”

  1. Artemis Fate

    Sep 30th, 2007

    I don’t think you can make a DMCA on “3 strands under the knee on a boot”. A.) Because it’s such a small part of the design, and b.) because chances are, it’s been done already in real life, and neither of them have any right to say the design is theirs.

    I can understand DMCAs for someone reselling a stolen version of the item as is, or a DMCA for someone selling exactly the same design as is, but these two aren’t either of those. I had someone script-prim copy one of my items, and use the exact base in one of their products, but they made enough modifications that I felt that it was a different enough work and while I was a little apprehensive about it being used and resold without telling me at all, I really didn’t mind all that much.

    I mean, that’s what inspiration is, you see an aspect you like, and you combine it into your own idea.

  2. Nacon

    Sep 30th, 2007

    I’d normally say.. “Oh Boo hoo`es… It’s called competition.” but… who actually gonna give a shit about 3 strands just below the knee? WHO?! besides the creator… WHO!?

    Artermis got that right. Inspiration and competition, that’s life in the true marketing. (barely)

    …Shouldn’t Tenshi be writing this?
    (Wait… Jessica is a much better replacement for Tenshi. Nevermind.)

  3. Ann Otoole

    Sep 30th, 2007

    Try reading the permissions explanation on the’s forums. It is clearly spelled out that there is little or no means of defending a so-called copyright in Secondlife on anything with the exception of textures which can be copyrighted in rl. And even then you grant rights to use the texture the moment you import it into Secondlife. So of course Linden research will boot such disputes to rl court. If we take this to the extreme there is no prim based anything in Secondlife that is not modified from the Linden Research created base 0.5*0.5*0.5 plywood textured primitive. Therefore indeed it seems Linden Research has a solid chance of filing a DMCA on every primitive based creation in Secondlife and easily winning since you cannot import your own primitives into Secondlife.

    In addition, according to the DMCA laws, Linden Research cannot take actions such as removing content unless it is ordered as part of the litigation proceedings. Therefore the previous actions taken without a court order by Linden Research placed Linden Research in a position of possible civil litigation liability for attempting to function in the capacity of a court. You can see the changes coming on hard and fast ever since Linden Research actually got smart and hired an in house attorney.

    Linden Research set themselves up as a defacto international government in Secondlife, which was a very bad mistake, and is now facing the fact this is not feasible in the metaverse since it is not even close to feasible in real life. Therefore we can expect to see a continuing series of new positions taken by Linden Research as they move quickly to make themselves “Judgment Proof”.

  4. Kahni Poitier

    Oct 1st, 2007

    If you want to start throwing “she copied me” around, better keep close tabs on the sweatshop creations of Anshe Chung. And heck, Chinese industry thrives on copies.

    Oh noes! She put a star on her shirt! I did that first! SUE HER!

    This is stupid.

    I wonder if a RL creator of boots with “three strands below the knee” could file a claim against them both.

  5. Doubledown Tandino

    Oct 1st, 2007

    I invented the number “3″ so everybody owes me money!

  6. Tenshi Vielle

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Tenshi Vielle is currently on vacation at her timeshare in Tahiti. To leave a message, please press one or wait for the tone. To leave a rant, or if you are Vincent Nacon, please lift your finger, bend over, and f**k yourself. *beeeeep*

  7. Tenshi Vielle

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Honestly though, I’ve never heard of these two creators and I know why. Their work appears to be crap – the newbie, doesn’t-know-how-to-work-prims kind. Maybe if they up their game the fashion world will care. :)

    Three straps? But I guess Adidas did it with three stripes.

  8. FlipperPA Peregrine

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Just two questions;

    (1) Shouldn’t both of the potentially offending designs have been removed by Linden Lab under the safe harbor provision until this matter is resolved in court?

    (2) I’d be curious to know if the size of the three prims is exactly the same, mathematically, or just coincidentally similar.



  9. Maxx Something

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Seems like a lot of hot air blowing in this case

  10. Kristoffer Juneau

    Oct 1st, 2007

    I get so tired of people throwing around the DMCA, these two probally like many others are copying their designs from RL designs anyways. I do this when creating furniture sometimes, find something I like in rl and adapt my design to that or many times come up with my own unique designs. If someone in sl comes along and copies my design, so be it, I take it as a compliment. People studying ones design to help create their own is part of the process of learning and I have no problem with this. You would hope they change it somewhat, but I am not going to loose sleep over it.

    If you are naive enough to think this wont happen, I feel sorry for you. By the way, it is called “competition”. Hey, I saw someone else with 4 pillows on their beds…going to file my DMCA suit now!

  11. Kitten Martynov

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Wow, an article about copyrighting that doesn’t revolve around a bias.

    Please write more. The other “journalists” could use a role model.

  12. Nacon

    Oct 1st, 2007

    Oh neat, I’m on her answering machine, it must be working! ;)

  13. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Oct 1st, 2007

    When you are taking someone to COURT over three pieces of a virtual boot, that you sell for utterly feeble amounts of money, you should stop and take a look at yourself and how ridiculously deep you’ve sunken into Second Life.

    It’s things like this that demonstrate just how easily SL infects people with Drama and SRS BSNSS.


  14. Darien Caldwell

    Oct 1st, 2007

    I saw these two boots some months ago, and the similarities struck me at the time. I had seen the Bax Coen version before I saw the other, but have no idea who came up with the look first. And thats the crux of the issue. I don’t think anyone can copyright this, no more than one could copyright wide lapels or button arrangement on a cuff. Someone copied someone, whether one copied the other, or both were copying something from Real Life, we’ll probably never know for sure. This shouldn’t be going to court at all. It happens all the time in SL. If every time someone made something that “looked like” someone else’s work, they were taken to court, then SL would be a ghost town, with everyone at their court date.

  15. Lilibeth Andree

    Oct 1st, 2007

    I recall from Property Law class a case about over a dress pattern. Two designers had the same dress pattern, and it was disputed who had the property rights over the design. The Supreme Court found that while the Plaintiff had a case, they could only find recourse under the Copyright Act…but the Copyright Act does not allow copyrights for PATTERNS! Thus, no recourse.

    “To exclude others from the enjoyment of a chattel is one thing; to prevent any imitation of it, to set up a monopoly in the plan of its structure, of which only Congress has the power to limit” (Cheney Bros v. Doris Silk Corp)

    Thus: Copyright Act doesn’t include patterns such as the one above on the fancy prim boots! So neither party has a right under the Act to sue the other for copyright infringement. :)

    Glad I could provide a legal perspective to such a silly dispute (I think, sorry, the boots look so different I wouldn’t notice the fringy thing).

  16. Maxx Something

    Oct 2nd, 2007

    This is all so confusing. It seems like such a slippery slope when you can pin point one aspect of a piece of clothing and claim that someone else in infringing on your copyright. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

  17. FlipperPA Peregrine

    Oct 3rd, 2007

    @Alyx: sometimes it is the morals, not the money. That said, you’re talking about tiny amounts of money, but they add up. McDonald’s average menu item only costs between $1 and $2, however, you wouldn’t talk that way if they were protecting a trademark or copyright of their own, would you? Of course not. Sometimes the volume of sales makes even the smallest profit margins per item quite valuable.

  18. Anonymous

    Oct 7th, 2007

    Why do some people feel the need to take everything to court? It’s people like her who clog up the judicial system with their frivolous lawsuits. You can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you invited three tassels below the knee on a virtual boot — which is, by the way, worth $3. I hope Ames wastes his/her time and money trying to get the lawsuit going. Idiot.

  19. archie lukas

    Oct 7th, 2007


    Don’t be daft – this is a simple case of Handbags at Dawn
    and may the best whus win.

  20. Aya P

    Oct 9th, 2007

    Suing because of Second Life not only makes Linden Lab more strict with their rules the government will start to step in and regulate everything.

    It is a second life and if you are using second life as your means of income then you are stupid and should not be in world.

    No one will actually notice those three strings BUT the creator. Chances are those three strings have already been done in 1st life.. No wait. They have. Just stop being so petty because the Boot itself is nothing new. Once you have invented something that will change the aspect of Fashion it will belong to you…three strings wont.

  21. T.Mathieson

    Jul 9th, 2008

    We are now 10 months ahead and if you type “boots” in search you know who came out on top.

    Tenshi Vielle? Never heard off.

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