Op/Ed: What Does Winning Look Like for Eros?

by Jessica Holyoke on 05/10/09 at 9:16 pm

The real point of the class-action complaint against Linden Research

by Jessica Holyoke

Linden Research is due shortly to file something in response to Eros, LLC v. Linden Research.  It could be an answer where the Lab states their response to the claims made by Stroker as a class representative or it could be preliminary objections to how the complaint is written.   But on commenting on the case, the question for the rest of us is what does winning look like for Stroker and the others?

If this were simply a case of economic damages, the prediction would be easy; they want money.  And with the copyright infringement claims, they could get money.  But it would be the last money they would ever get from Linden Lab. Why would the Lab allow someone on the Grid when they can allege copyright infringement in the future?  The only goal that makes sense is to strengthen the Lab's intellectual property protection. 

The basic assumption is to strengthen the current Digital Rights Management system the Lab currently uses.  There are problems with this approach, mostly lying with the Client Viewer software.   The first part is that while the old maxim is "anything that is seen can be copied," the true statement is "anything that is seen is a copy."  In order to use the Second Life (TM) grid, your computer has to create a digital copy of everything it sees, from avatars to buildings to animations.   So any new Digital Rights Management system would have to work with the existing framework of constantly making copies in order to use the service.

The second part is that the Viewer software is open sourced.  Yes, there are viewers people hate because they make it easier to infringe copyrights.  Yes, there are viewers people hate because they make it easier to grief.  Yes, there are viewers that exist only to make bondage more fun.  But by open sourcing the viewers, our community receives all the other viewers out there.  You get the developers that are working on some of the bugs of the initial viewer without the Lab paying for the labor.  

On the other hand, if liability attaches for copyright infringement because the Lab open sourced the viewer, this would make a good business case study against open sourcing.

Winning might look like controlling what Client Viewer software accesses Second Life.  But part of the point of making the client open source is to enable alternative uses.  Either you have to give a code to developers to access the specific Second Life grid or you have to do some other monitoring function.  

Another proposed policy is to restrict what basic accounts can do.  Some people are suggesting that unless you are a premium member, then you should not be able to upload textures or build.  Even though every time you set out an object, you are building.  If you make a box to put things in to clear up your inventory, you are building.   Restricting building would be too much of a hamstring on the community.  And if the Lab did try to initiate such a policy, there would be too great of a revolt to sustain the numbers they use to quantify their success. 

If tools might not work, what about normal policing?  One of the allegations is that the Lab does not do enough when they do receive a DCMA complaint.  Here is where it gets even more complicated.  The Lab is horrible at policing.  Either they are so lax at policing that gambling parlors are still around and griefers go unpunished or they are too strict where people are permanently banned because they stood near someone who looked underaged and inappropriately dressed.  This is before factoring in the anonymous freebie accounts of infringers and griefers.

Additionally, some people are calling for the restriction of access of people who use anonymizers, even though the political value of using anonymizers have been used time and again for dissenters.  Do you really want a company who has shown that they cannot handle evenly enforcing the policies that they implemented and created to decide whether or not a copyright was infringed when people in real life have to argue their case in front of a jury? 

As we wait for the Lab's next move, the Herald will continue its coverage of Eros, LLC. v. Linden Lab.

14 Responses to “Op/Ed: What Does Winning Look Like for Eros?”

  1. LittleLostLinden

    Oct 5th, 2009

    Holy Moly! There are exciting times!

    What is going to happen?

    Currently, it is anyone’s guess.

    But as MachineGun Joe Viturbo once said:

    “Frankenstein! You want Frankenstein?!!?? I’ll give ya Frankenstein!!!

  2. Ranma Tardis

    Oct 6th, 2009

    Hmmm I wonder if a “win” for this content creator might be a loss to the community. Faced with large lawsuits perhaps Linden Labs will just fold second life. Once the large rewards get going it is only a matter of time.
    The only other protection is to say all content belongs to Linden Labs though they will try their “best” to prevent thread.
    Nice work content providers your greed is going to kill the golden goose. Nothing is forever and that includes content. You should be happy making money for awhile to cover your costs in time and resources then when it is copied and sold by the thief’s move on. I understand it sucks and appreciate your position but a string of lawsuits will bring disaster. There is NOTHING Linden Labs can do to prevent content/texture theft. Please do not kill Second Life for a quick buck!

  3. Froukje Hoorenbeek

    Oct 6th, 2009

    There is another solution and that is simply to prevent unvalidated avatars to put content for sale, as Gwyneth Llewelyn suggests here:

  4. Hiro Pendragon

    Oct 6th, 2009

    You didn’t mention the solution that Gwyneth and I came up with – restrict new accounts in two ways:
    1. Pop up a “are you sure?” warning message when a user wants to buy / transfer money to an unverified user.
    2. Restrict new avatars from transferring items to other avatars – including direct transfer, x-street, LSL commands, and Buying.

    The rationale is based on two principles:
    1. That it’s not copying that’s so much of a problem, but re-distribution. You basically can’t stop copying, but you can effectively diminish re-distribution.
    2. That there are established precedents of Internet safety in regards to monetary and file transfer. Would you trust some random person who sent you a .exe or even a weblink? Why would you trust a random user in a virtual world any more? Would you trust someone to send them money over the Internet? Why are you trusting them in a virtual world?

    I might add, the reason why we wouldn’t outright restrict giving money to a new user is simple – plenty of people give money to unverified users to start them off. In addition, unverified users would still be able to buy on the Lindex.

    I believe this is a nice hybrid solution. Linden Lab will never reverse their decision on requiring verification of all accounts; not only is it impractical at this point to implement, but it has definitely won them lots of new users. At the same time, I don’t see any other site on the Internet that allows monetary and other transactions without being verified in some way. Why should SL be any different?


  5. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Oct 6th, 2009

    There is an intriguing suggestion which I’ve read somewhere to allow content creators to watermark their creations. This would be a special upload to a LL-held “repository”, where content creators could tag them as being their own (I’m assuming that it would also automatically watermark all textures/sculpties used). Some optimists have even suggested that LL should run an automatic procedure on all content rezzed in SL, match it to the repository’s database, and immediately delete it if the content creator’s tag differs from the one on the repository.

    I wonder if this is computationally possible at all. Sure, I understand one fear of the content creators. Sometimes, when filing a DMCA claim, LL blocks access to *all* avatars, both the complainer and the accused ones, and might remove *all* content until they figure out who is the creator and who is the thief. Needless to say, this is a behaviour that content creators are not keen to accept, and the “repository” would be a way to at least “prove” that you’re the author, and the other party is the thief.

    Besides the computational intensity of the procedure, I wonder how it would prevent a pirate to upload content to the repository *before* the author does…

  6. LittleLostLinden

    Oct 6th, 2009

    Holy Double Fried Linden Moly!

    The end is near.

    The end is near.

    The end is near.

    As Borf from Space Ace used to say: “You can not win!”

    Perhaps the same applies here to the Lindens.

    Or, as Dr. Somebody used to say from Airplane:

    “Surely you can’t be serious!”

    I am serious, and please, don’t call me Surely.

  7. Jessica Holyoke

    Oct 6th, 2009

    I read over Gwyn’s article and thinking on what “validation” means. The thing is, I can have payment information on file and still layer it out without giving my real information but not do anything illegal. I have done and continue to do things on SL that I don’t want associated with my real identity, but I’m not breaking any laws.

    I was also thinking about the payment confirmation idea for unvalidated avatars. My first thought are the strippers who might be adult verified, but whose information would not be kept through the av process. Would the tip jars work with that confirmation of payment scheme?

    A problem with copyright registration in Second Life is that the grid is really really big. Its possible to have independent creation of items. So when two people say they created something that looks the same, it doesn’t necessarily follow that one copied the other.

    But I like that idea better than what I have seen so far.

  8. Hiro Pendragon

    Oct 7th, 2009

    @Jessica – it’s a good question to what “validation” means. That wasn’t something Gwyn and I discussed, and I suppose it’s up for debate. I think that’s a secondary issue and I don’t foresee the choice of that affecting the overall points of the suggestion.

    Validation could mean:
    1. Payment
    2. Real ID
    3. Either 1 or 2
    4. Both 1 and 2
    5. Facebook account or OpenID? (this one has some serious pros and cons)

  9. LittleLostLinden

    Oct 8th, 2009

    Holy Triple Moly!

    First Blue Mars and now this.

    Is this the end of SL as we know it?


  10. Senban Babii

    Oct 8th, 2009

    @Froukje Hoorenbeek

    “There is another solution and that is simply to prevent unvalidated avatars to put content for sale, as Gwyneth Llewelyn suggests here: ”

    How would that prevent someone from creating a copy of an object and then either passing it freely or simply selling it privately?

    Is it also worth pondering just how much copybotting activity is actually done by the content creators themselves? How many of them have copybotted the competition’s goods and given them away free just to put the other guy out of business? ZOMGAWSH THEY WOULDN’T, WOULD THEY? Umm, actually yes, they would.

  11. Jumpman Lane

    Oct 8th, 2009

    There is no winning for Eros.
    1. Eros’s ‘corporate culture’ is one of rapine, they aint nothing but a pack of content theives, exposing themselves as such to an ever-widening audience

    a. from Cheergirl Allen teaching Chelsea Malibu to use the gl intercept to steal Emilia Redgraves skins,

    b.to Stroker himself being the biggest content thief in the history of Second Life:
    1) reselling Linden freebies back in the day
    2) tradmarking the name Sexgen(tm) coined by Briggi Bard
    3) removing the split profits scripts in beds made with Briggi Bard scripts and Corsi Mousehold animations (and continuing to sell the same scripts and anims to this day
    4) threatening to sue Corsi Mousehold and Briggi Bard for continuing to use the SexGen(tm) name effectively preventing the two former partners from selling works they created collectively
    5) shitting Briggi Bard out of any of the proceeds of the sale of the Amsterdam sim (at least half of which she built)

    2. Eros cant compete (with J&G or Akeasha for example) because Briggi Bard and Corsi Mousehold were the CREATIVE spark behind the SexGen(tm) brand. Ol Stroke is left running scared on the grid, hardly logging in, NOT creating new works, new sims new nothing, hoping it’ll all die down is NOT playin sl and having fun (OH WE KNOW, Jumpy got spies everywhere goddamnit!)

    3. WILL LL let someone they have to pay PENNY one use their service when they can revoke that priveledge at will. Would garnering strenthen intellectual property rights be a coup for the most notorious content thief in all the history of second life?

    4. well eroswins only if publicity was all them tards was after.

  12. Debi Dastardly

    Oct 11th, 2009

    Here is a thought why doesn’t LL just get rid of the whiners and be done with it already. Just because a few have had their toes stepped on (who hasn’t). Why should a few over sensitive cry baby’s ruin it for everyone? Oh an BTW anything I create in sl I could care less about making anything from, I do it because its fun…..Hello FUN do we still remember what that is here …gosh I feel like I’m in a room with a bunch of Business butts from rl and now they have their criminals..ooops I meant lawyers with them want to look into theft start with Lawyers are a good place to start looking, they are pros at theft.

  13. IMHO

    Oct 11th, 2009

    @jumpman Lane

    Not to mention he also libeled Corsi by accusing the person of things,which i feel that corsi should be able to sue Stroker for.

  14. Jumpman Lane

    Oct 13th, 2009

    @Debi here! here!
    @IMHO there’s a day of reckoning coming for one Stroker Serpentine

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