Thursday, February 28, 2008

an open letter about content theft, protection, and little more.

hi everyone...

i have decided to write a letter to the content creation community about the very real issue we are facing (and have always faced) about protecting our content. also about being forthright in our business practices, and supporting each other along the way.

many challenges have arisen in this world as it evolves, grows and changes. my hope is that by sharing a few thoughts, i can answer the many questions and notecards i get daily on this subject. i simply don't have time to answer each different person, hence the reason for this post. these are just some of my thoughts about the subject and are not meant to be taken as legal advice or anything of that sort.

i'll post my thoughts in bullet points as i am prone to ramble.

1. protection starts with the creator. do your homework, find out how you can protect yourself.
2. avoid "reacting" to the "latest" scare, take a deep breath and realize this is part of a long process.
3. in as much as possible, try to refrain from yelling inflammatory things to "alleged" thieves, it seems to weaken and cheapen the "groups" credibility when one yells such things as "you should rot in hell you f*ing thief!"
4. be careful when accusing others, no matter what evidence you have. use the term "alleged thief" or "alleged theft"... you need to protect YOURSELF in this as well. the last thing you want is a RICH "alleged" person suing YOU for slander. and that is exactly what someone can do. if something has NOT gone to trial and someone has not been pronounced "guilty", YOU will be the one at risk if you blog, type and post things saying, "so and so is a thief".
5. realize there are more of us than them and we will work through this. try not to lose heart.
6. try to stay positive and encourage each other (which so far seems to be going great)
7. if you pass out private im chats, you are breaking TOS rules and YOU can suspended.
8. refrain from any reactions where you are "breaking the rules".

one of the most important things i want to say is this... in as much as you can, look at the ways YOU may be "stealing". i have heard in designer groups, people asking for 'hack codes' for the new PS, maya, etc. and no one has said anything about that. is it ok for us to use software we did not purchase, stolen, if you will, and then expect someone to protect us? just a question for us to ask ourselves... i've heard it so many times... people asking for copies of software, textures and other things and using them in a way not intended by the original creators.

i think we need to look at every way we conduct our businesses. are any of us who have had things stolen, using stolen, or "borrowed" software or textures to create our goods?

we all make mistakes, have things we "turn our heads about", or justify... and so will those who "lift, steal, copy" things... they may not think it's a big deal, any more than some who use 'unbought' software do. i have heard people say... "well ADOBE is a big company, it's different, i'm just one person"... if you are a "big" designer... or appear to be, a "alleged thief" may justify their actions by saying "oh well she owns a big sim and is so huge... i'm just a little person."

again, these are just a few of my thoughts. i'm learning as i go, re-examining myself, my practices, making necessary adjustments, and it's been eye opening to dialogue about this with others whom i respect.

i'm not sure if this post will even be of any help to anyone. i know how it feels to have one's works stolen, and it's not cool. it makes you want to just give up. my incidents were never brought public, and have seemed to be handled ok. we'll see.

we can hope that LL can assist us as we journey through this process of raising awareness, and hopefully coming up with something that discourages theft, but ultimately, the power is in OUR hands and there are more of us than them.i've seen the amazing power of our community to raise awareness, money, and blaze new trails. i believe we can do that with this issue as well. our community is full of amazingly talented, smart, and hardworking people.

one last thing to ponder... in any business, one must figure "theft" into one's business plan. it will always be a fact of doing business. the LARGEST companies in the world are not protected. (only one in 3 versions of microsoft is ever purchased, and good ol bill is doing quite well) but from disney to louis vuitton, rolex to "the gap", there are blatant knock offs in every major city in the world. that's just part of it... so we must remember that too.

i write this with the hopes that some of this information is helpful to us as a community and to encourage us to "ACT" and hold back from "reacting", and to try to maintain a professionalism as a whole. i am proud to be a part of this community and i truly believe we will make it though this challenge and come out stronger.


caLLie cLine

p.s. i wrote most of this letter, save a few edits some weeks ago... and decided it was timely to post it today after being in a few meeting this week about the subject, doing a few interviews, and also speaking to chez about the campaign he started. (which is GREAT!!!!!)


Chez Nabob said...


As I told you in our e-mail exchange I could not agree more with the sentiments you've expressed. I think you've hit the nail on the head. It is time for content creators to take responsibility for their intellectual property rights. No one else is going to do it for us, nor should they. It's our work and we should be willing to be proactive in defending those rights hopefully in a productive and constructive manner. Certainly we need assistance from Linden Labs, but we cannot expect them to be an impenetrable security blanket for us. It's just not feasible. At best we can hope to secure more safeguards (tools) that allow us to defend ourselves more vigorously. We need open dialogue between the content creators, LL and third-parties, all of us working together to provide solutions.

Santana Lumiere said...

Cuz I am lazy and you made me...

[15:06] Santana Lumiere: Your thing on content theft... I been putting watermarks all over the skins. there's at least 7 per texture.. and some hidden very well. That and submitting to the actual copyright office (though $45 per texture) helps. People will always take the lamest way out of spending a buck and opportunists who rip and resell will always exist.. but I think watermarking may be the key. and not on the invisible part of a texture. Something you can say.. LOOK AT MY PSD TEXTURE! so you have a layer with the watermark to prove it is yours because you can point them all out on the pirated version some shmoe is selling.
[15:06] Santana Lumiere: yeah it was sweet =)
[15:06] Callie Cline: well you can put that in commnet
[15:07] Callie Cline: comments
[15:07] Callie Cline: also

Adelia Menges said...

I couldn’t agree more with all your points! Especially the one about stolen software, so many people don’t even think twice regarding hack codes and such. It infuriates me!
There is absolutely no difference between that and SLThieves (especially skins). “Well its too expensive so I’m just gonna steal it”, same excuse for skin and software thieves. It’s appalling.

Dahlia said...

Thanks for posting that Callie. Content protection seems to be a hot button for many and it's difficult to find a clear minded and open hearted opinion with all the emotions that often dominate the issue. It's a difficult problem to solve and it has been a problem in the art world for ages. I don't believe that very many people condone theft or support it, but I realize it's a problem for some who derive income from their work. I hope that the parties can find a common point and work together from there, eventually mitigating the problem. Letters like yours provide a much overlooked perspective and hopefully help to help others see eye-to-eye.