I have been exploring a couple of OpenSim-based virtual worlds that were recommended to me by people who were leaving InWorldz. One of the features about OpenSim that fascinates me is the Hypergrid feature, which allows you to visit other OpenSim-based grids without having to create a new avatar from scratch.
OpenSim grid operators advertise their grids as “open” (Hypergrid enabled) or “closed” (you are unable to visit other grids from that grid). I must confess that I have never visited open grids before, so it has been quite the experience teleporting from grid to grid. Most of the time I didn’t even know what grid I was actually on!
At one of the grids I visited, someone kindly gave me a list of freebie stores, and I went exploring. I didn’t even know which grid I was on when I came across this particular sim:
With this prominent sign:
I entered the Mesh Body Shop you see in the background of the first picture, and I found a lot of free items that looked very familiar to me from my time in Second Life: Catwa mesh heads, Belleza mesh bodies, Bento AOs from Vista Animations, etc.:
And I thought to myself, “That can’t be right.” So I did a little investigating on the internet, and I discovered that intellectual property theft happens on some OpenSim grids. Moonrise Azalee posted an item to the Opensim Virtual group on Google+ a year ago (here’s a link to her post):
I know this isn’t a popular opinion – but when I see regions advertising themselves on OpenSimWorld with ‘freebies’ and those freebies are Catwa heads, Freya, Maitreya (clearly pictured), and upon checking these freebies out they also include Blueberry clothing and other rigged mesh items specifically for Freya and Maitreya – I find it really disappointing.
I don’t condone botting – but I know its pretty common. Someone has an item they paid good money for elsewhere and have no moral or ethical qualms about taking it out of the Big Grid so they can use it elsewhere. That in itself is a different topic outside of this. But to see these items taken from creators who spent a lot of time and money of their own to use programs and create items that take many hours to do – just offered for free to anyone as though it is some sort of good deed is kind of sad.
When I first found a body called Athena, I was pretty excited. Then I put it on and realized it was Maitreya’s Lara. Even some parts were still named as such, and the clothing for it was identical to the blueberry clothing I have for Maitreya in SL. So trying another body – one called Mesh Body I believe – I saw it was Freya and had freya clothing.
And in a few other stores I saw these same bodies not even being disguised but actually just called Freya – and the Maitreya sales box with Athena written on it.
It just kind of discredits the OpenSim community. I understanding wanting to be a free comunity – but commercial creators DO deserve to get paid for their hard work. I am sure we have people here talented enough to take on the task of creating great content and they can do so and then give it away for free. But using exported items without permission KNOWINGLY (i do realize some people might not know what these things are, especially if they weren’t familiar with them in SL) and giving it away for everyone else to use just seems kind of cruddy.
In fact, the owner of one OpenSim grid, DigiWorldz, has gone so far as to ban the Athena mesh avatar body from their grid:
I want to clarify a few things concerning the banning of the Athena Mesh bodies.
Some users are upset about our decision and understandably so. After you spend time setting something up, it tends to be a pain to have to change and start all over.. I get that.
Please understand, this isn’t being done based on “Rumors”. Granted, it started out with “Rumors” from users telling me the bodies were copybotted and are not legal. These rumors continued and finally I started telling people to please contact the creator and have them send me a DMCA claim and I’ll be happy to remove them. The DMCA never came. Meanwhile, other rumors started being spread about DigiWorldz allowing copybotted items and that we condone the use of illegal content, which is very far from the truth.
Since our inception that has been a basic core belief of mine.. to protect “All” creator’s content, no matter which grid they live on.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I want to prove my point that I have always been interested in doing the right thing by protecting the rights of the creators in OpenSim.
I don’t care if the creator is on SL, OSGrid, Metro, InWorldz, or any other grid. I will always stand by them and do my part to help protect their content.
The facts are that this issue with the mesh bodies has been reported multiple times. We have been waiting for a DMCA claim from the creator of the “Lara” body in SL to come forward and put in this claim so that we could take action. This claim never came. Meanwhile our name was being dragged thru the mud as a haven for copybot content which simply is not true.
Today, we contacted the creator of the Lara body in SL and asked them specifically if the Athena mesh bodies found in OpenSim grids was a direct copy of the lara body. The answer was yes. We asked if she had given permission for these bodies to be in OpenSim, the answer was no.
Based on that exchange, it makes these bodies in OpenSim illegal.
Now, I don’t just remove something from the grid when I get a report from someone. I have to have substantial proof of the claim before I will act on it, otherwise, anyone could cause trouble for someone by claiming illegal content.
We now have legitimate proof these bodies are in OpenSim illegally based on direct communication with he creator in SL.
Unless someone can prove the creator of the Lara body in SL is wrong, these items will stay banned.
So, when exploring the Wild, Wild West of Hypergrid-connected OpenSim grids, you should be aware that some of the “free” items you are buying may be property stolen from Second Life creators.
2 thoughts on “Intellectual Property Issues in OpenSim/Hypergrid”
Well yes, that’s one of the hazards of an open grid where each server has different economic rules and standards. Given their global distribution the grids are also operating under a number of different legal jurisdictions. You may also find servers that allow free copying of items and untestricted creation of derivative works. There’s no structure or agreememts to cover this.
Not that any of this excuses copyright violations and unauthorized porting. Unless there is some sort of licensing scheme embedded in the models (unlikely on a free platform) simply banning items based on their appearance is a bit overkill – there may be folks out there with authorized/licensed copies.
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