Editorial: Some Advice on How to Avoid Buying Stolen Content on Second Life (After I Got Fooled)

You will notice that I have removed my most recent blogpost—about two Bento, Bakes on Mesh heads which were available via Midnight Mania boards for only a L$10 group join fee.

It is because I have been informed by a Catwa customer service representative who reached out to me this morning, that they were copybotted (i.e. stolen) versions of Catwa heads, which retail for L$5,000 each. Not owning either the models of the heads in question, I was completely fooled, thinking that I had discovered a real bargain, which of course I wanted to hurry and share with you! I got hoodwinked.

So today I wanted to write up a blogpost to tell you, my faithful readers, how to avoid buying botted or stolen content. “Botted” or “copybotted” simply means that somebody used a program called a copybot in order to make an illegal copy of something: clothing, shoes, hair, even mesh heads and bodies. I have written before about how stolen content gets given away or sold in some OpenSim-based virtual worlds, but it can also happen within Second Life itself.

First, I should have been suspicious when I saw the heads offered as Midnight Mania prizes in a small store with a wide variety of other items for sale—but no other mesh heads or bodies. I should have stopped and asked myself: why is a clothing and shoe store giving away free heads? How many apparel and footwear stores also sell mesh bodies? That should have been my first clue: CONTEXT. It’s like someone selling Rolex watches out of the back of their van; you should immediately be suspicious when the setting doesn’t match the product.

Check the context; if it’s suspicious, it’s probably illegal!
(Image from Pixabay)

Second, ask yourself if you have ever heard of the vendor before. After 14 years in Second Life, I am very familiar with all the major apparel, footwear, hair, and body vendors. The store I wrote about yesterday was brand new to me. The store also sold a wide variety of (probably also botted) clothing and shoes for both men and women. Most stores focus on either men’s or women’s clothing, not both, or just shoes or clothing, not both (although there are exceptions). If you run across a store (either in-world or on the SL Marketplace) which you have never encountered before, selling a mind-boggling variety of goods, that is also suspicious. And if you recognize a product that is sold by another merchant—much like the Catwa CSR discovered up top—that should set all your alarm bells ringing!!

Finally, check the price. L$10 for a Bento, Bakes on Mesh head? If the price is too good to be true (especially form a vendor you have never heard of before), pause and reflect. Most Bento heads sell for at least 100 times L$10, and often more than that!

Unfortunately, I did not do any due diligence before I spent L$10 to join the group to pick up these heads, and even worse, I told other people about it! So I do apologize to Catwa for not doing my homework. Apparently the eye textures in the included HUD were also ripped, stolen from IKON, and I apologize to them too.

So learn from my mistake!

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