Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: New Manuel Altamura Mesh Avatar Head and Body for Male Avatars, Only L$900!

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Altamura has just put another special deal out in their store. If you join the Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group for L$50, you can purchase the Manuel mesh avatar head and body package for only L$900 (the regular price is L$4,499). The avatar comes in four basic skin tones, and has many options to change/tint your hairbase, eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, lips, etc., plus a complete set of layers (tattoos, clothing, etc.) and a full set of alpha sections to fit any mesh clothing properly. Here’s the in-world location in the Altamura store where you can pick Max up.

This product is Omega System compatible, but you will need to purchase an Omega Installer to activate the plugin. It is available on the SL Marketplace for L$99 or (according to the notecard that came with the package) you can buy it in-world where it is L$50 with the Altamura group tag activated. (I was unable to find where in the Altamura store this was located, though.)

Here my alt is wearing the lightest skin tone of the four available with the Manuel body, with his hairbase and eyebrows tinted blond. He is also wearing:

Click each image to see it in a larger size:

Manuel will only be available at this price through May 13th, so you’d better hurry!

Note: I used the CalWL WindLight preset for the last three pictures, and someone told me on Facebook that I looked like a serial killer! So not the effect I wanted 🙁 so use the very first picture at the top of this blogpost to get a better sense of what the Manuel head looks like, thanks!

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UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Where to Get Both Versions of the New Free Male Mesh Avatar Head and Body by Altamura, Plus the Best Freebie Stores for Men!

UPDATE Oct. 20th: For a current, up-to-date list of options for free and inexpensive male mesh avatar heads and bodies, please see this blogpostAlso note that all the clothing freebies at the UniHispana Crea sim are now at the same spot as the Max vendor sign, instead of in a separate location. Also, the Max bodies at both Ajuda SL Brasil and UniHispana Crea are now FREE instead of L$1; just click the blue vendor panel and select Deliver from the blue pop-up menu.

Finding high-quality freebies for male avatars in Second Life can be a bit of a problem. There seems to be a LOT more freebies available for women than men. So today I am going to tell you about all the places I go visit when I am looking to outfit one of my male alts.

Did you know that Altamura has just announced that they are giving away two versions of their Max full Bento mesh avatar body and head package for FREE? (Actually, you’ll need L$1 to pay the vendor, and then the vendor automatically returns your Linden dollar.) This is a fully functional, fully adjustable, fully featured Bento mesh avatar body and head with a full set of alpha selections (but please note that you cannot hide the head using the included HUD, in order to wear another mesh avatar head with this body). Also, while you can turn the hairbase on or off using the HUD, each Max body only comes in the one skin tone. You cannot use Omega appliers with these freebie male bodies.

To pick up the darker skin tone version of Max, go to Ajuda SL Brasil. At the landing point, look for this large blue sign:

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When you click it, it will teleport you to the third floor of their large Freebies store, where you can pay the identical blue sign L$1 to buy a copy of your Max mesh avatar body and head package. (You will get your Linden refunded.) There are also many more freebies for men on this floor, of varying quality (some are mesh, some are older system clothing), so go and shop around!

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To get the lighter skin tone of Max, you need to go to another freebie spot, called the UniHispana Crea Community Gateway. This place can be a little confusing to navigate, so use the included SLURLs to find what you are looking for. The Max package is available here (again, just pay the blue sign L$1 and it will refund you):

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But the small selection of freebies for men (including the mesh dress suit and dress shoes my avatar is wearing) is located in another place on the same sim:

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Another great place for men’s freebies is the venerable Free Dove. They have a selection of high-quality men’s clothing and shoes, and a few hairstyles for men as well, located against the back wall from the entrance:

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Finally, there are some nice freebies by designer Giz Seorn (some unavailable anywhere else) that can be found at the New Resident Island freebie village:

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Note that many of the vendors at New Resident Island are restricted to avatars under a certain age in days, but the Giz Seorn freebies are available to anybody regardless of age.

So, there you have it! Only a few stops and you have not only a good-looking mesh avatar head and body, but also hair, shoes, and good-quality clothing galore! Here is a shot of my male alt, wearing the lighter-toned Max head and body, with free Chris hair from the Free Dove, and wearing the suit and shoes I got from the UniHispana freebie store:

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I forgot to mention that the Bento male animation override is also FREE, available from Tuty’s. So everything this avatar is wearing from head to toe, including the AO, is FREE!

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UPDATED: Intellectual Property and Copyright Issues in Social VR Spaces/Virtual Worlds

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Image by AJEL from Pixabay

My recent interview with Ghoster got me thinking about the issue of intellectual property (IP) and copyright regarding avatars in social VR spaces/virtual worlds. VRChat is already infamous for having a multitude of avatars ripped from innumerable video games, TV shows, and movies. High Fidelity has decided to take a page from VRChat’s playbook (and, I assume, try and attract some of that VRChat crowd) by allowing people to set up a few domains where you can select from a wide variety of popular characters, owned by Disney and other companies, as your avatar:

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Now, the creator of this particular domain skates around the legality of this by offering these avatars for free; no money is being made from this. A prominent disclaimer sign posted in the Avatardz domain states:

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So, this user doesn’t advocate “piracy from independent and small artists.” What bothers me about this statement is the unstated implication that piracy from Disney or another large corporation is somehow O.K. (maybe because they can afford to swallow the losses more easily?). Also, they seem to justify this blatant IP appropriation as a sort of fan art, a “fan-operated source for pop culture avatars as a tribute to our pop culture legends”.

(Note: High Fidelity is a distributed open-source platform, allowing users to host named domains on their own servers or on the cloud. This means we should not automatically assume that the Avatardz domain is officially sanctioned or supported by High Fidelity.)

I came away from my interview with Ghoster of VRC Traders a little troubled by the copyright and IP issues involved in selling custom avatars to VRChat users that are wholly or partially based on characters owned by somebody else. I did a little research and came across this recent article on IP issues in virtual worlds, from the website Intellectual Property Watch (a non-profit independent news service), which states:

In the virtual world, people appear through their avatars. If they design the avatars themselves, they could be subject to copyright and trademark lawsuits, Lemley and Volokh said. Fictional characters’ images together with their unusual character traits are protected by copyright, so users who copy enough of the visuals, character traits or both to be copyrighted expression and not simply an idea might be infringing. If the use is non-commercial and the copyright owner isn’t distributing licensed avatars, the use might be fair use, but selling such avatars without rights owner approval would likely not be fair use, they said. It could also amount to a trademark infringement.

Rights holders might choose not to go after individual users or small avatar sellers, but to sue the AR or VR operator for contributory infringement, the paper said. The operator might be immune under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but only until someone sends it a notice-and-takedown request that isn’t quickly acted upon, it said. Established case law sets out the limits of intermediary liability under the DMCA; there’s less clarity about intermediary liability for trademark infringement on the internet but the law is developing, it said.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a process often used (and, in a few cases, abused) by vendors in Second Life and other virtual worlds who claim that someone has stolen their intellectual property. The process is laborious, tedious, and probably could be improved. Many large corporations don’t seem to think that it’s worth their time and money to go after people who are stealing their IP in social VR spaces/virtual worlds. For example, Warner Brothers probably doesn’t care much that dozens of people are selling Superman-themed items on the SL Marketplace, even though they fought (and won) a protracted legal battle to cement their copyright to Superman. They probably are reserving their lawyer firepower for the bigger and more egregious cases of copyright infringement.

I have said before that VRChat may get into serious trouble if people continue to flout the copyright laws so shamelessly, particularly if they are starting to making healthy profits at it, as seems to be the case with the community that has sprung up around VRC Traders. We could be in for some interesting legal cases in the years ahead.

UPDATE 3:34 p.m.: Obligatory link back to the VRChat Events website (because I promised them I would do it if I cross-posted over on their Discord server, and I forgot!): www.vrchatevents.com

Also, Second Life and Sansar blogger Inara Pey made such a great comment on this blogpost that I wanted to add it in full here. She said:

IP infringement and the “it’s OK to flout IP of big companies ‘cos they can afford it” is a source of heated debate in SL. In 2012, I reported on the CBS / Star Trek situation. There’s also been the Universal / Battlestar Galactica situation.

Both of these focused more on props, models, and costumes from said series than avatars, but the attitude towards their IP was the same. It was further coupled with the view that “well, we’re fans and so they should be grateful to us for our support”. However, both attitudes not only falsely justify infringement, they also overlook the importantly equal matter of licensing.

In short, major studios – Marvel, Disney, CBS, Universal, et al, generate millions in revenue by issuing merchandise licenses to manufacturers and commercial concerns. As such – and no matter how large or small the unlicensed market or how small the turn-over / profit made by those actively engaged in selling unlicensed goods – the license owner has a legal obligation to project the licenses they have sold, as well the right to protect their IP.

This was as much behind the Universal / CBS situations vis BSG and Trek as anything else – a point many of those railing at both companies at the time, and citing (in Trek’s case) non-binding “arrangements” which may have been offered by prior rights holders, seemingly failed to grasp.

The idea that offering something “for free” is equally a slippery path. As you point out, it’s only a short step from offering “for free” to then offering items for sale. This has been demonstrated (again) in SL with both the Star Trek and BSG situations.

In both cases, Universal and CBS backed away from legal action on the understanding that virtual goods relating to their IP investment in both shows would not be made with the intent to sell for profit. As a perusal of the SL Marketplace will demonstrate, neither agreement has been adhered to by virtual content creators. Ergo, there is still a potential ticking bomb on this subject in SL, should the legal departments of either studio swivel back towards virtual environments and virtual “goods” … which the slow rise of VR might actually encourage.

Also, there seems to be a broader view that because specific understandings were reached by some (again, I’ll use the CBS / Universal agreements, as those are the two I have direct knowledge of) are somehow a “blanket OK” from all IP holders to allow copies of their IP to be offered for free – which may not actually be the case. Again, that’s actually down to the individual studios to decide; just because X has gone that route, doesn’t mean Y will – or is obliged to even consider it.

Just as a point of reference, my own (slightly long-in-the-tooth) articles on this subject can be found at:

https://modemworld.me/2012/11/02/of-copyright-ip-and-product-licensing/ (Star Trek)

https://modemworld.me/2010/11/29/bsg-universal-dmca/ (Universal / BSG)

https://modemworld.me/2011/02/08/bsg-limited-roleplay/ Universal / BSG)

FreeWee Ling also had a great comment when I cross-posted this blogpost to Drax’s 114 Harvest community on Facebook:

People have been screaming about IP issues in SL since the beginning. Several years ago there was a series of open talks in SL featuring attorneys with expertise in IP who examined the LL TOS. Not much was resolved other than a statement from LL that their “intention” was not to steel user content, but that they needed certain rights in order to allow people to use the Marketplace and just to generally present the content on the platform. A lot of artists were not satisfied and you’ll find many of them still working in OpenSim grids where they have more control.

Disney and others are vehement about controlling how and where and by whom their IP is presented. There was a Disney themed fan sim in SL some years ago that, if memory serves, got notice to remove their content of face legal consequences. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation closed down a sim full of great Wright model homes in SL, even after the owners contacted them and at least got tacit permission to do it. (I.e., I think they had been told the foundation wouldn’t endorse it, but also wouldn’t stop it.)

Ultimately, I’m pretty sure any copy of virtual content without permission is theft. Whether there is money involved or not.

UPDATE Nov. 19th: I have posted a follow-up editorial here.

Why Second Life Users Haven’t Been to Sansar

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Draxtor Despres, in his Facebook group 114 Harvest, asked the following question:

Second Life friends: have you been to Sansar? Why not?

Because both Second Life and Sansar are made by the same company, Linden Lab, it seems possible that many curious SL users would want to at least visit Sansar. (Linden Lab has made it very clear that the two products are separate platforms with separate development teams, and that Second Life will continue to be developed over time.)

Many SL users answered Drax’s question. To summarize the responses:

  1. I’m a Mac user, and there is no Mac client for Sansar. (I have addressed this issue here.)
  2. My computer is not powerful enough to run Sansar.
  3. My Internet connection is not fast enough to run Sansar.
  4. I prefer to build using the in-world tools in Second Life, rather than use external content creation tools like Blender.
  5. “There’s nothing to do in Sansar.” or “There’s more to do in Second Life.”
  6. Second Life is more fully-featured than Sansar.
  7. There are not enough avatar customization options in Sansar.
  8. I can’t bring my SL inventory over to Sansar.

It was interesting to read through all the comments!