Second Life News: Genus Project Wins the DMCA Complaint, Will Reopen Its Store Tomorrow

The DMCA complaint filed against The Genus Project has been settled in its favour

Please note that this news story is a follow-up to a previous blogpost (here).

The following breaking news I learned about from Second Life – FREE, which is a little-known-about Russian-language group on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, which often lists items I don’t see on other freebie blogs (use the Russian-to-English translator in your Chrome browser). Here’s the direct link to the post.

The following brief summary is courtesy of the Second Life – FREE group:

– GENUS won the trial.
– They have registered their copyright for the products and any subsequent DMCA complaints against them will be ignored, since the court will know by default that these are false accusations against the creator’s product.
– It is not known who filed a complaint against them. It was a completely fake complainant [and] a non-existent lawyer. This man copied Genus’s head and created a fake company that allegedly has been making 3D models for 13 years. But this lie was revealed.

There’s also a link to a Facebook post by the creator, which you can read for yourself. Congratulations to The Genus Project for successfully fighting off this attempt to shut them down! It would appear that the fake creator who launched the DMCA complaint wanted to not only shut down the store completely, but also have Linden Lab remove all Genus Project content from users’ inventories.

Apparently, The Genus Project store will reopen tomorrow, September 4th, 2020.

The Genus Project, Target of a Second DMCA Complaint, Shuts Down Its Operations Yet Again

Please note that I am taking the entire month of July off as a self-imposed vacation from the blog so I can focus on my other work, except for sponsored blogposts, and major breaking news such as this. See you in August!


UPDATE Sept. 3rd, 2020: The Genus Project won! More details here.

As you probably know, mesh avatar head-maker The Genus Project was forced to shut down completely as the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint not too long ago. On July 4th, 2020, they announced that they had reopened their store in-world.

Well, it didn’t last very long.

The news was posted to the Second Life Community Forums just three hours ago, and I went to verify it for myself in the notices from the GenusProject group:

I got a complaint again. I need to close everything again. I’m going to court and I want to settle this. I think it will take time.

Shortly thereafter there was a warning not to spread rumours about who was behind the refiling of this complaint:

It’s so important right now that we keep rumor discussion about other creators out of group chat. Catwa, LeLutka, Akeruka and a bunch of other fantastic SL creators have already demonstrated their support. Please do not make them regret doing so.

Understand that any trouble being caused in other group chats will be reported to me. If it is outside of their rules or considered harassment, the CSRs and Mods must act accordingly.

This was followed by a more complete statement later:

Dear friends and customers,

While we had hoped the DMCA business was behind us, we have received another notice from Linden Labs that we must remove our inventory and our store. As we have not been given info regarding who initiated this the first time, we are left to assume it is the same person and that it is someone with no actual claim.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused anyone – your patience, support, and loyalty to our brand is not something we take for granted. It is unfair to ask you to stand by us and stand with us as we fight this, but nothing about this situation has been fair. Please understand that we cannot provide details we don’t know and we ask that you keep rumors and accusations down while we work with our lawyers and with Linden Labs to prevent this from happening again.

And if whomever has filed this is reading? Please understand that filing these claims does more than hurt us as creators – it prevents us from giving customers the support they deserve. It stops us from releasing updates and letting customers get redeliveries. That is who you are hurting the most.

For an FAQ of what’s going on? Please join us on Discord here.

It would now appear that The Genus Project is going to be involved in a long and costly court battle before they can sell their products again. A major player has effectively been knocked out of the Bento mesh head market for the foreseeable future, and perhaps permanently. This is going to affect not just the team at The Genus Project, but it is also going to impact all the content creators who created skins and cosmetics for this brand of mesh heads.

Honestly, what an evening. First Linden Lab announces that they are going to be acquired, and now this.

The Genus Project Store Reopens—And the Free Group Gift of the Strong Face Bento Head Is Once Again Available!

I picked up a tip from the Second Life – FREE Free and Low-Cost Items group on vKontakte (the Russian version of Facebook; I use the automatic Russian-to-English translate feature on my Chrome browser): the Genus Project store has reopened! According to a notice sent out to the GenusProject store group (which is free to join):

Dear friends! Finally we will be able to open the store again, we have received a response from Linden lab. Unfortunately, we do not know who sent the complaint, but I will deal with this issue. While we were discussing this issue with LL, at the same time we’ve been upgrading and bug fixing for [our] heads.

So it would appear that the DMCA complaint issued has (at least for now) been settled in The Genus Project’s favour. We (and they) still don’t know who issued it, though.

And, if you missed your opportunity to pick up the free group gift of the Strong Face female Bento mesh head, it is once again available! This time around, it is not in the group notices, so you will have to visit the store to pick one up (here’s the SLURL):

The Strong Face group gift from The Genus Project (picture source)

In addition, all heads in the store are now on sale for L$3,300! Obviously, the store in inundated with avatars, so I would advise you to either wait a while for the crowds to die down a bit, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. (If you are a Premium member, you get priority access to overcrowded sims.)

In another group notice, the product team informs us:

Please do not teleport to the store for redelivery. It is broken. Please stay tuned to notices when it’s fixed.

The Latest Skirmish in the Ongoing Second Life Bento Head Wars: Genus Project Receives a DMCA Complaint, and Shuts Down Their Store as a Result

UPDATE Sept. 3rd, 2020: The Genus Project won! More details here.

The Genus Project has been highly successful with their recent line of Bento mesh heads, and even went so far as to recently give away a free gift edition of their Strong Face head in-store and via their store group, which proved to be phenomenally popular.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA for short) is American copyright law which includes a complaint mechanism which, some say, is routinely abused by those parties who want to harm or “take out” their competitors.

It would now appear that someone is doing just that. Yesterday, the Genus Project sent out the following message to their user group:

Forgive the spam if you’re already aware of the issue. For those who have not been around, the mainstore will be closed due to the DMCA situation announced here:

The Strong Face gift head is no longer available and re-deliveries will not be possible at this time. With chat being broken, we are encouraging anyone who needs help to come on to our Discord and join us there.

The above image was first shared with the Genus Project group on April 12th, 2020, and that bombshell announcement has sparked intense speculation as to the identity of the competitor who filed the DMCA complaint against Genus Project, so much so that the company quickly issued another announcement two hours later, saying:

Just a quick reminder that we do not know who filed the DMCA (read the other notice from Anna), and Catwa Clip has confirmed it wasn’t her. We are also on good terms with the wonderful people from LeLutka, and a few of us work with the good people at Meshbody. Please do not point fingers at others and while we appreciate your fervent support? Please keep the pitchforks down.

As info comes to light it will be shared. We’re not going anywhere. <3

Many people, however, automatically leapt to the conclusion that it was Catwa who had filed the DMCA against the Genus Project, which has led to further strong denials by both Catwa and Genus Project, who posted this image to their group:

Sadly (but perhaps not too surprisingly), the rumours took on a life of their own, which led to some extremely difficult times for Catwa’s customer support reps, who have been bombarded with hateful messages (please click on “Reveal Hidden Elements” in Skell Dagger’s post I just linked to). Such behaviour is absolutely shameful and reprehensible. People should be ashamed of themselves.

Other people have speculated that it was rival head store Genesis Lab who pulled the trigger, since after all the Genus Project was founded after a split from that particular brand, but they have also issued a statement that they didn’t file the DMCA, either:

So, if it’s not Catwa or LeLutka or Meshbody or Genesis Lab, who did it? Nobody knows. All we do know, is that Linden Lab received a DMCA complaint against Genus Project heads, and were obligated by U.S. law to take down the offending content.

The Genus Project company can, in turn, file a counterclaim to the original DMCA complaint, and in the following 10 to 14 days (while the offending content is removed from sale), the original complainant must file a case in court against Genus and provide Linden Lab with information on their court case. With the complaint moved to court, LL will keep the Genus content down pending the court’s decision. If the complainant fails to follow up on the DMCA claim with a court case, Genus Project heads can go back on sale (which is what some hope will happen).

So, assuming that Genus Project has filed a counter-notice, their heads could be available for sale again in a couple of weeks. We’ll see.

But this incident is indicative of the intrigue and drama that seem to erupt regularly in the world of the mesh head and body makers of Second Life. Every mesh head and body brand has its passionate adherents and just-as-passionate detractors, who do not hesitate to take pot shots at each other in such gossipy venues like Virtual Secrets (the National Enquirer of Second Life), which of course has had no shortage of submissions this week with commentary on this recent controversy, attacking various vendors and brands:

This is getting downright nasty, folks. For the love of God, behave like responsible, reasonable, sensible adults here for once. People’s livelihoods are at stake. I’m quite sure the skin, makeup, and shape makers for Genus heads are wondering what to do under the circumstances; are they suddenly out of a job?

We may be facing a new and much more intense battle, not only among the various Bento head makers, but also the mesh body makers, too, now that The Meshbody has decided to give away the fully-featured, updated version of their Classic male and female mesh bodies as L$1 group gifts to anybody who joins their group for free and visits their sim. Who knows what will happen next?

There is probably no shortage of companies who look with envy at the top-selling models of heads and bodies, and would dearly love to knock Maitreya Lara and Catwa off their lofty pedestals, and thereby potentially gain a bigger slice of this lucrative Second Life market. Stay turned for further dispatches of skirmishes to come, in what I jokingly used to call the Bento Head Wars, but which I am now officially dubbing The Great Bento War of 2020. (Chapters in history books will be written about it…documentaries will be made… 😉 )

One thing that I can guarantee is that it will not be boring. Stay tuned!

P.S. I am not a lawyer, I have never filed a DMCA complaint, neither have I ever been the recipient of a DMCA complaint. What I have written here is my best understanding of what’s going on, based on this very informative discussion thread on the incident over on the official Second Life community forums.