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.

Editorial: The Bento Head Wars of Second Life Have Begun in Earnest

For the longest time, Catwa absolutely ruled the Bento mesh head market, almost having a monopoly. But I get the impression that they are now under attack from all sides lately, and possibly losing market share.

The Genus Project has truly fired a shot across the bow with their release of the completely free, absolutely gorgeous Strong Face Bento mesh head group gift, which comes with a couple of fully-featured HUDs (including some things that Catwa used to charge extra for, after you shelled out L$5,000 for one of their heads). Seriously, this has got to be one of the best freebies I have ever picked up in Second Life, and I have seen one hell of a lot of freebies in my 14 years in SL!

I did a little tinkering with the free Strong Face head, and last year’s free group gift of the Altamura Juliet body, and I came up with the following look, which I am rather pleased with:

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Strong Face by Genus Project (free group gift; includes the mesh eyes)

Mesh Body: Juliet from Altamura (free group gift from Valentine’s Day 2019)

Skin Applier: Mila in the Milk skin tone, from Insol (dollarbie hunt prize in their current hunt); matching Omega body skin applier is free!

Lipstick Applier: free group gift from D’Selles from last year’s eBENTO Advent calendar

Hair: Bella hair in blonde (free Advent calendar gift from JUMO)

Ballgown: Cannes ballgown (free gift from Son!a Edge from the Valentine’s Day Shop and Hop event)

Necklace and Bracelet: Wild Whimsy by Chop Zuey (former free gift from The Free Dove)

Shoes (Not Shown): Sonnet pumps (free group gift from Hilly Haalan)

Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. I added a free, separate Bento hand animator from the Altamura Juliet package. I am also using the Basic Animation HUD that was included with the Strong Face head by Genus Project.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$200! (L$100 to join the Altamura group, L$99 for the Omega system kit for Altamura mesh bodies, and L$1 for the Insol skin applier.) If this isn’t proof that you can have a stunning-looking avatar in Second Life without spending a lot of Linden dollars, I don’t know what is. I mean, that works out to less than one U.S. dollar, folks!

This is genius advertising for Genus Project heads, and if I were Catwa, I would be worried. Akeruka has also been slowly chipping away at Catwa’s lead with semi-annual free group gifts of Bento mesh head gifts over the past few years (although they seem to have stopped now). Other Bento mesh head retailers are having sales more often, I notice. Add in the recent avalanche of free and inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible Bento mesh heads, and the writing is truly on the wall for Catwa.

It didn’t help that, back in 2018, Catwa threatened rival Bento head creators Akeruka and GA.EG with a lawsuit, saying that they had copied the Catwa head UV map (The Whisperer website has all the receipts). Eventually, Linden Lab was forced to release a statement to respond to the brouhaha. Catwa was widely seen as bullying other, smaller Bento head creators, and as a result the company lost a lot of goodwill and respect among SL users.

The question is: how will Catwa respond to the Bento Head Wars? Will they hold their head high, pretend nothing has changed, and continue to charge L$5,000 for their heads? (To be fair, most other well-known Bento head brands cost a similar amount.) Will they lower their prices, throw more sales, perhaps even give away a free gift of their own?

Things are getting very interesting…please discuss amongst yourselves, and feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on the matter. Who do you think is winning the Bento Head Wars?

The free Strong Face mesh head group gift from the Genus Project
is truly a shot across the bow at Catwa…

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: INSOL Skin Hunt

One of the pieces of advice that I give out to freebie shoppers in Second Life is that Christmas is the best season for freebies, the time of the year when many stores have Advent calendar gifts and other free items available. (Here’s a complete list of my best freebie hunting tips.)

Well, I am going to amend that advice somewhat and say that one of the best times to pick up fabulous freebies is pandemic season! I’ve already written about The Stay at Home Club, and many other stores on the grid are having “stay at home” promotions.

Among those stores is the INSOL skin and cosmetics store, which is having a Stay Home hunt. Eight tubes of skin applier are hidden all over the sim: in the store and the café, and in the surrounding beautifully landscaped sim. Each skin applier tube costs only L$1 to buy.

However, I must warn you that the tubes are very small and fiendishly well hidden! Also, the store owner discovered the hunt video Cat Pink put out for this hunt four days ago, and promptly moved all the prizes to new locations as a result, so you can’t use that to cheat! You’re going to have to use all the tools at your disposal to find those tiny tubes (here are my top six SL hunting tips to help you out). This is a hard hunt, so set aside an hour or two. I spent about an hour, and found only 3 tubes.

Four of the hunt prizes are skin appliers for Catwa heads, and four are skin appliers for Genus heads (which also work on the free Strong Face mesh head gift from Genus Project, yet another wonderful pandemic freebie that I would urge you pick up). Even better, Insol body appliers in matching skin tones are available for free in store (for Belleza, Maitreya, Slink, and Omega-compatible mesh bodies). Just click the round panel at the front of the store to receive the package of body skin appliers:

This is one of the hunt prizes, the Mila skin applier in the Milk skin tone for Genus heads (here I paired the free Genus Project Strong Face head with the Altamura Juliet body I picked up as a free Valentine’s Day group gift in 2019, using the free Omega skin applier):

Here is another prize for the Genus head, the gorgeous Daniela skin in the Cinnamon skin tone:

Also, a warning: when you do find the tiny skin applier tubes hidden around the sim, just click on them, then pay the Linden dollar to receive your prize. DO NOT RIGHT CLICK AND BUY THEM. I accidentally did that for one hunt prize tube, and it cost me L$900! So please learn from my mistake.

Here’s the SLURL to the INSOL store. Happy hunting!

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: A Free Bakes-on-Mesh Compatible, Bento Mesh Head for Female Avatars from the Genus Project

I just learned today from the Free*Style blog that the Genus Project, a major Bento head retailer in Second Life, is giving away a free version of their Strong Face model of female avatar head, which is Bento (fully adjustable) and supports Bakes on Mesh:

The Free*Style blogger, Helena Stringer, reports:

You can try to fight the horde that are grabbing Skin Fair Heads, or you can join the in-world group, which is free to join, and grab the head out of the notices: secondlife:///app/group/b153906f-38dd-0dd6-d327-345bef9f446e/about

They have also reduced their heads by 40% until an undisclosed time. 

Thanks, Helena! I would also very strongly advise you avoid the doubtlessly jam-packed sim where the Genus Project store is located. It will be an exercise in frustration.

Instead, join the GenusProject group for free (just copy and paste the above link into local chat in your SL client, and it will generate a group join link), and pick up the free Strong Face head from the group notices. The title of the notice you are looking for is: Support from the Genus Project team, and the head will be an attachment to that notice that you can click and download into your inventory. Group notices expire after two weeks, though, so please don’t wait too long!

The package includes:

  • the Genus Strong Face head itself and a head alpha;
  • a modifiable default shape (which should be your starting point);
  • Genus “jaws” (I assume that this is the teeth for inside the head);
  • a Genus neck fix;
  • Genus eyes and an eye alpha;
  • a Universal Setting HUD in two sizes (big and small);
  • a Basic Animation HUD in two sizes (big and small), and a variety of animations;
  • a Genus skin applier in three skin tones: Honey, Toffee, and Brownie, and four eyebrow colours: Blonde, Ginger, Brown, and Black (a nice bonus!);
  • an Information notecard explaining how to wear the head;
  • a Frequently-Asked Questions notecard.

As you can see, the included skin applier gives a beautiful result (I am also wearing the included Genus mesh eyes, and I have not changed any of the sliders from the included default shape):

The included Genus skin applier HUD (showing Honey skin, Brown eyebrows)

There are tons of options in the Universal HUD! These are just two of the three tabs:

And the animation HUD has plenty of eomtional moods and facial expressions! Here’s I selected the sleepy/yawning mood:

And this is the angry/annoyed expression:

In short, this is one of the nicest, most fully-featured freebie Bento mesh heads I have ever encountered in my many years of freebie shopping. So go and get this for your female avatar! You won’t regret it. Here’s my final look (I paired this head with the Atenea mesh body by LUCYBODY, which I wrote about here):

P.S. I will add this news to my ever-expanding, ever-popular blogpost on free and inexpensive mesh heads and bodies for female Second Life avatars.

P.P.S. SL vlogger Naria Panthar has just released a half-hour YouTube video demonstration of the various features of the Strong Face head and its HUDs:

UPDATE April 4th, 2020: I forgot to mention that this free Strong Face head is also Omega compatible! You will have to purchase and install an Omega System kit for it, though. You can purchase the Omega System kit for Genus Project heads for only L$99 from the Omega Solutions in-world store.

So I paired the Genus Strong Face head with the Altamura Juliet body (which I picked up at Valentine’s Day 2019 as a free group gift), and applied the free Elvira Omega skin applier in snow (which was an Advent calendar gift from 7 Deadly Skins last Christmas). I was quite pleased with the results! This is the makeup-free face, since fairies don’t wear makeup 😉

Absolutely stunning!

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Strong Face by Genus Project (free group gift; group is free to join)
  • Mesh Body: Juliet by Altamura (former free group gift; the Altamura group costs L$100 to join)
  • Omega Skin Applier: Elvira in snow by 7 Deadly S[k]ins (a free group gift from last Christmas; I joined the group when it had a free group join period)
  • Mesh Eyes: Genus mesh eyes (comes in the package with the Strong Face head)
  • Hair: Aria by D!va Hair (a free group gift; the group is free to join)
  • Jewelry: Daphne choker and earrings by from Beloved Jewelry (free; a hunt gift from a couple of years ago)
  • Gown: Luminessence gown in white by Oi Bae! (free group gift; group is free to join; I’m not sure if this store is still on the grid or not, but they are on the SL Marketplace)
  • Shoes (not shown): white flats by Garbaggio (part of a free sample pack of Slink-compatible shoes from Garbaggio, available on the SL Marketplace; Altamura mesh bodies have Slink-compatible feet)
  • Iridescent Wings: these were a freebie I picked up many years ago and I forget where I got them
  • Magic Wand: like the wings, I forget exactly where I picked up this freebie.
  • Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. I added a free, separate Bento hand animator from the Altamura Juliet package.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS ENTIRE AVATAR: Only L$298! (L$100 to join the Altamura group, L$99 for the Genus Omega system kit, and L$99 for the Altamura Omega system kit.)

I’m all set for my next fantasy roleplay experience in Second Life!

Happy freebie shopping!