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.

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Meshbody Offers Free Versions of Their Classic Mesh Bodies for Men and Women

On the first anniversary of the release of the Legacy male and female mesh bodies, The Ultimate Meshbody creators (formerly known as The Mesh Project or TMP) posted the following message to their website:

We’re nearing the first anniversary of the official Meshbody system, we can’t thank all of you enough for your kind support, and for helping to bring it to life. It all started many years ago when a few of us helped design one of the first bodies on the grid as a contribution to the original mesh project when we were just beginning to learn and explore mesh. And though we’ve branched off on our own since then, the road has been a continuous learning experience. We’re grateful to be here, celebrating a year of being able to finally share our creations with you in the way we originally wanted to, and we’re extremely grateful to be able to do so thanks to your support.

As a thank you, we’re pledging to give our Original Classic Meshbody for men and women to the entire grid, free. They remain our personal favorites, perhaps sentimentally, and we hope they will bring a little happiness, joy, and inspiration to the grid! Many designers are coming out with brand new content for them as well!

Just join The Shops! group for free (just cut and paste the group link from the Meshbody website into the chat box of your SL client to join the group), and check the group notices for one called New sim online! In it will be an attachment SLURL that will take you directly to the location on the sim where you can click on either Men or Women to be taken to the right place to pick up your free Classic mesh body. Please note that this is the older, original Classic mesh body (formerly known as the TMP mesh body), not the new Legacy mesh body, which is still full-price.

Once you have made your selection, you have your choice of Classic body: the Free Edition, and the Creative Edition (which includes the Advanced Mesh Editor). Both cost one Linden dollar to purchase. The Creative edition appears to be a limited-time-only freebie, while the Free Edition looks like it will be available for free going forward. (Then again, this company has been well known for changing things around unexpectedly in the past, so don’t expect anything to be cast in stone.)

I did have one male alt who had the freebie version of the original TMP Classic body, so I dropped by to pick up the Creative Edition of the Classic body as an update. One nice new feature is that it now supports Bento hands. Here’s what he looks like (I paired the body with the Aron Bento mesh head, a past group gift from Akeruka):

This has always been one of my favourite male mesh bodies, so having an opportunity to get the upgrade for to it for only one Linden dollar is a bonus. Any clothing made for The Mesh Project (TMP) bodies should fit it well, although you may have to use the alpha sections on the included HUD to get clothing designed for other brands of mesh bodies to fit. You also have quite a wide range of built-in skin tones to choose from, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that matches your mesh head. (A reminder that these bodies do not support the Omega system, so you won’t be able to use Omega skin, tattoo, or makeup appliers on these bodies.)

As you might expect, the sim is absolutely jam-packed with avatars picking up free bodies, so I would advise you wait a while, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. Good luck!

UPDATE 3:44 a.m.: Well, the vendors of the female version of the Classic body seem to be overloaded at the moment, and don’t appear to be working at all. As for the men’s mesh body I described up top, for the women’s body there are both the Free Edition (which appears to be a permanent freebie), and the Creative Edition with an Advanced Material Editor (which appears to be a limited-time freebie). As with the men’s body, the update includes Bento hands and a wide variety of skin tones:

This sort of glitch is to be expected whenever a brand initiates such a big giveaway, so my best advice is to come back later, once things have been fixed. Right now there are just a lot of really frustrated avatars clicking away on the vendors, to no avail.

UPDATE 12:16 p.m.: O.K., they fixed the vendors, and I was finally able to purchase both the Free Edition and the Creative Edition of the Classic women’s mesh body. This avatar originally owned the then-free Classic body, which was free only for a short period of time, and then The Mesh Project suddenly began charging L$500 for it again, but made all the clothing for it free from The Shops!, a truly horrible point-and-click HUD-based shopping experience. (Here’s an older blogpost outlining the ordeal. There’s a reason that The Mesh Project was not that popular.)

Here is what that avatar looks like now, with the updated Classic female mesh body (note that she is wearing a choker to hide the slight mismatch between this body and her head, the Lulu Bento head by Akeruka, a former group gift):

Compared to the previous freebie version, there are some very welcome additions to this updated Classic body: a wider variety of skin tones, Bento hands with five different nail styles, and five different foot heights: flat, kitten heel, medium heel, high heel, and what can only be described as Ouch! heels 😉

So, what’s not to like? Three things about this dollarbie Classic mesh body may make you want to reconsider before you buy:

  • These bodies do not have any Omega support, so you will not be able to use any Omega skin, makeup, tattoo or clothing appliers. This is a deal-breaker for many.
  • Even though there are a wide variety of skin tones included in the HUD, it is unlikely that you will get an exact match to your mesh head. As far as I know, there are no mesh heads appliers that come in the matching Meshbody skin tones, and (as I mentioned in point one) there are no Omega appliers, so getting a match at your neck line will be a process of trial and error. Both versions of the Classic bodies do include a box of neck fades, and the Creative Edition package does include an Advanced Mesh Editor (which I have not tried). Your mileage may vary.
  • While there are stores on the grid which still sell clothing for the Classic mesh body (look for The Mesh Project logo on the vendor before you buy), the fact remains that there is much better clothing support for the “Big Six” mesh body brands: Maitreya Lara, Belleza Freya/Isis/Venus, and Slink Physique/Hourglass. Also note that clothing created for the new Legacy mesh body is not designed for the Classic mesh body, and may not fit very well. Again, your mileage may vary.

However, for the two alts I own that had already picked up the older version of the TMP Classic body when it was free, and then later picked up all the clothing for it from The Shops! when they were free, this upgrade is a no-brainer. Otherwise, if you can live with the inevitable neck seam problems and lack of Omega support, these are beautiful, well-designed male and female mesh bodies and well worth your Linden dollar.

I don’t know how long the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body will be available as a dollarbie, so don’t wait too long to pick these up.

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: One of my regular readers, Brinlea, left me the following comment:

This body takes Bakes on Mesh, and the current Akeruka gift head comes with a box of Bakes on Mesh system skins that will work. Voila, no neck seam.

Thanks, Brinlea! I had somehow overlooked the fact that this updated Classic mesh body supports Bakes on Mesh (there’s a button on the HUD under Settings to enable it, see image on the right). In fact, here is exactly that combination, pairing the Akeruka Limited Bakes on Mesh head and included skin tone #5 with the Meshbody Bakes-on-Mesh enabled Classic body:

Looking good! And, as Brinlea pointed out, there’s no neck seam!

And, of course, the Second Life vloggers are already all over this! Here are just three YouTube videos explaining how this mesh body works:

UPDATE April 18th, 2020: I’ve had a chat with someone who does customer service work for Meshbody, and I have a few important updates to share.

First, The Mesh Project is shutting down its original shopping region for purchases and redeliveries tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th, 2020. Moving forward, it will be the Meshbody.

However, I dropped by The Free Dove to outfit an alt, and all the product vendors refer to “The Mesh Project”—and that is not going to change anytime soon. Getting vendors to change their signage from the old name to the new one is not going to happen, so please do keep that in mind as you search for clothing to fit your free Classic mesh body.

Also, Meshbody has a new avatar queue system set up to get into the sim where they are giving away the free Classic mesh body, and have implemented a six-minute time limit for you to do your shopping quickly, and get out. They have asked people not to use tools like the Teleport Hammer to get into their sim. (I have been loading up alts all day to get into the sim, and I have noticed that it is, indeed, much easier and faster to get in than before.)

The Classic mesh body (the basic package, without the Advanced Material Editor) is going to be free “forever”, in the words of the person who reached out to me this evening. However, the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body (with the Advanced Material Editor) is only going to be free until the end of April 2020, after which it will be priced at L$2,500.

So remember: The Mesh Project is dead (except for when you’re shopping for clothing and shoes for your new freebie Classic mesh body). Long live Meshbody! The more I play with it, the more I like this body.

UPDATED! Review: The Legacy Male Mesh Avatar Body by The Ultimate Meshbody

The Mesh Project (TMP), which now seems to be calling itself The Ultimate Meshbody, recently held a contest where you could win the mesh avatar body of your choice (which usually retails for L$5,500, a price that I find rather expensive for a body that still doesn’t support Omega appliers, or have lots of designers creating clothing for it yet).

Well, the winners of the contest were just announced, and guess what?

I won! I was one of the 100 First Prize winners, who each receives the mesh avatar body of their choice, plus four gift cards or fatpacks from various Second Life designers.

After giving the matter some careful consideration, I decided on the Legacy male body as my prize, since I already have male avatars with the Belleza Jake and Signature Gianni mesh male bodies, and it would be useful to be able to compare all three. (I already have extensive previous experience with the Maitreya Lara, Belleza Freya, eBody Classic, and various free and paid-for Altamura female mesh bodies, so I didn’t really feel the need to add the Legacy female body to that mix.)

Also, I had quite liked the look of their predecessor (TMP) male mesh avatar, of which one of my alts had the freebie version, which was trim, fit, but not overly-muscled. The overall look of the Legacy male body demo appealed to me in a similar way. I will even go so far as to say that it’s probably the best-looking male mesh avatar body on the market right now (although Belleza and Signature would probably beg to differ with me!).

Here are some pictures I took of the demo version of that body, taken in The Ultimate Meshbody store. I decided to pair the body with the Akeruka Clay Bento mesh head (a relatively recent Akeruka group gift):

I tried to match the skin tones of the head and body as best I could, but there is still a detectable neck seam. However, The Ultimate Meshbody does provide a complete set of neck shaders to make this seam less noticeable. Here’s a look at the full body, and I must say that it’s quite impressive:

In particular, the detail on the hands and feet is just insane!

We have clearly come a long, long way from the hands and feet of the classic system avatars of 16 years ago!! I mean, I can see veins on the Legacy feet!

Then, I patiently waited for my prize to arrive…which it finally did today!

The Legacy male mesh body package includes:

  • An information card with a frequently-asked-question list;
  • Version 1.1 of the body (hands and feet are not separate);
  • Nine different body shapes;
  • Two versions of the EDIT HUD, which controls skintone, nailtone, alpha sections, etc. (one larger and one smaller);
  • An Advanced Material Editor to add a custom texture, bumpmap, or specular, or to adjust full-bright/glow on your Legacy body;
  • A package of fit deformers, which apparently allow you to wear clothing originally designed for other models of male mesh bodies, including the older mesh clothing using Standard Sizing (I haven’t tested these yet, so I can’t say anything about them);
  • A set of neckfades in 36 different colours, which are textures you apply to your avatar’s head in order to reduce the visible seam between the mesh head and the Legacy mesh body (a corresponding neckfade is applied to the body using the EDIT HUD);
  • A Create package, which “includes all the necessary in-world tools needed to make content for Meshbody” (including autohide scripts to drop in items of clothing);
  • A Premium Outfit: black briefs, four tight and four loose cashmere sweaters in four colours each, five pair of chino pants in different colours, and suede oxfords in four colours. It’s a basic, colour-coordinated capsule wardrobe to get you started (a thoughtful touch, especially since most starter mesh body packages just give you underwear).

The only problem I encountered when setting all this stuff up for the first time was trying to use the neckfades. According to the notecard included with the 36 neckfade textures:

◦ First, choose a neckfade that closely matches your current skin using the [EDIT] HUD.
◦ Next, choose the same skintone number in the unpacked folder ‘[LEGACY] Meshbody (m/f) Neckfades’.
◦ Once you’ve found the corresponding texture, apply this texture to your head by dropping the texture onto a custom slot your mesh head allows or by creating a supported applier your mesh head allows.

And I must confess that I have absolutely no idea whether or not my Akeruak Clay mesh head has a “custom slot” (I don’t think it does), or if I know how to create a “supported applier”. Seriously, this is the best you can do, guys? And given that Legacy currently sells no heads to go along with these bodies (and, as far as I know, no Omega appliers in the Legacy’s twelve skintones to use on other brands of mesh heads), this is a rather kludgy workaround. Basically, the store dumps the problem into your lap instead of trying to solve it themselves. Not impressed, especially for what you pay for this mesh body if you were to purchase it: approximately twice as much as any other male mesh body system out there on the grid.

I may just decide to live with the slight neckseam—or invest in some turtleneck sweaters! At least, more and more designers are now creating clothing specifically for the Legacy bodies, both male and female. And I also received some giftcards and fatpacks as part of my prize to get me started!

Anyway, other than that, the quality of this mesh body is truly excellent, absolutely top notch. Here is my avatar, wearing the default starter shape with no adjustments, ready to hit the beach, after I tried for an hour to find the very best match between the 6 included skintones on the Akeruka Clay Bento mesh head, and the 12 skintones that come with the Legacy mesh body:

I am quite pleased with the way he looks! Here’s how my little stud muffin looks with some clothes on:

I suppose one thing I could do is investigate to see if there are any skin appliers out there which support both Akeruka mesh heads and Legacy mesh bodies. I could also decide to open up my wallet and spring for a Catwa head, since there are very clear instructions provided in the Legacy package on how to install the neckfades on a Catwa brand mesh head. But I just don’t feel like spending another L$5,000 at the moment, not when I have a whole set of Akeruka mesh heads in my inventory that I have picked up as free group gifts over the past two years. (It offends the freebie fashionista in me!)

So, would I recommend this body?

Yes—provided the company works out a better solution to deal with the inevitable neckseam problem you will have. Yes—provided you can live with a smaller number of designers creating clothing and shoes for this body than the competition (Belleza Jake and Signature Gianni and Geralt). Yes—provided you don’t need or want to use Omega appliers (which have become sort of a universal standard in Second Life).

If you can live with all those current limitations, and if you have the cash burning a hole in your pocket, then I say yes, go for it. But there are certainly cheaper male mesh bodies out there, with better designer support and Omega applier support, which you might want to carefully consider first:

  • The Jake Belleza mesh body will set you back L$2,999 without head.
  • The Signature Gianni and Geralt mesh bodies cost L$3,500 each, without head.

Frankly, I don’t see a lot of extra oomph for the Legacy body sticker price of L$5,500 (although I admit the capsule wardrobe is nice). You could take your savings and put it towards a nice Bento mesh head, from Catwa or Akeruka or any other vendor. Or put it towards a very highly realistic-looking skin applier from Birth or Stray Dog. I still don’t think that The Ultimate Meshbody is the best value for your money (although I certainly can love it as a contest prize which I won for free!).

So, if you’re still interested, here is the SLURL to take you directly to The Ultimate Meshbody store, called The Shops (and yes, they have improved their previously horrible shopping experience somewhat). And, in a note to those who are haters based on their past experiences with The Mesh Project, they say:

Why should I support your content?

Well, first, we just hope you like it! We spend a lot of time, care, & love on trying to make things both beautiful, and functional but still high quality. Doing this, is truly is what we love to do, and we’re so passionate about making beautiful things for you. It is genuinely hard work, especially when we try to be perfectionists. We hope that you’ll consider supporting our work so that we can continue to spend as much time as we do on our products and keep delivering you the best. We are so sorry it took such a long time to deliver this series of bodies but with it we learned a lot and we feel more comfortably confident that we can deliver great products to you in a much shorter time period now that we’ve learned from experience. Thank you so much for those of you who have supported us since the beginning, we won’t ever forget it and we’re so thankful for your continued support & patience.

Pictures taken at Secret Beach. Speedo by Legal Insanity.

UPDATE Jan. 13, 2020: Somebody suggested to me something which I had completely forgotten about, which is that the Legacy body and Akeruka head both support Bakes on Mesh, so I suppose I could go that route if I really want to get rid of that pesky neck seam. There are more and more high-quality BoM skins out there! Here is information on the Bakes on Mesh capability of Legacy mesh bodies from their website.