Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We Don't Play With Pirates:
How Content Providers Should Respond to Piracy

There has been an outpouring of anger at the crassness of A&F Designs. But it's better to get ahead, than get even.

King Linden only enforce the rules as far as it is convenient for him. This is the nature of Second Life. It's the nature of monarchies in general. We knew that when we came here.

Piracy is also a technical fact of life in the computer world. There will never be a situation where there will be no piracy. Piracy is always going to be possible, and it will always be a response when conditions for content buyers are sufficiently unfair. But that doesn't mean that people have to take any of these three facts, the nature of monarchy, the technical possibility of piracy, or the economic pressures of society as a whole, as things to be passively endured.

Instead content providers should do something simple.

Create a banlink group. Join banlink. Get the top content providers to sign up for it, contact current banlink members and ask them to trust it.

Ban owners of places that sell pirated goods. Ban the sim owner if he refuses to remove obvious piracy stores. Ban customers of obvious piracy stores. Tell them what has happened.

This is far better than drama dn griefing. It will be implementable immediately, it will be visible, and create a single place for content providers to keep up on places that are pirate havens, so that they can go and check to see if a DMCA needs to be filed. This is better htan punishing legitimate shoppers by closing stores for a day or so, since most of them can't do anything about piracy. In fact, they, by buying things legitimately are already doing what they can. Providers should also push malls where they have stores to trust this banlist.

Some content providers are already members.

What we do at NME is pay 250L per sim or sim equivalent we have under banlink management, the content provider group should charge its members this much and pay it to the people who run banlink... after all, if you want to be paid, you should have no trouble paying other people for the work they do.

This is simple, it uses things already available, tested and in place, requires no intervention from LL. Providers could create a logo, put that logo on their stores. Tell people that a sim is a pirate free area. Why do stores pirate? To make money. Why do people pirate content? To go places and be seen with that content. No place to play, no reason to buy purloined content.

That way there would be a clear penalty: profit from piracy, or play with piracy, then live in a much smaller Second Life.

That's all there is too it. Get a group together, ban pirates, and put out signs that say "We Don't Play With Pirates." Mall and dance hall owners, who depend on rents from providers would happily join. Content providers would join or trust.

While content providers will find that the efforts will be limited as long as the Second Life economy depends on pervasive abuse of people who work, because the rights of consumers to earn directly affect the ability of content providers to charge, there is no reason for content providers to be ineffectual about enforcing their rights as people who work to the fruits of their labors.

Perhaps they also have to realize that if they sell sex beds to people mkaing less than minimum wage, then it is going to be difficult to convince those same people to pay rl prices for work done in sl.

But first things first... send the message that the only place for pirates, is Davy Jones' locker.


  1. I like the idea in general, though even that won't stop 'theft' and I will only call it 'theft' here as it's as virtual as the thing being 'stolen'.

    To be displayed on someones PC anything we wear, attach, or rez is sent as a copy to everyone capable of viewing it. There is no way around this and even calls for plans to encrypt textures in cache fail because at some point they must be decrypted before anything can be done to them.

    As you even state trying to fight technically against this 'theft' is silly and doomed to fail in a virtual world. The only ways to fight it are socially and economically.

    Though I've ranted about this on other peoples blogs before and most content creators fail to realize the house of cards they build on. I knew before I ever tried to sell my first item in SL, that I can't stop copying of my items should someone want to. Those 1's & 0's that make up 'my' work in SL and my work only in SL are inherently dependent on a minimal level of 'security' that any mass digital medium has.

    Copyright means very little in a world composed of numbers that must be copied to everyone else. Trying to enforce a mechanism of 'see and not touch' on top of it is inherently clumsy.

  2. That it will always be possible to copy is one thing, that newbies who are still having trouble putting on their hair be able to buy the products of other's copying is another.

    I think we can all agree that shops that copy and sell are outside of any reasonable boundary, and that steps should be taken.

    Profiting from copying is a clearly out of bounds area.

  3. "Ban owners of places that sell pirated goods. Ban the sim owner if he refuses to remove obvious piracy stores. Ban customers of obvious piracy stores. Tell them what has happened."

    I agree with the principle. Contemplating implementation of your third point - "ban customers of obvious privacy stores" - I'm wondering about the notion of "obvious."

    Several thoughts are colliding in my mind. I'm trying and failing to imagine a "no pirating" sign in the relative elegance of Vindi or Last Call.

    Perhaps a note card that drops on me as I enter, stating their policy and giving the consumer tips about piracy.

  4. I had *no* idea about piracy until I began to read about it here ... and I *still* don't understand the relationship between piracy and all the freebie places.

    My inventory is a mix of purchases, gifts and freebies. The freebies either came from shops, friends or freebie specific places.

    In rl, "dumpster diving" and second hand stores are part of a strategy for conserving resources and valuing stuff. They protest planned obsolescence. By scavenging for freebies in SL, have I been inadvertently contributing to the black market economy?