I attended heated debate about copyright protection in OpenSim due OpenSimulator Community Conference and I would like to write down some notes as a creator, open minded and pragmatic person, who prefers common sense instead of long sneaky lawyer speeches.
My first explanation is for pirates, the ones who are making copies and distribute them or sell them. Creators are the same guys like you. Imagine yourself, or your dad or mom, if you are not grown adult, as a programmer. You work for a month programming something for your boss, after this month your boss is excited by this work, he really likes it. And he says: “Well done, I like it very much and I will use it in our company, it will be huge help. I took the copy of your work, so I will not pay you anything this month, because I do not need your work, the copy of it is good enough for me.”
He is killing you. Literally, I mean killing, because if you will not eat for a month and will sleep in freezy wet gutter, you will die.
Plenty of people in Second Life, who making virtual stuff for living, are handicapped. They spent all the time laying or sitting in bed, they are using wheelchairs, they need other people to take care of them, because they was not so happy to be born healthy. It is not storytelling, it is the fact. Try to be a friend of at least 10 successful creators in SL, and let me know, how much of them are “normal” healthy people.
If you are steal 20 items and distribute them to others, you will kill one guy. Maybe it is not 20, maybe it is 10 items. Or maybe 50, hard to say.
So, pirates, you are not shaving Apple, Warner Bros or some Hollywood celebrities. You are shaving normal average guys like you, fathers and mothers, handicapped people. You are killing people and you killing them slowly. Can you live with this, pirates?
Maybe tomorrow somebody will invent the way how to copy your work, work of your spouse, your parents. There will be no more money for you, your partner, your parents… you know the end. You cannot live with it, pirates, you will die of it.
You can say: if everything can be copied, everything can be free. So, it does not work.
I was born in communistic country, and I have lived there long enough to find it does not work. If everything belongs to everyobody, nobody makes nothing. Or, in virtual language, people make freebies, good enough to let them for free to anybody.
That is the reason why OpenSim grids look like they look. Do not get me wrong, I got big respect to free stuff, to people like Linda Kellie and many many others.
But you really want your world or grid looks like that? Do you like 5 years old second hand stuff which people are feeling sorry to throw into dumpster? If it is good enough for you, it is ok, it is your choice. But please, do not push anybody else to live your life and make your choices.
As I can see plenty of people desire to use eyecandy stuff in OpenSim. They do not live in 2007 anymore…
As a creator I would like to offer possibility to download my items and use them on OpenSim grids. With no restriction of grid, once you bought it, I am expecting you can use it for all your avatars and all your grid. There is nothing different from selling in Second Life. I am selling my stuff with copy permission, I guess it is much “cheaper” for me then neverending customer support “I lost my no copy item, please resend me new one.” And I am aware every buyer can use it bazillion times at SL. It does not make much sense for fashion, but even my landscaping items are full modify, so people can set them for group or anybody to move and all the Second Life can play with this toy:)
There is no difference in this for OpenSim grids. I will sell it to you, you can play with it on all your playgrounds.
But… there are more buts:)
Downloading copies is not illegal in my country. Even if you know it is illegal copy, you can download it for personal use, it is legal. Uploading or sharing the copy, that is illegal.
You can disagree, but there is one good thing. People are not prosecuted when they download something and believe it is from legal source.
There are more countries with the same law, as a creator you have to count on it.
From this point of view the biggest problem is sharing of copies. If you download copy of my item for your closed personal grid, I will never know. I do not like it, if everybody will do it, it is killing me in the same way like distributing copies for free. But there is nothing to do with it.
I cannot protect my items by myself. Maybe you will be zealous fan of pants with my logo, but what about trees with branding on leaves or terrain textures with watermark on every tenth meter? I guess it is not much exciting offer:)
Developers of OpenSimulator or Viewers cannot protect me too. Every DRM, every code they will make for protecting content will be hacked and redeveloped. It is annoying for users, it is more work for developers and it is not efective against pirates.
As a creator I need to protect myself from Gods. From providers and owners of grids and their assets servers.
Unlike all the internet, in OpenSim there are better possibilities to delete copies, if grid admins want to do it. There are not millions of providers with thousands of different systems.
Like all the internet, server providers can delete the copies. Of course creators still have much work to prove their rights, but if they can, it is grid admins round to do what needs to be done.
A can make my own e-shop for OpenSim grids, it is not big deal with tons of WordPress or Drupal plugins. Every creator can have independent online shop and deliver to many grids.
There are some e-shops for some closed grids, and there will be more even with possibilites to export items to hypergrided grids. It is amazing, I like it and I want to use it.
But with the first big case of distributing illegal copies through grids and no actions on the side of grid admins it will be the same situation, maybe worst, then in Second Life. Plenty of upset creators, lawsuits, more rules for residents….
I am not a lawyer, but I believe in every civilized country there is a law for providers, server and webpage owners. If you know your users are distributing the illegal content via your technology, it was proved according to your guidelines or the law, you have to delete it and do everything you can to stop distributing it.
If you help knowingly to distribute illegal content, you are guilty too.
If you are admin of any community page or forum, you know that and you are responsible.
Are the grid owners and land providers ready for it? Do they realize their responsibility? Do they realize how much their actions (or inactions) affect the creators and the future of content at their grids?
By the way, do you know the broken windows theory?:)
It is more easy to fix one broken windows, then be lazy, do nothing, because it looks easier at the start… and at the end you find you have to demolish the building and start to build the new one from scratch.
I know, there are plenty of technical difficulties in OpenSim. There are different laws in different countries. (But do we need them? We are the first online generation, we are early adopters, we are changing the world:)
I am trying to find the main principles.
I can help you, I can improve your grid, I can deliver my content.
But I cannot do it without you, if you are grid owner. I need to be sure you will help me.