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Second Life Businesses Close Due To Cloning 409

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the el-camino-cloners dept.
Warren Ellis is reporting that many Second Life vendors are closing up shop due to the recent explosion of a program called "Copybot," designed to clone other people's possessions. From the article: "The night before last, I was looking around a no-fire combat sandbox, where people design and test weapons and vehicles, when an argument broke out; a thing going by the name Nimrod Yaffle was cloning things out of other people's inventories, and claiming he could freely do it because he'd been playing with Copybot with employees of SL creator/operators Linden Lab. All hell broke loose, in the sort of drama you can only find on the internet. Linden Lab's first official response? If you feel your IP has been compromised by Copybot, we'll sort of help you lodge a DCMA complaint in the US. Businesses started shutting down moments later." Update 20:43 GMT by SM Several users have mentioned that the Second Life blog has a few thoughts on this issue and quite a few comments from users already.
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Second Life Businesses Close Due To Cloning

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  • value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:15PM (#16856636)
    And hence the "real value" of virtual goods is exposed for the umpteenth time...
    • Re:value (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hunterx11 (778171) <hunterx11&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:33PM (#16856974) Homepage Journal
      Indeed, the value of such goods is based only on the recognition of others that they are valuable, unlike the case with, say, money. Wait...
      • Re:value (Score:5, Funny)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:35PM (#16856994)
        That's why I keep all my money invested in tulip bulbs...
        • Re:value (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:52PM (#16860886)
          For the mod who marked the parent overrated: "Tulip mania" [wikipedia.org].


          The tulip bulb crash of 1636-37 reads a lot like the dot-bomb of our day and to the folly of investing in overvalued, non-critical items.

      • by brkello (642429)
        Which is backed by the US Government (or whatever country your money is from). Second life items are backed by who?
      • by Erpo (237853)
        Indeed, the value of such goods is based only on the recognition of others that they are valuable, unlike the case with, say, money. Wait...

        There are no "such goods" in second life; there is only light coming off of your monitor, and that light was put there by a computer processor following directions on your hard disk. Computer directions (instructions) are not goods--they are information.

        Information can be duplicated practically for free, so there's no such thing as "scarcity." Honest, real goods on the
    • by tigre (178245)
      Sounds like SL needs its own version of copyright. To encourage innovation in object creation, grant the creators limited monopolies on creating said objects, and then after the copyright expires CopyBot to your heart's content. They could enforce with code, or they could simply enforce with Terms of Service/Use, depending on their philosophical bent.
    • What I find funny is that SL isn't treating a duping bug as a duping bug, even though this clearly qualifies as such.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xappax (876447)
        SL is different from other games in that users are allowed to create objects - they're even encouraged to do so. If you can design an object, you can create it within the game, and everyone agrees that that's ok.

        The problem is that people want to keep their designs secret, even while using them in the game. Obviously, this is impossible because in order to render the object, each SL client has to download the object's wireframe, textures, etc.

        Most duping bugs are solved by securing data or fixing a bu
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lord Ender (156273)
          The solution is simple: When someone creates a new object, SL can just register some digital signature or hash of the object in a central database. The SL server could then refuse to transmit any object with that signature unless the creator authorizes it.
          • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:25PM (#16861398) Homepage
            So you change 1 point or 1 LSB on a texture. The entire hash changes and the protection is completely circumvented.

            It would require something much more process intensive, such as similarity matching. That would be a PITA as well, since it would be much less process intensive to modify the object, but make it look the same, and if the comparison points are too broad, it could block anything that's even remotely similar -- all spheres, as a simple example.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              It would require something much more process intensive, such as similarity matching. ...not necessarily. Just use something like...oh...conventional DRM?

              Every time you create a prim it gets a hidden field, that's a signature with LL's private key of something unique to the prim (like a GUID) and your UID (or GID if it's group-owned). When you give it away (directly or recursively, as part of a larger object), LL will give the object a new signature. If you make the object freely copiable, the signature will
    • Unlike real goods which are never copied? Doh. Anything that can be made can be copied. Anyone with a copied item, bought or stolen, just has a lame bit of crap anyway. The interesting stuff is the original. Sure someone can buy a copy of a Picaso painting but that doesn't decrease the value of the original or the creator of the original.

      If the Linden Labs people would give me a free account and land I'd be glad to let people copy my stuff for free.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot@kadin.xoxy@net> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:40PM (#16858398) Homepage Journal
        I think you nailed it.

        The businesses that are closing were all operating on the wrong business model. Rather than try to make money selling the same object over and over, as if each copy had some value, they should have been figuring out ways to make money selling unique, individually created, bespoke objects. Selling the same stream of bits over and over is stupid. But if you could create something new for each person, then you'd not be selling bits, but your creative labor and skills -- it's not "bits" that you're selling anymore, but "service." That's a sustainable, proven business model.

        I hope that Linden keeps the copying devices around, and lets people have free reign with them, because I think in time, you'll see the SL economy recover, and it would be a good demonstration of an 'information economy' that's not based on artificial scarcity or restrictions on information, but rather on mutually beneficial services.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XorNand (517466) *
          How is this +4 Insightful? You're arguing that items need to be unique in order to be desirable or profitable. Rolex, Mercedes Benz, heck, even McDonalds has "a sustainable, proven business model" of selling identical wares over and over again. Artisians enjoy making unique contributions to the world. Some of them make a very good living, but that's rare. Businesses, on the other hand, strive to make money the in most efficent manner possible. Despite being uncool, both have their place in the world. How mu
          • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot@kadin.xoxy@net> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:07PM (#16860058) Homepage Journal
            How is this +4 Insightful? You're arguing that items need to be unique in order to be desirable or profitable. Rolex, Mercedes Benz, heck, even McDonalds has "a sustainable, proven business model" of selling identical wares over and over again. Artisians enjoy making unique contributions to the world. Some of them make a very good living, but that's rare. Businesses, on the other hand, strive to make money the in most efficent manner possible. Despite being uncool, both have their place in the world. How much do you think your computer would cost if each one had to be hand-crafted?
            I guess I wasn't clear: I was only talking about in the digital, nonconservative realm, where you can duplicate an object that's already been created with virtually no effort or energy expenditure (well, there is some, but it's trivial).

            McDonalds and Mercedes sell identical items over and over, because if I have a Mercedes, I can't just copy it and give you a Mercedes, too -- the real world doesn't work that way, because of pesky things like conservation of mass and energy. However, in the realm of information, if I have an "item" (and I would say that the term 'knowing' it is preferable and more appropriate to 'owning' it), I can give ('tell') it to you, without affecting the original. In this realm, the copies have virtually no value; in time, their cost will drop down to the marginal production cost (which is very low). So it's silly to try to have a business model that revolves around amortizing the cost of production out over not-yet-sold copies.

            Anyway, I hope that clears it up. I was not implying that manufacturing identical goods and selling them was an unfeasible business model in the real world; it's not and won't be. However, selling the same piece of information over and over, is not, in my estimation, sustainable without a lot of heavy-handed controls on the market.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Phisbut (761268)

              I guess I wasn't clear: I was only talking about in the digital, nonconservative realm, where you can duplicate an object that's already been created with virtually no effort or energy expenditure (well, there is some, but it's trivial).

              Let me guess. You also believe it's stupid for software makers to sell their software. Every video game you find in the store should be free (or maybe cost about 2 bucks to cover for the plastic)? After all, software and game companies are just selling the same object over

              • You are already paying a monthly fee to access a virtual world, and you take all risk and responsibility as a client uploading models into the world. When you buy items from other people, you are exchanging virtual in game currency, there are no EULAs to click through, let alone VALID contracts being signed here that describe the terms of use.

                It is foolish for a vendor to enter this market and expect to somehow impose scarcity onto entites that which the game engine does not pretend to enforce any resource
        • by DeadMilkman (855027) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:06PM (#16860036) Homepage
          How is it still unique when as soon as you walk outside with it anyone else can have it too?

          Would the rich society that supports artists buy art if all their fellow societians would have the same thing as soon as they showed it off?

          (*Look at my new mink! Yes its now my new mink, and my new mink *)

          This "Killed" uniqueness as it is now impossible to be "unique".

          Those that WERE willing to pay prices for unique wares are no longer as copybot kills the ability to be unique and show off.
      • Sure someone can buy a copy of a Picaso painting but that doesn't decrease the value of the original


        Assuming it was a perfect copy (on the molecular level), how would you even know the difference between original and copy?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bill_kress (99356)
        I'm a moderator and I'm really pissed of that there isn't a -1 completely wrong.

        A copy of a Picaso doesn't lower the value of the original--but if it was the ability to make an EXACT copy, of course it would. If you couldn't tell the difference between the original and the copies, then the original is only worth what the copies are worth.

        That's exactly how digital copies of digital entities work.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        The interesting stuff is the original.

        The concept of "original" only exists when there is imperfect copying.

        Sure someone can buy a copy of a Picaso painting but that doesn't decrease the value of the original or the creator of the original.

        What if you could copy a Picaso painting down to the quantum level, such that it was completely indistiguishable from the "original" (by any current or future technologies). If you can't tell the "original" from a "copy", the two concepts break down. Are you trying to t
      • by kabocox (199019)
        Unlike real goods which are never copied? Doh. Anything that can be made can be copied. Anyone with a copied item, bought or stolen, just has a lame bit of crap anyway. The interesting stuff is the original. Sure someone can buy a copy of a Picaso painting but that doesn't decrease the value of the original or the creator of the original.

        I once briefly looked to play SL, but it wouldn't work over dailup so I dismissed it. I've kept eye on them because it sounds interesting. I've read copies of books and pla
  • by Stavr0 (35032) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:21PM (#16856762) Homepage Journal
    He was sentenced to the Cornfield back in january [secretlair.com]

    Is he going back to the cornfield or is perma-banned?

  • by Channard (693317) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:21PM (#16856772) Journal
    Don't these people know how much work it takes to come up with a crude polygonal rendition of Lindsay Lohan making out with Christina Aguilera? They should maybe spend some time creating their own disturbing and mind-warping objects rather than stealing other peoples! And if you think I'm kidding about the mind warping bit, check out Something Awful's 'Second Life Safari', a look at well, the less savoury objects to be found around Second Life.. http://www.somethingawful.com/secondlifesafari [somethingawful.com]
  • Property Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sean0michael (923458) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:23PM (#16856796)
    If you've ever wondered what it would be like in a world without intellectual property, trademarks, patents, etc. then you've found it. Programs like CopyBot do not serve the community interest, and in the long term will hurt the individuals using the program. If your business' products are entirely reproducible and then sold for cheap, you cannot sustain a living in such a place. It kills innovation because there is no longer a reward for it. There is no gift culture like in OSS, no list of contributors to your code. Without reward, few will continue to produce in SL. This, ultimately, means there will be little to copy, and so those who use it will lose the advantage they have.

    Of course, the more the community respects intellectual property in SL, the greater the benefits of using CopyBot. It's the Prisoners Dilemma [wikipedia.org] all over again.

    • I am totally ignorant about SL, so maybe someone can educate me.

      If your business' products are entirely reproducible and then sold for cheap, you cannot sustain a living in such a place.

      Is SL intended to sustain businesses? AFAIK you can't make a living in IRC or most computer games either, but I don't consider that to be a problem.

      There is no gift culture like in OSS

      Why? If the OSS world can sustain a working gift culture and SL can't, maybe we can learn from the differences and improve SL.
    • by Optic7 (688717) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:41PM (#16858424)
      I heard a report on public radio a few months back (either NPR or Marketplace - I don't have time to search through their archives for the link right now), where they said that this same kind of effect is what has stopped any recognizable brands of products to come out of China.

      They have all this manufacturing power, but because of weak enforcement of IP laws, as soon as some product starts to stand out, 50 other factories will start making the exact same thing, even using the same packaging and logos (clones, just like in SL), making them undiscernible from the real thing in the eyes of the consumer. Instant dilution of brand power.

      It makes sense if you think about it and compare to some other Asian countries - Japan has a ton of well-known brands, Korea has several brands that are starting to establish themselves very well, like Hyundai and Samsung, but there really isn't any established/recognizable Chinese brand of any product. I think the report went on to say that Lenovo is one of the first companies trying to break out of this pattern, but whether they will be successful is yet to be seen.
      • Sounds good. Maybe the rest of the world should use that as an example. Instead of one rich company you get 51 companies making a living. No-one becomes big enough to abuse the advantage. Surely that is the free market.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by glebfrank (58922)
          Yeah, and when you buy a bottle of your favorite beer, you'll never now know if you're getting donkey piss instead. No thanks.
      • "They have all this manufacturing power, but because of weak enforcement of IP laws, as soon as some product starts to stand out, 50 other factories will start making the exact same thing,"

        Uh-huh. And how's that working out for the GDP growth rate of China vs. the more monopoly hugging economies?

        "Instant dilution of brand power."

        Because huge resources spent on the production of commercials which people jump through hoops to avoid is desireable in the economy?

        Or, wait, wasn't the whole point of the free mark
        • You dumbass.

          Trademarks don't 'artifically limit' the supply of anything. Trademarks make it so you can trust the product.

          Without enforced trademarks, all products are the lowest possible quality, because there's no point in making something better than that, because no one can say 'Hey, that worked well, I'll buy another one of those.' or 'Well, that fell apart immediately, i won't buy that kind anymore.'.

          Trademarks are merely artifical signatures. Just like someone shouldn't be able to walk up to a hospital and say he's you and request your medical records, someone shouldn't be able to sell something he claims was manufactured by you if it wasn't. Trademark law is, at root, a specific form of fraud prevention.

          That's not say trademarks haven't been abused, and that selling the brand instead of the product is stupid, and I realize there's sort of a knee-jerk reaction against 'intellectual property' here, and I agree with a lot of it, but anyone who thinks society would be better off if people had no way to tell the difference between a Toshiba laptop and some craptacular Korean brand designed to look like one with a Toshiba labeled slapped on it is an idiot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vertinox (846076)
      Without reward, few will continue to produce in SL. This, ultimately, means there will be little to copy, and so those who use it will lose the advantage they have.

      You can't be serious?

      1. There is a demand for custom avatars and people will pay on commission.
      2. A great deal of these "works" are actually infringing on real life trade marks and various real world intellectual property as it is.

      If you hang out at various hot spots, you may see anything from famous people copycats, to Smurfs, to replicas of var
    • You've contradicted yourself by linking to Wikipedia. What is the benefit to Wikipedia contributors, editors, fact checkers, and proofreaders? These people have donated their time and expertise for the greater good, never expecting any sort of compensation, and the project is flourishing. Furthermore, material copied from Wikipedia and duplicated elsewhere only strengthens the usefulness of the content.

      Binary can be duplicated. If something is valuable due to its uniqueness don't put it in binary. A
    • by zoftie (195518)
      At this time it is advantageous to influential group of people to have intellectual property rights. If we would create replicator that replicates things out of nothing, real made things it would be a revolution. It would marginalize people's egos, but as many people would tell you , you should not get tangled up in being tied to the product, but rather work for the business side of things. Look past it. Say if we have real life replicators, suddenly industrial complex, that generates food, for example, wil
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by naasking (94116)
      If you've ever wondered what it would be like in a world without intellectual property, trademarks, patents, etc. then you've found it.

      Sorry, that's untrue. SL is a world where the cost of reproduction is zero, not the cost of production. Even still, just because the cost of reproduction is almost nil, it doesn't mean an item's value is zero. What's the marginal cost of reproducing your last picture of you and your dad before he died? Near zero. What is the picture's value to you? Quite a bit.

      Without reward
  • Silly individuals, didn't anyone tell you that since big corporations were the ones who pushed the DCMA provisions through congress that they can only be used to defend those big corporations? Equal protection under the law is _so_ 20th (or perhaps 19th) century!
  • No need to RTFA... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ReverendLoki (663861) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:23PM (#16856800)
    ... when the quote in the summary is 3/4s of the article. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some more meat there to actually expand upon the summary? Maybe give us an idea how many shops closed? Perhaps even get the letters in the acronym "DMCA" in the right order? I usually support the idea that bloggers should be extended the same protections as print journalists, but then I see posts like this...
  • Details (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:31PM (#16856950) Journal
    TFA is seriously lacking in details, so I went to the google, which kicked up a few links to blogs http://sr.wordpress.com/tag/secondlife/ [wordpress.com]

    One [wordpress.com] & Two [wordpress.com],
    etc

    Basically, this CopyBot program was created with the aid/knowledge/acceptance of the Linden Labs folks.

    Here's some discussion straight from Linden Labs [secondlife.com] or you can read what the CopyBot creators have to say http://www.libsecondlife.org/ [libsecondlife.org]

    Summary: "if it's this easy, we should tell people that relying on the Second Life systems to protect content is not feasible any longer."
    • Also covered by CNet [com.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485)
      So LL said "if we catch you using Copybot we'll cancel your account [secondlife.com]" and you took that to mean "acceptance"?

      Frankly, these sorts of things have been around forever in SL, but Copybot was the first to gain a lot of notoriety. If people are closing their shops now (I doubt this is more than a small handful of vocal protesters) then they're just late on the train. Ultimately your client needs to be able to display the data, and the client is in the hands of the users, so as LL rightly pointed out, no techn
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        So LL said "if we catch you using Copybot we'll cancel your account" and you took that to mean "acceptance"?

        By "aid/knowledge/acceptance" I meant that Linden Labs supported & worked with http://www.libsecondlife.org/ [libsecondlife.org] which is a site dedicated to 3rd party OSS programs.

        The people running libsecondlife created CopyBot as a debug program, included it in their source repository and then showed it off.

        CopyBot doesn't do anything that couldn't be done already, since the data is there. What's to stop anyone fr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Scorchio (177053)
      So I gather it's an open source effort to build an alternative SecondLife client. Being a client, it receives definitions and textures of objects in order to render them on screen. It was a small step to take those definitions and use them to create exact copies of objects in the game. The only difference is the copies then belong to the copier, and can have their mod/copy/transfer permissions set to whatever they like. Quite possibly a useful development/test tool. Trouble is, someone else downloaded the t
  • by Unoti (731964) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:36PM (#16857008) Journal
    I'm a developer of scripted animals in SL, the number 1 developer, depending on how you count such things. I clear a a few hundred dollars profit every month after paying for my property. This copybot thing hasn't hit me too hard directly because the copybot doesn't copy scripts, only models. But it is hitting me hard in the sense that most of the content creators in SL are closing shop, which closes down the whole world as we knew it.

    I get the sense that this will be remembered as an important battle in open vs. closed development models.

    We have content creators that were thriving because of DRM-- the content creators wouldn't have put the same kind of time and effort into their creations if they couldn't be protected. And we have all that business coming to an abrupt close because of open source development.

    I'm not saying open source is bad, or that DRM is good. I'm just saying that this is bringing to forefront the fact that people are going to need to change in the future how they think about work and ownership.

    • This sounds to me like the equivalent of hand-crafted piecework being replaced by mass production. If I understand you correctly, creators of content-for-pay are closing up shop, but there's still no shortage of content, because the bots are building stuff. And, just to carry on with my devil's advocacy, the "time and effort" (implying quality) complaint further enhances the idea that this is the craftsman's complaint against the factory.

      If the analogy applies, then macroeconomically speaking, this is good
      • by Unoti (731964)
        but there's still no shortage of content, because the bots are building stuff.

        Actually that's not exactly what the situation is. One of the biggest industries in SL was clothing. People were buying new outfits all the time, and there was a thriving fashion industry. Most of the people making new clothes are stopping because of all the turmoil and rampant copying. Sure, there's no shortage of clothes. But there will be far fewer people making new and interesting clothes.

      • by MBraynard (653724) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:38PM (#16858370) Journal
        It sounds to me like you are a moron with no clue what you are talking about.

        This isn't mass prodution versus custom creation. It is buying CDs versus DLing them for free on Napster.

        The original artist can create an unlimited number of his product in a very short time and sell them. Until now they came with DRM - so he could invest the time in making the first one and then profit by selling the clones that only he could make.

        Now, since anyone can clone anything, he has no reason to continue to invest the effort designing them.

        It works EXACTLY like DRM and breaking DRM. Not at all the way you try to describe it. Not at all.

        • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot@kadin.xoxy@net> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:57PM (#16858748) Homepage Journal
          This isn't mass prodution versus custom creation. It is buying CDs versus DLing them for free on Napster.

          I don't see why it's either-or. You're talking about two sides of the same coin.

          When it's impossible to make money by selling the same work over and over, you must necessarily switch to a business model which demands payment for the entire work's creation up front (because you can't depend on being paid piecemeal by selling copies of the work later). Essentially, the artist becomes a tradesman, just like a plumber or electrician: pay me for my time and I'll make something for you.

          DRM exists to prevent this, and preserve the manufacturing-type (payment per 'unit' or copy) business model, where the cost of production of a work is amortized out over the sale of many identical copies. Rather than charging what the copies cost to produce, it creates an artificial scarcity that allows their cost to be increased up to the maximum that consumers are willing to pay.

          Without DRM, the copies cease to have value, but the skilled labor that goes into their creation still does, and could be sold even in the absence of DRM (or copyright).
      • except that it was never difficult to copy/clone their models to begin with... all digital remember... so why would anyone go to the effort of making anything new (excepting personal joy in doing so) if everyone can have one just like it instantly.

        Also what's the point of in-game money if not to buy in-game stuff from in-game shops??

        • except that it was never difficult to copy/clone their models to begin with... all digital remember... so why would anyone go to the effort of making anything new (excepting personal joy in doing so) if everyone can have one just like it instantly.

          Maybe not everyone wants to have the same thing? Seems like there would be a market, over time, for custom-made stuff; where you knew that you were the only person in the game to have this particular item, and have complete control over it (to give, copy, destroy
        • by amyhughes (569088) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @05:12PM (#16859000) Homepage
          what's the point of in-game money if not to buy in-game stuff from in-game shops?

          One hopes Linden Labs is thinking about this with great diligence today, because without the need for in-game money the game needs to be paid for in some way that doesn't yet exist.

          Just a couple weeks ago Linden Labs increased the price of new land in the game by 50%. If you want a place to build something beautiful you have to buy an island (because on the mainland you will find yourself next to Penis Palace and a casino), and those used to cost $1250 to acquire and $200 per month to run. Many of these exist because owners can recover some of the cost by selling things or renting space (to people who want to sell things). Then they raised prices 50% ($1675 to acquire, $300 per month). Then this copy thing happened. A lot of these places are probably wondering how they will pay for their island.

          Islands equal useful content. As in, places people have built that are interesting to visit. Places that make the game more than an IM client. They cost a lot of money, and now they are likely going to be harder to pay for.

    • How sad it is to learn that people don't enjoy things becase they have these things; they value them because others don't have them.
    • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:03PM (#16859988) Homepage

      We have content creators that were thriving because of DRM-- the content creators wouldn't have put the same kind of time and effort into their creations if they couldn't be protected. And we have all that business coming to an abrupt close because of open source development.

      Uh, whoa whoa whoa ... since when has "open source development" meant "making unauthorized copies"?

      You can't lump together the people working on independently creating something like Inkscape [inkscape.org] with the people distributing cracked copies of Illustrator [adobe.com]. They are two completely separate things.

      The latter, conventionally called "piracy" (rightly or wrongly), is why those businesses are coming to an abrupt close, facilitated by the fact that their business models were not particularly sound in the face of that reality.

  • by CokeBear (16811) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:38PM (#16857070) Journal
    I don't think people are quite grasping the significance of this.
    What will happen when we have replicators (like the ones on Star Trek) that allow us to replicate everything in the real world quickly and easily? (not just music)

    Think about it... the end of scarcity. A fundamental shift in the nature of the world economy. I'm not sure where it leads, but life sure gets interesting right around then...
    • The interesting part is that it's partial scarsity. Some things have almost zero value, while everything else retains its normal value. Imaging what would happen if, say, a precious resource taking a great deal of effort to produce - say cotton - could suddenly be created with 1/100 the labor? Nobody would make cotton, right? Or would those people with the tools to make it cheaply produce it for everyone else, at commodity prices? In some ways, the cotton gin did this. The cotton market did not collapse, i
    • by Shados (741919) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:55PM (#16858698)
      "not just music". I don;t think you need to point that. What happened with Music is exactly it. In Star Trek, the invention of replicators set the world in a kind of golden age, where people work only for self fulfilment ('m not the ultimate trekkie, but i'm pretty sure its how they put it).

      In the real world, everytime something gets copied easily, all hell breaks loose. Music, games, videos, books... Someday, it will be real objects, and if the world doesn't change (hahaha, world, change? ROFL), there will be equivalents of DMCA and entities like the RIAA to bitch and complain, instead of embracing this as a way to throw society in a world where money doesn't matter anymore... It is kind of sad, and i'm glad i'll be dead before it happens.

      And I'm not putting any kids in that world, either.
    • After all, in some episodes/movies of Star trek, there is currency, but in other episodes/movies, there is not. I mean, the Ferengi are always in it for a profit, but Kirk is completely lost trying to "get" the concept of currency in the 20th century.

      But it does make you wonder.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @03:52PM (#16857436)
    So say everything can be cloned. What do you barter for? It would have to be services, experience, wisdom. How do you reward these things then? It's hard to imagine a world without trade of physical items (money, good, etc). The "price" for doing things would be just cost of labor, as parts are free. But then you need to put a value on services, education, knowledge.

    "I'll fix your roof if you fix install my dishwasher."
    "I'll do research on fuel cell membranes if you build the rest of the car..."

    Head...hurts...
    • Yeah... you wouldn't be able to pay for my services with your own services most of the time... but maybe your wife/girlfriend and I can work something out...

    • This is why Capitalism will fail in a society which is able to replicate any commodity at no cost and no effort.

      It may be a while for this to happen to our society, but think of it like this...

      You live in a virtual world. You might be living in a synthetic body living in a lavish apartment, a brain in a life support box in a large facility containing nothing but brain boxes, or maybe a bum with a direct neural interface living off welfare in a trailer park somewhere.

      You don't really care... Because you live
  • Linden Blog, update: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:05PM (#16857720)
    Use of CopyBot and Similar Tools a ToS Violation
    Tuesday, November 14th, 2006 at 3:47 pm by corylinden
    Tags : none

    Second Life needs features to provide more information about assets and the results of copying them. Unfortunately, these are not yet in place. Until they are, the use of CopyBot or any other external application to make unauthorized duplicates within Second Life will be treated as a violation of Section 4.2 of the Second Life Terms of Service and may result in your account(s) being banned from Second Life. If you feel that someone has used CopyBot to make an infringing copy of your content, please file an abuse report. Note that this is completely separate from any copyright infringement claim you may wish to pursue via the DMCA.

    Like the World Wide Web, it will never be possible to prevent data that is drawn on your screen from being copied. While Linden Lab could get into an arms race with residents in an attempt to stop this copying, those attempts would surely fail and could harm legitimate projects within Second Life.

    There are features to allow Second Life residents more choices about how they respond to potential infringement beyond the DMCA. Specifically, we will add data to allow residents to compare asset creators and creation time; incorporate Creative Commons licenses so creators have the option to create content that allows free copying, modification, and exchange without having to utilize outside applications; expand ban lists and reputation so residents can share information about those who abuse copyright; and, publish additional statistics on the website so creators can make rational decisions about the health and strength of Second Life's economy.

    These are important features because the implications of copying should not be about Linden Lab's approach to copyright enforcement. We are not in the copyright enforcement business. The communities within Second Life should have the tools and the freedoms to decide how and when they deal with potentially infringing content. Many will decide on less restrictive regimes in order to maximize innovation and creativity. Others will choose more restrictive options and ban visitors who do not respect them. Consumers, creators, and all residents need to have the final say about which approaches work best for them.

    Please recognize that using the Terms of Service is not a permanent solution. Nor is it shift in Linden Lab's support of libsecondlife (who have removed CopyBot from their Subversion repository), machinima creators, or others who have explored Second Life beyond the features of the Second Life client. I continue to feel that libsecondlife is an incredibly important part of Second Life's development and community.

    I do not extend those feelings to residents attempting to profit off of infringing use of CopyBot.

    To the community, I am very sorry that we have not already completed the features needed for you to address these concerns yourself. We are working very hard to complete them and will release them as soon as they are ready. In terms of prioritization and scheduling, additional asset data will be deployed in Q1 2007. Adding in support for CC and expanding the ban lists will be deployed 3 to 6 months later. Until then, as described in the first paragraph, use of CopyBot or similar tools to create infringing copies within Second Life will be treated as a violation of the Terms of Service.

    http://blog.secondlife.com/ [secondlife.com]
  • When I click on the link in the summary, all I get is a short blog post with hardly any more detail or description. Do we have any other details or coroborration? These are some pretty bold claims which need coroborration.
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:08PM (#16857774) Homepage Journal
    Some Shmuck is reporting that many musicians are closing up shop due to the recent explosion of a technology called "file copying", designed to copy other people's files. From the article:
    "The night before last, I was looking around a music store, where people buy and sell music, when an argument broke out; a person going by the name Average Joe was copying tracks of musician's CDs, and claiming he could freely do it because he'd been playing with the copy command produced by the maker of his operating system. All hell broke loose, in the sort of drama you can only find in music stores. The RIAA's first official response? If you feel your IP has been compromised by "the copy command", we'll file a lawsuit against the copier and not give you any of the profits from the suit. Musicians started committing suicide moments later."


    Seriously... think about it. Music won't stop being created in the real world just because people can copy things. And objects won't stop being created in Second Life just because people can copy them. All it means is that one thing that used to be a valuable service to people (creating copies of things) is no longer valuable because people can do it themselves.

    The other thing (creating new content, or unique content (such as live performances)) is still of value, and always will be, as it will never be the case that all people are equally able to be competent creators or artists. Change your business model. Instead of selling copies of your thing, sell your creative services under contract. It's a model where people hire you to create something new that has never existed before, rather than paying you for a copy of something that already exists elsewhere.

    This could actually be the best thing that ever happened to Second Life, because it can result in a more innovative and open "society" and a fairer "economy", and serve as an example for the real world.
    • by amyhughes (569088) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:37PM (#16858352) Homepage
      Okay, so I've just paid to have some unique content created for me and someone comes along with a copy tool and duplicates it and gives it to all their friends, and puts it in a freebie store for everyone to share. I've paid for something that exists elsewhere, same as before, but I've paid (say) $50 instead of $1. This is progress?

      People who are not creative undervalue creativity. This is not surprising.

      I've created content for Second Life. Despite the trivializing that comes from the "information wants to be free" crowd I will say with firsthand experience that it's a lot of work. Linden Labs' business model explicitly (as in, from the horse's mouth, in writing, in its mission statement) relies on the hard work of people creating content for them. They've now changed the terms of how this work will be compensated. It's now for glory only, and that will draw a different crowd. Certainly nothing wrong with that motivation or that crowd, but frankly, as evidenced by the quality of freebies available compared to for-pay items, the game will suffer.

      • On Second Thought, there isn't even glory in it, anymore. Since the bot puts its own name on the copied object the creator doesn't even get credit for making the thing. As in-game others have pointed out, the creator may even be accused of re-selling freebies (it happens in the game).
  • So we get to see in a virtual world what would happen if replicator technology appeared in the real world (and *wasn't* laden with mandatory copy-protection). The capitalist economy based on supply and demand of limited resources, controlled through financial transactions, is destroyed almost immediately. Cool!

    I guess the difference is that, unlike real life, in SL land can be added infinitely just by adding a new server. Not even replicators could give everyone their own luxury home on a private tropica
  • Is this how corporations will respond when we have the technology to have a microwave sized device that can build almost any consumer object under the control of a computer?

    Shut up shop with a sign that says, "Sorry, Godti Makers did us out of business" ?

    I for one, welcome our matter-assembling, programatically controlled, electronically fucked-out-of-their chip overlords.
  • True that because you can copy something in SL, its value is gone, but not the value of the initial creation time. Open up a shop where people will pay you to make something for them. Sure they may not have the only copy for long, but for a little while, they will. I think that coresponds to the open source model. You get paid for your skills, not for your merchandise. If there is something of value that ppl in SL want, I'm sure that they would be willing to pay for it. If SL has no real value to people, th
  • by QuantumFTL (197300) <justin,wick&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:27PM (#16860394)
    I started a SL account (should have canceled it sooner, hardly used it) under the nick JeanLucPascal and logged on to the n00b area. Five minutes later I hear the "Captain Picard" techno song playing from somewhere in the game... Someone must have uploaded it when they saw me (the only explaination that doesn't involve freak coincidence).

    Anyways it gave the willies and I never played again!
  • by descil (119554) <teraten@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:41AM (#16865462)
    You can make two things in SL: graphics and code. People have been able to steal graphics on the internet since it began. And you still can't steal someone else's code in SL. So who cares? The shopkeepers who are leaving are just protesters. LL should ignore them entirely, but they didn't, and Copybot is already out of circulation. (hehe actually it's not, but it's out of PUBLIC circulation!)

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