Copybot, copybot 2.0, Prim duplicators… BUNK I SAY!

Note the similarities - in fact, two are IDENTICALA. D. Laboratory has a great thread posted on their site. Holy wowzers – the crass boldness of some thieves is astonishing. What I really want to know is: how did ‘she’ react when she was called-out in the open to be a bald-faced thief and liar?

Okay – so here’s a quote of a quote from the site [names removed in respect, and from me it’s just hearsay, so I implore you to go over there and read this article – link at the end of my rant – quotes are [sic]]:

[21:23] [Original creator]: i changed the price to $0
[21:23] [Original crator]: can you get a free copy?
[21:24] [Alleged thief]: i dont want a copy of shit i have in my inventory .. thiose legwarmers are a STRAIGHT UP RIP!

Woohoo!

Okay – you really have to read the article to understand the ‘woohoo’ part.

Now my take on all this copybot nonsense:
Okay – it’s not all nonsense, but it comes close. Copybot itself is not ‘nonesense’, but I feel the overhyped reactio to it is, or at least mostly is. Back in summer, 2006, copybot found its way into the wild. The entire grid went stupid.

What I mean to say is – it was worse than someone shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre. The panic was insane and everyone went nuts. As it turns out, most of it was hype.

A quickie background: Second Life was a lot more unstable then than it is now. People were panicking that the grid could not handle 10,000 concurrency and simultaneous population in-world was quickly approaching that number. At 8500, the grid would creak and groan and it was a nightmare.

Creators feared losing their creations. Some enterprising residents discovered a way to ‘rip’ in-world content and back it up to your local hard disk drive. The concept is pretty simple: if it is drawn on your screen, it can be ‘captured’ and saved.

However, the side effect was that it would copy everything you see, whether it was yours or not. Hence ‘copybot’ was born. The panic was crazy. Entire sims were locked down, not allowing access to anyone for shopping or anything else. And there were these ‘speaking’ scripts that did nothing more than annoy the hell out of everyone around – and were totally defunt – it doesn’t work. Some of them even still exist (“Copybot killer…Ignore me – STOP!” or some such nonsense.)

As it turns out, the original copybot could only copy prims. Not scripts or contents inside or anything like that. It was an over-hyped ‘threat’. Now, along comes “copybot 2,” supposedly this thing is far superior and much more powerful, apparently able to ‘rip’ complete duplicates of avatars, including the outfit and attachments worn.

Pardon me for a second: [YAWN].

Perhaps this is true. Perhaps it’s completely bogus. perhaps it’s a hoax.
I suspect it’s true at least to some degree with the capabilities of at least the original copybot.
So why all the hype? If you are a creator, what makes you think you are so special and that your creations are so good that anyone who has this thing, with it’s supposed capabilities would even be interested in paying any attention to you or your creations?

And… even if they did – SL is a big place.
I’m not saying “don’t worry about it” or “just ignore it”, but the fact of the matter is that plagiarism happens millions of times a day in real life, it certainly will happen inside SL, too. The best you can hope for is that anyone who has this thing will be more interested in other stuff beside yours and that the capabilities of this ‘tool’ are overblown and highly exaggerated.

The other tool (yes, a real tool) is the subject of the article over at A. D. Laboratory: a “prim duplicator” – A.K.A. “Prim Replicator”. It doesn’t matter what you call it, it does the same thing. A script is placed into the root and all linked prims of an object, then that object is duplicated via a ‘master’ script.

There are articles and shrill panic over these prim duplicators. And all for naught.
Many uninformed, uneducated will refer to a prim duplicator as a “copybot” when it’s not, and could never be.

First, the permissions system Linden Lab has built into SL works quite well with regard to prim duplicators. You see, you must have modify permissions on all the prims you want to duplicate. Why? Simple – the prim cannot be duplicated unless the duplicating ‘child’ script can be placed inside the prim.

So, if I have a prefab building all linked together, and parts of it are no-modify, and I attempt to copy it using a prim duplicator – only those parts that and modify will be copied. Anything inside any prims will not be copied, except for “documents” – meaning modify-enabled scripts, notecards and landmarks. Nothing else.

I know because when the news of these hit the blogosphere, I went out and bought one. I tested it vigorously and have found that you really must have modify permissions to copy anything and ending up with a copy worth doing anything with.

Yes, this can be a problem for the creator of anything you have in your inventory that is modifiable.

This presents a concern for fashionistas and the the hair/clothing/avatar-attachment world. The reason being that many prim attachments are offered as modifiable, so to allow the purchaser to be able to adjust a good fit to their avatar – whose shape and size are highly customizable.

So, what can they do? Not much.
I do offer one solution, it’s not perfect but would solve the problem: sell your wares as no-modify and place a resizing script into them. These scripts have existed for a very long time. Avilion has been using them in their cloaks since I can remember. And, these scripts are available at little cost at Onrez.com and the other place, too. [Okay, I’ll say their name: SL Exchange – but, it’s no secret I am not a fan.]

This of course is not as intuitive or as comfortable to use for the purchaser as being able to just edit the prim as desired for a good fit.

So the question comes to be: where is the balance?

Do you lock everything down as tight as you can in paranoia, causing your own customers to suffer because of it? Or, do you leave that openness in permissions with the risk some idiot will come along and plagiarize your long, hard work and creativity?

For me: it’s the latter.

As I’ve said – Second Life is a big place. Even if my creations did get plagiarized and are being resold by thieves, I might lose some sales. I could file a DMCA and deal with that nightmarish headache. Or I can do what I fully intend to do, should such a thing happen: make it known and clear to as many people as possible.

Blog about it, send the news (with names and places and pictures) all through the SL blogosphere, and place notices all over the place: in my store, on all my land parcels, at my OnRez and the Other website descriptions and so on. Call them out publicly and call for a boycott.

But be prepared to prove your case.

The side effect of plagiarism: it will cause me to work more at creating new stuff and if I create a good replacement, I might even consider making the stolen design a freebie. Of course, skin and other “one-time-customer” designers really couldn’t do that.

The problem is: there is no real answer.
Anywhere and everywhere in business, there is risk.

But, when you find you are being accosted, business-wise – do anything and everything you can to call them out in public and make it known to as much of the SL-world as possible.

As for prim replicators? I actually find it to be an invaluable tool that I use weekly with regard to my own creations. But I build furniture, so it is suited well to that kind of work. As for the other stuff… I can only shake my head.

And do remember this: if someone wants to hurt you and rocks are outlawed, they simply pick-up a stick. So the problem isn’t the tool they use. It’s their whole mindset. For instance: no one needs a prim duplicator to duplicate your prim creations. it they are modifiable, they can easily edit each piece and write down all the numbers that are found there: size, position, rotation.

A prim duplicator only automates this process.
So, if there are calls to ban prim duplicators (and there are) – then let us ban the ability to reedit prims by forever hiding all those numbers as soon as that object is taken into inventory of the creator. People kill people with hammers. So should we ban hammers and outlaw them in real life?

Now, go read this posting at A. D. Laboratory – it really is a must-read.

A.D. Laboratory
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