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On consumers and how to handle the content theft issue

October 30, 2009





Real life deals with content theft, copyright infringement, and piracy issues. Real life designers and brands are constantly hounded by problems of their items being imitated and sold into the black market or at third world countries where corruption can turn a blind eye and let them be sold rampantly in public. Movie makers are afraid that the movies they produce that takes a lot of money to make will only be taken by pirates who will illegally sell copies at a cheaper price.   
As Second Life opens up and becomes more accessible to people, SL imitates RL and the same problem lies deep in Second Life, and with a unique twist. There are facets of consumers in SL that are different and unique to the virtual world. There are consumers who don’t mind–as there are also in RL where there are people who don’t mind at all to buy fake Chanel because they just want to look trendy. Virtual or RL, there are such people, who do not mind the ethics or artistic license of it all. Hoodwinked they are not, THEY KNOW what they are buying is fake. There are also residents in Second Life who don’t care where the clothes they get for free come from–as long as they are free, and they look great without spending anything, and for as long as SL is “just a game” for most of them. They don’t login to be consumers, they are just here to check things out, explore, chat, flirt and maybe use a sexbed or two. I often talk to these kinds of people while randomly going to places. 


While I love the idea of raising our voices and being heard, there leaves to be the question of how to reach out to those kinds of people–OR if these kinds of people ought to be in the radar for Artist’s Voice or Stand Up! peeps or not. These sorts of people may know its wrong, but why would they care or mind? They haven’t invested anything inworld to care, no designer friends to worry about, no artists/creators in their Friends List that they can feel a glimmer of compassion for. Most of all, they don’t really equate virtual goods as real, the way most of us already do. Virtual goods are yet to be valued the same way as real items are valued. Despite the articles we read, the reality for many is still that there is no value in virtual goods. When people login SL for the first time, or casually, they expect things to be free.  


And even things change in the future and virtual goods are taken seriously, it doesn’t mean that the content theft/copyright infringement will end. It will just be in the background, a constant reminder that there are people who still choose this path of stealing content. The very best we can get and should be getting is cooperation from LL. But then again, we never know what their plans for SL are and how this issue will affect their plans.

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