Friday, July 6, 2012

The sincerest form of flattery

There has been, it seems, a sudden outbreak of copybotting, to which I was alerted by no less a presence than the august Dean of Caledon Oxbridge, Martini Discovolante, who was gratified to hear a newcomer compliment her appearance - and then mortified to see said newcomer assume it, instantly....

This is, of course, nothing new, and it's not easy to prevent.  The simple truth is, if you are going to appear on other people's viewers, the information needed to construct your appearance has to be sent to their computers - and it is not at all difficult to intercept and record that information.  All it took was one person malicious or clueless enough to write and release a tool for doing this, and imagination- and morality-challenged people everywhere could take advantage of it.

There are limitations, of course - copybotters can't duplicate content that's shared only between your client and LL's servers, so things like your inventory, and the contents of your items, are safe enough.  And I'm inclined to wonder if the upcoming changes to the rendering pipeline will make life harder for the copyers; if your skin and clothing textures are pre-baked on the server side, it's not going to be easy to separate the layers out in someone else's client.  I hope.

And, of course, copybotting is a violation of the Terms of Service and merits an immediate abuse report if you see it... not to mention, if it's content you've made being copied, the authority of the DMCA behind the complaint.  LL can, and do, remove ripped-off content, replacing it with "generic" items of the same basic type.

Which is all to the good.... I am not a fan of the more strident interpretations of copyright law and intellectual property rights, but the basic principle is sound: people who create things have the right to distribute it the way they choose to, and to get paid for what they do.  I may choose to give stuff away - I have, on some occasions - but it's my stuff, and I get to choose when and how I do it.  I may be a techno-commie, and even a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch, but I draw the line at simply leeching off other people's creativity.  And I hope all my readers do too!

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