Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 18, 2006 2:48 PM

In Second Life Having CopyBot Makes You King... And That's The Problem

You can't leave the metaverse of Second Life for more than a minute without something major happening. Turns out that CNET reports ('Second Life' Faces Threat To Its Virtual Economy) there's a new threat to the Second Life economy:

"The controversy gathered steam Monday when Linden Lab, which created Second Life, posted a blog alerting residents of the virtual world to the existence of a program or bot called CopyBot, which allows someone to copy any object in Second Life. That includes goods such as clothing that people purchase for their in-world avatars, and even the virtual PCs that computer giant Dell announced Tuesday it is going to sell in the digital world."

This leaves me asking many big questions. The first big one is: what's right and what's wrong? If you're in a virtual world like Second Life, you don't have to buy anything. You can just wander around, chat, connect and maybe get the occasional virtual lap dance. But, for the Avatars that are spending bucks on stuff like real estate, clothing, cars, etc..., imagine how upsetting it is to know that others are grabbing this program and doing as they wish.

Here's what Linden Lab's (creators of Second Life) Chief Technology Office, Cory Ondrejka, said:

"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 and may result in your account(s) being banned."

Basically, he's saying that Linden Lab did not see this coming, they need to figure out a way to "lock" what people are creating and assign the creators some type of IP, but that this may take a while.

I'm trying to think of an analogy like this in the real world and there is not one. And, in the end, that's the biggest problem. It's hard to foresee how things will unfold in Second Life because virtual worlds are just too new. As a Marketer, I just hope that people embrace these issues as opportunities and are not scared off by this brave new world.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Mitch Joel

    The fact is, this 'world' is so new that it doesn't yet know about the downfalls of urban society and the problems with democratic principles. It has evolved too quickly for it's own good, and it has skipped over a large part of our history where we DID dance with justice, order and law. Such things do not just appear overnight, it takes centuries of governments to impose these ideals.

    SecondLife will learn though, it will just take some time. I believe SecondLife won't be as successful as say, Myspace, and other social networking applications, because it takes a decent computer to play, and furthermore to get around you need basic knowledge of how to play/control an avatar in a video-game-like atmosphere. This is something that a lot of casual users won't get a grasp on. Myspace and cross-browser compatible Web2.0 sites are popular because they are accessible - not because they are innovative.

    Reply
  • Posted by Anonymous
    Anonymous

    "I'm trying to think of an analogy like this in the real world and there is not one."

    Making a sketch of a picture and keeping the sketch instead of buying the original picture. The only reason this has become an issue, on and offline, in recent years is the capacity of computers/photographs to make very accurate "sketches".

    The original creators get mad at this new technology and want to control it. This isn't because it's inherently immoral (unless the copier turns around and calls the item his/her own work, which is stealing credit for the creation), but because they can't earn money off it to pay their bills. Money is the real problem; though addressing it may be awhile off, if money was not an issue then most creators would be happy, even proud, to share their work with others.

    I understand the creator's point of view, but giving government more power through regulation is a bad road to go down. ("We hope you enjoyed watching Iron Man 5, but we'll fine you if you give your family a synopsis of the movie.")

    Reply
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