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.