17
Nov/06

More on CopyBot / SecondLife



This is a video illustrating how a cloning program works on SecondLife. What you are seeing is explained in whats seems to be the most comprehensive account of the CopyBot incident from New World Notes, including an interview with the people who wrote the original program.
IPTABlog discusses the CopyBot rampage on SecondLife and provides a round-up of comments.
More discussion of CopyBot courtesy of TailRank here.



15
Nov/06

CopyBot Terrorizing Residents Of SecondLife, Caught On Video




We have been following SecondLife
, a popular virtual world, which has been gaining traction as a demo site for ‘real world’ product roll-outs, ‘remote’ conferencing and the like. A key point is that the digital creations, such as the appearance of avatars (the digital representations of the users) and the structures, have real value, not only in the resources that were expended to create them, but in that they are being traded in SL for a currency, the Linden, that has a real exchange rate to the dollar. Vendors are beginning to bet significant sums on SL creations.
Many are therefore disturbed by this report on the Linden Labs (the proprietor of SecondLife) blog that a program named CopyBot has been distributed in SL allowing the copying of any creation within an avatar’s proximity (sort of like the way the bad terminator in Terminator 2 could copy anyone he touched). Citing comments in the post thread, it appears that the significance of Copybot is that not only can it copy what is seen on the screen, but that it can copy underlying scripts that contribute to the item’s appearance (such as a script that generates the texture of a surface).
Thus an avatar dress shop becomes as vulnerable to counterfeiting as any real garment enterprise.
Someone in the comment thread posted a link to a YouTube video (embedded above) that purports to demonstrate one avatar taking on the features of another.
As we noted previously, certain types of IP problems would actually be easier to enforce in a virtual world, in that users enter into terms of service that allow the proprietor to pull the plug on a user who has mis-behaved (sort of like the bad guy who unplugged his crew members in Matrix 1). Note this second post from SL indicating that ujse of CopyBot is a violation of the SL TOS.
However in this case, it seems that SL can’t stop the distribution of the CopyBot program, nor tell quickly who is using it. One of the more interesting parts of SL’s first post is its request for suggestions as to what to do (and take the time to read the comment threads in both posts).
Of interest is SL’s remark in its second post that states “we are not in the copyright enforcement business.” It articulates the various factors it has to take into account to make SL an attractive environment. However, to the extent that it wishes to continue to be the host to an exchange, it will find that successful exchanges must offer security not only to buyers but to sellers. If copyrightable material is going to be bought and sold on Second Life, then I’m not sure that the real world copyright regime is fast enough to solve problems like CopyBot. I think that SecondLife is going to have to get into the copyright enforcement business.
UPDATE: Lots of commentary on CopyBot.



23
Oct/06

Second Life Watch: Use In Commerce?


Second Life‘s economy, estimated to be $500k a month, is now the subject of a congressional investigation as to whether taxes are being paid on transactions being conducted on the site.
Second Life branding magazine here. HT Becky.
Second Life background here.



19
Oct/06

NY Times On Second Life


secondlife grabs.jpg
NY Times (reg req): “A Virtual World But Real Money” reporting on the use of Second Life as test-bed for corporate marketers including Sony, Nissan, Aididas, Reebok, Toyota and Starwood.
The article also notes the beginning of trademark infringement in Second Life, an issue discussed by The Trademark Blog here.



6
Jul/06

Real Trademark Issues In Virtual Worlds


amerappdayext.jpg
aainterior.jpg
Second Life, in its own words, is:
“. . . a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by over 200,000 people from around the globe . . .
You’ll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow residents. Because residents retain the rights to their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other residents.
The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world currency, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online currency exchanges.
” (emphasis added).
A Business Week profile on Second Life reports that it “could even challenge Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system as a way to more easily create entertainment and business software and service.”

American Apparel, will now open a virtual store in Second Life.
(screen shots courtesy of the store’s designer, Aimee Weber.
At the same time, people are apparently selling ‘items’ in this virtual world bearing recognizable trademarks. Pop-PR and Scobelizer give examples. Pop-PR notes the American Apparel opening and opines that:
If corporations are going to begin launching officially branded SL products in the game, if there are already trademark infringements, that is going to impede companies from going in to the SL universe.
So Scobleizer asks “Can trademarks be defended in Second Life?”
I think the answer is “probably” as long as it remains within Second Life’s interests to defend trademarks.
I was interviewed for this article in The Guardian that discusses some of the issues involved. The important point is that the users of Second Life enter into terms of service agreements. This gives SL the power to enforce trademarks. Other ‘intermediaries’ such as Verisign, Google, EBay have adopted varying models of how they go about it, but they certainly can ‘take down’ the most egregious infringements.
However if an avatar beckons you from a darkened virtual doorway, pulls up his virtual sleeves to reveal six virtual watches on each virtual arm, and a text balloon says ‘Hey buddy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap?,’ then enforcement in that case may be more complex.



20
Jun/06

Real Trademark Issues In Virtual Worlds


amerappdayext.jpg
aainterior.jpg
Second Life, in its own words, is:
“. . . a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by over 200,000 people from around the globe . . .
You’ll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow residents. Because residents retain the rights to their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other residents.
The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world currency, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online currency exchanges.
” (emphasis added).
A Business Week profile on Second Life reports that it “could even challenge Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system as a way to more easily create entertainment and business software and service.”

American Apparel, will now open a virtual store in Second Life.
(screen shots courtesy of the store’s designer, Aimee Weber.
At the same time, people are apparently selling ‘items’ in this virtual world bearing recognizable trademarks. Pop-PR and Scobelizer give examples. Pop-PR notes the American Apparel opening and opines that:
If corporations are going to begin launching officially branded SL products in the game, if there are already trademark infringements, that is going to impede companies from going in to the SL universe.
So Robert Scoble asks “Can trademarks be defended in Second Life?
I think the answer is “probably” as long as it remains within Second Life’s interests to defend trademarks.
I was interview for this article in The Guardian that discusses some of the issues involved. The important point is that the users of Second Life enter into terms of service agreements. This gives SL the power to enforce trademarks. Other ‘intermediaries’ such as Verisign, Google, EBay have adopted varying models of how they go about it, but they certainly can ‘take down’ the most egregious infringements.
However if an avatar beckons you from a darkened virtual doorway, pulls up his virtual sleeves to reveal six virtual watches on each virtual arm, and a text baloon says ‘Hey buudy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap?,’ then enforcement in that case may be more complex.