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Copybot Copyright Issues in Second Life November 15, 2006

Posted by Unreasonable in Computer Matters.
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Yesterday store owners closed their shops and protesters took to the Second Life streets after a debugging tool called CopyBot was sold within the online world. The script can clone any avatar or other creation. That sounds innocent enough, but it could cost some folks a lot of real money.

SL Protesters.

Second Life started in 2003, and it’s growth has been exponential. There are currently about a million players living in an online world the size of San Fransisco. It has its own currency, Linden Dollars, which can be traded with real US dollars, and an online marketplace has evolved where virtual items have real value. The $L/$US exchange rate fluctuates like any other currency:

$L-USD Exchange Rate

 

There is a limited quantity of land in Second Life, and it is the main expense. Some people are making their living buying, selling, and renting virtual land. There are also designers selling avatars, clothing, furniture, and anything else they can dream up. There’s even a business in the real world that produces things created in the online world. For about $100, Fabjectory will use OGLE to 3D print a small real life model of a Second Life object. See this post for how its done.

 

Today, in response to the virtual uproar, the game’s creator, Linden Labs, banned the use of CopyBot. Any player caught using the script will lose their membership. However, they also stated that they don’t have any desire to be in the copyright enforcement business.

 

It’s a small version of what’s going on in the real world. The ease of reproducing original works has made copyright rules obsolete. It’ll be intersting to see what happens within the game. The Second Life world is evolving fast. What happens in the game may shed some light on what needs to happen in the real world.

Here’s video of another recent protest:

::Rueters SL ::Newsfactor ::Wired

Update: I just saw that BB and /. both beat me to it. This news is so Monday night.

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