Copybot and Second Life

Last week all hell came lose in SL. Libsecondlife, a group of volunteer programmers, created a software called copybot which copies objects in the sim. For example, the minute an avatar comes near you, it can take your shape, or it can replicate any object in the sim… And Linden Lab didn’t realize the negative effects of this in time, nobody did. The result: the SL blogs and forums exploded with protests from the residents claiming that SL economy will go down the toilet if this program is not removed all together. The libsecondlife programmers were crucified as demons who are wreaking havoc in SL. How dare they? Some shop owners closed down shop just to protest this monumental event. The SLED list exploded with e-mails that are defending and opposing the technology. Did somebody say griefing? Of course, as an attentive researcher, I quickly started bookmarking copybot news on the Internet, saving e-mails, asking for permissions from people.  Too good to miss, I almost salivated at the face of this opportunity. What is most interesting, it that here is an incidence where the role of the hacker blurs with that of the griefer. When do you pass that line between being a helpful programmer and being an evil griefer? Over night, you find yourself in a hole being stoned! That, my friend, is a pretty interesting social phenomena.

Do I think copybot is going to take the SL economy down? Hell no. Here are some reasons:

  • You can’t copy the script, just the shape.
  • No way you can stop people from stealing this type of information on the Web, so let’s get used to it.
  • History is full of doomsday examples. When radio stations multiplied in Turkey and played copyrighted songs on their stations, music stores cried bloody murder, fearing that their businesses would close down. Did it? Well some did and some didn’t. And we moved on.

As we all know it by now, the notion of copyright needs a major revision in this day and age. Let’s be realistic. Fake objects can bring more revenue to the producers of the real ones just because they advertise the real brand in a relatively cheap fashion. But in the meantime, I will collect the stories that are written and performed,

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