Like many other fashionistas who have long enjoyed and appreciated Gala Phoenix’s skins, I was thrilled to read that a settlement had been reached and Curio’s doors are open once again. To celebrate, Gala released an entire pack of her skins, with all the makeups and all the tones, to her in-world group. What a generous gift, especially in celebration of what must have been a very frustrating process. I think many people are feeling frustrated. I know I have mixed emotions. My celebration that Curio has returned to the grid is tempered by the very real disappointment that the settlement precludes the storybook verdict and vindication that all the courtroom dramas promise us.
Reality is so damned complicated. When you watch a courtroom drama, you don’t see the hundreds of dollars spent on photocopies, the thousands spent on research, travel, recordings, and document filings and the tens of thousands spent on stenographers, lawyers and time off from working. There always seems to be enough money or the lawyers are working pro bono and their firms always forget to set them a budget. That’s not the real world experience where most cases end in settlement when one party or the other just runs out of money. I worked for an organization that made that very hard decision to settle because the cost to fight, despite our conviction that we would win, was twice our annual budget while the cost of settlement would be about 6 weeks of our budget. That did not change what we thought in our hearts, no more than Galileo really thought the sun circled the earth after he settled with the Catholic church and released his abjuration, the equivalent of a modern day settlement agreement.
For many people who supported the One Voice fundraiser and donated to Gala’s legal fees, this settlement is more than anticlimactic. It’s heartbreaking. After so many years of frustration with the failings of DMCAs and the limits on copyright protection in Second Life, there was a hope and expectation that once and for all justice would prevail and the good guys would ride off into the sunset leaving the bad guys in the dust. People could envision forensic examinations of PSD files that provided definitive proof that could be laid out on the table with a great big, “See! I told you so.” Of course, those experts would cost $250.00 or more per hour. This settlement does not give us that. The settlement feels like the status quo ante, although it is not. Under the status quo, Gala was prevented from selling her skins. The settlement changes that and brings her back, so there is a small victory. The larger victory, well that would have cost Gala more than the Second Life community has a right to ask.
To keep fighting, Gala would have had to continue to go without her income from Second Life. She would have had difficulty with real life work since she would be spending a lot of time in litigation. She would continue to accrue expenses for the legal fight, expenses that could easily run to $250,000 or more. Even with an expectation that she might win and have those legal fees paid by the other party, there’s no guarantee that the other person would have the money to pay the fees and she would still be in debt. And an expectation of winning is not a guarantee. Not to mention how this was all complicated by being a case brought in another country. Moreover, she would not just have her legal expenses. She would have her living expenses as well. To continue fighting would require she forego income, risk her family’s resources and continue to spend and spend with no guaranteed outcome. Yes, it is disappointing that the storybook ending did not come through, but her decision to settle is perfectly understandable in the cold light of day. And so it is over and there is a statement that probably makes no one completely happy and that is how the law often works.
Justice and the law are not the same thing. Sometimes they don’t even speak the same language. And from the law, we get the settlement which says that “each store was created separately and individually.” That’s a curious turn of phrase since the dispute was about the creation of skins, not stores. However, it was something they could agree on, so they could move forward. Justice is more complicated and sometimes takes longer. However, one thing about justice. It does not require a deposition. It only requires that you follow your heart and your instincts and show your support for the store you believe is in the right.
Store info at Blogging Second Life
Poses: Reel Expressions (store is closed)
Skin: :GP: Petal [Dark] Party Girl-Bubbly 1
Eyes: Poetic Colors
Hair: >TRUTH< Soleil – quince
Clothing: Leverocci – Orchid Dress_M_Tan
Shoes: ISON – miraya open-toe bootie -left- (dusty rose)
Jewelry: (Kunglers Extra) Monolito bracelet
(Kunglers Extra) Nirvana –
Location: Scarlet Creative Lightbox