Content theft would fade as a problem if the market for stolen products dried up. Some folks think copying and theft and sharing stolen content is an acceptable part of the internet culture. After all, the Pirate Party has two seats in the European Parliament. People justify it as some sort of new frontier of share and share alike, or blame the victims as greedy corporatists or minimize the theft as mere pennies and meaningless. Not only are these justifications false, they fail to recognize that content theft hurts consumers.
I am going to list a few ways I think theft hurts those of us who are not content creators. I would not be surprised if some of you can think of others.
- Distrust is I think the worst result of content theft. Even innocent behavior like standing still for 20-30 minutes in a store (taking a phone call in real life perhaps) can lead to suspicion as that is a common behavior of thieves who stand there copying content. What if you buy a lot of demos? Lots of thieves buy demo hair, for example, and then delete the attachments.
- Anti-theft measures that affect the shopping experience such as click to show you are a real person popup windows. The CopyBot Quit chat spam that greets you one arrival in a store. Yes, I know it doesn’t work. People still use it.
- Anti-theft measure that affect content quality/convenience. This includes things like wearable items that disappear if you rez them. If you like to wear multiple items sometimes you might want to rez two wearable prims and link them to save an attachment point, but thanks to copybotters some designers add scripts that make things poof and disappear from your inventory if they are rezzed. The increasing use of no-mod permissions limiting our ability to edit our items to fit, our ability to link items to save attachment points and our ability to fine-tune our hair color to our liking.
- Increased use of resize scripts for everything that needs fitting – which means increased lag and more difficulty in teleporting – unless you remember to delete the resize script (if you can.) Moreover, you know darn well that most people are not deleting those scripts which means more lag for everyone.
- Linden Labs is planning to restrict the use of alternate viewers to those who they certify. This will discourage innovation and improvements in the viewer experience.
- Great designers quitting and leaving because they are discouraged. Mirai Jun of Ce Cubic Effect was such an innovator in clothing form and design that I eagerly awaited every release to see what new advance in sculptie use he would produce. Just one designer of many designers who have quit in discouragement at the level of theft, the acceptance of theft by residents and the dilatory response from Linden Labs.
- Anti-Inspect Shields and the tremendous lag they produce. These are mostly worn by people trying to hide their stolen content. If it’s not true about you, well, that’s another example of the suspicion drawn on innocent behavior by content theft. However, since they produce tremendous lag, no polite and considerate resident would wear one anyway.
- Loss of community. Content theft creates distrust and drama. It breeds anger and resentment. Friendships are lost, feelings are hurt and there is a huge emotional toll. Even the responses to content theft engender anger, drama and anxiety. This damages all of us.
So, fight back against content theft for a better community with more designers, more innovation and more fun and friendship for us all. For information on how to respond when you find stolen content and how to recognize suspicious content, go to The Artist’s Voice or Step Up!