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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
 
Copybot's Labyrinth
Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. - Charles Kuralt

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've developed a healthy hate for land bans and the dreaded red "No Entry" bars. It's virtually impossible to simply walk from A to B without running into a locked down parcel blocking your path, usually several. It's like an especially dull and slow moving game of pinball, sometimes.

And, as I'm sure you've heard by now, assuming you follow in-world news or have went in-world in the last few days, Copybot hysteria has taken SL by storm. Copybot is a device created by the libsl project, and later sold (by apparently dubious means) in-world, that allows one to bypass SL's intrinsic DRM system and duplicate certain in-world objects. It's use has since been declared a TOS violation by Linden Lab, and the code (the device relies on outside programs in addition to in-world scripts) has been pulled from the libsl site. Some residents have been banned over the issue, as well.

The capabilities of the Copybot have been vastly overblown and distorted in all the hubbub but, nonetheless, it's become the proverbial straw for outraged creators fearing theft of their in-world creations. Protests have been staged at in-world storefronts and other locations, and rumor has it that sims have been deliberately crashed in order to prevent access to Copybot vendors. (See the current (mid-November 2006) Herald for more continuing coverage of the backlash, protests, and guerrilla activities.) The libsl project team has been vilified as naive geeks and outright criminals by multiple parties, and a considerable amount of vitriol and recrimination has been directed at LL for sanctioning their continued existence. Theft and resale of textures, objects, and freebies has been an issue for quite a while. Anyone remember the controversy with GL Intercept and texture ripping a while back? Copybot is only the latest and most publicized tool.

The public protest and fear has made Second Life quite a frustrating and depressing place to take a walk. Due to the recent emergency closures of SL shops and attractions, I've been forced to stay on the Linden inter-sim road system. It seems like every other parcel I pass is either roped off with ban lines (and it's surprising how many parcel corners extend well into the public road and waterways), blocked off with prims, or otherwise protected by measures to keep all avatars out. This was done either in protest or in an attempt to prevent would-be Copybot thieves from obtaining the shopkeeper's or homeowner's goods illegally. It seems a bit extreme to lock your doors against 99% of your customers on the off chance that the other 1% would be both willing to and interested in selling knockoffs of your work. It's like barricading your RL shop front door in order to stop shoplifters.

In any case, due to all this, today's morning walk was spent carefully weaving down ribbons of virtual asphalt, walled in by a virtual canyon of shop barricades, hastily enabled ban lines, and newly-installed security orbs. All this while being spammed with "Copybot Protection: !quit" messages at every turn. (The latter being an attempt to automatically trigger the Copybot's shutdown routine.) It's vexing to be tantalized by interesting builds, only to be stopped forcefully at the border. This is a fact of life in SL, of course. There's unnecessary restricted access everywhere. But now it's become ten times worse.

Of course, my minor inconvenience in wandering across the grid is not the issue. However, it is a good barometer of the current clime in Second Life. The isolationist, red-barred SL that was so ominously predicted when point-to-point teleport returned has finally been created by the Copybot scare. Here's hoping that it's just a temporary phase.

On a related note, apparently I made an apt observation. Hamlet says so! I'm guessing he's referring to the first bit, not the rambling that follows.
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