Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm becoming this, all I want to do is be more like me and be less like you

Everyone, meet Lia Johin:

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Lia Johin is German, and escorts. In fact, her tag when I ran across her in Illuminati said, body for sale. I will say this, it is an exceptionally well-toned body, but still--since when is shopping nude, anywhere, a good idea? Doesn't part of the point of "sensual retail", so to speak, lie in the art of leaving something to the imagination?

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(The larger size lacks the little pink hearts.)

(*sound of insane cackling for a brief moment* Ah, Photobucket, even virtual nudity now? Well, I lack entirely the ability to put this image up elsewhere, as I deleted it from my drive after I uploaded it to Photobucket--apparently Full Frontal Johin is too spicy for anyone else to see. Bwahahaha....)

And don't get me wrong--I think she has truly lovely tattoo work. But really, when all you're wearing is bling--and everything blinged, on her, from bracelets to collar, navel piercing on down--and tattoos, well...one definitely gets the impression of "body for sale", but one also usually adds mentally, "...and not for all that much".

Should I be as confused by this as I apparently am? Maybe it's just my mind worrying over how virtual eggs get fertilized...

All right, to the main...whatever. An issue has been handed to me, and I've done the best I can with some overly defensive participants to track down what exactly happened when. Believe me, this would be an easier entry to write if I was more partisan; unfortunately, I see the good and bad that's happening on both sides.

It started in September of 2008, when a woman named Lerochelle Destiny wanted to make cool things. Now, there's always been two ways to do things on the grid--building and buying--and Miss Destiny, she bought, then decided she really liked the leg structure of what she bought, and wondered if she could make legs like that on her own.

Now, around this time I will admit, Destiny, Fawkes and I tangled over what is, and is not, ethical in building. At that time she sounded like she was taking full-perm leg structures, retexturing them, and selling them on her own--which is, if not outright theft, at least highly iffy on the ethics.

Let me stress that this incident was separate from anything involving AvEntity, later; it's more for reference and establishing the timeline.

Now, sometime after that, she looked into sculpt-making. I do not know how she makes sculpts; I do not know what program she uses. I have talked over what she described to me personally, and what she describes happening on her forum page, with a builder friend of mine, and that builder said that without a proveable accusation of outright sculpt theft, we're left with Destiny likely reproducing from the original; in other words, she essentially traced the design, in a three-dimensional sense, and thus arrived at her digitigrade legs she sells online and in her store.

Here's where the waters definitely get murky, though.

At that point she wasn't offering shape, skins, the whole shebang; she was just offering legs and ears/tail combos. But one Mephitis Jezebel, the lead designer behind AvEntity, started receiving a ton of IMs over the course of two weeks saying more or less the same thing: "Meph, you've been ripped off! You gotta go see De La Fae and look at their legs!"

So...she did. And what she saw, fairly understandably, disturbed her. But by the same extension, I don't think it's a case of everyone on Destiny's side lying, per se--I think it's perfectly possible she didn't lift the sculpt maps for Jezebel's legs, but rather reverse engineered them, more or less, from scratch.

Before I go farther, let me make something clear--reverse engineering isn't theft, precisely. It can be more or less ethically iffy (more being, buying a laptop, say, tearing it apart, then rebuilding the nearly exact same laptop, only using your company's parts; less being, taking a series of photographs of a cell phone in a store, then designing your own version of their cell phone 'look'), and I think it's not irrational to say that Destiny is pushing towards the 'more' side of this definition. But did she outright steal the sculpt maps? Did she configure her legs to exactly match, and be mistaken for, Mephitis Jezebel's? Did she design her legs with the intent to defraud AvEntity?

I'm willing to extend the benefit of the doubt here, and say the answer to those three questions is no. But there are some odd additional points.

For instance, there's this odd missive featured on one of her forum pages:

[14:44] Becky Nosferatu: (Saved Wed Jan 14 15:36:42 2009) Mephitis Jezebel: The prim size and rotation attributes on the invisiprims Lerochelle used are the exact same as the ones I used on my fox avatar. Maldavius did a UUID check a few weeks ago and the claw UUID she's using on her avatar feet match mine. Direct theft right there. I spoke with one of Lerochelle's friends and they witnessed her using a program called SculptyPaint to make slight modifications to the ripped leg textures (such as smoothing out the tops). Wingless Emoto has also reported having trouble with this same content thief.

Now, Miss Destiny blames a lot of the UUID similarity on this reported issue, but that only covers newly-created prims, not prims that have been complete, and named, and registered with the system. I did speak with her about this, and that was her answer--that if this Maldavius did get the UUID of her claw shape, that it would be the null key the JIRA issue reports. I don't entirely buy this; but by the same extension, no one on the other side is talking.

There's also this mention from the main captured conversation between Destiny and Jezebel:

[10:40] Lerochelle Destiny: and i will have the same issue when i come out with my wolf tails like the one i am wearing... cause they look like yours... among many many others

So, in the middle of a maker coming to her store, already irked at receiving IMs that claim she's been ripped off--instead of trying to work something out, or talking to her honestly, at least...it seems like Destiny is further taunting her that she's going to be copying another item for sale at AvEntity.

Whether or not that's what Destiny meant, that's likely how it sounded to Jezebel. Making the whole situation even more unstable than it was before.

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This is AvEntity's purple Fox, at their main store in Geardust. It's a very pretty fur: good muscles, good feet, great legs and face; in fact, I keep circling around one of AvEntity's foxen to replace my standard Lost Furest (from more than two years back) Arctic Fox.

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A close-up of the contested legs in question, at the best angle I could get, with the limited amount of time I was able to be in world earlier.

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De La Fae's contested "bunneh" legs at their main store in Solace Whispers.

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And the best angle close-up of the "bunneh" legs I was able to get.

So are they the same leg? Your guess is as good as mine; possibly, your guess might be better than mine, depending on who's reading this entry, because you likely know more about sculpts and sculpt map issues than I do.

But I do know one thing: if accused, explaining the situation generally always works better--with most people--than becoming immediately defensive and calling in friends to "prove" that one is not a thief. It just makes you look bad, frankly, and it never wins you friends, or even gains you understanding.

I'd only add one more thing--that all of us, every maker on the grid, is influenced by everyone around us. That clichéd phrase, "Nothing new under the sun"...well, it's not precisely untrue. We are recyclers of dreams, reusers of content; we reconfigure, we are taught techniques that others had taught to them, we improve and better our own creations, but no one creates in a vacuum. Were Destiny's digitigrade legs influenced by Jezebel's designs? Very, very likely. Is this illegal? Not at all, it happens every single day, every single hour, every single minute, maybe, depending on how wide one is willing to define her terms. Is it ethically slippery?

Ah, there's the larger question. And, as far as I know from everyone I've been able to speak with, Mephitis Jezebel has not filed a cease and desist order according to the provisions of the DMCA--at least, not yet. I'm not absolutely sure of this, but I don't believe she's turned in ARs against Destiny, either.

Though Destiny has turned in more than one AR--generally for harassment--on Jezebel and AvEntity.

As Destiny says, look over the copyright infringement allegation, look over the theft of sculpt maps post--and make up your own mind. Who's right, who's wrong? Legally, is there any way to be sure? In the realm of digital property, virtual creations...I'm not sure there truly is.

Where pixels are involved, things get very blurry, very fast.

4 comments:

Christine McAllister Pearse said...

Ummm....in that larger picture, are those Ninja throwing stars encircling her nipples and bling coming out of her....well....a place that bling really ought not be seen???

Emilly Orr said...

Yes, and yes.

And you pointed out a problem, which I've now corrected--the little version now has hearts, the larger version....well, doesn't.

:)

Christine McAllister Pearse said...

Good grief! I think that she ought to offer a rebate or perhaps pay the person rather than the other way around. I do *not* want to know what is sparkling in her woohoo either....*ponders the many possibilities and shudders*

Emilly Orr said...

*coughs*

Power source?