Wednesday, June 17, 2009

so instead I burned your pretty home, to the ground, to the ground, to the ground

Shut up! He'll take away our laser swords! (I admit, I had to click back to the beginning on Darths & Droids and start reading it again, and this one always makes me giggle.)

And, you know, I've never been much on flight simulation games, but really--the intro to this one made me scream aloud "Just give my the JET already, stop TALKING!" (For more Escapist fun, try redesigning sandbox porn and silly hat EXTREME!)

In between design projects, I've been clicking around on various and sundry, and there is oddity in the metaverse today. Word on the virtual street says Stratim Capital, a mostly venture/takeover firm, it looks like, has nearly acquired one full investor's share of Second Life.

Doesn't that generally mean they're going to try to buy out Second Life in the near future?

And isn't this generally kept hush-hush until the actual fight begins? Unless they're doing it with Kingdon's full cooperation...

And found via a follow on Twitter, mention of another violent videogame study, this one purported to be large enough to allow "generalization". I pulled this quote as oddly relevant:

After playing either a prosocial, violent, or neutral game, participants were asked to assign puzzles to a randomly selected partner. They could choose from puzzles that were easy, medium or hard to complete. Their partner could win $10 if they solved all the puzzles. Those who played a prosocial game were considerably more helpful than others, assigning more easy puzzles to their partners. And those who had played violent games were significantly more likely to assign the hardest puzzles.

Hmm. Does this really indicate that people who play violent videogames are more prone to want to injure others, or does it just indicate that people who accept the challenge of violent videogames may want to share that challenge with others? That it's not always "helpful" to give easy tasks to other people; that sometimes it's more helpful to set them harder goals, so they'll learn more, work harder, retain information longer?

Or perhaps it's because naturally, competitive people are drawn to competitive sports, violent videogames being the equivalent of mental rugby, in a sense. Is this observed behavior, then, indication of so-called 'damage' from violent videogames, or is it a result of long-term life habits of highly competitive people, who want other people to compete with them?

On another topic entirely, Ginger13 Kidd wrote me, about the post I made on her tiff with Sheena Benelli of Weird Designs. And here's oddity again.

(Click for the larger images below.)


Both this image and the one below were sent to me by Ginger13 Kidd, as 'proof' of Sheena Benelli's theft. This confuses me. One, if you're going to snap a pic to prove intellectual property theft, let the sculpts rez in! Two, I have that key set, it comes from Ghanie Lane in Lithe--in fact, Lady Disdain's current packaging uses one of the skeleton key sculpts. So it's not that; in fact, if one looks closely, the keys are different (though I grant you, perhaps not five full points of difference to ensure copyright exclusivity, and most of those may well be in textures chosen and key tooth positioning).

So let's look at the rest of the necklace; the chain also looks like I've seen it before, but I don't have a where, and I feel that way looking at both necklaces; also, it's hard to tell if it's just that the texture used on the main pendant is different, but still Alice, or if she was trying to say that Miss Benelli used a picture of Alice with a blue background on a heart pendant--and again, Miss Kidd didn't let the sculpt rez in, if that's supposed to be a heart.

Of course, there's also the case of the Ace of Spades ivory key plaque, which isn't on the purported copy at all; and it can't be a copy of her work if it doesn't reproduce her work, in my opinion.


This is where things get really puzzling, though. Miss Kidd is using two images from her store stock, and two images from Miss Benelli's store stock, to claim copyright infringement. And maybe it's me, but I don't see it. The first set of images pairs two ballerina dresses, in grey and white, with a puff tutu in tones to match, and red torn tights; by contrast, Miss Benelli's single white "ballerina" outfit, which essentially boils down to camisole (markedly different from Miss Kidd's), an overlong mini with what looks like a glowing lace overskirt, and footless tights/pale grey leggings--it's much the same at that point, either term could apply.

The next set of images features a set of three knife attachments, one with a long flexi tie on the wrapped knife hilt, fitted to the spine with an undershirt layer of blood and damage. I know this one, I have it; several months back I bought I 13's Rotten dress at the Jabberwocky sim:


In this version, there are three knives, a small one with the flex-tie wrapped black hilt; a longer 'butcher's knife' version, with an elongated wooden hilt; and a long cutting knife with a tapered metal hilt, stabbed into the bare back of the model, with commensurate blood and detail, on the left; then on the right, shown as part of the 'Dead Ballerina' outfit at Weird, four leather-wrapped tanto knives, stabbed into the model's back at various skewed points, with a markedly different bloodspatter pattern, and no attempt at damage shading; but blood also on the blades themselves.

Again, I'm having difficulty seeing where this is a case of intellectual property theft, just due to having similar ideas.

Okay, so I strolled out to House of Munster's hotel, because I knew both I 13 and Weird Designs maintained rooms there.


This is directly from the vendor on the wall. Now, this image shows three necklaces (for L$200, I believe, which is very reasonable considering the level of detail and the three different 'moods' of the pendants). But look at the keys, to start with.

That jagged little, "I am an unrezzed sculpt" shape in the center of the key head? I still don't know what that is, and unless I find someone with that necklace, I'm not shilling out two hundred to see. That's not there in the purported copy, neither is the entire loop-and-Ace-card construction on the other side of the necklace. And while both pendants are blue, Miss Benelli's is a heart, Miss Kidd's is a round drop.

While both images use John Tenniel's artwork, Miss Kidd's uses a colored version of this image (Alice at the door), and Miss Benelli's uses this image (Alice holding the 'Drink Me' bottle)--a similarly-colored image, I will grant, but on a heart pendant, not a round drop, with a different jump ring (though again, similar in style).

Okay, I figured I had one more thing to do, then: I had seen pictures of the apparently offensive, intellectual-property-thieving, images: now I needed to see them close up, and in person.

Miss Neome (seeing as how she'd bought the Dead Ballerina dress moments before the line and the back knives were pulled) agreed to drop by and show me the back knives. I snapped pictures while she was in the work studio:


This was the best one. First, look at me on the right; those are definitely three different knives, more or less aligned along the spine: what looks like a black-hilted palette knife with a leather tie, an aged, blunt-hilted garden knife, and an intriguingly tapered metallic blade to finish off the three.

Now look at Miss Neome on the left. Those aren't just four knives over three; those are four of the same knife. In fact, they're all stylistically wrapped, hilted Tantō knives. And they have blood on the blades as well as the back; while the two versions I've been able to find of Miss Kidd's only have blood on the back (if they have blood at all, see my back on the right).

Even the means of construction are different--Miss Benelli using mostly square prims to accomplish her objective, while Miss Kidd went for the three-dimensional effect and added flexible prims as a tie on the artist's knife. the end, can I say positively that Miss Benelli stole Miss Kidd's designs? No, unless I'm stealing Miss Allegory Malaprop's striped carnival pants, from Schadenfreude, when I make my bloodspattered carnival dresses. No, unless every Japanese person on the grid who makes a kimono is stealing from Miss June Dion, who owns Bare Rose.

It's not enough to say they're making something similar to an idea we have; being stabbed in the back is a popular conceit, and in Second Life, our concepts, our conceits, become reality. It's not enough to design a ballerina dress and say someone else is stealing your idea when the dresses are nothing alike. apart from being ballerina dresses.

Miss Kidd, thank you for sending me the notecard: truly, deeply, thank you from the bottom of my heart. But you need to understand what intellectual property is, and what theft of it is. Bring me hard evidence; even better, bring the Lindens hard evidence, and you might be able to effect serious change.

But the two images you sent to "prove" that Miss Benelli stole your concept...don't. They purely, flatly, logically do not add up to intellectual property theft.

Is she wandering peoples' stores, saying, Ooh, I like that, I'm going to make one of those...yeah, maybe. Maybe that's what she's doing. But being inspired by isn't stealing from, and there's a world of difference that needs to be understood between them.

(All of this Alice research in the background, looking over things, by the way? Put me onto this painting by Ken Wong. Coolest. Alice. EVER.)


Trinity Dejavu said...

I make and sell some very popular items for the D/s scene in SL, and I have seen quite a few other designers 'inpsired' by my designs.

Gives me the motication to make sure my products are always better made, better scripted and better presented.

To be honest I like seeing what others have done to my ideas as it in turn helps me to imporve my works, although most of the time its just flattering.

Just like in the real world, everyone is feeding off everyone else, there are no new ideas, just old ones, done better.

Emilly Orr said...

Of course. But if I wander a store, say, and I see a dress I really like--I know even if I try to reproduce it, prim for prim, that my textures are going to be different, my skirts are not going to be built the same way.

I also know if I do come up with something that really, honestly, looks like the dress I liked, I can't sell it; but deciding, say, to come up with a seet of striped dressed with bloodspatter? There's a ton of bloodspattered carny gear on the grid. Am I imitating anyone else? I say no; there's a lot of us just drawn to the concept.

Not everyone on the grid has my ethics, I know that; but really, honestly, if someone steals something they're usually obvious about it; the textures will match, the shadows, the prims used. And near as I can figure, the products from these two businesses don't. Inspired by? Sure. Directly? Maybe even that. Deliberately ripped off prim for prim?


Dale Innis said...

/me looks up from "DM of the Rings" and Escapist videos just long enough to hit you with soft things in retribution for all these links you keep posting.

And that is indeed a good Alice. She always was a sort of scary little thing.

Emilly Orr said...


I would apologize, but I've always posted 'cool stuph' links now and again. Mostly having some relationship to virtual worlds, geekdom, comics, music, books or movies--which, yeah, is pretty much everything. :)