Two stories from iReport, one on the JLU's recent activities and one on exploitative viewers.
First, the JLU. Now, I know members of the JLU in Second Life; many of us do. These are, generally to a hero, compassionate, committed people, devoted to raising money for important causes, helping newcomers to SL and protecting the grid in general with a variety of anti-griefing tools. These are laudable goals and I commend them for caring so much, about SL and the world beyond.
But this is the problem of copyright infringement, isn't it? Speaking out against "content theft" in loud voices and proclaiming that every avatar needs to look around themselves and AR everything that violates...this is where the impact is going to be felt.
Superman. Aquaman. Supergirl. The Green Lantern Corps. Batman. Wonder Woman. Hawkgirl.
More that I don't mention, nearly a hundred--if not over a hundred--members at this writing, but every one of those names links to a story about what they've done, in world and out of it, to improve Second (and First!) Life.
They're also, to a hero, infringing copyright.
Where is the line drawn? When does it stop being fans wanting to make a difference--the drag queen raising money for AIDS research dressed up as Cher in Lisbon, the man dressed as the Caped Crusader fighting for the rights of fathers in England, that fellow in New York with the lightning bolt across his chest, who carts around his own wheel-locks to protect the city from drunken drivers?
Where is the line drawn in Second Life, for that matter? Has anyone in the JLU spoken with any of the Powers that Regulate at Marvel or DC? Has anyone gained official permission to use any hero's likeness to do their good works? Should they have to before flying around the grid, helping people?
They don't get paid for this. They don't function as an officially-acknowledged police force. They don't sign autographs and show up for mall openings.
They're just people. Who want to help. They just happen to want to do it as their heroes, in tights and tight boots, golden lasso and green ring, one by one making the grid a safer place.
If you want to fight copyright infringement, you can't make exceptions. If you want to fight copyright infringement, you can't acknowledge good works as a compromise. If you want to fight copyright infringement, you have to fight ALL copyright infringement.
From Philip Linden on down.
And how long will the fight go on before hitting something like this? "But they're good people!" the cries will sound. "They don't mean any harm!"
Of course they don't. They're involved in Relay for Life, in Project Jason, in protecting welcome hubs, sandboxen, charity events, putting their avatars on the line to provide security for talks that might possibly attract griefers. They do this, hour after hour, day after day, when they could be shopping, playing, having fun, flying around doing nothing more important than roleplay.
They don't. But they infringe copyright.
What started the latest push to get the word out about copyright theft wasn't even random. It was directed, it was to hurt specific individuals--which it did--because of some stupid argument between the hacker and the shop owners. The hacker himself admitted as much, several times, as the story broke.
Do I think that's wrong? I do. Do I think it qualifies as copyright infringement, or even the more charged phrase "content theft"? I do. I'm not disputing either of those points.
But I do think it is a sad and tragic diversion of time, money, resources and personal energies that could be better spent anywhere else calling for a stop-one-stop-all halt on everything that infringes copyright.
Boxed Heroes? Would be gone. The JLU? Would be gone. Anyone who's ever designed a hero avatar in world? Out of business. Anyone who's ever been inspired by comics, movies, books or music? Gone. 98% of all gestures? Removed. At least 90%--if not more--of all music played in world? Not allowed.
What a bleak and barren landscape this leaves us with. We are creatures that copy, we are creatures that innovate new ideas based on old ones. Some of us do it directly, and on occasion, that runs into copyright issues. But all of us, each and every one of us, do this. Yearly. Monthly. Hourly. Because it is who we are.
(Though, just for the fun of it...Catfight! From the Justice League Unlimited animated series.)
And veering off seemingly in a completely different direction, Fanny Starr talks through her daughter's Second Life avatar about the horrors of the Holocaust. Why did I link that in? Beyond the fact that it's a well-written article...
But it was for this line:
She also gave a special thanks to the members of the Justice League SL group, whom stood out in the audience with their superhero costumes. She explained they were here as a precaution against possible griefers, who never came.
Kill them...kill their identity. Where is the line between fan tribute, and personal empowerment, and protection of copyright? In the virtual world, at least, we need to find out. And sooner rather than later.
Now, on the exploitative viewer angle, I just have a simple question: why is it exploitative to imitate real life? Granted, I don't have anti-gravity breasts RL, no woman does, but if I run, they move. Unless I'm in a really tight sports bra.
So where's the harm in making them bounce a little in world? I don't see the "exploitation" factor. Breasts--and butts--on occasion jiggle; it's the nature of things. In Runes of Magic there are breast physics. I think WoW has bouncing beauties, though I'm not sure, I don't play WoW.
More to the point, though, why are the breast physics what people are screaming about? What about incorporation of Restrained Life tools into the Emerald viewer? What about the change in standard buttons (which Modular has ALREADY heard avatars yelling at them over) meaning, when I like someone's outfit, and I click on their prim skirt, I can remove it for a few seconds? Why aren't we screaming about that?? All I wanted was the name of her designer, I didn't want to tear her skirt off!
But bouncing breasts...I don't see the harm. Is it a feature that will likely appeal to more men than women? Sure. But it's not like we don't have breasts now, women--and men stare at them, in and out of world. That hasn't stopped yet, it's not GOING to stop! Just get over it!