Wednesday, May 12, 2010

and maybe tomorrow I'll find what I'm after

Colleges are freaking out over new Facebook pages that seem to deliberately shunt their institutions aside; which isn't that surprising, I suppose, because Facebook hates them anyway. Guess it's all part and parcel of the same thing, and Facebook remains evil.

There's apparently now a term for various movie/book tie-ins that spawn off, like Matrix Online for the Matrix films, or the Firefly comics and Serenity spinning off of the original Firefly series (along with an entire album recorded by Marian Call). It's called transmedia.

What bothers me about the term is not that it's confusing to people who think it has to do with transsexual films/books/plays/movies, but more that we already have terms to describe the process, and it's not a new concept. The buh level is high.

If you ever wondered about the PC game Portal...now you can try it for free. They're serious--get a Steam account, then get Portal.

But it's only until May 24th. So press that big red button NOW!

In other news, there's apparently a new scam on the grid. While they maintain they're harming no one, and releasing no information that's not already publically accessible, the entire thing feels shady as hell, and highly suspicious. I don't think I'm out of line when I say Ratemyava.com is trying to slide one by on us; at the least, Freefall Ninetails has managed to invent a new form of sleaze.

Here's the trick: go to a location (so far there's only one, and I am hoping this doesn't catch on and spread) that's hosting a Ratemyava board. Just walking through the door of the establishment will register you as an avatar to be rated. It essentially appropriates your avatar's image, displays it on a board for people to 'rate' and retransmits the information onto the site and back onto the board, creating an 'account' under your name, that will retain your information on the website.

There is no opt-out feature, according to those who've seen it in action.

I went to the site. It seems a smaller, SL-localized version of Hot or Not. They're partnered with SHX Meta, which, when their link is clicked, brings me to this screen:

wtf,weirdness,Second Life,media

so this entire thing is vaguely worrying me now.

[18:52] Alexiel Magnolia: Does it update when you update your avatar picture?
[18:52] Hazel Kyrgyz: it's things like that that make me never want to leave my cave
[18:52] Riana Eiren: let's all AR him
[18:52] Alexiel Magnolia: Hmm, you know... I have my original art as my profile image
[18:52] Alexiel Magnolia: Could he be DMCA'ed?


Which is another whole angle to this stupid thing--some people do have original art, theirs or others, as their profile pic. Is that actionable? Or just deeply tacky?

I may have to talk this over with Miss Kamenev--what are the laws to protect a virtual identity?

Because I think there still aren't any.

14 comments:

samanthapoindexter said...

I confess I'm on the other side on this one. M. Ninetails is correct: the entire point of SL profiles is that they contain information and photos that you're choosing to share with the public. Using the "show in search" flag to determine whether to include your profile photo seems more than fair.

As for people running businesses... there are at least two viable options. Keep a public profile, but don't include a photo, or use separate avatars for business and pleasure.

If you'd rather not do either, that's your lookout, but there's nothing ARable here. Sorry.

samanthapoindexter said...

Relevant bits of the SL privacy policy:

Certain account information is displayed to other users in your Second Life profile, and may be available through automated script calls and application program interfaces. This information includes your account name, account type, the date your account was established, whether or not you are currently online, user rating information, group and partner information, and whether or not you have established a payment account or transaction history with Linden Lab.

and

You may choose to disclose personal information in our online forums, via your Second Life profile, directly to other users in chat or otherwise while using Second Life. Please be aware that such information is public information and you should not expect privacy or confidentiality of this information.

I'm fairly confident that this encompasses profile photos. (It certainly should.)

Emilly Orr said...

Yes and no. I still think Miss Magnolia has a valid leg to stand on with the use of original art for a profile pic, but then again, there's also the issue of uploading to SL in the first place; does that then make that private art public? (Leaving aside the whole controversy over digital art being "real" or not; I've worked too long in the SL art community to believe that.)

Emilly Orr said...

It should, and likely does, in all honesty.

Maybe it's just because the whole concept feels skeezy, to me. I instinctively reject it on moral grounds.

samanthapoindexter said...

Does uploading a picture to SL make it public? No. What happens when it's put on a prim rezzed in public is where things get messier... but I have no problem with saying that if you make it your public profile photo, then, yes, you're allowing it to be accessed by the public.

Whether this particular use is skeezy is another story. I can't argue with that one. :-)

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emilly Orr said...

The post has been restored, several minutes of chat log redacted; no further editing, I believe, is necessary past this point.

Edward Pearse said...

IANAL (but I am a pedant) so a couple of points I think are worth noting, all morality aside:

Firstly, it's called a Public Profile. That means it's available to public search. Duh.

And requoting the TOS that Kat posted "You agree that by uploading, publishing, or submitting any Content to any publicly accessible areas of the Service, you hereby grant each user of Second Life a non-exclusive license to access the User Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content In-World or otherwise on the Service solely as permitted by you through your interactions with the Service under these Terms of Service.
(Emphasis Mine)

This inclusion of the term "in-world or other" I would say covers the people running ratemyav. They're taking information that people have agreed to allow to be public and reconstructing it elsewhere. It would be interesting to see if the profile pictures are hotlinked.

I've yet to encounter an image grab device that asks permission to display my profile picture, so obviously we're travelling in very different areas.

Another point of pedantry is that I would be surprised to hear they're claiming the profile pictures to be theirs so the logo comparison is spurious. There's a difference between displaying public information without your permission and claiming the information displayed as your own.

Lastly @ Emilly, I believe you're right when you talk about protecting a virtual identity. Any such laws are only going to protect your RL identity (such as they can). And I believe that people of our age are the last to see the need for such protection, if the way that GenY and GenZ plastering their real details over all and any social media is anything to go by.

Is ratemyav a bunch of arses? Sure
Are they doing anything illegal? I doubt it very much.

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emilly Orr said...

Is ratemyav a bunch of arses? Sure

I believe we're all in agreement on that.

Are they doing anything illegal? I doubt it very much.

And more's the pity.

*longs for the day when stupidity becomes punishable by...well, anything, really.*

Edward Pearse said...

whether someone is saying that they produced the original work or not, retransmitting it, re-hosting it, redisplaying it in any form (other than permitted under fair-use, which is more restrictive than most people seem to believe) is -still- a violation of copyright whether or not it is attributed - only by the license being changed or by obtaining special permission to redisplay/retransmit/etc can that be altered.

Not quite. It has been shown, in court, that pointing to someone else's existing online content (which your profile and data is), is not a copyright violation. Caching a copy of an original artwork would be a violation (as $cientology have argued) but hotlinking technically isn't, especially if the site is saying where the image comes from.

Emilly Orr said...

Ooh, that's another complication entirely. If they're just hotlinking, about the only people with any claim to injury then become--the Labs. And about all they have the right to do is speak to the site hosts, and ask them to cease business with the site owners, due to bandwidth issues. It ceases to be about the art at all, if they don't host the images.

Anonymous said...

The site does cache the images on their own site - it is not a direct hot-link to the image's original location.

Emilly Orr said...

See, I admit, I'm hobbled in my usual ways of investigating, because I want to go nowhere near this thing in the least--either on the grid or on the site. I want nothing to do with it, so I'm covering the entire thing from a distance.