Saturday, August 21, 2010

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day

Not to single out anyone or anything specifically, but the Hollywood Walk of Fame Hunt (first part here), running from 14 August to 30 August, represents everything currently wrong with SL.

That sounds overly dramatic, so let me explain.

Welcome to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
This hunt is a themed hunt. All vendors have chosen a star
with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
The prizes are going to be something associated with the stars they have chosen.
It will run from August 14th to August 29th.

So what's the problem? Hunts have hunt themes, it happens all the time. This is a Hollywood hunt, and many--if not most--of the items are themed, so again--what's the problem?

The problem is in specifics. It's the difference between this:

cute dress,fashion,shopping,Second Life
(Picture copyright to Schnaeppchen's hunt blog; "Shirley Temple" dress copyright to Vicarious Vitae in Cornflakes.)

and this:

Mickey Mouse,Mickey Mouse,Disney,Disney,corporate logos,corporate logos,piercings,piercings,Second Life,Second Life
(Picture copyright to Schnaeppchen's hunt blog; "Mickey Mouse" piercing/watch set copyright to Magically Alluring in Serenityville.)

Does anyone else see the difference? Now, I will grant that the Shirley Temple dress from Stand Up and Cheer" was one of her better-known outfits. It showed up on her collectible doll, as well as porcelain collectibles and photos from the period. It was a well-known film, seen by many people, who weighed the price of a loaf of bread against the cost of a ticket (Stand Up and Cheer was released during the *coughs* first Great Depression).

Even with that, even as iconic a dress as it was, the dress itself breaks no records. It's a simple skirt over petticoats, high-waisted, with a wide ribbon tie and detail (and even the coordinating trim was often seen on dresses of the period, for children and adults). What makes it special is that it was seen on Shirley Temple; nothing else changes it. There are dresses made and retailed now, from off-the-rack to independent fashion houses, that share construction styling with this outfit.

Contrast that with the Mickey Mouse piercing set. The Mickey Mouse ears are trademarked. From ear hats to Mickey Mouse as a character, to the use of Mickey Mouse in corporate-level branding. This is a known and recognized symbol, at a glance recognizeable--it's like the logo for the Jim Henson Company (and I'd point you towards the Mickey Mouse ears making an appearance on the first Henson Associates still).

So why, in this conflicting morass of ethics and branding issues Second Life finds itself embroiled in--with on-the-ground groups dedicated to stamping out "content theft", as inaccurate a term as that is, clear up to take-no-prisoners bans of major sim owners for minor infractions...why, by any and all gods, did anyone think this hunt was a good idea?

Forget the stores who participated--bright or not, it's on them, store by store. Some followed the rules and turned in outfits or objects that were intended to be homages only; some threw those established conventions aside and turned in outfits or movie posters that were directly infringing.

What I'm more concerned with is the hunt organizers; are they simply not aware of the current uneasy imbalance between copyright infringement and original work? Do they not care? Did they just think a "Hollywood" hunt would have no issues, because they don't know enough about IP rights? Through ignorance or willful insolence, it's there, it's out, the hunt locations and tips are circulating through various blogs, and what's done is done.

But either way this goes--with bans and DMCA filings, or the Labs' ignoring them in turn--it's making me unhappy either way. An increase in hypocrisy on the part of everyone involved, down to bans from SL--it won't end well, no matter what happens.

And that's really, really sad for a scavenger hunt. When did hunts stop being fun?


Serenity said...

Hard to say when hunts stopped being fun, maybe when they were overkilled? Like POE hunt trying to have 365 vendors in one hunt in one month? Or maybe when people realized they're not getting much from it profit wise? Hard to say. I think this hunt is going to be the last one I'm hosting (the kawaii one coming up in Sep.) because it's just I don't know. The pressure now on both sides of the board per say.

For hunters, you get branded as an evil person only going for freebies, Or you don't support stores, Or whatever they feel like flinging on the moment. I know other stores/vendors who're in these hunts are being more pressured into the pay hunts, and certain stores are frowning on them for giving out freebies or participating in hunts.

I keep trying to hang in there with others to support the hunt idea, but alas - the times have been hard on both hunters and participant vendors because of people causing trouble or not thinking it's worth the effort and the whole list goes on. @ @ Unfortunately I don't see this negative trend ending any time soon.

Emilly Orr said...

Believe me, I understand. When I consider it a 'mini' grid-wide hunt (because it has less than 100 stores on it); when I'm charmed beyond belief with nostalgia when a store holds a hunt only on one sim...yeah. Things have gotten out of hand.

And even participating in a (relatively) few hunts on my own, it doesn't help--because I cannot envision making it a challenge to find item 76 of 200, or 3 of 150, or whatever it is--and I cannot fathom the hunt organizers who don't want SLUrls or landmarks given out. They're insane. It's an insane concept. Not everyone can find every item; and moreover, not everyone wants every item.

It's gotten out of hand.