Saturday, June 2, 2012

I live for your fond caresses

Just since the introduction of the LFG channel in City of Heroes, two days after Issue 23 arrived, Help channel has already calmed down significantly. Of course, for some conversations, that doesn't exactly help...

[Help] Riprazor: so out of curiousity, besides just wandering up and slapping people how do you get involved in the supposed RP on the server?

Now, I should make mention of this: this is taking place on Virtue server. There are several servers for City of Heroes content--some more labyrithine than others, at least one (Exalted) reserved for VIP clients only, but of all of them, Virtue is considered the top RP spot.

Accompanying that conclusion, of course, is the fact that that makes it also the top ERP--or "erotic roleplay"--spot, as well.

[Help] Felicio: Walk up and initiate it.
[Help] Jack Devon: Go to Pocket D and groan at everyone doing /walllean

This is more of an in-game joke, really. But to explain it simply: on SL, we can right-click (and sometimes left-click) on furniture and sit, lean, curl up, stretch out...whatever. In City of Heroes, however, everything is tied up in "emotes". There are emotes for dancing (usually badly), emotes for juggling balls of electricity, "evil laugh" emotes--there's a wide spectrum. But buried in a couple of submenus off more submenues are stands, sits and crouches. And one of the easiest to remember is "/walllean"--because all you need is a handy wall. If you want to, say, sit on a couch, you have to precisely line up with the couch, know the output command (or click through the submenus), and even then it's not a sure thing--you could still end up sitting in midair, or on the coffeetable, or on someone's lap (at least, until they move).

[NPC] Lightning Storm: Feelings are so fleeting...It's a wonder why I bother.
[Help] Maiden of the Bolt: riprazor are you vip or have access to global channels?
[Help] Alabath: You can also join an RPSG. There are a ton around.
[Help] Riprazor: I have access to channels

It's a valid question. VIPs are still the only class of CoH players that get full access to all channels. Everyone else, from premium to free, has chat channel restrictions.

[Help] Jack Devon: Just watch out, some RPers are... ERP characters
[Help] Alabath: Those are pretty easy to differentiate.

Especially in Pocket D, where they tend to have tails and cat ears.

And occasionally schoolgirl outfits.

[Help] Riprazor: so, so far I've gathered to go to pocket D, walk up to someone and slap them
[Help] Felicio: haha. Just start a conversation in Pocket D, it can lead to all sorts of things. Joining a RPSG is good too. Do both liberally.
[Help] Felicio: Attend the club nights, they broadcast them loads in help/request/Pocket D broadcast.
[Help] Princess Remali: Haha, ERPG. Watch the hell out if you're not looking for ludicrous... things.

Translation: Futa catgirl vampire lesbian demonic teens with double-D breasts, pigtails, and a penchant for sex with other futa catgirl vampire lesbian demonic teens with double-D breasts. (Note: first link is work-iffy, some of the others straddle that line.)

No, I am being serious.

[Help] Riprazor: heh.. don't suppose there's any rpsg's recruiting around?
[Help] Isinfier: personally if that is the sort of thing you're after it'd prolly be a helluva lot more interesting to just leave the house and hook up with someone in person rather than cybering like that
Help] Princess Remali: Lol
[Help] Riprazor: lol I didn't say I wanted to Erp!

Save that in the minds of some folks on Virtue, "RP" equals "ERP" by default.

Admittedly, most of the folks interested in RP of any type in CoH do state that fact on their profiles. The downside? You have to be standing close enough to click on their person to grab their bio; City doesn't have any provisions for pulling up bios via names in chat. (Why yes, that is frustrating, thanks for asking.)

Based on the blog advice from yesterday, I traipsed by Hush and bought demo packs. It doesn't prevent them being changed or re-uploaded later, but if the maker hasn't rotated everything out--and I truly doubt she has--then I'll have them in case of dire happenstance.

Also, I don't normally reblog things from Plurk (because I refuse to join Plurk), but this was a response to yesterday's three-shot comparison entry. The reason I'm bringing this up occurs halfway down the comments:

(from the Comparisons album)

Now, here we stand on shaky ethical ground indeed. While it was obvious to myself and my friends when this broke, the fact that it's now being debated openly--if one assumes postings on Plurk constitute "open discussion"--presents an interesting dilemma. Namely: is it ethically okay to violate someone's copyright, in order to prove that same someone holds copyright on that texture?

Or widen the ethical dilemma, simplify it: is it ever ethically okay to do something harmful for the right reasons? Of course, parental punishment comes to mind here, but let's stick to the digital realm. If I download a watermarked piece of art I think belongs to Person A, from Person B's website, because Person B is saying it's theirs--am I still in the wrong? Was the person behind the excinerator blog wrong to post these images? If these images offer at least partially conclusive proof that the violation was not on Miss Phoenix' side, but instead, Miss Darkrose's--which now seems to be the case, based on that blog and others--does that, in effect, transform the malfeasant act into a positive thing (ethically speaking)?

Let's take this up one level: say this whole mess does trudge its way to court. What's the likelihood that someone will subpoena these images for that trial? If those images are subpoenaed, does the individual who acquired them get a pass because of the visual proof they provide? Or will they be prosecuted for acquiring the skins...less than legally, shall we say?

Who's in the right at this point?

A bit farther down, this comes up:

(from the Comparisons album)

If the solid lines are what constituted, to Miss Darkrose, incontrovertible, non-reproducible "watermarks" on her skins...then I'm baffled. Miss Phoenix, at least, put together a stylized logo watermark that combines the G and P of her SL name. Miss Darkrose...didn't do that. How are straight, mostly unshaded lines supposed to indicate a skin "watermark" which no one can reproduce?

Also, alluded to in Salome's blog entry, and based on mentions from this comment on page eight of the topic thread on SL Universe, there's definitely some oddity with the actual language of the supposed "Supreme Court" injunction. There's a text paste (from Plurk again) which made me headtilt more. Here's what's causing my confusion.
"The Defendant has sought and obtained an interim, interlocutor and permanent injunction restraining the Defendant ("Gala Phoenix") from infringing the Plantiff’s copyright and moral rights in the Works"
Now, that was stated on the Hush Skins blog when all this broke. But therein lies a big problem, and that doesn't even take into account the differences between US and Canadian courts. Namely:
interim injunction: The general rule in English legal proceedings is that injunctions are made by courts at the end of legal proceedings, that is to say, after the final hearing. The final hearing in litigation, otherwise known as the trial, is the occasion before the court where each of the parties present their respective cases after having conducted the interim processes of disclosure, filing of evidence and other pre-trial steps. Applications for interim injunctions are an exception to this general rule, whereby the claimant applies for an injunction for the purposes of preserving evidence or assets pending the trial. As such, interim injunctions are applied for at commencement of legal proceedings, without a full examination by the court of the facts said to justify a final injunction.

interlocutor injunction: interlocutory orders in civil matters can be appealed by leave of the appellate court. In criminal matters in Canada, the general rule is that there are no interlocutory appeals, except where Parliament has expressly provided.

permanent injunction:

The enabling Canadian statutes for each of the intellectual property rights (patent, trademark, copyright and industrial design) makes provision for the grant of a permanent injunction for the term of the relevant intellectual property right. The Patent Act (section 57(1)(a)) provides:

(1) In any action for infringement of a patent, the court, or any judge thereof, may, on the application of the plaintiff or defendant, take such order as the court or judge sees fit

(a) restraining or enjoining the opposite party from further use, manufacture or sale of the subject-matter of the patent, and for his punishment in the event of disobedience of that order...
This and this explains more about Canadian court injunctions in greater depth than I've covered here. Now, I am not a lawyer, in any way, but to my limited ability to interpret legal terms, it seems to me that in Canadian courts, "interim" and "interlocutory" injunctions are stays on activity during trial (with interlocutory injunctions occuring only via act of Parliament), while "permanent" injunctions are permanent stays on activity after a trial.

So, if I'm right...and I'm not saying I am, I'm just saying if I'm interpreting these definitions correctly...there is no way any defendant in a court trial would be handed down an interim (temporary), interlocutory (by act of Parliament, but temporary), AND a permanent (permanent cease of operations handed down during sentencing, post-trial) injunction all at once. From what I've been reading this morning, those are three things that are never handed down as one en masse judgement.

So we're now back to--what's really going on, here?


Salome said...

" it ever ethically okay to do something harmful for the right reasons?"

This is a good question, but I don't think it applies to this situation. Harmful is a question of intent, and the intent of this was not to violate someone's copyright, but to examine whether someone held copyright.

The reason I withheld the identity of the person who provided this information isn't that they are worried about legal action, it's because they violated Second Life's TOS to gather this information and didn't want their account banned.

In ethical situations, intent and potential for damage has to be measured. That's the best we can do and it's why our legal system include human judgement as part of the justice process instead of just having dry facts as the final say.

The larger question is whether it's ever okay to do "violate" someone's copyright. And that's a question our society is struggling with. Copyright law in the US and most countries has gotten far beyond its original intent -- to the point where it now hinders progress, innovation, and consumer fairness.

The reason copybot was not banned automatically was because it has legitimate uses. Anyone who has ever lost a lot of their SL inventory understands the desire to have a backup. We pay real money for these virtual things and the idea that many creators want to push is that we're not buying anything, we're just being granted a license to use it in a certain way in a certain format. With no guarantee of replacement, etc.

But that isn't how these things are promoted. It isn't how the average SL user is informed. And, it's against the consumer interest in general. It's a bully tactic for lazy and inadequate infrastructure.

Don't get me wrong, people who port other people's work to exploit for sale are doing something wrong and deserve whatever they get. But those who violate TOS for educational purposes, for reasons such as this, or just to protect the investment of major purchases aren't really on the wrong side of some ethical rope. They are on the wrong side of an unjust law that our society is scapegoating instead of dealing with.

~ Sal

Emilly Orr said...

I don't disagree, on any count. I think the DMCA, at least how it's put into play in the US, is woefully inadequate for the uses it's currently getting. We need a new law. Hells, we need an entire new chapter of laws, and that chapter of laws needs to be written and voted on by a majority of people who know how the internet works.

That aside, I did want to raise the question. I'm not wagging a disapproving finger, I'm just pondering the entire issue. Just taking the thought that we are, all of us, connected; that all of us are influenced every single day by the world we see around us and the media that world creates; yet we're working within a structure in which saying something is "inspired by" something else--just that, ONLY that--is grounds for an eight-day ban.

That's a bit more than mid-level insane, that is.

Salome said...

Yes, I think it's a good question to raise. The person who exported and presented the information has my complete trust in this matter, but my trust is only enough for my blog post. I could not use third party verification as a basis for anything official. Obviously, Linden Lab and the involved parties will need to establish proof in a more official method.

Ethical questions continued to be raised over the fact that US and international copyright laws are currently being held hostage by a handful of companies. And those questions should be raised over and over by reasonable people.

As for the Curio/Hush thing, as the information now stands -- if court documents were involved -- it's shame on the court for permitting this with so little information presented to them. If this is an LL DMCA knee-jerk then it's a not-so-very-shocking LL screw up. If it's something more sinister it raises even more provocative questions.

I don't know what a week of sales equates to in Gala's world, or what not participating in the current skin event will cost on top of that. What I'm quite sure of is that the rent on her SIM will be due in full at the end of the month and that she will be the one who has to pay it regardless of everyone else's mistakes.

Emilly Orr said...

Unfortunately, all we are going by are a handful of screen shots from individuals we find trustable, and a bare minimum of blog entries. I'm getting higher readability on the blog--that's never been a goal, but I honestly think that this issue is part of why, because there's so little information on the ground.

The problems, as I see them:

* One of Curio's customer sales reps says the Lindens did not close the sim down, she did. But another store customer has said she saw one of the younger Lindens at the store just before it closed. Others have remarked that it wasn't just the vendors that were returned, but parts of the build as well;

* The entire "interim/interlocutory/permanent injunction" thing: those are three separate legal actions, which seem, at least according to Canadian law, never to be issued at the same time to one defendant;

* the repetition of the defendant's name, when the name is only used once in ALL legal documents, and thereafter referred to as "Defendant" or "Plaintiff" or "Party of the First Part" or "Consumer"--it's a legal trope that we all understand, yet that's not how it was used in Hush's quoted "official documents";

* That several individuals, including a customer service rep, have said that Phoenix filed the first DMCA, and that this "court action"--whatever it actually is--was Darkrose's chosen retaliation;

* That Gwen Carillon said outright that she had seen the court documents in question, that they were real court documents, and that curious parties should contact the Virtual Intellectual Property Organization...who doesn't seem to be representing any cases in Second Life, at present.

These are all very worrisome and problematic, so we're left to wait and wonder, with no direct word on either side.

Salome said...

Returning the vendors and closing the SIM are two different acts. As I understand it, the Lindens returned the vendors and one of the Curio reps closed the SIM.

I am just speculating, but the reason I would do this is if, once everything is returned, she just wants to rollback the build to when everything was in proper place instead of trying to recreate it. Putting out all those vendors in exactly the same place vs a rollback is no-contest.

Also, it will keep gawkers and griefers trying to latch onto the situation away. Regardless of guilt or innocence I'm sure this is stressful either way. I would have closed my sim had anything like this taken place.

I can't comment on the rest, as I'm not a lawyer and I'm not familiar with Canadian law, but from what others have said, the blog post that started all the confusion and suspicion makes no sense.

Eventually all this will out, but in the meantime all we can do is chew on what we've been able to confirm on our own.

It's unclear if Gala or Hush shot first in the DMCA issue, but Hush make the blog post (and then removed it) all on her own. And the questions raised from the implausibilities put forth there are impossible to ignore.

Emilly Orr said...

They really are. That, and as far as I've been able to tell through current sources (mostly SLU), no one's managed to track down ANY Canadian case that mentions Second Life or virtual goods sold IN Second Life.

But I hadn't thought of rolling the sim back. I don't own land, so that's never been forefront on the mind. That does sound plausible.

Anonymous said...


I am the "Felicio" that you quoted in this post. No, I was not referencing ERP. You should probably actually try to visit ERP and open your mind a little bit. There are actually plenty of great RP-ers there!

Anonymous said...

Oops. I probably shouldn't be posting at 6:30 with hardly any sleep. I meant to say "to RP" there instead of "to ERP." Great Freudian Slip showing there, am I right? Either way, had a great laugh.

Emilly Orr said...

Hi, Felicio, and here's the thing--while I've never engaged in erotic RP on Virtue, I have friends that have, and I have a pretty solid background in RP on the net in general, and RP/ERP in Second Life (where, depending on animations and poseball sets, actual on-screen interactive sex can happen).

So I'd say my mind is sufficiently open; I just have a problem with over-complicated roles. If I have to use six words to describe my roleplay partner--and none of them is their name, their appearance, their habits, or their fetishes--things have gotten a wee bit out of hand.

Plus--at least according to the friends who've engaged in RP, especially in Pocket D--some nights, if you're not playing another lesbian futa demon teen with cat ears, the lesbian futa demon teens with cat ears just aren't interested.

It's entirely possible that since having sex with impossibly stacked neko teen girls with enormous dripping appendages isn't my thing, that could be heavily influencing the article. After all, my lovely wives are involved in a heavy RP supergroup that's entirely focused on cows with milking fetishes, and that's not really my thing either. :)