Thursday, July 5, 2012

but I'm still talking and you're not listening

There's a new update from Gala Phoenix, which I think is worth quoting in full:
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
To my loyal customers, friends, and supporters,

I wrote to you last month to thank you so much for all of your support during this very frustrating time. It means so much to me, and has sustained me more than I can say. However, as time has gone on with little explanation from me, you’ve had more questions, and that is understandable. I’d like to tell you what I’ve been going through, and ask you again for your support.

In March, I realized that Hush Darkrose was selling skins that looked very similar to mine. I often have to deal with skins that look a little too similar to mine; it’s part of protecting my copyright. I filed a DMCA takedown notice, but when Hush filed a counter-­notice, I didn’t do anything.

In April, Hush registered copyright of her skins in Canada. In May, she filed a copyright infringement complaint in a Canadian court against me, and then filed a DMCA takedown notice with Linden Labs. She also sent LL the notice of court action (the complaint).
Now, I am not a copyright lawyer, but I do know that if Gala Phoenix can prove she is the established owner of her skins before the date of Darkrose's filing, she's still legally in the clear. (Save for the hassle of filing, court and lawyer fees, and the strain of travel to testify, if necessary.) At any rate, she hasn't filed yet:
Most of us only know a little bit about the DMCA. We know how the takedown and counter-­notice procedures work. What I didn’t know was that if the person who filed a takedown notice sends Linden Labs a notice of court action, you can’t continue to sell your content, even if you send a counter-­notice. This is why I got temporarily banned at the beginning of June: I left my skins up for sale after the counter-­notice, not realizing there was a problem.

In May, right after she sent the takedown notice, Hush put up a blog post. In it, she accused me of copyright infringement and claimed that a court had “reviewed the evidence” and determined her claim was valid. She even included some language she took from the complaint, rewrote it, and made it sound like the court had granted her an injunction.

There is no injunction. No court has reviewed any evidence. Her blog post was complete fiction.

I’ll say that again, because I want to be clear: there is no injunction against me. No court has reviewed any evidence. There has been no court decision against me. I am not guilty of copyright infringement. Hush’s blog post was not true. My skins are only offline because of the way the DMCA works.

Because there is already a case in court, I will probably have to go to court to clear my name and get my business back. Copyright litigation is very expensive, though. Just a small copyright case like this costs around $20,000 to see through, and most of that is court fees, which can’t be waived even if I found an attorney in Canada who’d take the case pro bono (I have an attorney here in America).

Curio is my primary source of income, and without it, I’m barely able to get by, much less afford $20,000 for a court case in another country. However, Curio is also a labor of love, and I will not just sit back and let a competitor’s lies and malice rob me of it.

From July 9 – July 16, 2012, a number of extremely generous content creators will be holding a fundraiser in-­world at Truth District on my behalf. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for them, and for any SLers who come out and donate to my fight. I will also be putting up an IndieGoGo campaign to raise some money.

I know I’m asking a lot. $20,000 is a massive amount of money. But even a little bit helps, and maybe we can stand up against someone who is abusing a system that is supposed to protect us all.

Now, as she mentioned, there is a fundraiser planned:
As many of you may be aware, Gala Phoenix is currently in the midst of legal issues which have resulted in her content being removed from the grid and her major source of income lost pending their outcome. She is facing serious expenses in securing representation and taking her case to court, and the issues she’s dealing with regarding intellectual property rights should concern anyone who makes a living from SL content creation; Gala’s situation is one that any creator of original content could have the misfortune to find themselves in.

The object of this fundraiser is not only to assist Gala Phoenix but to show that the SL content creation community is stronger standing together; the event is planned for, tentatively, the second week of July (9-15 July), dates and length subject to change. Participating content creators will be offered the option of a 50% sales split or 100% donation on sales, at their discretion; if you want to create an event-exclusive item or time a new release for the event, that’s great. Venue and fine details remain to be worked out, but I’d like to thank you for your participation–and please, if you happen to have any friends or acquaintances you think may be interested in participating, pass the word along.
At this point, I think it's undeniably clear who's at fault here, and it's not Gala Phoenix. What is still puzzling me is why Hush Darkrose is pushing her case. Registering copyright, while far less expensive than full court fees, is still not a small sum of change, and why would anyone go through all that trouble to copyright stolen goods? Plus, pushing it to the point of court fees means that she's still going to be paying roughly the same amount as Gala, just to defend a losing case. It's insane.

I am proud and humbled by the quiet upswell of support for Ms. Phoenix, however, and very proud to hear of the fundraiser. Several well-known makers in SL have already pledged to support this cause, which is fantastic to hear. I'll post more when I know more.

(Note: My usual rules apply for comments on this post--if it comes in anonymous, there's a chance that it will be held up until I physically access this page and publish things; this is not me denying anyone's "free speech" or simply deleting things. Generally, the only comments I delete are ones that are simply advertising other services, not actual commentary on the topics under discussion.)

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