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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thief! Thief!

That was what I got called today.

My partner and I were checking out the new animations at SEMotion, and a three day old avatar came by and joined us on the demo pose stands.  She was bald...probably detached her hair and didn't yet know how to find it again.

In local chat, I asked her if she would like some hair, and when she accepted I passed her my folder of freebie hair styles.  I'd gotten this folder long ago from another mentor, and it contains maybe thirty different freebies.

Another avatar witnessed this exchange, and accused me of giving out stolen goods.  That really floored me...no one had EVER accused me of content theft before.  I told her they were legitimate freebies and passed her the folder too, telling her to check them herself.  She did...and said, "Armidi, Truth...these are all stolen.  I'm reporting you and muting you."

Now I was even MORE flabbergasted.  I've been muted a couple of times, but I don't think I've EVER been Abuse Reported before.

Now, my point here is not to strike back at my accuser...I'm not even going to give her name.  But she was wrong on several counts, and I want you all to understand what they were so that you don't make the same mistakes.

1.  Don't Abuse Report a suspected content thief.  Linden Lab won't take unilateral action.  Contact the creator whose work you believe was stolen.  If they agree, they can submit a Digital Millenium Copyright Act "Takedown Notice" to Linden Lab, who is then legally required to take action to remove the stolen content.

2.  Stolen content is hard to identify.  My accuser looked at the item names, which had the maker's name included.  If I had ACTUALLY stolen hair from Truth, it would not say "Truth" in the item name!  And it would list ME as the creator.  One clue is that all of the stolen item's prims will have exactly the same creation date and time.

3.  If you get into an argument with someone, Muting them can be a good call.  But doing it as quickly as my accuser did prevented me from discussing the issue further with her and possibly defusing the situation.  In this case it probably would not have done any good; the woman was absolutely convinced she'd just witnessed a huge, awful violation of ToS.  But still, it would have been nice to be able to get in a few more words.

4.  Don't rush to judgement.  Things may not be what they seem.  I remember kicking a couple out of one of my tenant's apartments, only to find out later that they were not trespassing.  They had the tenant's permission to use his place.

In the end, I did the only things I could.  I submitted a counter AR (just to make sure LL had my side of the story too), and I assured the poor frightened newbie that she was not, after all, the receiver of stolen goods.

[EDIT, Oct 16.  -- OMG, she was right!  I'm so embarrassed.  I had a friend check out the items and sure enough, they WERE copybotted.  I could see it myself when I inspected them more closely.  Here were some of the things we noticed:

1.  Many of the hairs had "cabelo" in the name.  Cabelo is Portuguese for "hair", and my helper noted that a lot of copybotters are Brazilian (but not all Brazilians are copybotters, I hasten to point out).
2.  The creators of the hair were NOT the creators you'd expect.  For example, Shylah Honey makes Damselfly hair.  A Damselfly style made by some other avatar raises a red flag.
3.  The prims of the hair were all made within the same couple of minutes.  This is a sign they were copied by software.
4.  The creators were younger in SL age than the creators of the original design, created the hair within a short time after their rez date, and were now no longer to be found on the grid.  These are signs that the creators were alts, made for the purpose of stealing and copying items.

I contacted the mentor I'd gotten the hairs from and let her know.  She thanked me, and said that she'd recently discovered it for herself and had reported the stolen items to LL. 

My accuser was still wrong, I think, to be so confrontational, and assume I was a knowing thief.  But I have to thank her for waking me up to what was in fact a real problem.]

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