The young always think they have discovered something. Well, they have. It’s just they aren’t the first to have discovered it.
In the case of content theft, we are talking about a specific kind of theft. But, it simply is theft. And theft is: an unlawful taking of property. (Merriam-Webster) Or said more casually, taking anything without the owner’s permission.
The Sumerians in 2100 BC, or at least that is the age of the documents we found, dealt with theft in their legal code. So, humans have been ripping each other off all through recorded history. Since humans have generally been stealing throughout recorded history it is reasonable to think they always have and will continue to until something changes the nature of humans. We do NOT seem to be evolving.
We have 4,000+ years of humans dealing with theft and endeavoring to stop it. The Quran (600± A.D) quotes the profit as being told to cut off the left hand of a thief for the theft of a quarter Dinar or more. (as best I can tell, US$64.00). Christians (about 600± B.C.E.) were to fine the property thief 5 times the value stolen if the goods were gone and double if he/she was caught with the goods. For breaking and entry at night, death was an acceptable punishment. But, during the day, they were back to fines. Basically, we have a l o n g history with theft.
There is no rational reason to think people, in general, will ever stop stealing.
Honest people don’t steal. Thieves steal. Fortunately, there are more honest people than thieves.
In RL we have car alarms, locks, safes, police, and DIGITAL COPY PROTECTION. But, every form of protection has been defeated. The music, movie, and gaming industry have spent billions devising copy protection schemes. All have been defeated. Did I say all? Well, I meant ALL. Over 30+ years and no one has devised a scheme that cannot be defeated.
The best safes have been broken into when the contents were worth the effort. Rembrandts and other priceless paintings have been stolen from well-guarded museums (electronic and human guards) and the thief/thieves never caught. The Pentagon has been hacked.
Search for the world’s most famous robberies and burglaries. It makes for interesting reading. It soon becomes obvious there is no such thing as theft prevention, only theft deterrent. There is a saying, any lock can be picked.
Vir Linden points out that in the engineering section, where he works, there is little he can know about the theft issues and nothing he can do about them… I take it he means like hands on perp action.
The people dealing with content theft are Support People, LL attorneys, and management. There is no group meeting these people regularly attend. So, no good direct contact. Nor will there likely ever be. The theft subjects are emotionally charged and do not lend themselves to productive meetings with the current crowd of anti-free speech activists and hyper-emotional peeps likely to attend a publicized meeting.
So… why isn’t the Lab banning offenders on the first offense? My short answer is a question, why aren’t murders just executed when caught? The principal at work is innocent until proven guilty.
So, did we catch them with the goods? Well, maybe. But, we have full perm dresses and other clothes sold in SL that are all the exact same mesh file.
Assume, Fredrekica makes a to-die-for-dress and a hundred people buy the Full-Perm version and make their own textures and start selling the dress. People love them and everyone has to have one… or a dozen.
Twenty stolen Copybot versions appear in the marketplace too. How is the Lab to know who Fredrekica sold those full-perm-dresses to? How is Fredrekica to notice the stolen versions among the thousands of legal dresses? Whose responsibility is it to keep track of all this stuff? Who pays for all the tracking, reporting and prosecuting? And… importantly how do you keep people from using the system to abuse competitors? We’ve seen that done with DMCA and DRM. File a bogus DMCA Take Down and kill your competitors’ sales.
Without a good grounding in philosophy, these questions get tricky. People try to figure out what is fair. But, then someone asks fair to who? Then the widening spiral starts as someone else objects asking, yeah but, what about this poor guy with no money? It never ends, which is why philosophy is important. It provides a pre-reasoned framework for answers.
Consider the defensive copyboter in the video thinking this is the way things are so, it is OK for me to steal. It is a self-serving philosophy that lacks a historical perspective and respect for self and others.
Why isn’t the money made from the sale of stolen goods confiscated? Only government agencies are allowed to confiscate money and property. There is a thing in most countries called due process. The Lab has to be able to defend any action it takes to RL authorities. So, it gets complicated. Essentially, the Lab must prove theft of digital goods in a court of law. Even the thief is entitled to ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and a ‘day in court’. Otherwise, it is a civil rights violation and becomes a Federal issue.
If one’s philosophy eliminates the ideal of innocence and a trial, then they have pretty much decided to be a fascist.
A violation of the Linden ToS will allow the Lab to toss anyone out of their property, SL. The thieves know that. So, money moves quickly from account to account. The Lab and tax authorities only get concerned when money is taken out of the system, out of SL. By then it is hard to know what is and isn’t clean money. Is the account cashing out legit or not? In RL it is Money Laundering, the point of which is to make the money hard to track.
While it seems simple to track money, it is a shell game. Read the forum and wonder why innocent, uninvolved people suddenly get L$10k from a stranger. They are in the forum asking WTH!?! What do we say when the Lab mistakenly kicks a good guy out?
Philosophy and an understanding of the laws passed in our society by our elected officials are needed to navigate to sustainable answers to the content theft questions. Situational ethics leaves us in a place of a case-by-case decision without the benefit of history, past experiments, and reasoned thinking from a place of knowledge. Each time we start from scratch. Repeat that history…
This is also the reason I doubt the Lab will have a meeting on this issue of theft. It would be a group of poorly and/or misinformed people in an emotionally agitated state rehashing ideas new to them but, old, tried, and proven to fail or working ones already implemented and in play. You hear some of the ‘…they already do that…’ comments in the video.
To get a meeting the Lindens would have to be convinced it would move the subject forward. Otherwise, it would kinda be like asking first-graders how to achieve world peace. It might be entertaining, but realistically useful? No. In general, the CC UG meeting video pretty much shows the problems with the participants and leaves us in a poor place from which to convince the Lindens a meeting would actually help.
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