The laws of various countries are clear when it comes to theft. Don’t, it is illegal. What theft is, is well defined.
What gets gray, poorly defined, is when we start to deal with theft of intellectual property. Arguably all digital things are in the realm of intellectual property. The cat Medhue is creating is all ones and zeros. They aren’t edited with a text tool as we would use for written words. Blender, Maya, and other modeling tools are high-level data editors that provide unique ways of editing binary data. Only in very unique circumstance do we use a text editor to edit a model file. Even rarer is the need to get down to the binary level.
The ‘cat’ looks like a ‘thing’. But, it exists only in the electronics of a computer. Taking it is theft. The laws covering the theft of such a cat color what constitutes the theft (making it theft of intellectual property) and the penalties.
The theft part, the taking, is clearly illegal without question. There is no: if you are poor, you can steal provision in the law. The most the law concedes are mitigating circumstances. So, the starving stealing food is addressed. The law is not TOTALLY blind.
The meeting shows a large part of the confusion is in the area of what we can do after we legally buy something. The No-Mod things of Second Life are a complex problem.
There is no law regarding what we do with things we own. Don’t over think that. Buy a frying pan and never use it, is fine. Use it every day, fine. Forget to take it off and burn the food in it to ash, it’s OK to throw it away. Want to melt it down for the metal? No problem.
Use it to make copies and sell them… now there is a problem.
In copyright law, books are used as an example. Law says you can’t copy a book and sell it. You can’t even copy a book and give the original away. If you do, the law requires you to destroy the copies even if they are only for your use.
The principal at work with book copies is the idea of damage to the author from lost sales.
So, if we buy something and modify it for our use, we are legally within our right. If we buy a car and have it repainted because the factory does not offer it in the color we want, that is legal… unless… we sign a contract that says we won’t.
The fine point in that last scenario is the difference between a ‘crime’ and a ‘civil contractual agreement’ violation.
In Second Life, we hit a gray area with No-Mod things. It looks to me like many use the No-Mod permissions to force people to buy more versions of a thing. Is it legal to do that? AFAIK, yes. But, since no contract was negotiated and agreed to, is there anything to keep the buyer from changing an item they own? AFAIK, no. But, SL permissions get in the way. I can find no place where the ToS specifically addresses circumventing SL permissions. See ToS 2.4, 2.7.
With mesh body dev kits, creators require we agree to terms to get the kit. With full-perm things, we almost always have to agree to a set of terms at purchase.
If we violate those terms, we have broken our word, lied. We have proven we are untrustworthy, a person of low or no character.
The recourse of the one we violated is real life court. The damages are usually too small to be worth the effort. So, in SL violators of their agreements get away with it. In SL the whole anti-theft, anti-copybot thing is about having someone else stop the theft because we typically can’t afford RL court.
More pages, links below…