Second Life Intellectual Group Discussion Topic
How to secure your art
from Braincrave Second Life staff
Nov 12, 2010
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Many artists are concerned about copying, especially in the online world. It's a significant problem in Second Life where copybots can copy an artist's/owner's content without their permission. This content is then often resold without the artist getting any compensation. Some solutions have been proposed to address copying abuse and to make those who copy financially accountable. In the music industry, and putting aside bands like the Grateful Dead who were against copyrights, the RIAA has gone after people who copy songs with significant legal action (30,000 lawsuits), winning controversial judgments like $1.5 million against a mother who shared 24 songs. However, that approach has made them out to be bullies and strongly criticized.

You will find the transcript of this TedTalk at Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion's free culture.
What options do artists have to fight copying of their ideas and work? In the fashion industry, there is very limited intellectual property (IP) protection and no copyright protection. Yet the economic success of the fashion industry is enormous. (According to the Normal Lear Center, the gross sales for low IP industries are significantly higher than those for high IP industries.) Why hasn't lack of copyright protection destroyed the fashion industry?

Should artists fight this? Or should they follow the advice of artist Gwenn Liberty Seemel? With a smiley face instead of a ©, she says: "I am happy for you to copy, distribute, and display my work, and I would love it if you gave me credit when you do so. If you intend to use images of my work to make money, you must first contact the subjects of the portraits in order to obtain their permission to do so."

FTA: "I follow these six easy steps to make sure my art doesn't get stolen online:

1) Be original.

I aim to make art so original that no one will question who made it.

2) Sell only live art.

I've given up on the idea that art in reproduction is for sale and I focus on making work that is better in person than in reproduction.

3) Pursue credit in innovative ways.

No one has ever claimed a reproduction of my work as their own, but when I've known about images of my work being used without any mention of my name I've approached the situation as a teaching opportunity or used it as an illustrative point.

4) Embrace the copying of style.

Lots of people make originals that resemble mine somewhat, and it makes me feel pretty good about my work.

5) Don't assume that anyone is copying style.

It's usually pretty difficult to be sure that anyone is copying anyone else. That said, if another artist was making and selling works that I was certain were copies of my paintings, I would probably talk about them on my blog. It would drive Internet traffic looking for them to me.

6) Be clear about what you want from the world and from the Internet.

I make sure everyone knows where I stand with regards to copyright. At the bottom of every page of my site, there's a smiley face instead of a ©. Click on the face and it takes you to a page that fully explains my beliefs.

Humans have never believed in paying for an idea or even in giving credit for every idea. I like to think I always remember to do so, but I probably don't. It's hard to trace every bit of culture that makes up my own personal culture - the things I believe in, enjoy, and create.

Everything from screaming about your intellectual property rights and threatening lawyers to shrink-wrapping your images online and making them not right-click-able is just burying your head in the sand. An open source world is the one we've always lived in: it's the one we built."

How I make sure my art doesn't get ripped off on the Internet


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