Infringing content removed from grids

All active grids with infringing content have addressed the problem, according to VirTec owner Virtouse Lilienthal, one of the affected content creators.

VirTec makes a multi-grid OpenSim vending system which has machines that report back to a central server. As a result, Lilienthal was able to discover that the machines were popping up on grids where he didn’t not have any customers. After he and other content creators investigated last month, they discovered that 62 region export files, or OARs, had been stolen by a disgruntled employee of a now-defunct OpenSim hosting company and distributed on a notorious content-sharing website. Other people then downloaded those OAR files, including all the content that was one them, and uploaded them to more than 25 other grids.

The page where the stolen OARs were being shared has been removed, Lilienthal told Hypergrid Business.

Genesis Metaverse has also confirmed that all of its content that was uploaded to other grids without permission has been removed, with just one exception, grid owner Cliff Hopkins told Hypergrid Business. 

“Our lawyer has applied for a court order for them to be forced to take it down,” he said. “At the moment, due to the legalities of this, we can not name the grid in question as per our lawyer’s request and the fear of reprisals from that grid’s members.”

The person who allegedly took the 62 OAR files and shared them has been identified and is now wanted by authorities, according to Hopkins.

“He has vanished by all accounts,” he said. “Everything has been traced back to him including the IP used to upload. Our old host has also confirmed that his IP was the one that allegedly created and took the files. We are just now waiting for the law to catch up to him, which, as you know, will happen eventually.”

Sorin Todys

Alife Virtual was one of the grids that had the infringing content and took down all potentially infringing regions and conducted a review.

In the end, two regions were completely removed from the grid,  Alife Virtual grid owner Sorin Todys told Hypergrid Business.

That included a copy of a region from the Genesis Metaverse grid.

“We erased that region as soon as we understood that it is in dispute, two or three hours after the complaint,” Todys  said.

 

AllCity was another grid that was found to have infringing content.

The grid has taken down all allegedly infringing content and shut down the avatars responsible, an AllCity spokesperson told Hypergrid Business.

However, the spokesperson urged content creators to contact the grid directly first, instead of immediately going public with the problem, to give the grid the opportunity to resolve the issue.

“We do not have crystal ball to know where it comes from,” the spokesperson said.

However, the grid does not have instructions on its website for filing takedown requests.

Many other commercial grids do post this information, making it easier for creators to contact them if there is a problem. For example, the InWorldz take-down info is here, and they also have a sample letter that people can use. Kitely has an online form that people can fill out. Both of these grids, as well as many others, are also registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, which protects them under DMCA against copyright-related lawsuits from US citizens, and costs just $6 per year.

Most other countries have similar laws on their books, though usually without a registration requirement, and the term “DMCA” has become a generic catch-all term for safe-harbor protections against copyright infringement lawsuits.

To be eligible for safe harbor, the main requirement is that content sharing platforms take down infringing content when they are notified by the original content owners.

Allegedly infringing content on Real Life 3D grid. (Image courtesy Virtouse Lilienthal.)

One grid that has not responded to take-down requests, according to Lilienthal, was the Russian-language Real Life 3D grid.

But that grid has been down since early February.

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David Kariuki

David Kariuki is a technology journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review.

  • “The person who allegedly took the 62 OAR files and shared them has been identified and is now wanted by authorities, according to Hopkins.” can’t run from the law forever.

    • Da Hayward

      I agree Chris.
      I’m actually starting to think The “alleged” Authorities might just be that.
      A lot of people who had no idea that there was stolen or copied content were taken through the ringer.
      I think the accuser should make an apology to those innocent “alleged” people

      • well hgb wen’t the ones who accused people of stealing. But i gotta disagree anyways Da, if it wasnt for Virtrous, Terry Ford, HGB and others bringing this serious issue to light the people who stoled the content would be getting away with it.
        Theft is theft regardless if its real life or virtual life.

        • Da Hayward

          Oh Terry and Virtrous shouldn’t be making the apology either.

        • Maybe but it’s not important enough for “authorities” to waste time on, what with real theft taking place every day…

    • Just curious how much real effort “authorities” are going to put into a manhunt for a guy who pirated virtual goods…operative word being virtual, and by virtual I mean cartoon. And if loss of actual business can’t be proven, as I suspect it can’t, this won’t go very far other than getting “the community” all hot & bothered. If anyone’s getting ripped off it’s the real people paying real money for virtual goods they can’t do anything with while the real merchants spends all that real money.

      Even musicians getting their real music pirated off you tube don’t squawk this much over real content.

      • Talla Adam

        I think that is a little unfair because talented people put a lot of effort into learning the skills, making the virtual products and marketing their goods, often spending real money on store space and promotion as well. Talented Musicians put huge effort into their work I don’t deny but to say real people are being ripped off when they buy virtual products is to deny all the effort talented creators go to to help make virtual worlds interesting and functional for those of us “the community” (that includes all kinds of people including the disabled) who enjoy such things. Not everyone has that kind of talent to create and buying virtual products, and getting freebies, helps them enjoy their space.

        With that said I kind of agree that relying on the authorities and all the threats to sue seems to me a loud bark with not much bite in an International market. However, the community getting “all hot and bothered” has probably been more effective in removing illegal content from the grids. Alife Virtual, a grid that was at the center of the allegations, took the time and effort to remove the pirated goods in the face of community complains and others have checked their grids for more of it that got distributed. That, in my view, has been more effective than relying on the authorities or any kind of legal threats.

        • Da Hayward

          I agree Talla, i think we should all be aware and on the look out for pirated and copied content on our respective grid’s and take action when finding them. But this whole business of legal action and alleged “authorities” seems to be just a “bark” as you put it.

        • Arielle

          These 62 oars need to be kept in their proper context. They were stolen by a disgruntled ex employee of arguably the worst run grid in Opensim. It is in no way a reflection of Opensim as a whole and was not specifically aimed at the copying and distribution of commercial content. Those who downloaded the files likely didn’t have any idea what was even in them.
          The problem is that with all the press and comments on them, it is sending a message out to anyone that may be considering Opensim platform as a possible virtual home, that there is a greater problem with IP theft then there actually is. In Secondlife when someone is caught copybotting, the account is closed and life moves on. That one copybotter is not considered as representative of the whole. That is not the way it works in Opensim unfortunately. Too often in the articles and comment sections on both HGB and Opensim G+ groups, Opensim people themselves imply or outright blame whole grids or even the platform itself for any perceived content theft.

          There is a tendency for some people in the community to shoot Opensim in the head trying to prove they are better commercial content citizens by shouting from the rooftops instances of alleged copybot/IP theft and then bewail that so many potential new creators and residents are leery of Opensim’s reputation as a copybotter haven. Opensim’s worst unwitting enemies are within its own ranks

          • Da Hayward

            Yes! Someone said it at last.
            It is time we move on, I do sympathize with Virtrous, Terry and the creators who were effected by this and they handled it professionally by pointing out to the various people that “hey this is actually such and such’s content”.
            This is the best way to deal with such things.
            The “witch hunt” with the so called (alleged) investigations, legal proceedings and authorities is in my opinion damaging to open sim as a whole. Personally I think it could all be a lot of “grand standing”.
            Anyway well said Arielle.

          • thats bold coming from someone who starts drama on here

          • Hey now aviworlds ran great when I was around. It had its longest online stretch ever under my care until caca latterly hit the fan.. in a sense I miss the aviworlds community and feeling apart of something. It’s too bad things had to go the way they did

          • YEA! what josh said!

          • yes they are, even to the closed grids (other than sl of course) “Opensim’s worst unwitting enemies are within its own ranks”

            but there are always pockets of peaceful and fun people and other spaces-)

          • A little late but..we should just brush it under the carpet? As I have people asking me about OS and whether it was a good move I would say that the reaction was more a positive – a problem was identified and action was taken. Then I have to point to your (and others) response. Positively Victorian sad to say.

            ‘Opensim’s worst unwitting enemies’, as you put it, were balanced by the response.

            And yes as someone with a foot across the divide it strikes personally as well.

          • Da Hayward

            this is an opinion only.
            Actually what Arielle said was pretty much on the mark, the responsible people did approach the alleged people who had “stolen” content on their grids it had a very positive result. Most of us including my self don’t abide by that type of thing going on but there are better ways of dealing with it than make believe legal action.
            All the so called legal proceedings has done has made people think twice about Open sim.
            I think Arielles comments were pretty good to be honest

  • Cinder Biscuits

    Lol. Dude didn’t vanish. He posted to Facebook just yesterday. If you are actually trying to serve papers on him, have your lawyer send me an e-mail. I can help.

    • i know someone who knows where the “dude” is, this person doesn’t have a address for this “dude” but knows where he is.

  • With everything going on I hope you guys get justice for the loss of business and due hardship ” hold your loved ones close !

    • well said josh, makes me want to walk down to your place and give you a huge hug.

  • Da Hayward

    Has the “alleged” legal authorities or investigations caught up with the offender yet? Or is it another Genesis dream?

  • Da Hayward

    awww my comment got removed

  • Da Hayward

    One thing does astound me though, in these threads it seems to me that when it comes to Alex it is open season, not very fair is it when you consider that if one questions a certain other grids statements the comments are removed. Alex has some history sure but he is trying and I give him full marks for that. Isn’t that what Open Sim is about after all. Being able to try?

    • lmpierce

      It is never open season on Alex, or any other contributor to these discussions. There are distinctions about the classes of critique that are permitted.

      Allegations of theft (unless of course there has been a trial and verdict and the outcome is public knowledge) are not permitted. In part, this is because such allegations are considered libelous, not to mention unjust.

      We also do not allow hate-speech, false accusations, vulgar innuendos and so on against individuals. Mostly this is to prevent the personal consequences of such abuse and the generally threatening atmosphere that would result.

      On the other hand, critiques based on events and other factual circumstances that bring to light a flaw in a system or service are permitted. For example, you can say a particular copyrighted item was found on a grid without permission, but you cannot out of hand accuse the grid owner of stealing. Similarly, you can say that your experience with a service or person has been subpar because of an experience you had, but you cannot say that person is a (fill in derisive word here).

      By any reasonable measure, AviWorlds has been an unreliable service. Alex, as the owner and sole representative of that service, has made a wide range of statements that have encouraged visitors in spite of the risks – it is only natural and fair that counter statements arise that take issue with both the service and the representative’s claims and methods regarding that service. In this way people have the full spectrum of views to consider for themselves.

      I use words like ‘reasonable’, ‘natural’ and ‘fair’ because we encourage all viewpoints that do not violate the Discussion Guidelines. Some viewpoints will support a particular person and/or service, and others will not. This is the dialectic for which the discussion forums exist.

      If, however, a derisive comment that violates the Discussion Guidelines has gotten through unchecked, we encourage our readers to flag the comment. This has often been helpful for maintaining civil discussions. Please note that a flagged comment is not automatically permanently deleted. Quite often I receive notification for a flagged comment that amounts to someone not liking what was said – comments are only permanently removed if they violate the Discussion Guidelines.

      As to the specific statement, “Isn’t that what Open Sim is about after all. Being able to try?”, the answer is, “Yes, of course!” At the same time, the articles and discussions in Hypergrid Business are wide-ranging and look at the outcomes, as well as the attempts.