Gacha creators frustrated by lax Second Life oversight

(Image courtesy PocketGacha.)

Second Life, with a much bigger economy than that of OpenSim, also has a much bigger problem with copyright infringement than OpenSim.

For instance, copybotters have long been using specialized third party viewers to duplicate creators’ content and offer them for sale, lowering demand for the legitimate versions of the items and demoralizing creators.

More recently, content thieves have been exploiting a glitch to create illegal copies of products are reselling them.

These dupers may have cost creators and original owners thousands of dollars over the past two years, Oobleck Allagash, founder and creator of PocketGacha in Second Life, told Hypergrid Business.

This is a particularly vexing problem for the extremely popular Gacha ecosystem.

Gachas are vending machines that give customers random items, some more rare and valuable than others. Customers who get items they don’t want can trade them or sell them, creating a hot resale market and increasing the appeal of the Gatcha system.

“The best I can muster for a speculative look at this would be that tens of thousands of real life dollars were lost over the past two years,” he said. “That would be a significant blow to sales by creators, many of whom are one-person cottage industry artists whose livelihoods depend on every sale.”

Allagash recently discovered that items from his company were being resold without permission on the Second Life Marketplace. He discovered this by checking the back-end records for PocketGacha, a HUD-based system for merchants that tracks players and sales.

“It is an exploit that involves the person crashing a sim and duplicating a transfer item in unlimited amounts,” he said. “It duplicates perfectly with all the original aspects intact and the creator name the same.”

PocketGacha helps users to “buy on the fly” as they demo products and avoid lag issues in a crowded sim. Without PocketGacha, users would need to first gather demo items, go home, try them on, make a list and then go to find the items at the event to buy the ones they like.

For the past few years, Second Life has been lax in addressing the problem, said Allagash. The company has been reluctant to remove dupers from the ecosystem, and instead remove only the affected Gacha, but the duper remains in the ecosystem, and continues to re-post the removed Gacha.

“Many of these dupers have multiple DMCA take-downs of single sets yet continue as users and sellers without being banned or removed from the game,” he said.

That is beginning to change.

On Wednesday, Second Life banned one well known duper, an act Allagash applauds.

“We are very happy that in light of it taking time to patch all of the exploits Linden Lab is now taking steps to properly remove violators and a develop a stop gap to protect creator content,” he said.

The company said in post last month that they are continually creating new tools and discovering new techniques to solve this problem and have put in place techniques and methods that are bearing fruits. They also said their move to the cloud would allow introducing new products that would help stop the bad guys.

But while errors and glitches that allow copy of transfer items can occur, Linden Lab should, after two years, have come up with a method to identify and remove the bad actors from the grid, according to Allagash.

“Linden Lab has the ability to investigate the dupers and see within minutes irregularities with listings on Marketplace which have impossible quantities loaded for sale,” he said. “In addition, while an IP ban might not completely work, each person is required to have billing information and there are ways to regulate things with these obvious culprits.”

Being too aggressive about removing these sellers may hurt the bottom line, both in terms of resources spent addressing the problem, and in the form of lost revenues.

Linden Lab collects a five percent commission on all products sold in the Marketplace.

The behavior is also unwelcome and those doing it also hurt their creativity, another creator who has been in Second Life since 2003, Lupus Furyo, told Hypergrid Business.

“Second Life creators, just like any other, infuse their spirit in their digital creations, and it’s impossible to steal their work by just copying and selling their stuff,” he said. “That’s exactly what many people engaged in such activity never got right. One does not learn anything by following that kind of path in their life whether virtual or real”.

Meanwhile, High Fidelity has already rolled out Digital Asset Registry, a blockchain-based system that lets virtual world users attach digital certificates to their creations using digital fingerprints to secure item origins and unique ownership.

Item ownership will remain on the items regardless of where the items are distributed in the virtual world. There will also be a new cryptocurrency-based High Fidelity Coin that users can use to purchase products from the marketplace Avatar Island, and which can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Users can also offer their items for sale to other users on the Avatar Island.

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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. Email him at [email protected].

  • Batgirl

    SL gacha is going to get hit hard soon with regulations. I work at an office of a well known official working on it.