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A Very Teachable Moment

March 31, 2011

I was planning to introduce our daughter Fiona a different way–and I still plan to do that post. However, something has come up. I’m afraid that she is going to be very disappointed tomorrow when we let her log in to JokaydiaGrid.

Fiona Muircastle (not her real name) is six years old, probably the youngest regularly active resident in Jokaydia. She’s well known to our neighbors for her explorations of the Grid, and they are all spoiling her rotten with gifts and time spent showing off their builds to her! We incorporate JokaydiaGrid into our homeschool curriculum in several ways: reading, geography, computer skills of course, and starting tomorrow: good citizenship and the law. 😦 Something she enjoyed has to go away, because it is probably stolen content.

Some little girls like Dolls. Other little girls like Pirate Ships! Guess which kind we have. She saw one in another region that was set so that anyone could copy it, and she asked for it. So, she got a pretty ship to play with next to her Treehouse.

An asian-style sailing ship.

Enter the current debate over Copybotted items in OpenSim. I had spent some time tinkering with the ship (I was an avid sailor in SL, and I hope to do it again in Jokaydia someday soon), and some prims were missing, scripts were obviously missing, and I became suspicious. So, I went through the difficult and time-consuming task of looking through the SL Marketplace.

And I found it.

I don’t know for certain that this was copied illegally from Second Life, but given the price they are asking for it there, I would be very surprised if they were just giving it away in another venue.

What to do? Dianna and I are trying to raise a human being, here, one who learns her ethics from watching ours. I could play dumb and wait for a takedown notice that might never come. Or, I can do the right thing: remove the ship and explain to Fiona that, while she did nothing wrong, somebody took something that did not belong to them, and we got it without knowing that it was taken wrongly. Now that we know, we have to stop using it, because that is the right thing to do–even if it makes us unhappy. We’re going to promise her that we will work hard to get her another Pirate Ship she can play on, just as good or better, that was not taken from someone else unfairly.

In this way, we will teach our daughter what is right. I can only hope that some of those who copy content from Second Life illegally will see this and learn from it as well: copybotting doesn’t just hurt the creators. Now it has hurt a little girl.

An empty spot where the ship used to be.

I am not looking forward to explaining the empty spot to her. 😦

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Clare permalink
    March 31, 2011 10:05 pm

    Hey Talvin – I know that one of our group members Johnnie Waugh has built a ship or two – I’ll see if we can replace the one Fiona has had to part with. No promises but here’s hoping!

    • Talvin Muircastle permalink*
      March 31, 2011 10:09 pm

      A generous offer, and I thank you. πŸ™‚

  2. April 6, 2011 12:47 am

    teach the children well….
    too bad most dont.;)

    • Talvin Muircastle permalink*
      April 6, 2011 5:38 pm

      Actually, I have been doing some looking into the origin of the pirated freebies. While I did not find that ship, I did find a pile of other things that are likely stolen, and the “creator” names on them come from a very small pool. I am not going to name names (I can’t afford to defend a libel suit right now!), but it looks like a rather small number of people are stealing stuff from SL and then putting it in Freebie shops on the Hypergrid. Since freebies are shared widely in OpenSim grids, the problem looks pretty big.

      I have passed on the info I found to the people who appear to be the original Content Creators, when I could find them, and perhaps an effect will be felt.

  3. April 6, 2011 3:30 pm

    Great piece, Talvin – I hope Fiona was not too upset.

    • Talvin Muircastle permalink*
      April 6, 2011 4:49 pm

      She took it very well. At no time did she complain that it wasn’t fair and she wanted her old ship back. She understands that we got it because somebody else stole it, and that is wrong.

      Right now, she’s having fun with the NEW ship Daddy built her!

      That pink flag is going to haunt my nightmares. πŸ˜›

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