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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Art Theft in SL, again

Someone tipped me off to another person supposedly selling tons of stolen art in SL, Dwayanu Weyland. He's got a gallery selling hundreds and hundreds of pieces of art, the majority of which is probably copyrighted, but I didn't go verify everything. I landed in the M.C. Escher section at his gallery, and that was basically all I needed to see, since I know all that is copyrighted for sure. He's not just displaying it all for educational purposes, no, he's charging money for this art and making a profit off his stolen content. Here's our conversation, for your enjoyment. I'm seeing some of the same justifications these people use to legitimize their theft, which is good since I know what to expect now :)

Sasun Steinbeck: Hi Dwayanu, do you have a moment?
Dwayanu Weyland: What's up ?
Sasun Steinbeck: well it looks like there is a big problem with your art gallery in Leelight
Sasun Steinbeck: Maybe you don't realize that you are selling copyrighted content
Sasun Steinbeck: which is illegal
Dwayanu Weyland: and your ownership of those rights is what??
Sasun Steinbeck: what I have rights to isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about what you are doing
Sasun Steinbeck: you can't sell content you don't rights to sell in SL
Sasun Steinbeck: do you have permission from the copyright holders to sell this art?
Dwayanu Weyland: and i suppose you've checked with the 50 or 60 other galleries that sell perhaps Picasso's ??
Sasun Steinbeck: if you can give me landmarks to them, I'd be glad to ask them
Sasun Steinbeck: however, what other galleries do or don't do has no relevance to what you do, nor does it excuse you from selling stolen content
Dwayanu Weyland: SL has a gadget called Search. use the All tab, type in "PIcasso", you'll get lists
Sasun Steinbeck: thank you I will do that
Sasun Steinbeck: maybe you just didn't realize that what you are doing is illegal and unethical
Dwayanu Weyland: I find the american idea that they own the internet amusing and annoying both. I would point out that the typical sale price in my gallery is about 35 pence real, which is below the legal boundary for copyright violations. I also don't see anybody trying to extradite the ill-gotten gains.
Sasun Steinbeck: it's illegal to even display copyrighted images without permission, it doesn't even matter of you make a dime or not. SL is a commercial application that benefits from the display of art in galleries such as yours, but I'd guess that it does look worse if you do make a profit, which you are, even though it isn't much
Dwayanu Weyland: i don't care a lot for your silly laws, tho obviously i'm subject to the Linden's judgements. Last I checked with them, museum reproductions were fine.
Sasun Steinbeck: oh? and where did you see that
Sasun Steinbeck: perhaps I am confused
Dwayanu Weyland: i can also point out that it is the photographed images which are copyrighted, not the paintings.
Dwayanu Weyland: if any of my images have watermarks, then i'm certainly at fault.
Sasun Steinbeck: I think you are wrong on that last point
Sasun Steinbeck: for example the M.C. Esher copyright says "No part of this website and or works by M.C. Escher may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system"
Sasun Steinbeck: so that makes it pretty clear. most copyright notices are similar
Dwayanu Weyland: i can walk in to the National Museum and photograph a painting, and if i escape security ;-) ;) ;-), i'm home free.
Sasun Steinbeck: that doesn't mean you can sell that photograph or even display it without permission, unless it falls under fair use guidelines. which this most certainly does not
Dwayanu Weyland: you obey everything you are told ! good to have sheep in the world.
Sasun Steinbeck: content theft is wrong, no matter what you may think, it is unethical and illegal
Dwayanu Weyland: I realise you represent the hundreds of poor to middling and very rarely good sl artists, who are frustrated at being incapable of selling their work, because nobody will buy it.
Sasun Steinbeck: your opinions do not change the fact that what you are doing is selling stolen art
Dwayanu Weyland: garbage
Sasun Steinbeck: no, that's a fact
Sasun Steinbeck: I can see it for myself
Dwayanu Weyland: you are appying your laws to me. try again.
Sasun Steinbeck: it's not my laws, obviously
Dwayanu Weyland: you don't like it. sorry. to quote (not phillip, but I don't remember which) one of the Lindens, "shit happens"
Sasun Steinbeck: I will be contacting some of the copyright holders of your stolen art and letting them know exactly how to file a DMCA against you
Sasun Steinbeck: if they choose not to pursue, you have nothing to worry about
Dwayanu Weyland: And if they do, I suppose i'll have to ask the Lindens for your real identity, so my lawyer can contact you

You know it's frustrating that I can't just abuse report this sea of absolutely blatant copyright violations to LL and expect them to do something about it. Is this all worth the trouble, and now legal threats? Maybe it would be better to not even talk to art thieves and just go directly to the copyright holders with anonymous info on how to file a DMCA. If they choose to do nothing about it, then that's the end of that. Lately it seems that the art thieves I'm finding know full well exactly what they are doing and just don't care, so talking to them directly to get them to "do the right thing" is completely ineffective. I am really feeling on the side of the content creators that are suing LL over this mess, since I believe LL can and MUST play a more active role in stopping at LEAST the most blatant copyright theft in SL.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Banned from 170 sims

Today's drama - I was banned from 170 sims. Yep, little 'ol me.

On 9/15 I received unsolicited advertising notecard spam sent directly to me from one angel4sky Shepherd. As it says in my profile, I abuse report spammers. So I AR'd her for spamming and told her I did to hopefully make her stop (I know, fat chance) and spare others the spam.

Her reply made me laugh, rudely, in her face:

[2009/09/16 14:40] angel4sky Shepherd: (Saved Wed Sep 16 10:10:08 2009) i ve reported you because of being a bit strange to report people because of one notecard, much fun in a club where the guests start 100 times the same gesture..^^

English is not her native tongue, but what she seems to mean is that she's justifying spamming lots of people because people in nightclubs spam gestures hundres of times. Hello?!? Earth to angel4sky, come in, we're not reading you!

It turns out she is an Estate Manager for a very large number of sims, and in retaliation against my AR she not only AR'd me back (or claimed to) but banned me from the entire estate of 170+ sims. I found out since I couldn't get to a particular sim where my sculpture is on display. Much confusion and waste of time ensued by me and the two sim owners trying to figure out how in the world I got banned and in getting me un-banned by Bell Joubert, the estate owner (nice guy). After that, I finally remembered who this angel4sky person was and put 2+2 together. I wrote the estate manager a note complaining that his trusted estate manager is abusing her power banning people from the estate for personal reasons. Hopefully he will take the appropriate steps to make sure that kind of abuse never happens again.

I'm glad this got sorted out. Having to recommend that gallery owners never rent or buy from Bell Estates due to some crazy estate manager blocking my access to the kiosks and galleries would not have been my first choice.

Some People... part II

She's at it again. She's not selling her stolen images, but simply displaying them is copyright theft nonetheless, since Second Life is a commercial application that benefits from the display of art in galleries such as hers. Alexandra Sautereau has her illegal Victor Vasarely images in her Zeroform Sautereau gallery at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Mirandirge/13/30/44 (where I am banned, amusingly enough). What's interesting is that now that I've had a chance to look at these images, inside the frames is a notecard named "zeroform + sautereau authenticity card" which I find highly suspicious, as if there is some scam going on to fool people into thinking that this is not actually a illegal Vasarely image but something that Alexandra created herself. I don't know since I can't read the notecard. But what else could it be if someone other than the creator is giving out supposed certificates of authenticity?

The last time I paid Alexandra a visit, she was selling these items as well as some Mark Ryland images, for profit. When confronted, she quickly took them all down but then refused to admit there was anything wrong with selling art she "found" on the internet, such as Mark's site where his copyright notice is clearly posted.

I've emailed Victor's representative and notified them of the illegal usage of his images, so the ball's in their court if they want to file a DMCA against Alexandra. I'd file an abuse report if it weren't a waste of time, since LL doesn't do anything even against blatant and admitted art theft as in this case unless a DMCA is filed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

RSS feed fixed

Thanks to Mar Dwi for pointing out that his blog feed was missing from the Art Gallery Consolidated Feed. I tracked it down to some overly-strict XML validation that was silently failing a ton of feeds. I removed some of the restrictions and now everthing is flowing well. Many blogs were being ignored and are now showing up. The feed has a whole new life now! Check it out, and read this post about why it's so important to have a simple blog for your gallery!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Accusations of Starax forgery

Recently some accusations of Starax sculpture forgeries surfaced surrounding the AngelGate show. I heard these third hand so, take it with a grain of salt. I don't know who, but either way it was a legit concern. So I volunteered to do some investigation on whether it's technically possible to do a perfect clone of an object in SL. The copybot and variants circulating today to NOT allow you to specify an arbitrary creator name/ID and creation date. They ALWAYS show the bot's name and the actual date when the copy was made.

Using the built-in Inspect command on the SL viewer pie menu, one can easily scan a list of every single prim any object is made of, with the prim creation date and name of the prim creator right there. So spotting typical copybot forgeries of anything is rediculously simple, since 99% of the prims will NOT be who you expect it to be and the creation dates will all be wrong (and most likely all very very close to the same time since copybot creates all the prims in the copy linkset very quickly). What a forger would typically do is link in a single legit Starax prim (from one of Starax's full-perm objects that are easy to obtain) as the ROOT of the linkset, and that gives the entire object what appears to be a legit creator name and creation date. But Inspect will always show the real story!

Now in the process of learning C# and Asp.Net lately, which has kept me very busy, I spent a lot of time learning the OpenMetaverse libraries (formerly "libsecondlife" or "libsl") so that I could built my own bot, for the fun of it. So I'm fairly familiar with the basics of building a working bot and what is possible and what is not. So I dug into the OpenMetaverse sources and looked for a way to specify a prim creator ID and date. At first glance it appears that there is away to do that when you create a prim, but it turns out all those properties are ignored when you actually rez a prim using the library calls in a bot. Only the critical prim geometry is used to creat the prim, then the client makes a few more function calls to set other properties.

Currently there is no built-in way in the existing libraries to set the creator ID and creation date on a newly rezzed prim like you can other prim properties. In addition I checked the actual network packet definitions and there IS NO network packet defined for setting those properties.

The possibility always exists that there is a very well hidden exploit that lets you set these properties, but there IS NO way to do that with the OpenMetaverse libs today and not even a network packet type defined for that that someone could use to add additional functionality to the libs to allow that. So my conclusion is that this a VERY VERY tiny possibility that it's at all possible and unless someone can prove that there is such an exploit (and report it asap, omg) then the validity of any theoretical copybot variant that can set arbitrary creator IDs and dates on a prim is just not true.

Therefore, if all the prims in a Starax sculpture were made by him, then it's legit and anyone claiming otherwise needs to show some proof that the above exploit is real and then take immediate action to report it so LL can clost that hole in a hurry.

One last note, I have seen Starax scuptures where some of the prims were not made by him. In particular, his Achilles scupture contains prims created by Jeffrey Gomez. It appears he simply used some of Jeffrey's prims in this particular piece, and the bulk of the prims were created by Starax. This was from a reputable source (my Starax wand) so it's definitely legit.

Consolidated Gallery RSS feed

Did you know about this RSS feed? If you go to http://sasun.info and click your browser's RSS button, you can subscribe to something very cool. I have created a single, consolidated RSS feed for all of the galleries on my list that have an appropriate RSS feed available. This feed is available at http://sasun.info/RssHandler.ashx?source=galleries.xml.

What this means is that if you have a blog or an RSS feed about your gallery in SL, and if it has been approved by me as "appropriate" for the consolidated RSS feed, it will be included automatically. Now, everyone interested in art in SL can subscribe to this ONE feed to see all the news about all the participating art galleries in SL. Here is what you need to do:

First, if you don't have one, create a blog for your gallery to talk about what's new, upcoming shows, your thoughts about art, whatever you want to blog about that is closely related to art in SL or your specific gallery. I recommend you go check out blogger.com. It's easy! You REALLY should do this - it's free advertising and this consolidated feed will help get lots more eyeballs on your blog!

Then, add your blog's URL to the "webpage" setting in your Galleries of SL Kiosk .User Settings notecard. That's it! If your blog service has an RSS feed provided for you automatically (which you can see by clicking the "view feeds on this page" icon on your favorite web browser), it will automatically be discovered and added to the consolidated feed. For you advanced web-savvy folks, if you don't have an autodiscoverable RSS feed for the URL you specified in your kiosk "webpage" setting, then specify the actual RSS feed in your "RSS" setting in your .User Settings notecard. This is not necessary if your feed is already available on your home page.

Q: What is an "appropriate" feed?
A: It must be about your gallery or art in SL. It cannot be a flicker stream, ning group, xstreetsl.com page, a RL company/gallery, or anything unrelated to art or galleries in SL. If this is the case, I will flag it as inappropriate and it will not be picked up for the consolidated RSS feed. Note that your website will always be available on the list at http://sl-artgalleries.blogspot.com, regardless of whether it's flagged as OK for the consolidated RSS feed.

Q: What the heck is an RSS feed and how does someone read one?
A: See http://www.whatisrss.com. I recommend Google reader at http://www.google.com/reader. It's easy to use, available anywhere you can get to the web, and works great on mobile devices too.

Q: Why should I care?
A: This is an excellent way to keep people interested in your gallery and to get your blog read more widely. By having ONE place for people to go to keep up to date on what is going on with all the galleries in SL, you will increase your readership and your visitor count, which hopefully may even transfer to sales, if that's something that's important to you :) Once you have a blog set up, keep it updated! Post about changes, events at your gallery, interesting things you've seen related to art in SL, etc. This is a great way to advertise and spread the word to a wider audience and be noticed! Other galleries are, so if you're not, you're missing out on some cheap, easy promotion. It's just plain fun, too!

Q: How do I know if my blog/feed is marked as included in the consolidated RSS feed?
A: Go to http://sasun.info/gallery_public.aspx and search for your gallery. Look in the "RSSok" field.

Q: Why does Google reader sometimes have "untitled" for posts on the consolidated feed?
A: This is a Google bug. It has problems reading perfectly fine XML sometimes. I hope they fix it soon.

Q: Hey there's nothing wrong with my blog/feed! Why is it marked 'N'? It should be included!
A: Let me know. I'll be glad to re-evaluate and let you know what I decide.

Q: How did you do this?!?
A: Lots of hard work. I wrote a custom application that goes out and finds your RSS feeds on your webpages, which I get from my gallery database. If you've specified an RSS feed in your kiosk, it uses that instead (after it checks it for being an actual RSS feed - if not, it tries to discover the actual RSS feed). It then creates an OPML file with all the feeds that actually work that I upload to my website. The website takes that opml file and sucks in all the feed posts from all the feeds in it and caches them. It then builds a big honkin' huge single XML feed and caches THAT too, so that when you ask for it, it delivers it fast. It's all very complicated, trust me :)
I hope this latest project of mine increases awareness of all of your wonderful galleries and what is going on inside them to a wider audience. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sasun's 4th Rezday Beach Bash!

I can't believe it! 4 years already! Great excuse to party! Bring your fab swimwear, rubber duckies, inner tubes and water toys and come party with us on beautiful Vertigo! We have a very cool spot all set up for the party, with the fantastic DJ Speelo Snook spinning some hot latin dance beats to shake your bod to, some fun water activities like bumper boats, and comfy spots to hang out and watch the festivites and dancing. Yay! Just watch out for the sharks, they bite!
Wed, September 16th at 8:00pm PDT/SLT - lasting all night! So come late if you can't come at 8!

I'd also like to recognize how awesome the last four years have been for the art scene in SL. The growth has been phenomenal and it's been a joy to be part of. If you are an artist or gallery owner, swing by and have some fun with us and say hi!

See you there!

Your hosts, Sasun Steinbeck & Galea Yates
9/16/2008 8:00pm


Monday, September 7, 2009

sabra Hemingway @ Amicitia Gallery

The Amicitia Gallery is proud to present sabra Hemingway's brand new "Crossroads 2009" series. Join us at our "Dare Affair" event on Sunday the 13th and noon PDT. We dare you to wear something wild! We have the fantastic Speelo Snook DJ'ing some awesome modern latin dance beats on the upper balcony to dance to after you work your way through the gallery, enjoying sabra's fantastic colors and emotional new work, laid out as a story sequence. See you there!! secondlife://102/106/26

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Beginner's guide to Art in the world of Second Life

I stumbled on this fantastic document aimed at RL artists unfamiliar with SL that want to get their feet wet. This handout was given at the recent Southwest Arts Conference 2009 in a session called CyberSWAC: A World of Possibilities with Second Life.

From the Conference program:
Did you know that artists and arts organizations generate work in Second
Life to earn real-world cash? This session will demonstrate the potential
creative and commercial uses of Second Life, a free 3D virtual world imagined
and created by its residents. From the unique perspectives of an individual
artist, a small Phoenix art and cultural organization and a national
art museum, each presenter will demonstrate and discuss the benefits of
working in Second Life.

Presenters: Apryl Seech, Artist; Patty Barnes, Co-Director, Spirit of the
Senses; Thomas Houlon, Co-Director, Spirit of the Senses; Melissa
Carrillo, New Media and Technology Director, Smithsonian Latino Center,

Wow! Does anyone know any of these people, and who specifically authored this document? I want to give them a personal thank you. This is great stuff and a fantastic resource to keep a link to for your artist friends that seem curious once you tell them what you do with all your free time :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sigh. Some people just don't get it

I ran into a gallery named "zeroform sautereau gallery" the other day, owned by one Alexandra Sautereau, selling limited edition stolen prints by Mark Ryden in her gallery for around 150L each. Here is our conversation.

Sasun Steinbeck: are you Mark Ryden in RL?
Alexandra Sautereau: I could be
Sasun Steinbeck: ok so you won't mind if I email Mark to confirm thatyou have rights to sell his art
Alexandra Sautereau: sure
Sasun Steinbeck: so you "could be" Mark Ryden
Alexandra Sautereau: drop an email
Sasun Steinbeck: ok well forgive me a thousand times if you are, I just want to make sure no one is selling stolen art
Alexandra Sautereau: what's stolen about it
Sasun Steinbeck: if you have permission to sell it, all is well
Sasun Steinbeck: do you have permission from Mark to sell that art? If not, it's stolen
Alexandra Sautereau: i don't have written permission to sell Mark Rydens art in real life no
Sasun Steinbeck: you do realize what you are doing is against the law then?
Alexandra Sautereau: 100 lindens is .39 cents in real life and i haven't sold any of his art in SL
Sasun Steinbeck: that isn't relevant
Alexandra Sautereau: if you'd like i can take the art down the exhibit is over on 9/15
Sasun Steinbeck: you have stolen art that you don't have permission to show or sell
Alexandra Sautereau: or just change the value to zero
Alexandra Sautereau: so do a lot of people on SL
Sasun Steinbeck: so if someone else is doing it, then its ok?
Alexandra Sautereau: why not
Sasun Steinbeck: well I'll tell you what, we'll let Mark Ryden and Linden Labs sort it out
Alexandra Sautereau: like i said i haven't sold a single piece of his art
Sasun Steinbeck: that is completely irrelevant
Sasun Steinbeck: are you saying it becomes wrong IF you happen to sell one and only then?
Sasun Steinbeck: unfortunately the law does not agree with you
Alexandra Sautereau: there are people all over SL selling all sorts of things
Sasun Steinbeck: and that makes it ok for you to break the law?
Alexandra Sautereau: like i said i can take the art down
Alexandra Sautereau: it's not that big of a deal
Alexandra Sautereau: if anything it's free advertizing
Sasun Steinbeck: You might want to read up on the new posting guidelines on xstreetSL, which also apply to selling items in SL
Alexandra Sautereau: i don't post on Xstreet
Sasun Steinbeck: LL is cracking down on IP theft and what you are doing is unethical and against the law
Sasun Steinbeck: I'm appalled that an art gallery owner would willingly sell stolen art
Alexandra Sautereau: it's virtually non existent
Sasun Steinbeck: and try to justify it with the Lemming excuse
Sasun Steinbeck: "everyone else is doing it", come on that is a huge cop out
Alexandra Sautereau: it's the truth
Sasun Steinbeck: again, how is that relevant to what YOU are doing
Alexandra Sautereau: i'm exhibiting the art
Alexandra Sautereau: like hundreds of other people on sl
Sasun Steinbeck: people kill other people all the time, do you think for one second that a judge would let me go because "everyone else is doing it"?? be serious
Alexandra Sautereau: if i had it in my personal SL home it would be the same thing
Alexandra Sautereau: what's the problem with it
Sasun Steinbeck: what's the problem with selling stolen art??
Alexandra Sautereau: if i had a reason to kill someone it would be valid
Alexandra Sautereau: it's not stolen
Sasun Steinbeck: omg
Alexandra Sautereau: it's online in a virtual environment
Alexandra Sautereau: which can be removed
Sasun Steinbeck: so youj feel that "everyone else is doing it" is valid justification for killing someone?
Alexandra Sautereau: it doesn't tangibly exist anywhere
Alexandra Sautereau: it's not a physical commodity
Sasun Steinbeck: or for doing whatever the hell you please? regardless of any laws?
Sasun Steinbeck: if you think the law does not apply in SL, you have a lot to learn
Alexandra Sautereau: as i said the art can be removed
Sasun Steinbeck: but dont' take it from me, we'll let LL and Mark sort this out
Sasun Steinbeck: and you will just replace his art with more stolen art that you will sell
Sasun Steinbeck: great
Alexandra Sautereau: it's not that huge of a deal
Alexandra Sautereau: you should have seen the lichtenstein exhibit i had it looked fantastic
Sasun Steinbeck: yes it is. It is a huge deal. This is the kind of thing that puts a black mark on SL.
Alexandra Sautereau: how so?
Alexandra Sautereau: nothing in sl exists tangibly
Sasun Steinbeck: wtf are you that deluded?
Alexandra Sautereau: not music, not art not anything except this conversation
Sasun Steinbeck: you need to read up on the TOS and on IP law
Alexandra Sautereau: can the art in sl be printed out and carried from sl into RL?
Sasun Steinbeck: you can sue someone for stealing your creations in SL and it has been done, and successfully
Alexandra Sautereau: your creations
Alexandra Sautereau: in sl ok
Alexandra Sautereau: like if i made a plane and someone copied it
Alexandra Sautereau: sure
Sasun Steinbeck: you said nothing in SL exists tangibly
Alexandra Sautereau: not in rl it doesn't
Sasun Steinbeck: and that is relevant to copyright law how?
Sasun Steinbeck: it's still IP
Sasun Steinbeck: again, you really realy need to read up on some basic IP law and the TOS
Alexandra Sautereau: as i said i can remove the exhibit
Alexandra Sautereau: it was coming down on 9/15 anyhow