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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.


  1. Sasun my friend, I know your frustration in all this. If anything Linden Labs should be the ones cracking down on content theft. After all the TOS grants them rights to what we as users load into their system. Linden Labs as a legal entity, like Youtube and others before can be held accountable for copyright breach by its end users. This is a case of needing to have the eyes and ears of a friend in Linden Labs who is prepared to run with it like other joint focus groups that they do with residents.

    I think the best option is to simply report theft to the copyright owner and let them decide if they are prepared to take out action.


  2. Maybe you can type up a note card that you can send to such offenders, that states that they are violating copyright laws, etc. And that if those pieces that are under copyright are not removed by such and such date, that you will be forwarding their information to the holders of those copyrights.

    Then you don't have to invest so much time talking to the morons that clearly don't give a crap. You can just send the same note card each time, not having to type something new. Then revisit the location and assess from there.

    And this ass, Dwayanu Weyland will have no grounds to pull your personal records. If you contact any copyright owners, you can send them a template instruction on what Second Life is, where to download the viewer, how to log in, and how to find you in-world. Then, you can take him/her to the location where they can see their work being "over exposed" as well as profited from. At that point they become their own witness, giving jack ass Dwayanu Weyland no reason to need your statement or subpoena your personal information.

    And don't forget, if you get copyright owners in-world, make sure you get them in your gallery so they can see your stuff. Hehehehehe

  3. While I do not condone piracy, Dwayanu Weyland does have a point! If He/She is not in the US then he/she is not subject to US laws, including the DMCA!

    One of the unsolved problems of virtual worlds is the question of which laws apply when. US laws do not and cannot apply everywhere!

  4. The threat of legal action against you sounded quite empty. If Dwayanu had the cash to hire lawyers, would he bother to illegaly sell copies of Escher's work for puny prices in the first instance?

    (Lusus Saule)

  5. Too bad people that have created what the man is displaying for sale isn't around then maybe we would see the real fireworks display regarding utilizing someone else's efforts for gain even if it is notoriety. You would think that someone that motivated would come up with their own items and work that out in that manner like the rest of us. And his statement that we have trouble selling our own original copies is hampered with attentions going to locations that are adding to the sparseness of traffic to legitimate galleries. Ruining it for others only leaves benefit in the fact that at least we can exploit ourselves.

  6. I know this is an old post, but I tend to agree with you (since obviously you're right) about the copyright violation.

    Then again 90% of sl is copyright violation. I don't know if you know this, but clothing designers rip textures from websites. It makes it impossible for real artists to succeed in secondlife, since obviously textures taken from real clothing are going to look, well, real. As compared to completely hand drawn textures.... All we can do is sell shadow maps to people.

    And store owners complain about copybotting. It's not your damn work, get over it. I copybot, but geeeeze. Stop freaking out, it's not even yours. Be glad armani or calvin klein don't play secondlife. Then you'd be in trouble people.

    At any rate, whether it's illegal or not, it's completely immoral and WRONG. =/

  7. As a new resident artist in SL i read this with great interest. To balance the article I'd like to add this:
    I'm setting up a gallery in SL to reach more people with my own art (so my own copyright :)) and i must say everyone is so helpful. From providing a building, through help understanding how to script a vendor, to rezzing a painting, there's always someone who's happy to help.
    Thanks to you all for making SL such a cool place.
    SkyBlue Earthboy