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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


  1. Followup: Some friends and I stopped by to check it out, and she was in the process of taking down all the stolen art (as well as from another unnamed artist). She ran off then came back and we had a long but frustrating discussion with her about IP issues in SL. In the end, we gave up - her lack of ethics and knowledge that there really really are protectable IP rights in and outside of SL made continuing argument pointless. Alexandra Sautereau is banned and blacklisted for life from any group, activity, or exhibition that I will ever be involved with in SL.

  2. Thanks for posting this Sasun. I've banned her from my land as well. I do see a lot of stolen content, maybe even more now that I am aware and watching for it. If more people would speak up like you did, we could put a dent in this thing.

  3. While I of course in no way support IP theft, there is an appalling amount of ignorance and misinformation around, and this sounds like such a case. And sometimes it takes more than just telling someone it's wrong, for them to get it. If I tell you, "Eating marshmallows is wrong," you're not going to just say, "Oh, OK, well I'll stop," if you don't understand why. There have been a number of people banging the drum very loudly for the idea that there is no such thing as IP, and an otherwise decent person could get caught up in that idea without clearly thinking it through. This of course in no way justifies their actions, but not every person engaging in IP theft is automatically a low-life scum-sucker. The "I'm not profiting" defense is a very widespread idea, and many sincerely believe that makes it OK. Sometimes a little education before going on the attack can make a difference. (Reading your comment, this may not have been such a case, but then again, by the time you went back she may just have been scared and defensive and hung up on justifying.)

  4. I was looking at the text of the DCMA, and it does look like diplaying the artwork on your computer is not a violation if the image is not sold and if displaying the image on your computer or making the image availabe for someone else to view on their computer has not been ruled a violation under the DCMA. Under the law, the copyright hoolder has to file a complaint and have it judged in their favor before it is a violation.

  5. I was also surprised that it looks like you can display just about anything you find on the internet if you are a registered educational nonprofit.

  6. Yes Siann, good points. People do come to me with reports of stolen art, and I'm more than happy to investigate and confront the alleged offender. I have found in the vast majority of cases that it's just ignorance of the fine points of the TOS and IP law (like anyone reads copyright law for fun), so in most cases it's a case of "oh I had no idea it was wrong" and pointing them to some basic reading on IP and the TOS to get educated and they'll stop selling the items they don't have rights to resell. So I don't go in heavy swinging my prim bat too quick. Even in this case she pulled down the art right away, even though no amount of discussion and attempted education worked due to the "it's not real" and lemming arguments she repeated endlessly. So I wouldn't put it past her one bit to copybot someone's IP or download from the internet and try to sell stolen IP again.

    Nany that's a good point. It's a tricky situation since I can't really effect a final solution on behalf of the copyright holder. The real solution is to notify the copyright holder, and if they care, they can file a DMCA report with LL. And maybe they won't, who knows. Maybe all they would like is if the person selling their art informs them. But if you're selling someone's IP, you just gotta at least try to check, which didn't happen in this case.

  7. I had this exact same issue from Erotic Dragon, she insisted that because she found Royo and Vallejo work online, that it was public domain. She has made my ban list as well. We argued back and forth for an hour before i finally just gave up on her getting it.
    Just because you can do a search on these artist and find thier work (copiable jpegs) on a site does not give you liscence to download them and sell them on SL. She said she was'nt really making any money off them. But it does'nt matter if your making pennys or dollars.. it is theft without the artists written consent. Another interesting fact. If the artist is dead, he/she must be dead over 50 years before their work can be considered public domain (Think Mona Lisa).

    I always speak out when i see their art displayed in galleries and stores. And even in homes. I ask the home owner if they purchased it.. then remind them.. it is stolen. I ask them to please remember that next time they want a peice that belongs to these artists.. as an avid fan i'm able to recognize every peice those two have done and some of Bell's work as well. Log is as follows

    Log to follow on next post

  8. [2009/07/07 9:55] Katarina Erin: M'lady.. i have taken time to look in your gallery.. i have to ask you.. why you are selling "stolen" art work?
    [2009/07/07 9:55] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and delivered later.
    [2009/07/07 9:56] Katarina Erin: i recognize these artists and know for a fact that they have copyrighted all of this, and have not given you permission to sell their work here
    [2009/07/07 9:56] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and delivered later.
    [2009/07/07 9:56] Katarina Erin: they do not give anyone permission to sell their work here.. i recognize boris, luis, julia and all the others..
    [2009/07/07 9:56] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and delivered later.
    [2009/07/07 10:33] Shevonee Tuqiri: I got the art from public domain Internet sites, which means that the public is free to use these works. Law hasn't yet been established regarding the use of copyrighted materials shown on public domain web sites. Legally, I've stolen nothing and since there is no real world profit I'm not breaking any copyright laws. My intention is to honor these artists and the beauty of their work and talent, not steal from them. If they should contact me and ask me to not sell their materials in a virtual world, I will happily remove them from my inventory. BTW, not all are copyrighted, and it is public domain with full permissions to use the art as one wishes. On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 12:57 PM, Katarina Erin < kzxamdugjkc7k2qjl6qmnzctk5oveq3enjuhtfpmt6zs7hge6637h7ehkctbtwnx@im.agni.lindenlab.com
    [2009/07/07 10:42] Katarina Erin: no.. it does not..
    [2009/07/07 10:43] Katarina Erin: and i have contacted Royo, Vallejo and Bell about your apparent theft.
    [2009/07/07 10:43] Katarina Erin: just because its on a website does not make it public domain
    [2009/07/07 10:45] Katarina Erin: and yeah, there is real world profit when you can sell linden for real cash
    [2009/07/07 10:45] Katarina Erin: so excuse your theft however you wish, but its still.. theft
    [2009/07/07 11:11] Shevonee Tuqiri: I'm excusing nothing. As I said, if they ask, I will remove them. As for real world profit from selling lindens for cash, I would have to sell many, many copies. You've done your duty in reporting to the artists, may I suggest you drop the subject? I'm not interested in your opinions and refuse to be chastised by you or anyone else I've not wronged. On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 1:46 PM, Katarina Erin < kzxamdugjkc7k2qjl6qmnzctk5oveq3enjuhtfpmt6zs7hge6637h7ehkctbtwnx@im.agni.lindenlab.com
    [2009/07/07 11:12] Katarina Erin: whatever your excuse.. i hope you have the same outlook when someone steals your ideas and intellectual property and starts selling it as their own.. good day
    [2009/07/07 11:12] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and delivered later.
    [2009/07/07 11:47] You have muted this resident. Sending a message will automatically unmute them.
    [2009/07/07 11:49] Katarina Erin: you dont even have the descency to put the artists name under the description. or use the original title he or she gave it.. no.. instead you put yourself as the sole creater.. thats not art.. its just plain theft. fraud. End of discussion.

  9. I find it shocking to read that so many people are not aware of the fact that violating IP rights is theft. People seem to think since it's only Lindens you can earn it is okay.

    I have seen galleries showing paintings of famous artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh etc., some selling them for 0 Lindens and I think that is a bit of a grey area as the works of those people are all over the internet and the artists are all dead and their works could be considered a cultural good. But contemporary artists who make a living showing or selling their work should be an entirely different story.

    I am a tarot reader and I have seen there are many decks available on Second Life. I bought one myself and I think the Lindens I paid for it are justified for the scripting etc. but I've always asked myself about using the textures. Would that not be theft as well? There are publishing houses who bought the rights to the artwork on the decks. I'm not sure what the law says to that.

    I modified one of my SL decks by uploading textures of another deck but it's a deck I bought in RL and I'm the only one using it in SL, I don't sell it or anything. So I thought that might still be okay...much like copying a CD that you own to listen to it in your car or something like that. As that is apparently still allowed.

    What I'm trying to say is - there's a lot of grey and IP law is anything but easy to understand, so I understand that some people are really not aware of doing anything wrong but some of the conversations posted here show that people are not uninformed but also willing to use grey areas and loopholes. So maybe there is need for clearer regulations applying to virtual environments.

  10. I have discussed selling images of artworks in Second Life with four artists. Two of them were delighted to contribute their work to an educational nonprofit. Two of them weren't sure what a fair licence fee would be for artworks that would probably net less than $50 even if hundreds of copies were sold, and in the end just brushed it off. What is a fair licence fee for an image that sells in SL for 50 cents? I offered $25. Are there any examples of art dealerships selling licenced works in SL I can use as a model? It would be really helpful in using SL to promote artists who don't want to participate in SL themselves.

  11. Bubble bursting and all... but... technically... it aint theft... soz. And its certainly NOT a criminal offence in RL so v unlikely to be in LaLa land...

  12. The artists I exhibit get 75% of sales. I explain L$ exchange rates up front and tell them that it is not likely to be much money. Not one has expressed any concerns or considerations about the financial arrangements.

  13. Theft is theft, regardless if you make pennys or dollars.
    What really peeves me, is they stand there and say they're honoring the artist.. but then, if that is the case then why is it, that every painting they use, they change the title of it and do not put in the artists name? How is that honoring the Artist.
    Your not going to post a Mona Lisa for sale and title it Divinci in Drag! By L.R.Hubbard.

    No.. your going to title it the Mona Lisa by Divinci.

    So why do i keep seeing Vallejo and Royo's work being renamed to whatever the seller wants, and no mention of the artist.. then have that seller tell me "i'm honoring the artist" phhht..

    I am an artist. (Least i like to think so) My work is dont in a 3d Program. All of my stuff is original. I sell it too. Not the textures but framed portriats. I may only get pennys on the dollar for it, but I dont mind that. I enjoy what I do. And would be seriously peeved to find out someone had stolen my work to post in their gallery. If you want to post my work, talk to me. More than happy to contribute.

  14. Dear bubble bursting, if you are taking images that are copyrighted images, and selling them, regardless of whether it's in SL, some website, or printed copies from your inkjet printer on the street corner, it's illegal.

    Let me quote something from the TOS: "3.2 You retain copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to Content you create in Second Life, to the extent that you have such rights under applicable law. However, you must make certain representations and warranties, and provide certain license rights, forbearances and indemnification, to Linden Lab and to other users of Second Life."

    The thing to take away from that is that copyright REALLY DOES MATTER in SL, which means not only content created in SL, but content from outside SL that is brought in. It doesn't make sense for copyright law to apply ONLY to things created in SL, obviously.

    In this particular case, the images being sold commercially (since she was making money) are clearly copyrighted by the artist at http://www.porterhouseart.com/Terms.asp. Obviously, the content from that website was illegally downloaded, transmitted to SL, and distributed inside SL, which is clearly a violation of copyright, again regardless of the amount, even if that was zero, regardless of whether in someone's opinion it "helps promote" the artist, or whether it was done in SL, on some website, or on the street corner. It's theft, it's wrong, and it's against the law, and LL enforces the law in SL. But don't take my word for it, it's all there in the TOS, which I encourage you to read. You might also read up on LL's DMCA policy, which should make it painfully obvious that RL copyright applies to SL in no uncertain terms.

  15. Katarina.. "Another interesting fact. If the artist is dead, he/she must be dead over 50 years before their work can be considered public domain (Think Mona Lisa)." Actually under US law that is now 70 years

  16. The work needs to be 70 years old, regardless of the date the artist dies. But you still see galleries and museums claiming copyright to works over 70 years old all the time. People sometimes claim copyrights they don't actually have and then are reluctant to discuss it. This comes up quite a bit with images of works that are more than 70 years old. The museum or gallery has no copyright on the artwork and has no right to prevent you from using an image of it, but they will try to.

  17. Regardless of the laws around copyright, there is one fundamental point here that is often overlooked. In essence its the reason for copyright and the reason why there are limitations on when something becomes public domain after a given individuals death. Even after death, the one underlying thing that is not done is identity theft.

    In this case, the images uploaded into into SL have been represented as someone else's work. Regardless of the laws, this person has been taking credit for something that they had no rights too.

    Even if the art was not "For Sale", in the first instance this is an example of blatant identity theft. That alone should provide others with ample information as to the character of the person or should I just say it. Low life.

    Wake up people, you don't see in RL galleries exhibits for example of Dali's work tampered with or represented as someone else's. SL is not different, although it is a virtual world, laws still apply. Then again, everyone who comments on this blog knows and agrees. Lets all hope that the those who steal are also reading this blog so they may become enlightened now and begin to act responsible.

    Doran Forzane

  18. Very interesting blog. I hadn't realized the amount of theft in SL, but this gives me a more clear idea of how much their is. I contacted one gallery owner about the art they were showing in their gallery and the owner was really rude and wouldn't give me any information about the artists, and now that i read this I think i might try and re-find that gallery and look farther into it...well, keep up the great work. And i will see some of you in World.
    Drudat Direwytch

  19. Hermes Kondor asked a lawyer (Juris Amat in SL, who, btw does paid consulting for copyright issues, so if you need help, contact him!) a question about uploading copyrighted photos into SL and whether it was not really a problem because they were not for sale. He had a fascinating reply that completely invalidates the "but I'm not making money" excuse that copyright violators use:

    "FYI, it may be necessary to think of the exhibit as occurring in a commercial environment even if no admission will be charged at your gallery. This is because the gallery exists in SL and SL is a corporate entity which may or may not benefit commercially from this event but definitely benefits from the fact that events of this kind occur in their environment."

    Wow. So it makes NO difference whether YOU make money, because LL is benefitting, commercially, from exhibits like yours. So any lawsuit would, as he put it, "inevitably involve LL. Nobody wants that right?". LOL, I'd say the worst thing you could do is get LL sucked into YOUR lawsuit due to copyright violations YOU committed against the TOS. Then again, that may be a great way to weed out the thieves permanently once the copyright owner finds out about the infringement.

  20. Drudat let me know if you need some support when you go. I'd love to be there to confront a thief.

  21. oh my god! i am HORRIFIED that people would steal other artists work and call it their own!

  22. Theft is theft even if you're not making money. Why can't they acknowledge that? These people seem to think that copying the artist's work is ok. The point is... If I walk into a department store and take some jeans without paying for them, is it only theft if I sell them for "real" money after that? By the logic of some of these people on here selling artists' work, that's the case. I guess if they just wear the jeans themselves or sell the jeans for tokens instead of real money, then it's not stealing.

    I wonder if their ignorance really is bliss.