I received a note from Tricia Aferdita about some awareness raising going on around art theft. She's helping out with the Step Up! Campaign and helping organize the artists who want to help raise awareness of the problem. I think this is fantastic and if you have been a reader of this blog, you know my stance on art theft and have seen a few of the blatant cases by some of these thieves.
There is a Ning group where some discussions have been going on that is of interest, be sure to take a look. Here is my recent post there.
One thing that I wanted to add to that discussion there. I think one of the most powerful things we as artists and people concerned with art theft in SL can do is to simply confront these thieves and tell them that what they are doing is
WRONG. I strongly believe that the reason they just continue their illegal business is because no one complains to their face.
Now I'm not saying that people need to start making threats about filing abuse reports (or about anything else), which is pointless. The only real recourse is to notify the copyright holder and hope they file a DMCA notice with LL. Just politely inform the thief that what they are doing sucks, that content theft in SL is a serious problem that hurts SL and the art scene, and they should be ashamed of themselves for selling stolen art. Then leave and tell your friends about what is going on. Take them back to show them. Tell them to complain too.
If you are a gallery owner, read this old post about making sure that your artists are not thieves. This is really your responsibility as a gallery owner to make sure you are not helping to sell stolen goods!!
Be careful you don't sling accusations, there are cases where people can license photos or art you may recognize from a service that licenses such things, or they are that artist in RL, and they may indeed have permission to show or sell that piece. So assume goodness! Ask if they have permission politely. The only gotcha is that a real thief will claim "of course" so it's a bit of tricky business trying to sleuth out the truth. If they claim that they are indeed that artist in RL, and something just seems really suspicious, what I have done in the past is this - if you can find the RL artist's website, email them a polite note to confirm that the SL person you found is really that person and that the reason you are asking is that you are very concerned about art theft in SL and want to make sure that the RL artist is not being ripped off. They will thank you.
I'd love to hear your stories, and Tricia Aferdita is collecting them as well, so I'll be happy to forward them on to her. So let me know if you run into any slimy art thieves in SL! If you don't feel comfortable confronting a suspected thief, let me know, I'd be glad to help. To me this is what is means to Step Up!! Complain about it, don't just shake your head and leave!