Plurk has been awash with dramaz lately and for once I actually got to see it and be a part of it. Weird to actually be saying “woo I am part of drama” but this time I welcomed it on my TL. I even made a stand and made my own plurk about it. Let me start at the beginning……
The annual Home & Garden Expo opened 2 days ago, with a bit of a sour taste on a lot of peoples palettes. It was found, via a blogger who was there prior to the event opening and scouting stores, that a well known repeat IP Infringement offender was at it again with copyrighted products for sale in their stall. it was bought to the attention to one of the organisers of the event and that is where it all went downhill. The organiser was shown snapshots of the items in the booth and then links to the original content. The response was less that satisfactory – ‘ok I’m not the copyright police – if there’s an issue then that’s for LL to deal with, sorry’ and ‘I know you are just raising an issue, I appreciate that, I’m not trying to be rude or anything, I will come by and see their items, I’m just saying there is nothing I can do – that’s a legal issue’.
What followed then was a series of plurks from multiple people complaining about the lack of common sense from the organisers of the event, disgust, backlash, boycotting threats and of course people defending them. One such plurk pulled on heartstrings and pleaded with people to just ignore the store in question but still go to the event and support all the other store holders that put in hours of hard work and time and still support the Relay For Life – American Cancer Society in their fundraising efforts. Which of course received heartfelt gratitude as well as arguing, I was included in this plurk as defending my stand against why I refuse to go to the expo.
So that is it in a nutshell. Lots of people complained and said they wouldn’t support the event, lots of people expressed their disgust at the IP Theft but said they will just support the other stores and a whole tonne of people sat by on the sidelines and watched the mess unfold without saying a word; that is usually me with most plurk / SL drama. Now I am not saying that one way or the other is the ‘right’ decision. We are all entitled to our own opinions and thoughts on the matter. The main purpose of my post today was to show you how I choose to deal with this mess.
The H&G Expo is an RFL Fundraising event. They raise funds to go towards the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society was apparently contacted in regards to such dealings (I say apparently because I have not seen screen caps of conversations or emails or a statement from them to coroborate it) and their response was that ‘the ACS official position is that the complaint needs to be filed by the rightsholder in order for the content to be removed’ and as such they would not allow the SL members to remove the offending store from the event. While I understand they are simply following the law with regards to things like this, can you not see the problem? By the time any got in contact with the owners of the original works and explained the situation to them, the items have been at the fair possibly selling to people unaware of the original content. A friend of mine joked earlier about the situation and I have to put it in here because it seems totally appropriate – “I R gonna STEELZ FRUM A store and THEN SELL it illegalz CUZ AS long as I donate to ACS IZ ALL GOOD right” – I have no idea why she typed like that but it still made me snort none the less. Because this is exactly how it comes across. Yes ACS know about the problem, but they aren’t going to do anything?
On the H&G Expo site they have this little gem written in their Guidelines – SIM RATINGS/TOS: Although the Expo sims will be set to the moderate setting, we ask that you keep signs, posters and displayed poseballs in the pg setting, as to be compliant with the requirements of Relay For Life of Second Life guidelines. As you set up your displays, please use your own original builds/works or items you have the rights to sell. Naturally, Linden Labs TOS will be enforced at The Home & Garden Expo, as well.
Seems pretty silly to put this there because what are they going to do about it if you don’t use your own works, nothing because the ACS won’t let them.
I have supported RFL in SL since it first began, before I was up to date on all things IP Theft. I also support my local charities here in Australia. When all of this went down I made a statement that I would not support the H&G Expo because of the organisers lack of common sense. The fact they let this store in in the first place is their biggest mistake. As a past event organiser I have had to deal with complaints like this before. The outcome is quite simple – remove them from the event. It might seem harsh but it is, in my opinion, the best thing to do. People that steal from others and sell their work as their own need to be taught a lesson. By giving then a smack on the wrist and saying oh behave, it is not going to do anything. I can understand the viewpoint from ACS in regards to not wanting to be counter sued for removing an item that was in fact not copyrighted , but when the evidence is right in front of you that it is quite clearly an item that has been lifted from Google I think common sense should come into play. The person that stole it knows that obtained it illegally, I don’t see them filing a complaint in regards to you using common sense and doing the right thing.
I know a lot of designers put a lot of effort into their work for the event that are genuine designers and have done nothing wrong and have possibly lost my sale by my choice not to attend this event. But the thing is – I will shop at their mainstores so they haven’t lost my overall business. As far as -“but you’re not supporting the fundraiser now either and it’s all for a good cause” I am well aware of this fact. So here is my solution. I would generally spend around L$5000 at an event, give or take depending on what I find. So I took that 5K in lindens and I donated $25AUD directly to RFL here in Australia.
I stand by my boycott of the event. It is not to say that I will not attend any other RFL events or events organised by the same team in the future. But if stores are going to be allowed in events that sell copyrighted items without prior consent then I will not attend them. It is plain and simple. I have still supported them today in my own way by donating directly. I encourage others to do the same by not supporting events, ANY event, that allows this sort of conduct. But at the end of the day you all have your own thoughts on the matter. This is just mine.