Happy weekend to you, dear readers. This is a commentary post, outside the norm for me, but I had an interesting experience this week that I wanted to share. There are no new releases in this post, or awesome designs to share with you...but if you wanna stick around anyway, then keep reading. :)
Now, certainly, this scenario is not at all new to SL...just new to me. :) I was copied. NOT copybotted, just copied. I didn't even know about all the hubbub until it was over...which seems to be typical for me. :) A friend, Amaliscious Destiny of La'Licious Designs, became aware of a shop on the grid that was not only an exact copy of Amali's own build, but contained copies of her products, as well as copies of products from The Loft, Lisp, and Second Spaces...and I'm sure more. Again, by the time I even became aware of what had happened, it was all over. The offending designer had been contacted and had removed the shop and all of its contents. Amali had taken pics that she posted to Plurk (how did we ever get by before Plurk?) and she included my piece that was copied. The copied version:
And my original Conversation Porch:
Clearly, it's not an exact copy, but it's pretty darn close, right down to the flowers on the wall...although I daresay mine is better. ;) It is obvious, though, at least to me, that the copy was made as just that - a copy of my porch.
When the designer was questioned about having so many copies and having copied another's shop build, her response was "I liked it." Simple enough. The tricky thing here is that no rules were broken - like I said at the start, this was not copybotting. This was seeing something in SL and then reproducing it. That happens in RL all the time - someone sees something they like and decides to make it, too - maybe cheaper, maybe with a slight twist or a different material or color...but it's still copying. It happens in SL, too, quite frequently. I know there are many, many debates in SL about copying and intellectual copyrights and who's wrong or who's right when it comes to situations similar to this. This post is not meant to engage in that debate or to present "my side" - I'm just sharing an experience and my thoughts.Honestly...I am a bit flattered that someone liked my design enough to try and make their own. Am I glad that the copy has been removed? Yeah, I am. I am not outraged that it existed to begin with...and if it had not been removed, I don't know that I would really do anything about it, like contacting the creator or anything. While certainly I would hope folks try to come up with their own ideas, rather than just copying someone else's, it is what it is, and I don't feel like it's an offense to me or that it impacts my business. In my mind, it would probably be more frustration than it's worth for me to pursue any sort of corrective action, or whatever the appropriate term might be. I'm also kinda lazy, so factor that in.
Having said that, I do understand why this situation upset as many people as it did. It certainly could be seen as an insult, that someone would take another's creativity and use it for their own profit. While copying like this may not technically break the rules (although that's a grey area, I know), taking someone else's creative idea, making it yourself, and then selling it to others, is lame. Quite lame, and makes the statement to the world "I have no creativity or good ideas myself, but I want cash - so here, take these instead." Lame.
Ok, here's where I really start rambling, so feel free to leave now. :)
There are so many facets to "copying"...my mind sort of takes off here. As a designer, I try - TRY - to be aware of the other creations already out there in SL. There have been many times when I've had a plan to create something specific (more specific than a generic table or chair)...and wouldn't you know it, someone else gets to it first. I'm sure my fellow designers read alot of the same RL blogs and magazines that I do, so we're bound to find similar inspirations. I keep a design file of RL things that I like, and that's where I browse when I start new creations...I recently saw someone make (in SL) a really cool (RL) bed that I also had in my design file to use someday...so I shelved that, because I certainly don't want to be a copycat myself. In that case, though, it wouldn't have been me copying that designer's SL creation...it would have been me making my own version of the same RL inspiration piece...but would Creator A be willing to accept that logic if I also released the same bed that they just released? I wouldn't have copied them - I would have copied the same RL piece that they copied. Tricky, huh? :)
Which leads me to this facet - copying RL items. There are lots and lots of debates about that, too. I absolutely use RL ideas as inspirations - that's why I have a design file. When I start creating, if I'm not doing something completely from scratch and entirely from my own brain, then I will browse those RL designs in my design file to look for inspiration, I try - TRY - not to copy RL items exactly. I try to use the colors and shapes to define my build, rather than copying piece for piece what I see in the RL pic. Or I'll take an idea from this design, and an idea from that design, and bring them together into a "new" design of my own. I can't say that I'm always successful at that, but that is my intent. So, is it right or wrong to copy from RL? If I see a room on one of my favorite RL design blogs, can I build that in SL? If an SL designer copies a RL room...then why can't one SL designer copy another SL designer's room? Just because it's all in the same "world" at that point? These are strictly rhetorical questions, food for thought - I am not opening this can of worms on my blog. :) It's been opened many times before around the grid, and I'm sure it will be opened many times more.
Okay, I think that's enough out of me. This whole topic is an unresolvable argument, I'm sure. Too many grey areas overall. As designers, I hope we can all be aware and respectful of others' creations, as much as possible (it's a large grid to keep up with), and also recognize that there are many, many possible scenarios and facets to the whole idea of copying - and that we can be mindful of double standards and hopefully avoid them.
Enough deep thought and whatnot, here are some precious doggies for you!