It's a loaded word the very mention of tends to generate some serious paranoia if used in the context of being applied against someone.

In the Second Life vernacular the word "copybot" conjures utter fear among creators - and perhaps it gives a little insight to how musicians and book authors and movie producers feel with regard to the whole file-sharing of their works.

However, it is a statistical fact that the anything that has been "copybotted" - an umbrella term to represent copybot proper along with all other methods of "ripping" prims and textures to create full-permission copies (it doesn't work with scripts) - is most often not resold or given away, but rather users "stealing" for themselves.

It also is a statistical fact that all copybot activity across the grid amounts to a fraction of a fraction of overall grid business activity to begin with. I am not trying to minimize the effect and devastating circumstances the use of copybot against a creator can have. I am only saying that Second Life and its economy is so large that copybot activity is barely a noticeable drop of water in a swimming pool when viewed in context of the "big picture" - though it really is a terrible tool that can wreak havoc on a creator's business. But that's not what I am really writing about here.

What I am writing about here has been going on ever since copybot first existed back in 2006. It simply is a lot more prevalent now and is a way that the very word "copybot" is misused and abused in a far more insidious way. As a competition-killer and nothing more than that.

To accuse another creator of "copybotting" something is like me accusing you of murder just because I saw you in the same room with the victim. At least it looked like you, but I haven't bothered to take a close look, and it doesn't matter that you were actually out of the country at the time.

Simply inspecting a prim build to see that all the prims have the same object name and time-stamp does not a copybotted item make. Linden Lab has already proclaimed "prim-replicators" to be a legal, useful tool.1

It is only "external tools" that are a violation of the Linden lab Terms of Service.2 This would include viewers themselves, such as the Niellife viewer.

Linden Lab clearly states that copying does not "necessarily mean stealing"3. "There are many useful purposes and tools for copying" and as with any powerful tool, it can be abused. However the usefulness outweighs the risk - hence the "Hollywood vs. Sony Betamax" decision, paving the way for VCRs.

The simple fact is that it is easy to determine if an actual copying infringement has occurred. But it takes a little effort on your part: firstly, the alleged copied item must be an exact duplicate of the "original". An inspection must show every single prim as having an identical time-stamp of creation and the creators must be different, and the "previous owner" (available as of this writing in Snowglobe viewer) must be either blank or the same name as the current owner.

These are the methods of determining if a genuine theft has actually occurred and not a creator using a completely legal prim-replicator for their own purposes (and the Lindens can easily check thier system logs as well).

However, the word "copybot" has become a drama-bomb that piss-poor or otherwise paranoid creators now throw around as a weapon against their competition. And that is where the true rub lies. You can only legally copyright a work, not a visual. I can legally repaint from scratch the Mona Lisa and sell it as a replica as long as I don't actually title it "Mona Lisa" or try to misrepresent it as an original. Perfectly legal. You cannot copyright a "visual". Only the actual work to create it.

The problem is where similar items are created by different authors. The hysterically paranoid creators spot these similar items and immediately throw the "copybot bomb" out there - often spamming groups with vitriolic hysterical diatribe and the sad thing is a lot of the people in these groups are gullible and emotionally stupid enough to just fall for it, taking everything said at face value. How sad is that? I speak on this because the round-robin of this ridiculousness has been going around for years and it is finally my turn to be on the receiving end of it.

So, for all you creators out there, I have a fair and very serious warning for you, I strongly recommend you take heed or your ass will burn because I will pull all the stops out. In other words: don't tread on me without absolutely irrefutable proof or face my wrath.

Knowledge is power and I can assure you I have the knowledge.

Firstly, Linden Lab has the full details of my real life identity on file. Therefore, I have nothing to hide and in that is all the armament I need to defend myself and turn any defense into a seriously devastating offense. I know because I have done it before. I am a successful business person in SL. Why the hell would I risk all I have worked for by breaking the Terms of Service? As for "Community Standards", well that's a matter of perspective, so I will grief the hell out of you if you give me trouble on my sims. However, if you think I have "copybotted" or otherwise stolen your creation, the very first thing I do is invite you to rezz your "original" work right next to the alleged copy. This way, anyone and everyone can compare for themselves as it is far too easy to prove when something is or is not copied via illegal means.

If you refuse, I will name names, file an abuse report with Linden Lab against you for harrassment (which is against ToS, and CS) and I will embarrass you painfully by ensuring all visitors to my lands (real traffic by the way, no traffic bots) are made clearly aware of what a paranoid scumbag you truly are.

If you genuinely feel I have stolen your stuff, you'll file a DMCA against me or at least take my offer to rez yours next to mine. However, if you go the DMCA route I will file a counter-claim against you and obtain all your real life information, file abuse reports against you and file a claim with the Federal Trade Commission as it is a $10,000 fine for filing a false DMCA claim against anyone and I am fully prepared to do that (done it once before in real life - it was nicely effective.)

And if you don't file a DMCA while accusing me of stealing your stuff I will make sure as many people on the grid know your stuff is utter crap, quality-wise because the only reason you are making such a claim, and refusing to rezz your so-called original next to mine is because your garbage is just that: crap. Otherwise you'd have the wherewithal to actually put your money where your mouth is (or at least your prims.)

So to all my readers: the next time you see or hear of someone proclaiming to have been "copybotted" - ask for the resident name. Then I dare you to ask that accused resident if they have offered the accuser the opportunity to rez their original next to the alleged copy for comparison. If they say they have, then ask the accuser why they have not taken that offer.

Then, you, dear reader are the informed, wise, knowledgeable resident who won't fall for the vitriolic weapon of creators who simply cannot compete in the real market of SL business. Which should send up red flags about that person as a whole if they stoop to such a level lower than dog-shit as to throw the "I've been copybotted!-drama-bomb".

What brought all this about? Zodiac House (of which I am the co-founder) is accused of copybotting a dragon statue from a creator who also has created a similar-looking version (which both were copied from reference photos of a real life version - so go figure.) But the accuser refuses to rez their so-called original next to the alleged copy. So I looked at the so-called original and... uh... no wonder he refuses. It is plainly obvious there is no copybot at play here! Thus the accusation is malicious in nature and intended to specifically create drama for Zodiac House. How could anyone see it differently?

So to put my money where my mouth is: Kimo Junot: how about you put your money where your mouth is and accept the offer to rez your so-called "original" dragon statue next to the Zodiac House alleged "copybotted" dragon statue and allow the public at-large to judge for themselves? Or are you not so confident in your own product and do not wish to risk looking bad, or even worse: coming off as an unscrupulous and dishonest creator who throws the "copybot-drama-bomb" for no reason other than to attack a competitor because you don't like that tey create something even similar?

I'll save everyone here the work. Here are the two items in question, the alleged "original" above and the alleged "stolen copy" below. "Twisted Thorn Slurl" - "Zodiac House Slurl" (So you can compare and determine the "copybot" status for yourself in-world.)

Can't speak to the "Twisted" version, but the Zodiac House version is based on a real life painting artwork - available publicly to anyone who happens across it.

[UPDATE 01.06.10; 0812: I have been sent the original artwork links the Zodiac Dragon is based-off of. Which cause me to wonder where Mr. Kimo based his from - which leads me to wonder if I or anyone else should accuse him of "copybotting" his dragon statue from another source? What goes around, comes around! Image One; Image two and I am told the in-world color of the Zodiac statue is to match the decor of the store meme.]

It simply is amazing what some creators will do and to what level they will stoop when they can't compete in the market at large. In the old days, we used to call people who do these kind of things a "cheat". I have more accurate, but harsher words of description, but there are many ladies who read this blog so I will not diverge from my gentlemanly manner for their sake.

Now go show your support for the downtrodden and victimized! Go to Zodiac House and buy-up their entire inventory. Well, at the very least: BUY THAT DRAGON STATUE!


1. Linden, Cory. "Use of Copybot and Similar Tools a ToS Violation." Official Second Life Blog (14, November 2006). Web Site. January 5, 2010.
"As we've said before, copying tools do have legitimate uses. For example, intellectual property owners may wish to back up their own content or copy it from our hosted Second Life virtual world to a stand-alone, behind-the-firewall Second Life solution. However, copying tools can also facilitate infringement, and the devil is in the details."

2. Linden, Cyn. "Our Content Management Roadmap." Official Second Life Blog (4, August 2009). Web Site. January 5, 2010.
"Second Life needs features to provide more information about assets and the results of copying them. Unfortunately, these are not yet in place. Until they are, the use of CopyBot or any other external application to make unauthorized duplicates within Second Life will be treated as a violation of Section 4.2 of the Second Life Terms of Service and may result in your account(s) being banned from Second Life. If you feel that someone has used CopyBot to make an infringing copy of your content, please file an abuse report. Note that this is completely separate from any copyright infringement claim you may wish to pursue via the DMCA."

3. Linden, Torley. "Protecting Your Copyrighted Content." Official Second Life Blog (11, April 2008). Web Site. January 5, 2010.
"We’re sometimes asked why Residents are allowed to have or sell copying devices. The answer is that there are legitimate uses of a copying mechanism. It’s the infringement that we don’t allow and won’t tolerate."