Friday, March 14, 2008
aDiva copyright infringement
I have received various enquiries about my troubles with aDiva. Before I have mostly kept this between friends and fellow designers, though some made it to blogs read by many more people. Why am I writing about this now? I realized many people didn't know or realize aDiva's history of copying and using works without permission from original creators and were promoting Annejoy Paine and stolen items without knowing what they were getting into. I therefore decided to try to write something about my experiences. Perhaps this blog entry will help.
First of all I would like to make it clear. I DO NOT resell my illustrated clothing TGA files for use to anyone. If anyone says they bought my illustrated clothing TGA files as template, those TGA files are illegally obtained, perhaps ripped and stolen using software that are used to steal textures.
Second, when I first approached Annejoy Paine about the textures, she claimed then to me and said in some blogs, that she drew it, no mention of buying it from someone else. But I have examined the items and many of my fellow peers have also examined the items and they are pixel for pixel exact for the shading and highlights and cut. This can only be so if you have my illustrated TGA files as a master base. This leads me to believe that Annejoy Paine has been using illegal ripped copies of my illustrated textures.
Now if you get inspired by someone's else designs but you drew it 100% or created it from a blank canvas, then I am not too concern about it. But to use TGA illustrated texture files from other creator's illustration without the original content creator's permission is not right, to copy designs 100% from another designer is not right or even use a certain software to copy prim for prim work by other designers is not right.
In addition, recently there has been an increase in the illegal copying of designs in Second Life. Many designers are facing the similar situation of their work being copied without their permission. I wanted to outline the measures we designers have to follow when we file a DMCA notification to Linden Lab. The current procedure with Linden Lab is not ideal but it is one we have to work with for now. Hopefully it can be improved. This is a hard situation for everyone. On the 4th October 2007 I was vacationing in Germany and I logged in with my laptop to check on the usual emails and to catch up on some reading on the fashion blog feed. I saw a fashion blog featuring clothing by aDiva (Annejoy Paine). It looked very much like my work. I logged onto Second Life and visited her store. I was totally shocked to see alot of my work used without my permission. I informed my friends and fellow designers to visit the store to check if their works were also being used and sadly I wasn't the only person whose designs had been copied.
I was shocked, hurt and very upset. I sent a message to Annejoy Paine, the operator of aDiva, to try to talk to her and she denied doing anything wrong. Several days later, after returning from my holiday, I sent a more formal notecard to Annejoy Paine and to her manager Pia Loon. In the notecard, I asked her to cease and desist and gave her some days to respond. But I got no response from them at all. I then decided to send a DMCA notification to Linden Lab.
The DMCA has a procedure for asking the operators of a server (Linden Lab in our case) to take away content that you believe are infringing on your copyrights. In the case of Linden Lab, you send a fax to them with a DMCA notification. In it you say that you believe someone is infringing on your copyright, and you spell out where you believe the infringing content is (the vendors in the stores), asking them to take it down. Linden Lab responds by closing the vendors. The other party has the opportunity to respond with a counter-notification in case they believe the notification is not legitimate.
The information on how to do this is in the url link below:
Between the time of discovery and while I was preparing my DMCA
notification many things happened:
- other designers whose work was infringed upon as well approached landowners where aDiva had stores. They pointed out that AnneJoy Paine had been copying content. As a result, many landowners kicked aDiva out of their land. At that time I approached one land owner to find out more about what can be done to stop aDiva from selling items using part of my work and they decided to close her store after giving Annejoy Paine a period of time to respond to their questions.
- several people started blogging about it. Some links are listed
- more information was sent to me about new locations where aDiva had vendors selling work based on my textures. I went to check on all the locations given to me to make sure I had all the facts and details necessary for my DMCA notification.
- I finished my DMCA notification to Linden Lab. I send my first DMCA notification to Linden Lab on 16th Oct 2007 and on the 17th Oct 2007(more locations found) by fax.
After several days of waiting Linden Lab responded on 19th Oct 2007 saying that they could not act upon my DMCA due to the fact that some of the locations listed were not found (landowners had kicked aDiva out).
So I had to recheck all the locations again and added several new ones and resent my DMCA notification again on 26th Oct 2007 and again on 28th Oct 2007 as I found more store locations by aDiva selling items with parts of my work without permission.
The pictures I supplied together with my DMCA notification can be viewed here:
After waiting several days I had no response from Linden Lab. I emailed and called direct to Linden Lab help lines several times. Unfortunately this was not very helpful, so I started to attend events where I knew a Linden would be around and asked questions about this.
Finally I resent my DMCA notification on the 4th Nov 2007 with references to earlier DMCA notifications sent. On the 7th of Nov 2007 I received an email from Linden Lab that after reviewing my notification and in compliance with the DMCA the works listed in the locations stated in the DMCA were removed or disabled.
Now during the period of time from my first discovery and to the final outcome of the DMCA procedure people started getting involved defending AnneJoy Paine. They implied that I was on a witch hunt against her. They believed her to be honest and did not copy or steal my work. Now I can understand that it can be harder for someone else to recognize the clues and details that are easy to recognize to me, as these are my own designs and I am an experienced designer. AnneJoy Paine sometimes combined various pieces of different textures into one design, and would also change them some. Some of this would be more obvious than in other cases. Later on she started to smudge and blend what I believe are my textures very heavily.
It is important for people to understand that I am just a single person, like many designers in Second Life. I operate my business myself: I work on my creative work and also run my day to day business in Second Life, attending to numerous customers enquiries. So I am not a giant company with lots of staff and workers running errands and doing things for me. It is not a case of a giant company against a small one. It takes quite a lot of my time to check and file DMCA notifications, and it is not easy either. Seeing my own hard work used this way without my permission makes me sad and affects me a lot.
Meanwhile I tried my best to get back to creative work and managed to continue designing and producing new items for my business, putting aside occasional sadness and distraction that came with the trouble I had with the whole aDiva affair.
Then this year on 19th january 2008 the whole thing exploded again when Annejoy Paine was promoted in a major fashion event. I then decided to check on the items that Annejoy Paine had in her present stores and to my shock I found items using my work again.
Once again I prepared and filed my DMCA notification on 2 items and faxed it to Linden Lab on the 23rd Jan 2008. After quite a few days wait, Linden Lab responded to that DMCA notification saying they couldn't act on it. This was because some vendors had changed by then, and I had unfortunately made a typo describing one of the many locations in my notification. It is quite hard to get this right! So I updated my DMCA notification and resent it on the 29th Jan 2008.
On 1st Feb 2008 I received an email from Linden Lab saying they reviewed my notification and with compliance with the DMCA the items listed in the locations on the notification were expeditiously removed or disabled.
A note to aspiring designers, if you have the skills use them but use them wisely. Create your own true work and do not steal from others or use parts of their work without their permission. Frankly, if Annejoy Paine used her own skills to create just her original work and didn't continue to use and take works by other designers without permission, smudging and patching parts here and there, I think she will fare much better as she has the basic skills which can be worked further and improve given time. But her method of obtaining short cuts from other designer's work without their permission is not right and should stop.
To read more about the current content theft situation in secondlife click here.