A Name & Shame And the Content Creation Process

I think every content creator and Blogger does one of these posts at some point.  The “Why Copybotters are Bad” post.  It’s my turn, and I’m doing it, Thank God, not for myself, but for others. I’ll warn you, this is long and doesn’t come with pictures.  But it goes into as much detail as I can.

So let me do the Name and Shame part first: Delora Starbrook, of Haven Designs pointed out Xstreet seller Indio Caiben over Plurk, asking the rest of us if we could recognize the stolen work and let her know who the victims of this person’s theft are so they can be alerted and DMCAs filed.

So first let me say DO NOT BUY FROM THAT SELLER.  Every single thing listed there is stolen.  Yeah.  Every single thing.  Yes it’s cheap, way cheaper than you would pay for from the original creators.  But frankly?  Well.  I’m about to go into that.

First and foremost, Content Creators put a LOT of effort and income into the products they make and sell.  Let me break it down for you.

The Investment:  A quality content creator is going to be using several programs outside of SL to make their goods.  Photoshop, for example, which is a $1,000 USD Graphics Editing program.  Some people use an open source program called GIMP, which is available free, and is, granted very powerful.  But has a pretty serious learning curve.  It takes some degree of education to use either program effectively. So Add on the expense of classes to that.

If they create or edit their own sculpt maps, they also have an out of world program for that.  Zbrush ($500 USD) and Maya ($5,000 USD).  Again, there are open source alternatives like Blender which is incredibly complicated to learn to use, or Java programs like SculptyPaint which just are not as powerful or capable as the professional ones.  Add on more expense for learning these.

If they don’t create their own maps, they buy them.  Oh look.  More expense.

Every texture or sculpt map they create out of SL has to be uploaded into SL.  at 10L a pop, that’s not so bad right?  Well, Every Sculpt map has 2 Textures that need to be uploaded the map itself, and it’s accompanying texture.  Every area of system mesh covered needs it own texture which can add on another three.  Plus the non-sculpt prims (Like the flexi ones on the skirts?) need their textures.  An outfit can easily have 10 textures that need to be loaded in world.  So They’ve spent 100L alone JUST on uploads.  And that’s assuming they didn’t make ANY mistakes during the texture or map creation process. (I know I’ve done it.  And had to delete outfits because of seams being off or things stopping in places I didn’t think they would)

Advertising Pictures also have to be taken, edited with text, and uploaded in world.  Add on another 10L for each ad necessary. Have 10 of colors of the same outfit and a fatpack? 110L.

So upload fees for one ten-texture outfit in ten colors? 1,110L.  Adds up a LOT faster than you think, doesn’t it?

Oh yeah.  We have to rent or purchase land and/or market space in world as well to display these things so you can buy them. So look!  More Money!

Time:  It takes time to learn to use the programs, and even more time to learn to use the programs in ways that make them effective in SL.  Learning to texture prims and the Avatar system mesh (The non-prim clothes your avatar wears) requires a whole different skillset from like, editing photos from your vacation.

The products themselves take time to create. An outfit for me can take anywhere from four hours to a couple of days to create.  I sketch things out by hand in a notebook as I get ideas.  Then I open up my Graphics Program (I use Photoshop CS4, and GIMP depending on what I need to do) and draw out the fabrics, the outfit shape itself, add embellishments, wrinkles, etc.  I use functions in the program called “Layers” and “Masks” for different aspects of a single piece to make everything blend and look as natural as possible.  A single shirt will usually have, for me?  Anywhere from 10-20 layers.

I do my Fabrics from scratch, on a flat 1024 x 1024 (at least) image to start out with.  Making them look like Linen or cotton or denim or tweed or whatever.  Adding patterning, settling on a good workable color. (That I have to upload in word to make sure I like how it looks in world, since I learned the hard way what looks nice in the program may not look so nice in SL).  Then there’s deciding the color variations. Then there’s painting the piece itself.  Making sure the edges of the sleeves and collar are nice and finished, adding buttons or embroidery.  Adding trim. Making and adding embellishments and buttons or zippers or pockets or whatever.  Then I have to apply the fabric to the piece I’ve designed, and mess with that until I like it, blend wrinkles, make things look natural.  THEN I might pull it in world to see if I like it.

I have to do this with with the sculpt maps I use too.  Light baking the maps so there’s realistic shadowing , applying the bakes to the fabric at the right resolution so it matches with the system mesh, and tweaking and adjusting the bakes so they show well against the fabric.

And this is only the texturing.  I still need to log in, put my avatar on a pose stand and build the prim parts of the outfit.  These can be as simple a single sculpted collar prim; or as complex as a flex prim skirt with a fancy chain belt.  Jewelry too, needs to be built, the textures made for it and uploaded.  You get the idea.

Then when I’ve done all of this?  I actually wear it myself for a couple of days, looking for things I need to fix, making sure I like the look over all, getting feedback from friends and strangers alike.  Then I’m back in the graphics programs, making changes all over again.

When an outfit is where I’m ready to sell it, I wear it on my avatar and take shots of it, download those into Photoshop, and apply the pictures of the outfits to my Ad Template, changing text and whatnots as I need to.  Then I upload all the new ad textures in world.

But no.  Not done yet.  Now the outfit gets taken off.  I rez those cute little gift boxes you receive them in, and put copies of the outfit in each box.  Along with a landmark, and if needed, a Notecard.  I double check the permissions on everything (Usually copy/mod/no transfer); and Then pick up all the boxes.

Still not done.

I move copies of the boxes into my Vendor Server and my Xstreet Box.  THEN, I log into the websites and set them up as new products, with their Ad Pictures.

Nope.  Not done yet.

Then I log in here and Upload the shots, and blog it out for you.  I also compose a Notecard about the new release, and distribute that through my subscriber kiosk system.

One last thing…

Then I have to go to each location in world where one of my vendors is set up and update each and every vendor so it loads the new product.

THEN I am done.  So.  At a Bare Minimum, I’ve invested a few hundred Linden Dollars, and at LEAST six (more likely 8-12) hours in creating, boxing, and setting a product out for sale.  And I make it a point to keep my prices reasonable.  But honestly?  My Average outfit price is around 300L.  Which is what? Right around $1.00 USD.  6 hours of work, minus upload costs?

Lets assume this is one color of Latika, which is 19 textures, plus the advertising texture which makes 20.. so 200L in upload costs. Latika costs you 350L.  Subract 200 from that in upload fees. so, 150L is what I get for the.. I think Latika actually took me about 8 hours from start to finish (Just work.  Not counting breaks).  So 150L, which is just over 50 cents USD for 8 hours of work.  Wow.  Maybe I should go sew sneakers in a sweatshop in Indonesia.

I sincerely and deeply hope the time, effort and cost I’ve put into that one outfit is worth that.

So when Someone steals that?  Rips my texture work and build work to make a copy and sell it themselves?  Well that’s just bloody insulting.

Now SECOND, and a reason that is LOT more tangible for you.  Stolen or Ripped products are WAY lower quality than the original.  A copybotter ripping textures isn’t getting the full sized texture file we originally built in.  They don’t get all the layers and masks and detail work.  They don’t get the sculpt maps at full resolution (they steal everything at SL’s reduced resolution rate), so, just like when you make a xerox copy from an original, there’s a BIG difference in quality.  So now?  Not only are they stealing away that meager income, they’re making a content creator’s careful work look really shoddy with their cruddy Xerox copy.

You can REALLY See that in the example up above.  The Skins?  Go to Curio or Nomine and look at the originals.  Skins are Incredibly time-consuming to make, and expensive to upload.  A quality skin creator invests literally days of labor into creating a new skin. (Which is why their releases tend to be less frequent than a lot of clothing designers)  Their creativity is CONSTANTLY being pushed. (There’s only so much you can do with a skin.  And each skin creator I know has that overriding goal of each skin being better than the last one).

That Gerion Av?  Is rip of Lucia’ Cyr’s work.  Go to LostHaven and have a look.  She makes her sculpts from scratch, paints the textures individually for each and every sculpt map, does the build work and fitting and puts in tons of time and money and effort.  And you can see the quality difference immediately.

Content creators actually care about you, about giving you quality work reflective of their skills.  Copybotters just care about stealing from the people who work so hard, and robbing you of your money for shoddy work. There is no skill, there is no labor of love, there is no investment on their part.  They rob you.  They rob me.  And they make me angry.

So that about sums it up.  If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve learned something.  Maybe a little about the process, and hopefully about the damage copybotters/content thieves do to not only me as a content creator but you as a consumer.  You are one of our best weapons against this kind of theft.  Our customers know us, know our style, know our work, and can spot it.  And you can spot the pitiful copies of our work.

How you can help:

  1. Don’t purchase or distribute copied items in world. or on Xstreet.  The Bootleg buck stops with you.
  2. If you receive Copied goods, let the original content creators know via an IM or a Notecard.  If you can pass it to them or link its sales site (Whether in world or on Xstreet) to them, do so.  The Original Content Creator is the only one who can file the DMCA complaint to have the items removed from in world.
  3. Let your friends know.  If you have friends who are new to SL or even oldbies who are using/distributing copy-stolen items.  Let them know that it’s theft, it’s wrong, and they should be helping build the SL community, not tear it down.

Content creators build your world.  Copy thieves destroy it.  If SL were all poor quality copies, then it would be a far uglier place.

Thanks for your patience. And I promise I do have a new release in the pipes coming out soon.

Syn

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One Response to A Name & Shame And the Content Creation Process

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