OpenSim community comes together to defend content

Grid owners, content creators, and other members of the OpenSim community are all working to solve a serious content theft problem that surfaced recently on the Alife Virtual grid.
On Thursday, Genesis Metaverse Janet Smolko, also known as Candi Genesis in-world, met with the owner of the VirTec multi-grid vending system and learned that content from her grid was being illegally distributed on Alife Virtual, as she explained in a Google Plus post.
Janet Smolko
 “As we have never released any OARs to anyone for any reason I immediately went over to verify his statements,” she said. “They had all been accurate.  A region created by one of our long time residents was used in Alife without the creator’s or Genesis’ permission.”
Soon afterwards, DigiWorldz owner Terry Ford confirmed in a separate post that his grid’s content was also being illegally distributed there.
Other content creators and community organizers quickly drew attention to the issue, including well-known content creator Linda Kellie and Han Held, who run the OpenSim Everything community. VirTec created a Google Plus collection to present evidence of the problem, on both Alife Virtual and the Brazilian AllCity grid.
Infringing content distributed on the Alife Virtual grid. (Image courtesy Noxluna Nightfire.)
Content creator Noxluna Nightfire visited Alife Virtual this week and found content from many creators she knew, creators who were not knowingly distributing their content on that grid.
“I TP’ed to various sims and was completely stunned to find what appeared to be the whole stores of certain Second Life creators,” she said.
For creators, there’s also an extra worry, she said. It’s not just that their creations are being distributed illegally. It’s that they may have used content from other sources as part of their products, and the license they signed requires them to protect that other content. For example, she found items from one creator who uses third-party full-perm content — those items can be tracked back.
“This could conceivably cost her those license — and a crap ton of money,” she said. “Very not cool.”
Alife Virtual promises swift action
In response to the allegations, Alife Virtual has taken all involved servers offline for a content review, grid owner  Sorin Todys told Hypergrid Business.
Sorin Todys
“All servers are stopped and will be evaluated one by one with region owners,” he said. “If needed, we will delete everything owners say it was not done by them. I think that is the most drastic measure that could be taken. I apologize in advance to all users who will suffer unfairly.”
The evaluation has already started and will take about a month to complete, according to Todys.
“It will be internal evaluation with Alife region owners and our team,” he said. “Anyone outside is welcome anytime.”
But Alife Virtual’s reaction to this incident has not been completely positive. At first, content creators said that they were getting a negative reaction from the grid, or were even banned from visiting the grid altogether.
There have been other problems with the grid, as well. Even though it reports more than 1,000 active monthly users on its stats page, there have been repeated problems accessing their stats on a regular basis, or getting any explanation from grid owners about stats-related issues. As a result, Hypergrid Business has not been publishing its active user stats for about a year. Similar problems have caused the grid not to be included in Magnuz Binder’s grid stats.
In addition, its Google Plus page shows no activity, and its Facebook page just runs the same ad once a month.
62 stolen OARs still being distributed illegally
Alife Virtual isn’t the only grid caught up in this illegal content scandal.
That’s because the main problem is that the source of the infringing content seems to be a set of stolen OAR files — and those files are still out there.
An OAR file is a backup of an entire region, including all objects on that region and their scripts. So if proprietary vending machines were on a particular region, the OAR export of the region would include those machines and their scripts, and the person uploading that OAR would be able to set themselves as the creator of those machines or any other content in that OAR file.
The OARs were reportedly taken from several grids, including Genesis Metaverse, and distributed on a site well-known for distributing stolen content.
As of this writing, the OAR files were still up on the site and available for download.
Screenshot from copybot website distributing 62 stolen region OAR files.
According to Nightfire, members of this site not only share stolen content, but also tips and tools about how to steal the content in the first place.
“It’s a very slimy place,” she told Hypergrid Business.
The 62 stolen OAR files were allegedly traced back to an individual who worked on the AviWorlds grid when the content was stolen and distributed via a well-known copybot website. As of this writing, we have not been able to contact that individual for comment.
Alexsandro Pomposelli
AviWorldz denied wrong-doing. The grid was taken down couple of months ago and it does not have any infringing content,  AviWorlds owner Alex Pomposelli told Hypergrid Business.
“I just now found out what happened and this really has nothing to do with me,” he said. “The evidence is pointing to another person whom I did employ but fired him as soon as I saw trust was no longer present. I had no idea of what had happened and just found out.  I hold no unauthorized OARs from anyone.”
He said that he is firmly opposed to content theft.
“I am against that practice and if anyone came to me and pointed at any content illegally brought into AviWorlds, I delete it on the spot and purge it from the database,” he said.
The AviWorlds terms of service also requires users to agree that no content owned by other creators should be brought into their grids and that if such a thing happens, it would be removed.
It’s unclear to what extent AviWorlds would be liable for actions by a former employee if that employee was acting on his own.
Genesis Metaverse, one of the affected grids, said that they are pursing legal action both in

Read the latest from Hypergrid news