Saturday, November 8, 2008

Proper attribution of images taken in virtual worlds

Who is the artist in this shot? The photographer? In this case, that would be me. Or is the creator of the Far Away, AM Radio, the artist? Or should both of us be credited?

In Real Life, when a photograph of a place is published... say, the Empire State building in New York, one is not expected - nor is there a legal requirement - to credit the building's architects, owners, the construction companies involved or the city of New York. So why is it different in virtual worlds?

Six weeks ago, the owner of a Flickr group featuring Real Life photography accused me with these words when I submitted a machinima I had created of my own sim (Chakryn) by saying, "videoing someone else's video doesn't really make it an original image / photo / capture now, does it?" I should add that I had credited and tagged the video with the names of the creator of the forest (Andrek Lowell) and the art (Glyph Graves).

This isn't the first time this has happened to me on Flickr. People who are unfamiliar with virtual content tend to think that I have either "painted" the art, or photographed someone else's "painting."

How about this shot?

Is it enough to credit the creator of my outfit (3star Tyne) and the creator of the Tunnel of Light (Spiral Walcher), or do I also need to mention that it sits on Rezzable Productions' land, that Ordinal Malaprop contributed with scripts... and oh! What about my hair, shape and skin? Do I need to list the creators of those things, too?

Where do we draw the line? What is the correct (and legal) way to attribute photography and video shot in virtual worlds?


Earth Primbee said...

I have had similar questions concerning machinima and photos. In RL movies, I don't recall always seeing the makers of furniture and other props in the credits at the end.

It is not that I don't think people should get credit for their work I do! I just wonder if there isn't a double standard of sorts with regard to digital works vs physical works.

If I remember right, sodas and such in films used to be covered or made over because the soda maker didn't pay for their name to be in the film. It would be giving away free advertising for the product.

It is a sticky situation that makes me think as virtual worlds progress, laws will need to be updated as the uses of digital works changes with the new ways it can be used.

Good blog and very important questions raised.

Alpha Auer said...

I credit everything that is visible - from hair to skin to sim - unless I made it myself. There may have been the odd moment here and there when I have forgotten to do this as diligently as at other times, but whenever I catch an omission on my Flickr feed I immediately correct it.

Also I "tag" all of the content creators. It really doesn't take up all that much time and I do know that I feel somewhat hurt whenever I see a shot of Syncretia that isn't tagged as "Syncretia".

But as for the invisible stuff - as would be the case with scripts? You got me there Bett. I guess if the script is original and a crucial part of the workings of the object then I suppose that would have really to be credited as well. (If it wasn't written by the content creator him/herself that is)...

Alpha Auer said...


just went on my Flickr to double check that I was indeed as good as all of my virtuous proclamations up there. And of course I am not! As an example I have these photos of Skills Hak right there:
and obviously I wasn't inspecting her clothes to write down the names of their creators. Wouldn't that probably even be considered as highly rude in terms of virtual etiquette? Like rummaging around in someone's wardrobe to check on all the labels or something? hhh...

Or indeed the one of Tegen Barzane's kitchen here:
Obviously I have no idea where she got all of these things from, much less who made them.

So you are right (as you usually tend to be anyway ;-). Where does one draw the line?

Alpha Auer said...

... but then again... (and sorry for bombarding this post with comments btw)

Ultimately it all goes to intention and context I suppose. When I took the photo in Tegen's kitchen I was basically taking a souvenir photo of myself in my friend's lovely kitchen. Unlike this photograph here:
where I was in fact "making art". And where I did in fact attribute everything that I had not actually rezzed myself.

radarm said...

i think people are way too uptight about this. of course in a machinima, it's probably right to credit sim and content owners/creators when possible, but in RL movies, you don't see them crediting every flipping building or piece of furniture they walk in front of, or every piece of clothing that appears in the movie.

I think it's going to ludicrous mode if people have to be THAT concerned about this. The intent is not to steal work or take credit, but to use it as part of the props of a story.

Bettina Tizzy said...

So who is the artist in the first shot? AM or me?

Ordinal Malaprop said...

Well, there are different issues here.

First, there are issues regarding politeness, which are not terribly formal but, really, I would say that it is polite and respectful to credit the creators of items illustrated in any work, as much as it is practical. Obviously in a half hour of machiniminism it is not going to be practical to credit the designers of everyone's jewelry.

Secondly there are legal issues, and really, in most cases squawked about on the Aethernet there is absolutely no case. A flat representation of a virtual creation will rarely count as duplication of that creation, and in most blogging cases it would likely be fair use for criticism anyway. The comment of "videoing someone else's video" seems to be incoherent to me - in general I find that a response of "please detail under which clauses of which laws you are objecting to this use" tend to meet with silence and no further comment.

Really, folk these days seem increasingly obsessed with bad interpretations of copyright, and this is not just a matter for virtual worlds - I have heard of people trying to claim copyright breach because somebody takes a picture of them in public. Or of a house, in a public place, which is not even their house come to think of it.

Alpha Auer said...

Both of you, of course - or so I would strongly suspect, anyway.

My cousin is a well known architectural photographer in RL. I will double check this with him but I am pretty sure that he will say very much the same thing also.

Ordinal Malaprop said...

Oh, in terms of who has rights over the image - you do. You always will. You might, possibly, be said to be breaching someone else's copyright in your use of it, but you always have rights over it.

Bettina Tizzy said...

I would love to hear what the architectural photographer thinks, Alpha. I'd also like to hear how Disney and Pixar handle this type of questions.

And to your point, earth, when you see a can of Coke on a set (and subsequently in a film or photograph), no one is assuming that you made that Coke. Many do assume that the person taking the captures in virtual worlds made the creations.

Oooooh Ordinal, I am so very GLAD you mentioned politeness. That should really be at the root of all we do, yes.

radarm, if I could make something as beautiful as AM Radio's wheatfield, I would not appreciate anyone else taking sole credit for an image taken of it. Would you?

If I showed the first snapshot to my old auntie, she would immediately assume that I had either photographed someone else's painting, or that I had painted it myself. I think that - in both of these instances - it would be patently and morally wrong for me to allow her to think that.

chestnut rau said...

I think these issues get very. very sticky when people are selling images of creations made by other people. If the photographs are for non commercial uses I wonder if the standard should simply be polite crediting of content creators to the greatest extent possible.

Lem Skall said...

Bett, you didn't give us the entire context of what your discussion was with the flickr group owner. I actually recognize a different argument in the quote that you gave us. It's the argument of whether "SL photography" is art or not and more specifically whether it is photography or not. And it's an argument that RL photographers make when they have no understanding of the process that is involved in taking a "good" SL picture. A "good" SL picture is more than simply capturing a screenshot just as much as RL photography is more than just "point and shoot" or just clicking on a camera button. I am putting an emphasis on "good" though because most SL pictures we see on flickr are truly not art, but that's as true for not all RL pictures on flickr being art either.

If we are to talk about attribution though, I agree that some attribution should be given to the creators of the subject in an SL picture. But, like you say, it's more a matter of politeness or I would say fairness, not an obligation. Personally, I put a slurl with every picture on my flickr stream. Once in a while, avatars make their way into some of my pictures but I usually don't find it necessary to credit them as they usually are not the essence of my pictures and they are just fixtures. So I consider the slurl to be enough attribution for the pictures that I take. Anyone who wants to identify the creators of any objects captured in my pictures can teleport to the slurl and investigate themselves.

It may get more complicated when it comes to putting a price tag on those pictures. Should the creators of the objects in the picture also get a share of the price? I can easily argue that they shouldn't. My pictures would not be in any way valuable without their subjects. However, anyone who wants a picture of a place in SL can take that picture himself; so if someone would pay me for a picture they would pay for the work and the skill that I put into it and for what makes my picture better than what they would be able to achieve themselves.

Having said all that, I see the relationship between SL creators and SL photographers as a symbiotic one (hence my view on giving at least some attribution) and I would be very careful in making a profit from SL photography. It very much depends though on the specific way in which an SL picture is getting paid for. For instance, it's valid for an RL publication to pay for an SL picture that goes with an article and not pay the SL artist that created the subject in the picture. After all, it is the same for the writer of the article and I can't see an RL publication having to pay SL creators in order to write articles about their creations.

Zinc said...

In the credits of a film, only people who created something specifically for the film are credited, not the fashion designers that made Angelina Jolie's clothes, not the cosmetics companies that made the stuff that was used for her make up, nor her parents for creating Angelina Jolie. But the stylist who picked those clothes, the makeup artists who used those products and Angelina Jolie herself are obviously credited. In your example the picture of AM Radio's sim is definitely your original work and you are the creator.
It is one of the most photographed sims in SL, yet every pic is different, bearing the seal of its creator. True when the main theme of a pic is some SL creation, whether it is a sim or a piece of clothing, courtesy and only that, dictates that its creator should be mentioned. But when you make a machinima or a pic that intends to be an autonomous work of art, then who did the buildings and the landscaping in the background, the clothes, hair, skins and poses of avatars is in my humble opinion totally irrelevant. said...

If we analyze what is happening it's like this:
1. The software package, provided to you by Linden Research, Inc. RENDERS images on your computer.
2. The images are 'recreated'/rendered on your computer based on the data received by it from Linden Research, Inc. servers.
3. You don't need to go into the detail of Linden Research arrangement with other users, your use fall under the terms of YOUR direct agreement with Linden Research, Inc., known as 'TOS'
4. TOS does NOT prohibit you to make screenshots of YOUR computer screen while the software package is working on your computer and recreating... maybe even GENERATING images based on data received from their servers.


People obsessed with the 'copyright' on their images uploaded by them to the services FOR A FREE PUBLIC DISPLAY... are insane.

Beth said...

I think all of this points to a another issue that fascinates me -- that in the virtual world of Second Life, many of us really want to record ourselves inside these spaces or these creations (fashion, landscapes, builds, etc.). In SL, everything is fabricated, everything is created and we are hyper-aware of that. I suppose that may be true of the real world too (except for nature!) but there is a way in SL -- perhaps because we are watching ourselves watching - via our avatars -- that we are more aware of our environment, and indeed ourselves, as creation, as artifice. And there is something that happens to me in SL (and apparently to lots of other people too) -- I am not sure why precisely -- where I want to take pictures of myself (umm... of Max I mean)... inside the world, inside the spaces made by AM Radio or Alizarin Goldflake, or in a beautiful mermaid creation by 3Star Tyne. Somehow I -- my avatar -- completes the work of art in a some really critical way that makes art in SL very different from RL art. Now, of course, there is so much RL art where we participate -- walking through the torqued ellipses of Richard Serra for example, where being inside the object -- walking through it physically is part of the experience. But in SL, we can't, of course, really, physically experience a work of art, but we kind-of can...gosh this is so hard to explain! I am especially fond of works that take our avatars and animate them -- but always in these cases we are watching ourselves (ok, our avatars) performing an action as part of the object, we are at once removed (almost)...and so when we complete the work -- by our presence inside it -- it becomes ours in a way, and we want to take that one step further and take a pic of ourselves...

Lem Skall said...

After more thought, I add like to add the following. Legally, I don't think the rules are clearly defined enough and enforceable. Creators have the right to define permissions associated with their creations but I don't know how much legal value they may have. I know Rezzable has a licensing defined for photography and machinima and while I respect it (even though I disagree with it but then I just don't take pictures in Rezzable) I doubt that it can really be enforced from a legal point of view. IMO, it comes down not to legal rules but to a personal decision on how you want to interact with other people.

Outside of the legal realm, I think it all depends on what the essence of the picture is. Your first picture, Bett, is about AM's creation. AM should be credited as a matter of civility. Your second picture, however, is about you, it is a self-portrait. It is not about the location, not about the skin, not about the clothes. Neither one of their creators need to be mentioned.

Green Dream said...

There are some buildings that do have licensing on them photography wise, such as the Eiffel Tower- it is illegal to take pictures of the tower at night. (Don't ask me for the specifics or how they enforce it, although I'm sure they don't really care about tourists.) Somewhere along the line, the government of France decided that the Eifel Tower is a giant work of national art that deserved some museum-like rights with only specific people photographing it. For those of you curious why I relate it to a museum, try going into one and taking pictures with your camera. The security gets stingy (even if it's your damn homecoming dance).

Tying this back to the discussion and what others have brought up, the worlds that we browse are works of art, ranging from the blocky crayon picture of a n00b to Rezzable's Black Swan sim. Some creators may be very conscientious of this and, like the French government, desire only certain people to shoot their work. Some, however, are more relaxed, like the builders of the Space Needle in Seattle- as long as you don't go loudly proclaiming you made it, you can take all the nifty photos you want, for personal or commercial purposes. As artists, we should try to "feel out" our environments to see if we are welcome as much as possible.

As for whether or not something is
"original" based on whether you created it or not, I've heard a tale that an artist drew a mustache on the Mona Lisa and was praised for it. Or, Hell, let's look at museums again: they don't create the work, only display it, and they're not chewed out. Frankly, unless you ripped-off someone else's video and did the exact same paths and camming, you provided us with a view that no one else can. And that, I feel, is original.

Long story short: I like tags and references because they tell me where I can take pictures and buy stuff from. :P

(Can you tell my brain power took a nose dive?)

Hern Worsley said...

We all rely on each other its a kinda creative eco system if i make something for an avatar to wear then it is meaningless without people doing that.
It is also meaningless without the context of thier imaginations and mines meeting somewhere.
I also rely on every other content creator to give my work context as without others work mines would not have a basis to exist upon.

Lem Skall i think to seperate creations outwith and those that are attatched to avatars is not how i percieve things. "You" in SL is merely an emobodyment of either your own creativity and more usually a combination of many peoples so i feel if you are wishing to be civil then please do credit those that helped create "you".

As for legalities of copyright id agree it depends how it is used i think if you try to keep a tight control with licensing over images of your work then maybe you are hurting yourself and those who love your work most.
If somone wants to take a snap in SL and sell it as "art" im not really sure where i stand on this its debatable how much creativity is really needed for this in many cases.
I do really love to see my work included in snapshots that have been really enhanced or worked upon using Photoshop. In this sense i feel that the person has sampled my work much like in the making of electronic music for instance but have made it thier own and im more happy if this is the case.
I doubt id ever pursue any kind of legal threats or action against anyone ever even if i did feel they were taking credit where its maybe not due. But again this could take me back to one of my previous points maybe we are all taking credit all the time in SL for what is not really ours in the fact that we personalise and present ourselves using others creations all the time but this should not be a bad thing in fact its a very positive thing.

Not sure where im going with this rambled on a bit.. but at the end of the day ive never been fond of the legal system and the way it controls people im much more fond of the law of karma ie you only ever harm yourself with negative actions. So for me personally when it comes to my work in SL ill let everyone decide for themselves how they want to use my work in thier snaps and wether or not they feel like crediting me.

Definately a ramble now better leave it here XD

Metacowboy said...

Some kind of over paniks i read over last moth on this kind of isue .
As mentiond from yolto say the right to take a picture is very similar to the rights in the a movie you due .
You can't credit every pice or tool you use ,like your editing Software ,graphik software and Titel fonts .
You buy this software for your work to use it .Same with the Creations like your hair or clothes .
What about Sim or architekrual work pix from others ?
If they are placed in publik like a turistik attraktion every visitor can make a pix from it .If they give credit or not is not regulated by law at the moment .
And make no sense if you have to list for a simple pix the Creator of every Texture ,Script and Primework.
As long there is not a visible Note that to take Photos on this Sim is not allowed or only limited allowed .Same can Creators due with there Creations make a additional note in the Description that taking a Photo of this pice is not allowed or under regulated terms. If so i think the Creator will lose definitly more than he will win. Or go and brand you Art with a kind of siganture on it or label .
Or very simple for Sim owners how don't whant that some one take pix close the Sim for publik use .
As long Linden TOS due not add any kind of line in there TOS .People shoud not panik about there "Art" all time .It makes the Creation or person only unsympatic.Not worth to comment or talk about.

Alpha Auer said...

I spoke to my cousin who is an architectural photographer and he says that it would primarily be a matter of context and usage: If he takes a photograph of his wife in front of a building and posts it on flickr then of course he would not be giving an attribution to the building or the architect. If however, he puts the same exact photograph in a book/exhibition on architecture, then he is obliged to give out that information.

Furthermore he says that in any photograph which is to be exhibited or published the artist/publisher is legally obliged to obtain the consent of the "subject" of the photograph - be it a person or a structure or a work of art.

So, to the best of his knowledge, what determines the issue in terms of legality are the keywords "subject" and "context". Apparently an examination along these lines would be implemented to decide whether there is a violation of ownership rights in the content of a photograph or not.

theresecarfagno said...

I don't know if I can add anything to all that's been said here, but I'd like to say one thing: Photographing a sim can be done in different ways.

Sometimes, you're so happy to have found a new place that you're first and foremost eager to share it with others. That's when you take pictures whose aim it is to give a good representation of that sim. We can call those the «journalistic» pictures. I'd say Bettina's first picture in this post falls into that category. She hasn't added anything to the scene. She wants to show it to us as it is. Then, it's quite natural to say who made it and where it is, or simply give a slurl as Lem does. The same applies for fashion photographies – they're even quite useless (or downright mean) if you don't tell where the hair, clothes, shoes and accessories come from.

Bettina's second picture is a more «personal» one. The subject is herself and her wish to preserve the memory of a place she visited. I don't think it can be demanded of her to tell where she is or what she's wearing, but out of politeness to the viewer who might like to visit the place or get a similar dress, and also towards the creators, I think it's a good thing to do. But I guess the question here is *how much* information are we obliged to give? I find myself giving out the information I feel is relevant for the picture. Say, when I take pictures to present the new version of Hotel Dare, and I'm a part of the picture, I don't feel it's relevant to say what I'm wearing. I tell where I am and who the artist is that made the room. If someone leaves a comment and asks about the clothes, that's nice of course :-)

A third category is the «art» picture. That's when you use a sim as the backdrop for staging a well thought out and original vision. Here, you're likely to add quite a few things, either by rezzing them, wearing them or treating the image in Photoshop. The main thing here is neither the sim or yourself, but the idea or mood or whatever you want to express.

And that's when I think you're allowed to make money on your work. You've made something that the sim in itself is not. But of course, it depends on just how big a part the sim plays. Is it a quite anonymous beach, or a unique work of architecture/terraforming? You might want to give a percentage of your earnings to the sim creator as a token of politeness and "I couldn't have done this without you".

I stumbled into this dilemma on my first (and so far only) photo exhibition some weeks ago. Strawberry Holiday told me The Far Away, which I'd used for some pictures, was copyrighted in some way. It was then too late for me to rearrange the exhibition, so I wrote in the invitation that half of what I earned on pictures from AM's creations would go to his fave humanitarian organization, Heifer, and hoped he wouldn't get mad at me. He wasn't in-world then.

When I next spoke to AM, he said it was okay as long as he knew about it. He even sent out a group message so people who might be interested in seeing the pictures would know about it as well. I guess it shows a little goodwill can take you far.

Alpha Auer said...

Well yes. Precisely.

However, from what I understand, so long as, say, Syncretia is the "subject", i.e., an integral part of what constitutes the "artistic" photograph I am well within my legal rights to sue anyone who uses it without my prior consent. Murat, my cousin, also mentioned that establishing whether a thing(s) or person(s) is in fact the "subject", or not, can be tricky and usually judges set up expert panels to determine the issue.

So, people posting pictures of Syncretia on Flickr for their pleasure or to share - fine! I love it! Please continue to do so - regardless of whether you give the place a tag or not. Really and truly! However...

If I ever catch anyone printing, let us say, a calendar of shots of Syncretia and selling it for hard currency - virtual or otherwise? I do not care how many avatars and external objects they put in front of my black mountain! I would sue their sorry asses six ways from Sunday! As a matter of principle!

Because in the end that is what intellectual property rights all come down to: Someone making some kind of "gain" off of your creative endeavor. Doesn't even have to be financial gain really...

Oh and... This one I actually know from my belated mother who used to be a copyright lawyer: Creative work does not need to get patented or copyrighted. It is already intrinsically so. So AM Radio needn't have bothered. The Far Away is his intellectual property and no one can "use" it without his prior consent - regardless of whether it is copyrighted or not.

Sorry people, I know this sounds terribly hard assed - but I think the bottomline is the intention of usage: If someone uses my creative output to attain any kind of a "gain", that leaves me and my consent standing in the dust - then that really is a matter for the courts to decide.

Lem Skall said...

@Therese: Hmmm, I'm no legal expert, but I think a big question here (Ordinal touched on this already) is what is really copyright-able and what does a copyright enforce? I seriously doubt that taking a picture of an object (even a virtual one) constitutes a copyright infringement. Copying the design to create another object with similar use is a copyright infringement, a picture doesn't have the same use as the object though. Even for a virtual object that ends up as a 2D representation on the monitor screen anyway.

A registered trademark is different from a copyright though. I believe you can use a Ford car in a picture as much as you want but when the Ford logo is prominent enough in the picture then there can be legal issues (same with the Coke can, the Coke logo is trademarked). If AM can trademark his wheat field or his windmill, then all the power to him but I doubt it would be possible. And, btw, I am wondering and questioning (@Green) under which of these categories is the Eiffel tower at night.

@Alpha: your cousin's argument about "subject" and "context" is similar to an earlier argument of mine. I would even stress the fact that the "subject" is essential but the "context" can determine the "subject". As in your example, if the picture is of a person in front of a building, usually the subject is the person. But if the picture is put up in an publication on architecture, then the subject may be assumed to be the building. It's kind of subjective, but that's what judges and juries are for.

Also, the issue of consent for publishing a photo of someone is never clear to me. I am pretty sure that Britney Spears never consented for some pictures of her getting out of a car. I guess it's a matter of what is public and what is private and Britney is considered to be a public figure (again subjective). I would like to hear more about that from someone who understands it better than me.

Zinc said...

Why doesn't anyone think the other side of the argument? We all talk as if it is exploitation to use any kind of creation in an SL photograph or even something we should be ashamed of and find excuses for. Has anyone thought that it might be good advertising or in the case of a real good picture and a famous photographer even an honour? I don't think that Campbel soup ever demanded a share of Andy Warhol's earnings from the painting of the soup can, quite the contrary, they were probably happy with the unexpected advertising. A director friend of mine made a film where one key scene involved a can of Coke, not only shown but also mentioned in the dialogue. She contacted the local representatives of the company in case they cared to endorse her. Since it was a small film from a small country they didn't care to, but they certainly had no objection for the scene. And I am sure the same company happily paid a huge amount of money to have her product shown in the new James Bond film. Of course we are talking about a complimentary use of the product, if it was deflamatory or linked with situations that might have been controversial, things would have been different. I know that Mattel, the toy company had sued the Swedish pop band that wrote the "Barbie Girl" song cause they thought it hurt the image of their product. You might argue that the builder of a sim doesn't earn money from his work so he doesn't need the publicity. But I don't think that Menno Ophelia for example was sad that Flickr suddenly filled with pictures from the MC Cuba sim, and let's not forget that in other cases, clothes designers for example do earn money from their creations. So instead of finding excuses for using other people's creations in our machinimas or pictures let's give more power to the artist. After all the only forms of SL creation that can be exported and appreciated in RL are exactly machinimas and photographs and that is beneficiary for every SL creator.

Alpha Auer said...

@ zinc: Wonderful line of reasoning and who could possibly argue with this?

"But I don't think that Menno Ophelia for example was sad that Flickr suddenly filled with pictures from the MC Cuba sim, and let's not forget that in other cases, clothes designers for example do earn money from their creations..."

However, your argument already has a prerequisite embedded right into it: Unless we make the proper attribution this promotion is not about to happen, is it?

Thaumata said...

I read most of the comments but don't have time to read them all, so forgive me if I am repeating someone. Let me play devil's advocate for a moment:

When was the last time you purchased an item or visited a sim which credited all of the brushes, software and source textures used in making the sim/item?

Not saying it's right not to credit, either way, but if we're going to do it, we should ALL do it.

Lem Skall said...

Let's be pragmatic about it. If I am obligated to collect consent releases from the creators of every little thing that is captured in one of my pictures, then I won't take any pictures unless someone is going to pay me a lot of money for them (which is not happening yet :-( ). If I start charging a huge amount of money for the pictures that I take then no one will pay for them anyway. Either way, the result is no pictures. If that is what creators want, let us know.

Moreover, even if I don't use my pictures for any commercial purposes, someone may end up doing that. I have the choice to allow it or at least to overlook it. But if I am at risk to be sued by a creator for having facilitated that then, again, I won't take any pictures.

So creators should also look beyond their immediate impulses and make their decisions based on the larger picture. I would say even more, any SL creator who relies on free viral marketing from all the SL pictures that are being made and never pays a photographer for custom pictures is a hypocrite if he ever sues a photographer who gets paid.

Lem Skall said...

sorry, I need to add attributing "the creators of every little thing that is captured in one of my pictures" to collecting their consent releases. It would be almost as onerous.

Zha Ewry said...

I think the various comments which have focused on context are getting to the nub of the matter. If you flip through a print magazine or newspaper, you'll find a wild variation in what gets credited, and it generally follows the context of the photograph.

When the focus is a person, or event, we see very little crediting. When the article is about zoning and design, we suddenly get the names of the architects of buildings, including, possibly the history of the several renovations which have occurred. A picture in the style section, may well credit the designer of each major item, but, unless they are mentioned in the article, you don't necessarily see incidental items credited.

When looking at pictures of virtual scenes, again, context matters. If the focus of the scene is avatars, the location might not even be mentioned. If the context is that of a themed build, with an artistic intent, I think that needs to be credited.

Unless its the focus of the work, I don't see a need to track down and rattle off every element which has contributed to the image. The majority of what I flickr is centered on people, and I name those in the foreground. I rarely bother to track down the name of every single ave in crowded sim, nor do we see people doing this in most RL photos.

I think, its also important for us to address the "its just a copy of someone else's work" notion. Anyone who has put effort into capturing a good picture in second life, or seen the difference between a quick snapshot, an done which has been carefully composed, light settings played with, camera painstakingly positioned, knows there is serious creative effort involved. Does the creator of the setting need crediting, quite likely, they do, but to simply say, "That's all the effort here" seems wrong.

Thousands, or millions of pictures are taken of many scenes, Only a very few of those images are iconic art. This isn't because the original has changed, its because of the talent and skill the photographer has brought to the photograph.

~ Zha

Bettina Tizzy said...

Oh my goodness, thank you, everyone for your thoughtful responses. I really think this conversation was long overdue. I also believe that we are going to hear a great deal more about this in due course. It's inevitable.

I'm only sorry not to see any comments from folks that show at Avatrait and such... the people who make hundreds of dollars from photographs taken in virtual worlds. I intentionally made them aware of this post and for me, their silence is deafening.

In my opinion, it is not enough to point to Real Life instances to find the answers to the question of attribution as it relates to VW images because one of the main issues is the impression that the viewer might have that the "art," design and ingenuity behind the works portrayed in that image were wholly conceived and created by the photographer.

The first photograph in this post - AM Radio's wheatfield - is a good example. I am not capable of creating that image from scratch but most people in the world would believe that I did.

This is annoying and complex to begin with even before you introduce commerce to the issue, but the moment MONEY comes into play, I think it EXPLODES, especially if that image is not being used for "journalistic" purposes (good call, Therese) but rather as a sale of one's own art in any form.

@Ordinal: You are right when you say that I own the copyright to the image, but as you suggest, I also own the responsibilities of that image.

@Chestnut: "If the photographs are for non commercial uses I wonder if the standard should simply be polite crediting of content creators to the greatest extent possible." - I couldn't agree more. As LEM and HERN pointed out later in the comment thread, the relationship between the creator and the photographer in VWs is symbiotic, and it is for the good of the grid, too.

@Lem: I didn't get into further details about that one issue I had with the owner of a Flickr group because there have been a number of instances, and because those quoted words were written to me in a flickr mail, but you can get a better idea of what happened here:

I also think that we are going to see a lot more licensing such as Creative Commons in VWs. Yes, AM Radio clearly displays a CCA license at the Far Away, and it stipulates, among other things, Attribution, Share Alike and Non-Commerical Use.

@Beth - I laughed and nodded as I read your comment. Yes, the photographer "completes" the photograph. I was reminded of an old friend who has been known to say, "I like to watch." :P

@Green Dream: "...the worlds that we browse are works of art..." YES!

@Hern: "You" is also a form of the art. Yes, totally agree. In fact, the vast majority of VW photographers portray their avatars as the main subject. If the photograph is merely a "snapshot" of folks hanging out, I don't think that anyone much cares, but the moment that photograph becomes "artistic" and especially if money is involved, then yes, that YOU takes on a whole new meaning.

@Yolto and Metacowboy: The moment LL made it possible for its residents to own the IP to their creations, it also made those same residents responsible for their actions. In other words, we are expected to act like grown ups. TOS is one tiny aspect of our responsibilities. Furthermore, Second Life (and LL) are not the only game in town anymore.

@Alpha: Thank you for researching this with the architectural photographer. I tend to agree with him on every count, with the added concern that "art" created in virtual worlds is often erroneously perceived as having been created wholly by the photographer. Also, hasn't LL (to name one of the VWs we frequent) made it clear that we own the copyright to everything we do?

@Therese: I love the way you resolved that issue. Well done!

@Zinc: I agree with Alpha on your points.

@Thaumata: I don't think that attribution for the tools one used to create the image is at issue here unless, of course, the creators of those tools require that you do so, as is often the case with feature films.

Bettina Tizzy said...

@Zha - Agree that context is THE issue here. If you follow the Second Life groups on Flickr as I do, then you are probably aware that more and more people consider their photographs and machinima, as well as that of others, to be "art."

Not only am I not disputing that this can be an art form, I also believe that it is experiencing explosive growth.

I think that arguing that IF we are going to make attributions, then we have to credit the texture makers, as well as the creators of the tools used and "every darn little thing" to be a cop out. As you point out, we need to use good judgement.

Solo Mornington said...

When I buy an article of clothing on SL, it is an implicit invitation to use that article of clothing in whatever way I see fit. If it appears in an SL photograph, I see no legalistic need to mention its creator; unless it's licensed in some specific way, I already paid my money.

Similarly, if someone is inviting you to come to their sim to see it, then they are inviting you to capture its image in some way. Its image will appear on your screen. You could transmit that screen image in some way, such as machinima or SL photography or live streaming or whatever. This is implicit in the invitation to come enjoy the place. If content creators wish to limit the use of their builds, they would have to come up with a way to force a license agreement. Otherwise the neko is out of the bag.

That said....

As Ordinal points out, it's a function of politeness to give credit about such things, and such politeness should be encouraged. I have profile picks devoted to clothes and skin I tend to wear. It's important to me that these 'credits' are given, because I want these artists to succeed in SL, and this is a way I can help. Were I to be involved in machinima or SL photography, I would mention as much as I could, and if I had entered into a legal agreement with the creators, I would of course give the required mention.

So it comes down to: Be a friend to the people who made stuff you like.

Osprey said...

The conversation has been going on in the machinima community, too, as in this thread: which shows people are thinking about it.
It's good to gnaw at this issue as it's a complicated one.

Siri said...

I'm heading to Museum Computer Network conference next week that will address some of these issues. I'm happy to share what I learn...just e-mail me. for my email.

Venk said...

Ahmad and I discuss the questions raised in the blog. This is an edited version of our convo from yesterday and today.

[14:51] Ahmad Hosho: in general.. i think sl is passing the red line with copyrights
[14:51] Ahmad Hosho: for an example textures should have a big market here, but people just go to google and download them
[14:52] Ahmad Hosho: and uplaod in world
[14:52] Ahmad Hosho: while they should just go and hire a texture artist or buy one from market.
[14:52] Stephen Venkman: nods
[14:52] Stephen Venkman: i agree
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: this is the core problem in fact as sl is based on building and texturing
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: now on that particular subject to me .. it is like that
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: Am Radio has opened a sim, and let it public.. i really will feel free to take any machinima and photo without asking him for permission, and no criedit too
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: nods and i understand that
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: and i agree
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: actually
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: private house i think i dont have..
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: but i will ask for private house
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: and it happened in fact.
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: but as a curtesy i like to mention the builder
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: i liked a private house and wanted to snap a photo there
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: so i asked them for permission
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: they said ok do w/e u like
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: so i just do w/e i like and btw in this case i never criedt any one .. because their house can be too private to be known
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: when i creidt i give the SLURL too
[14:56] Ahmad Hosho: [14:54] Stephen Venkman: but as a curtesy i like to mention the builder<--- i do that too, wit th a SLURL. but i dont have to
[14:57] Ahmad Hosho: for hair / clothes etc / no criedt for any one from my side. i paid money why should i credit them
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: no
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: don't have to
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: and i agree about the money
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: you and i see alot along the same lines
[15:02] Ahmad Hosho: i agree
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: mind if i share this with Bettina?
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: this part of the convo?
[15:04] Ahmad Hosho: no i dont mind at all
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: great
[15:07] Stephen Venkman: I feel common courtesy is the way to go
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: well
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: depend on that
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: no one can harm her
[15:07] Stephen Venkman: but to me
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: or u or me
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: they cant stop content theift
[15:07] Stephen Venkman: right

[14:51] Ahmad Hosho: in general.. i think sl is passing the red line with copyrights
[14:51] Ahmad Hosho: for an example textures should have a big market here, but people just go to google and download them
[14:52] Ahmad Hosho: and uplaod in world
[14:52] Ahmad Hosho: while they should just go and hire a texture artist or buy one from market.
[14:52] Stephen Venkman: nods
[14:52] Stephen Venkman: i agree
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: this is the core problem in fact as sl is based on building and texturing
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: now on that particular subject to me .. it is like that
[14:53] Ahmad Hosho: Am Radio has opened a sim, and let it public.. i really will feel free to take any machinima and photo without asking him for permission, and no criedit too
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: nods and i understand that
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: and i agree
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: actually
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: private house i think i dont have..
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: but i will ask for private house
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: and it happened in fact.
[14:54] Stephen Venkman: but as a curtesy i like to mention the builder
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: i liked a private house and wanted to snap a photo there
[14:54] Ahmad Hosho: so i asked them for permission
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: they said ok do w/e u like
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: so i just do w/e i like and btw in this case i never criedt any one .. because their house can be too private to be known
[14:55] Ahmad Hosho: when i creidt i give the SLURL too
[14:56] Ahmad Hosho: [14:54] Stephen Venkman: but as a curtesy i like to mention the builder<--- i do that too, wit th a SLURL. but i dont have to
[14:57] Ahmad Hosho: for hair / clothes etc / no criedt for any one from my side. i paid money why should i credit them
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: no
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: don't have to
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: and i agree about the money
[15:00] Stephen Venkman: you and i see alot along the same lines
[15:02] Ahmad Hosho: i agree
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: mind if i share this with Bettina?
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: this part of the convo?
[15:04] Ahmad Hosho: no i dont mind at all
[15:04] Stephen Venkman: great
[15:07] Stephen Venkman: I feel common courtesy is the way to go
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: well
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: depend on that
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: no one can harm her
[15:07] Stephen Venkman: but to me
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: or u or me
[15:07] Ahmad Hosho: they cant stop content theift
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: and i've spent money on sets of AM's
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: do i have to give credit?
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: no but i do.. one
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: to help push people there
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: in hopes of donations for heifer
[15:09] Ahmad Hosho: well someone kept asking where i got my ankh hair
[15:09] Stephen Venkman: and to see something really brilliant
[15:09] Ahmad Hosho: i told her i painted it
[15:09] Ahmad Hosho: yes i got the structure from sl
[15:09] Ahmad Hosho: but i painted the hair
[15:10] Stephen Venkman: cool
[15:10] Ahmad Hosho: she said i see some parts of hair is inside the avatar
[15:10] Stephen Venkman: and i would have said
[15:10] Ahmad Hosho: i said yes i did that on purpose
[15:10] Ahmad Hosho: i want to keep a touch of sl
[15:10] Ahmad Hosho: but i could break it if i like
[15:10] Ahmad Hosho: she said ok ok where is the base
[15:11] Ahmad Hosho: i gave her the model name
[15:11] Ahmad Hosho: so she go and ask her
[15:12] Ahmad Hosho: she go a shock when she found i repainted the skin.. wow! ankh photo is a cheap redgrave skin? yes and no.. i just take the layout and paint it better and way realstic.
[15:12] Ahmad Hosho: [15:10] Stephen Venkman: and i've spent money on sets of AM's<-- yes, u see?
[15:12] Stephen Venkman: yes
[15:12] Stephen Venkman: but i will say where i got it
[15:12] Ahmad Hosho: makes me very angry that i worked 3 horus in hair
[15:12] Ahmad Hosho: and someone says from where did u get it
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: smiles and gets that too
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: but i will say
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: it's a blend of sl and my ps
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: you won't find it anywhere
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: lol
[15:13] Stephen Venkman: if it was me who did hte hair
[15:13] Ahmad Hosho: and when someone says hey yip or john are doing this art.. guys please, they saw my art and started it.. i am the one who started that sl painting. not beacuse i reached flickr late means i am not that one
[15:14] Ahmad Hosho: beside i like their art too and i need mroe painters in sl.
[15:14] Stephen Venkman: i've tried a few times in painter
[15:14] Ahmad Hosho: every day someone says u are copying them.

Question I asked Ahmad, being he is a senior member of Deviant Art.

[17:04] Stephen Venkman: if i see someones painting on deviant
[17:04] Stephen Venkman: and i recreate the scene in world
[17:04] Stephen Venkman: and take pics and do my ps stuff
[17:04] Stephen Venkman: and then find out they say no copy on their deviant stream
[17:04] Stephen Venkman: have i just copied them?
[17:04] Stephen Venkman: because they inspired me to try it here?
[17:06] Ahmad Hosho: ah kinda yes and no
[17:06] Ahmad Hosho: deviant is fine with trends
[17:06] Ahmad Hosho: cause it is based on them
[17:06] Ahmad Hosho: i mean
[17:07] Ahmad Hosho: batman movie dark knight is on
[17:07] Ahmad Hosho: someone painted the jocker
[17:07] Ahmad Hosho: u find 5634534 deviant painted the jokar

Today i made sure again I had permission to post and he said of course and add this as well.

12:45] Ahmad Hosho: another thing to add..
[12:45] Stephen Venkman: that is exactly where i started
[12:47] Ahmad Hosho: those who asks u for criedting their hair, clothes, or even public building should be ignored, i think this is a waste of time to give them all that attention. There is something called the fair share of use on internet.. In deviantART we are familiar with people who scream like that when someone take their photos and use it in myspace or as an avatar in msn.. come on.. for god's sake..
[12:47] Ahmad Hosho: if i take a photo of someone with hair, skin, clothes.. i am not going to criedit any one.. excuse me.. this is a fair share.. and btw, the one who worn it has paid money for builders.
[12:49] Stephen Venkman: nods
[12:51] Stephen Venkman: will add .. thx

Eshi said...

The way I look at this is as follows:

Take for example my build "Death of the Phoenix" displayed at NPIRL and Rezzable Garden of Delights. Many people took pictures of it, so have I. There are many pictures of it up on Flickr. Most of them do credit me as creator of the depicted work, and I am glad that the persons who took pictures of the exhibited piece had enough decency to give the proper credit- especially after I put out a license information at the exhibit entrance. 'It is OK to take photos for exclusively non commercial use as long as the credit goes to the creator of the work". End of story. Now what TRULY bothers me is when people come to my work, take a high resolution snapshot of 20 hours of my sweat, open it in Photoshop, apply film grain filter, and sign their name on the image. Furthermore, there are people who feel they are entitled to make prints of my work and sell them. So, I am here busting my ass building for 20 hours, making textures and organizing shows for a snapshotographer to come over, take a high rez snap, apply 2 filters in Photoshop, make a smudge here and there and/or there and sell prints in RL of what I have created and call it THEIR RL WORK? Or make a collection of snapshots of my work and call it a portfolio to enter a RL school? No way Jose!
People must get it into their heads once and for all- Second Life is not a 'god' given world, so that the landscape and everything in it which is innate is impossible to attribute to a particular creator. Second Life (in this case) is a live ongoing exhibit of the works of graphic designers and other sorts of creators and if we specify that the work is NOT free for use, then it is NOT.
If I made a dress (imagine THAT!!- lol) and posted the design into my online portfolio, and then someone made it in RL and called it their original design- that would be a lie and a design theft.

A.Hosho said...

Thank You for vent..

And now I will speak and discuss it as a real life person.. and from a real life point of view.

> Who is the artist in this shot? The photographer? In this case, that would be me.

You indeed!

And for whoever is against that,I ask him/her: who made Duchamp's Fountain? is it Duchamp's or The factory/craftsmanship who made it?

Duchamp didn't craft that, he just "modified" it! and he credit no one! You don't credit any one in found art.

Get these information about one of most famous art pieces in 20th century:

And another question is: Who made this photo ( is it Duchamp or Alfred Stieglitz?

For those who speak about the snapshots as real life photography, I know exactly why we are comparing sl photography to real life photography but.. excuse me here.. Second Life® Photography is not a photography. Not because linden labs call their snapshots "photos" and the whole culture of sl photography we are going to change the meaning of "photography". Secondlife photography is a 3d computer graphics art or digital art. You disagree? fine, let me ask You, in case You wear a jacket in second life, does that mean it is a real life jacket?

Same thing applies for photos, The term "photo" in "photography" means the light, the Natural and physical light.. not the light that machine creates.

While what happens in Second Life is exactly the process of 3d computer graphics art.. which is a epresentation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images.. If You still believe that "SL photography" is a real photography, please read this article to know where are we exactly in the terms when it comes to real life art scene.

Also.. The second life viewer is an open source, and it allows You to snapshot anything, You are using the viewer to render the 3d objects and textures! it is Your own art .. You select the angle and set your lighting and snap it. You don't have to credit any one or ask any one for a permission.

Alpha Auer said...

I am very much afraid that in the end we are all going to have to learn the hard way: When someday, someone, takes someone else to court, gets a huge compensatory settlement and then all Duchamp fountain conversations and the like will become history - once and for all.

This is not a matter of personal feelings or ethics or what you like and do not like to do, ladies and gentlemen. Indeed this looks to me very much like as if it is a legal matter. If there are any lawyers out there reading all of this, could they maybe help enlighten us? Please?

Alpha Auer said...

Oh and also: "Ready made art" is assembled out of objects that are in the public domain. If any artist out there takes it upon himself to make a work of art out of something which has intellectual ownership attached to it, my guess would be that it would only be a matter of the owner finding out about the breach and frying his derriere in court straight after.

Very important two words these: Public Domain. Nothing in SL is. Just go ahead and inspect the prims. Where it says "more" and then you click again and it says "inspect" you know?

Zinc said...

That is an attitude that is getting us nowhere. Creators who feel this way should better put a "no photos" sign in the entrance of their sims, or charge admission for entrance or make access to them invitation only, so we know where we stand. We can always "apply 2 filters and do some smudge here and there" in some other sim.

Eshi said...

I agree with zinc. It would be lovely, also, if everyone would respect those signs.

Just as ColeMarie came to ask me if she *may* incorporate a piece of my one hour sim project into her art installation where she in that way makes a reference to me, there shouldn't be any confusion to whether others *may* take images of my 3d images, sort to speak.

People must be confusing 'public domain' with 'public'.

A piece of work hanging in a public gallery does not mean- here honey- take it and redo it and sign your name on it.

A piece of work is FREE to do as one wishes if the AUTHOR or the owner of copyrights declared so.

Put out your copyright notices and close the sims for no-info-on-file avatars. Period.

Alpha Auer said...

I have already said so before and I will now repeat it and then I will shut up:

I am perfectly OK with people photographing my creative output to their hearts content - provided it is for their personal usage. However, if it is to be used for purposes of "gain", such as commercial or professional gain, admission into graduate school - whatever, I would like for my consent to be obtained.

Every thing that Richard Avedon ever photographed was photographed with the creator's and or owner's consent:

Names of models, garments in fashion photographs, you name it... Just go take a look - it is all there! Did this make him any less of a creative photographer? No, of course not! Of course, the photographer has intellectual property rights on his photograph! Of course a sim can be photographed in a 1000 different ways by a thousand different photographers and each have it's own unique merit. No one is arguing any of that here. None of this has anything to do with obtaining the consent of the creator of what is the core "subject" of what is being photographed!

This is nothing but a case of intellectual collaboration - which it would seem that the law compels us to engage in, in the first place.

Princess Ivory said...

@ Eshi "Put out your copyright notices and close the sims for no-info-on-file avatars. Period."

What exactly does that accomplish? Banning "no-info-on-file" avatars? Do you mean no payment info on file?

What does that have to do with copyright? I'm confused. Please explain further.

Princess Ivory

Kriss said...

I definitely appreciate it when people mention Straylight when they take pictures or make videos of my sim, but I don't request that people do it. I have been approached by two RL companies making documentaries on virtual worlds that specifically request that I give permission in writing for them to release footage of my sim. I always approve, but I've never actually asked specifically why they do it.

A.Hosho said...

@Zinc: I ethically respect no photos signs.

> then someday, someone, takes someone else to court, gets a huge compensatory ...

I don't think so.

> Very important two words these: Public Domain. Nothing in SL is. Just go ahead and inspect the prims. Where it says "more" and then you click again and it says "inspect" you know?

I talk again about SL photography as a 3d art.
I render the scene by my open source viewer.. if the artist has made a prim in his own machine, it is not the same prim I see here.. he just upload data and the data are rendered by me.

I know the "rendering" process is not an art work.. but "Lighting is" so .. "Wind Light Photography" is all about "lighting setting" .. if the artist has modeled the object and created textures. I have made the lighting.. I have my share.. still this part doesn't take us any where..

But here You are the points which You need to read:
1.Again the viewer is an open source.

2. > Just go ahead and inspect the prims. Where it says "more" ..

Alpha, we speak here about sl photography not prims. Just go to File> take snapshot>save to your inventory. And the photo is owned by you. This is what Linden Lab decided not me. And if they made that decision, I think I really have to agree.. because I remember they are the one who OWNS my avatar and any data hosted in their server. according to the TOS which You agreed on when You firstly signed in SecondLife. I will copy and paste this part of the "TOS":

3.2 You retain copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to Content you create in Second Life, to the extent that you have such rights under applicable law. However, you must make certain representations and warranties, and provide certain license rights, forbearances and indemnification, to Linden Lab and to other users of Second Life.

Users of the Service can create Content on Linden Lab's servers in various forms. Linden Lab acknowledges and agrees that, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, you will retain any and all applicable copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to any Content you create using the Service, to the extent you have such rights under applicable law.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, you understand and agree that by submitting your Content to any area of the service, you automatically grant (and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant) to Linden Lab: (a) a royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid-up, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to (i) use, reproduce and distribute your Content within the Service as permitted by you through your interactions on the Service, and (ii) use and reproduce (and to authorize third parties to use and reproduce) any of your Content in any or all media for marketing and/or promotional purposes in connection with the Service, provided that in the event that your Content appears publicly in material under the control of Linden Lab, and you provide written notice to Linden Lab of your desire to discontinue the distribution of such Content in such material (with sufficient specificity to allow Linden Lab, in its sole discretion, to identify the relevant Content and materials), Linden Lab will make commercially reasonable efforts to cease its distribution of such Content following the receipt of such notice, although Linden Lab cannot provide any assurances regarding materials produced or distributed prior to the receipt of such notice; (b) the perpetual and irrevocable right to delete any or all of your Content from Linden Lab's servers and from the Service, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and for any reason or no reason, without any liability of any kind to you or any other party; and (c) a royalty- free, fully paid-up, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing and/or providing support services in connection with the Service. Further, you agree to grant to Linden Lab a royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid-up, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable right and license to exercise the copyright, publicity, and database rights you have in your account information, including any data or other information generated by your account activity, in any media now known or not currently known, in accordance with our privacy policy as set forth below, including the incorporation by reference of terms posted at

You also understand and agree that by submitting your Content to any area of the Service, you automatically grant (or you warrant that the owner of such Content has expressly granted) to Linden Lab and to all other users of the Service a non-exclusive, worldwide, fully paid-up, transferable, irrevocable, royalty-free and perpetual License, under any and all patent rights you may have or obtain with respect to your Content, to use your Content for all purposes within the Service. You further agree that you will not make any claims against Linden Lab or against other users of the Service based on any allegations that any activities by either of the foregoing within the Service infringe your (or anyone else's) patent rights.

You further understand and agree that: (i) you are solely responsible for understanding all copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property or other laws that may apply to your Content hereunder; (ii) you are solely responsible for, and Linden Lab will have no liability in connection with, the legal consequences of any actions or failures to act on your part while using the Service, including without limitation any legal consequences relating to your intellectual property rights; and (iii) Linden Lab's acknowledgement hereunder of your intellectual property rights in your Content does not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice, but is intended solely as an expression of Linden Lab's intention not to require users of the Service to forego certain intellectual property rights with respect to Content they create using the Service, subject to the terms of this Agreement.

3.3 Linden Lab retains ownership of the account and related data, regardless of intellectual property rights you may have in content you create or otherwise own.

You agree that even though you may retain certain copyright or other intellectual property rights with respect to Content you create while using the Service, you do not own the account you use to access the Service, nor do you own any data Linden Lab stores on Linden Lab servers (including without limitation any data representing or embodying any or all of your Content). Your intellectual property rights do not confer any rights of access to the Service or any rights to data stored by or on behalf of Linden Lab.

3.4 Linden Lab licenses its textures and environmental content to you for your use in creating content in-world.

During any period in which your Account is active and in good standing, Linden Lab gives you permission to create still and/or moving media, for use only within the virtual world environment of the Service ("in-world"), which use or include the "textures" and/or "environmental content" that are both (a) create


Princess Ivory said...

If I use my own skills/artistic eye to view a setting in a certain way, or from a certain angle or point of view, and maybe I change the Windlight settings as well, and maybe I am only capturing a small piece of the setting, any ensuing photograph starts to become more my work than the original creator's build. And the further I stray, the more "my work" it becomes. Especially if I incorporate other objects or avatars into the scene (either within the virtual world, or in post-process editing).

And do not forget, photography, even digital photography, is a different medium than the work of the content creator. The location has prim objects, and scripts, and a wide variety of textures all incorporated into it. It is a complex 3D setting. My 2D photograph is a different medium altogether. If I were to rebuild your sim on another sim, and make it exactly identical to yours, that might perhaps be construed as some kind of violation. But not a picture of a build. That is a different animal all together.

I do as much as possible give credit to the original creator of the location (especially if the setting is particularly meaningful to the finished product), as well as to any significant clothing, skin, hair, jewelry etc., if if is relevant to the picture. I very much believe in crediting other content artists. It's a good will thing. It can also drive business to them, if someone wants to buy that hair, or those shoes. But I do not feel that I have infringed on copyright, nor do I owe those people a "cut" of any sale proceeds.

My pictures focus on the intersection between the avatar and the environment. If I am crippled by restraints on how I can interpret the environment, my art is likewise crippled.

And it makes no difference if it is just for display, or if it is for sale. Either way, by this point, it has become my work of art, and is a far cry from where I began.

I think of all the RL photographs of landscapes and buildings that I see at art festivals, and I am reasonably certain the photographer did not chase down the owner of every branch and leaf. How could they? Until you get back to the studio and develop your work, you don't know what will use. And it's pretty likely you didn't get a release signed just in case you might use it someday. You might not even remember where you took it.

This is such a complicated issue. Let's not stifle artistic expression if we don't have do. I think in the big picture, we ALL benefit from less restrictions, not more. Otherwise we will reach the point where we are afraid to show any of our work, because we cannot be certain we have credited the owner (and gotten permission from) of every little object in your picture, even the empty chips bag someone placed in the trash can just as you photographed it.

Princess Ivory

Eshi said...


in case of needed lawsuit against individual violating license artist puts out- it would be rather easier to hunt down a person *with* payment info on file then someone without it. no?

Zinc said...

I am the first who will say that creating a sim is the truly new artform that is happening in SL. Machinima is borrowing techniques from cinema and video, SL photography from RL photography when unedited and computer graphics when edited, sculpting from 3D design, but creating a work of art that you can walk through it and interact with it, yes it is something original. Unfortunately not only it can't be exported in RL, it can also be a very expensive creative outlet, maintaining a sim is not cheap. Eventually creators will have to find ways to be recompensed for their efforts, either by charging admission in some way or by using it to attract people to their stores, much like RL museums do. What makes all this conversation slightly funny is that when this will happen, when a sim turns into a product that has to be advertised and sold, the creators will hire good photographers to create that advertising much like clothes designers already do. (Cause SL will be promoting the sims their moles build like it does now for Nautilus and Bay City) Till then, as long as a sim remains an offer to the public, it is indeed a symbiotic relation that benefits mainly sim creators. Even average and bad photos of a sim in great numbers show how much people like it and in some degree how good a job was done in it. But it is not what is shown in a photograph that makes it good nor does the choice of location makes a good photographer or machinima director. A good photographer can make an amazing photo in a black background, in a flat undeveloped sim, even in the ad farms of the mainland (the last one would be a challenge, I admit). Come on, people, I don't know what is art and who can call themselves artists but we all sure use SL for our creative outlet in different ways. As long as there's mutual respect instead of manifestos and threats of lawsuits everyone wins.

Douglas Story said...

There have been many thoughtful comments in this thread, on a subject near to my heart. My feelings were expressed closely by this response from Alpha Auer (edited a bit)

"I spoke to my cousin who is an architectural photographer and he says that it would primarily be a matter of context and usage: If he takes a photograph of his wife in front of a building and posts it on flickr then of course he would not be giving an attribution to the building or the architect. If however, he puts the same exact photograph in a book/exhibition on architecture, then he is obliged to give out that information.... what determines the issue in terms of legality are the keywords "subject" and "context"."

Also at work here are issues of intent, as Therese noted in her post. If a picture is intended as journalism, that's a lot different from someone taking a picture of another creator's build and --selling-- that image. Again, I'm with Alpha on this one.

There's also questions of courtesy. I recently saw an image in a Second Life art gallery of Juria Yoshikawa's beautiful "Liquid Light" build. The picture was framed well, but nothing whatever had been added by the photographer - it was a beautiful picture because Juria's build was beautiful. True, it was titled "Liquid Light," but Juria was not credited at all.

This is just rude. The kicker to this little story is that this particular gallery boasts of their sales of images in the real world, for non-Linden dollars!

This is a complex question, as witnessed by the variety of responses here. I think each usage has to be taken on a case-by-case basis, considering things like context, intent, and practicality (no Bettina, I think we don't need to know who made your hair.) But, like the quote about the legal definition of pornography suggests, "I know it when I see it."

Kee Llewellyn said...

Well, I wonder at this. For example, say I work in Poser (the 3D app) or some other 3-d app, and I create an image of a person standing on a street corner wearing clothes, looking at at car passing by etc. Chances are that I would not be the creator of all the things seen in that shot. Companies like Daz and others sell all kinds of pre-made objects for 3-D art. If I were to use several of these products in my illustration should I be "required" (by whom and with what legal basis, I wonder) to credit all the other artists?

Let's say I'm a painter and I use a couple of dozen tubes of paint and a bunch of brushes to create a painting. Should I credit Winsor Newton?

As a writer should I note that my screenplay was created in Final Draft?

I actually believe that these scenarios are silly and present the hyper-touchy me-me-me-mine-mine!!!! self-regard and legalistic lunacy of today's America in stark relief.

Second Life is a "public place." If you build there (as I do) you run the risk of having someone take a screen shot and work it up as art. Indeed this is a primary motivation of creators like AM Radio (and myself). To have our work appreciated and passed on. I can't get worked up over the idea that someone might take a picture of one of my builds. Actually I get a kick out of it when I see my sim on Koinup or Flickr. And if someone manages to sell their photo of my build, more power to them.

Frankly, the only thing that would piss me off is if they went around saying, "Look at this great build I did, Here's a picture of it." But this is the age of the intertubes and any claim like that is likely to be investigated and blown away (if it becomes public enough).

As for people stealing photos from Getty and bringing them in to SL as textures they then paint on to prims, that is an issue. But really, the best textures in Sl are made by real artists who take the time to properly tile them and adjust contrast and colour and tone etc. Sticking a crap picture of water from Stockbyte on your prim is newbie shit and is not likely to be marketable any way (that's why there is so much free stuff in SL).

Lem Skall said...

I don't claim to have all the answers but stop using copyright laws when it comes to pictures of SL creations unless you can make a clear legal argument. Because I don't think there is one and bringing up copyright is just smoke.

A photograph of a painting may be considered a close enough reproduction so copyright is relevant. But a picture of an object or a landscape is not a close enough reproduction even if the objects are virtual. IMO, all those consent releases in RL are for issues of branding and privacy. There are usually no such issues for public landscapes in SL. I can think of some possible cases but it's not like they are trademarked yet.

As an aside, I think that restrictions on photographing in museums have a lot of reasons and copyright may be even a minor one. I can personally think of paranoia about the effect that flash lights can have on the exhibits and paranoia about preventing scrutiny on security measures.

Magdalena said...

Huge number of artistic, creative, social, cultural issues here that I cannot and would not begin to address, since I'm not an artist/creative type.

But someone earlier mentioned the issues of recognizable objects in film being covered over and obscured based on copyright concerns, and so I point to this lovely resource from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University School of Law: Bound by Law? Not sure it gives answers that will satisfy, but it's an interesting framework for many typical copyright questions that confront artists.

Benjamin Duranske said...

Was planning to post a comment, but it got far too long.

Here's my take on this at Virtually Blind.

Thanks to Lem Skall for the heads-up on this thread and for encouraging me to think about it.

Legally, my bottom-line analysis is that under current law, you have to seek permission to use other people's creations in your work, but that I could see a court entertaining arguments that it should go the other way.

Right now though? This isn't going to be popular, but I recommend seeking permission before using somebody else's creation in your work.

Arteer said...

Good stuff, here. Thanks for the much-needed discourse on this topic.

Dingo and Silver said...

Upon reflection, it seems to me that, rather than discouraging photographers, AM Radio would better serve Heifer by holding a photo contest, choosing the best twelve pictures, and printing a FL calender, with proceeds going to Heifer.

This benefits everyone: the SL photographers get AM's permission and some FL recognition, Heifer gets the profits, and AM establishes to a non-SL audience his ownership of his SL creations. By issuing his own FL products, he can wrest control back from any potential FL copyright violators. This is what FL museums do: they issue the official catalogue of their collections and exhibitions.

The second thought I had is that the sudden popularity of the Far Away must have felt overwhelming. When something you've created achieves cult status, it can feel as though your baby has been taken away from you and is being devoured by the greedy public. I'm just thinking that feeding them your own recipe might be more effective than trying to keep the wolves at bay.


zimbeline said...

I know this horse has been beaten considerably since this post was written, but I was reading again and was reminded of a series of events. A friend of mine is a freelance photographer. Her money maker is the local sports teams which in my location do reasonably well, at least in two sports. Now, during a championship season, after winning the Stanley Cup, her photos from the games in the series were stolen and sold. She had to sue to reclaim ownership and recoup her losses. Understandable. The question remains is that since she makes her living off of photographing a franchise, with athletes who are essentially mini-businesses themselves, who really owns the images? The players in the game she photographs? The trademarked logo on the uniforms, isn't that licensed and owned by the franchise? The arena that was built and is owned by the franchise? No, she owns the rights to those images and she makes money off of the images. The players names are often credited, but not the arena or the company that runs the sports team. I think the copyright/trademarked line is a very fine one.

Personally, as an artist myself, I have to come to terms with how much of my art I "own". I realize that I have very little control over what happens once I release my work into the wilds of SL and I have to accept that there are unscrupulous people who will possibly abuse my rights to the work. But I'm not going to get paranoid over ownership because then I will really lose control of what is the point of why I create in the first place.

I feel we have to take into consideration that our "need" to make a mark, to make a name and own the absolute rights to what we create is often a mark of our own greed. We want to capitalize in some form on what we "own"; either through brand recognization or more commonly, through monetary compensation. Our lives have become a series of transactions. Everything, it seems, is to have a monetary value placed upon it.

I have no problem with people owning their work and making a living from it. We all need to make a living. I have a problem with the rabid pursuit of "content ownership" that I've witnessed lately crossing over into something near to virtual lynching. To say that we own something that is essentially illusory and unstable -- is complete madness. It's almost like building an economy on money that isn't really there.

Stone said...

Bettina, you are the artist in the first shot. You created the image. You own it.

The creator owns the image. The rights to its use are yours to retain forever, or give away part or all of, or sell part or all of.

You my photograph people and things in public places without needing to obtain permission, except where the photograph of the person or object would be used in a commercial advertisement.

Credits for things seen in the image content is entirely optional. Of course we are polite. Most of us are generous and charitable so we opt to credit things that we think are important elements in a photo.

Chestnut's argument sounds honorable, but does not apply legally. There is a difference between selling a photograph and selling some other product using a photograph. In any RL photo art gallery you will see in photos a zillion things neither credited nor especially permitted by the creators of the objects in the photos.

"Videoing someone else's video" is nonsense and reveals the ignorance of the commenter.

Earth's example about soda pop cans in movies is merely about profit. Movies may include a Dr. Pepper can, a Macintosh computer or whatever banded product, but producers try to milk every dollar they can (no pun intended) from their work so they get manufacturers to pay to be seen in a movie.

Alpha, the architectural photographer may work under a different set of standards and practices, so his ideas may not apply here. Here in our blogs, we work under rules that apply to journalists and the First Amendment protects us. This blog is a journalistic work. So is your Flickr photostream.

Lem is correct. Many, many people just don't get it. They suffer wildly inaccurate fantasies of Second Life, what it's about and how it works. I would say, however, that where Lem says "SL creators and SL photographers [have] a symbiotic" relationship, the same is true in RL.

SL mimics RL.

Ruina Kessel said...

Unrelated to the copyright discussion, but I could not pass by this comment by Zinc:

"I am the first who will say that creating a sim is the truly new artform that is happening in SL. Machinima is borrowing techniques from cinema and video, SL photography from RL photography when unedited and computer graphics when edited, sculpting from 3D design, but creating a work of art that you can walk through it and interact with it, yes it is something original."

... In fact, 'creating a work of art that you can walk through ... and experience' is not new. This is what installation art is, as well as landscaping (and the lovely place those 2 things meet). All of which have been happening long before SL. So, much like machinima or sl photography or anything else, it is a newer more extreme form of a type of art already in existence.