Virtual Knock-Offs Knock Over Virtual Businesses

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The virtual world of Second Life is seeing its own “in-world” version of digital content knock offs, and it’s leading many businesses to shut their “doors” till something is done about it.

One of the draws of Second Life being the ability to start your own business and sell “products” for a virtual profit. But earlier this week some players noticed others were duplicating all the goods held by other Avatars using a tool called CopyBot. The goods could then be resold or used for “free.”

People, not surprisingly, were annoyed.

Employees of Linden Labs, which runs Second Life, posted on the company’s blog that using CopyBot or similar programs would violate the Terms of Service agreement and victims should file a complaint so that the perpetrators “may” be banned, but that “Second Life needs features to provide more information about assets and the results of copying them. Unfortunately, these are not yet in place.”

Moments later businesses began putting up signs like this one and shutting down their stores.

Economic chaos, breadlines, inflation and virtual soup kitchens with the tune “Brother, can you Spare a Dime?” piping through the game’s ambient music score are expected at any time.

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