Dear FashCon Members,
The unremitting rise in Content Theft in SL has made it necessary for Fashion Consolidated to firm up its policies on piracy and also businesses in a box. What follows isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got right now:
- Avatars who have had DMCA take-down orders successfully filed against them will be removed permanently from Fashion Consolidated vendor status.
- This removal from vendor status will occur even if the selling avatar has legitimate content in her or his store, and regardless of claimed ignorance that the content was stolen – this is subjective, and unprovable.
- Resellers (people who buy things from others to sell or use businesses in box) are not original designers and are not considered to be legitimate Fashion Consolidated vendors. They will also be removed if they sell no legitimate self-designed fashion content.
- Removal of vendor status is permanent and can only be overturned if all DMCA take-downs are successfully contested with LL.
- Refunds will not be given for kiosks of removed designers – the rules are clear on joining.
Now, the more lengthy bit about what this means and why we’re doing this and what we wish for to make it better:
First off, content theft is not a casual virtual crime – it’s wilfully stealing the hard work of others for financial gain. Just like any other theft, it’s mean, stupid and unimaginative and should be dealt with swiftly. Designers work and labor and tweak and hone and battle the vagueries of SL to bring us wonderous goodies and deserve to be protected by those who cherish their work – that includes by other designers, buyers, and any connected organisation.
We at Fashion Consolidated receive a number of tips from shoppers that certain stores are selling stolen goods. Sometimes this turns out to be true, other times not, and – frustratingly – sometimes we never hear from the designers themselves at all about what they think. Sometimes designers themselves contact us asking us to remove the alleged thieves from our vendor rolls. We’ve had cases of blatant theft going on undetected, and other cases of what seems to us like screaming blatant theft, but after many hours of investigation turn out to be a false trail – a common source for design, etc.
In all cases, what we need is independent third party confirmation that yes, an item was copied. We at Fashion Consolidated do not have the expertise to do this evaluation ourselves – really. We’ve tried and all we end up doing is inappropriately attempting to be self-appointed judge and jury, or reinventing the decision making process that even Linden Lab, with all its employees, takes some time to process as designers often discover. Currently, the most standard evaluation we have is this DMCA process run by the Lindens.
Therefore, if the Lindens judge that the evidence is sufficient to accept a DMCA, FashCon’s judgement is that this is sufficient and the only fair course of action to the community is to remove designer rights. If you are a designer who has sucessfully gotten the Lindens to take down the work of a resident – and that resident is marketing through Fashion Consolidated – please send Ivy Norsk (FashCon’s content moderator) a copy of the Linden or OnRez DMCA response about removing items. We will follow suit immediately and the member will immediately and permanently have their vendor status revoked. Note that this works, because, as LL explains, the consequences of a false DMCA are very RL, and very real and will probably involve lawyers. See LL’s page on DMCAs for more details.
Note: yes, we have decided for consistency’s sake that this does apply to past DMCAs against current FashCon vendors. We are aware that this may hit a few people previously successfully DMCA’d as selling stolen content, who say they have tried to “go good,” but we have decided that we cannot maintain a membership where people complain as they are kicked that “so and so did it too, why do they get to stay?” – we need to act with impartiality. So this highlights a very important issue:
If you carry stolen goods, you WILL be removed from FashCon. Ignorance of the nature of the goods you receive is no excuse in RL law, neither is it something the Lindens will forgive you for. Nor will this group. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that nothing you sell has even the faintest chance of being stolen. If in doubt, DON’T sell it, and report the supplier. If you are DMCA’d for selling such goods, regardless of your naivety, noobness etc, you WILL be removed from FashCon, permanently.
What’s wrong with this?
The Lindens are slooooow. Also the DMCA process is onerous for designers. We recognize this and would like to have the option to accept other independent third party evaluations in the future should such an evaluating group arise. But they will have to be recognised by the whole community as good, independent trusted arbiters.
What you should do if you think you see something that you believe is stolen:
Contact the original creator by notecard informing them of the what and the where and the who, so that they can check the situation out quietly. You can also tell Ivy Norsk, and she will put the alleged thief on her watch list so she is aware this is ongoing, even if it’s impossible to act at this stage. If you can’t resolve the matter, file a DMCA with LL and let Ivy know of the outcome. You must do this to have the offender removed from FashCon. Please don’t tell us it’s obvious theft and we are harbouring thieves if we don’t kick on your own insistence – we have to be fair to all and follow a process. If you are sure you have been stolen from, follow that through: file a DMCA, or suggest that the content creator does, and we will act swiftly and with wrath and vengeance once your case is proven.
If you have been convicted via DMCA and removed from FashCon vendors: do not ask us to restore you, or have mercy. You’ve been found guilty of supporting theft of others’ work by Linden Lab. Your only recourse is to file a counter-DMCA – if that is successful and your innocence proved, your vendor status will be restored.
About BIBs: Businesses in a Box are often used by thieves to move stolen merchandise or to hide behind. We have heard “Oh, I got it from a box and I didn’t know” more times than we care to remember. We know that all of us were once naive and did not know what a BIB was, but we cannot allow the BIB to stand as a bluff, and indeed, marketing wares from a box is not something that a real designer does. So, if you are a designer and you are reselling a little something from a box, even as a little freebie enticement, get rid of that merchandise. It can only do your business harm.
On a final note: Fashion Consolidated is a huge group of about 7500. It is an open enrollment community and marketing/information service. Just because a person is a member does not mean that they are a FashCon vendor. Notes saying “I can’t believe so and so thief is in Fash Con” aren’t meaningful; if they’re a vendor – then it’s a problem.
I hope that this policy will in some small way stem the tide of thievery. And now that you are done reading we urge you all to get out on the grid and support your favorite content creators with your lindens.
Honey Fairweather & Ivy Norsk
Owner & Content Moderator, Fashion Consolidated