CopyBot

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A lot of people don't fully understand CopyBots, what is possible and what isn't possible. This page is designed to help creators understand what thieves can and can't do.

What is a CopyBot?

A CopyBot is any Second Life client which has the ability to export items without any permissions checks. Such software is easy to get hold of, and is undetectable by Linden Lab.

How do they work?

Almost all content in Second Life has to be downloaded to the viewer in order for you to enjoy it. Once the content is downloaded to the viewer, a malicious viewer can easily export this content, and the content can be re-uploaded.

Can they steal stuff from my vendors / dropboxes?

See Object Contents

What about the Third Party Viewer policy?

It's largely useless. Any viewer can identify itself as a particular release, and there's no way for LL to know what the viewer really is.

My stuff is no-mod!

A common misconception. Setting your items to no-mod does not affect CopyBots in any way. It will only annoy your legitimate customers.

Who will show as "Creator"?

If it's an object built with prims, it could be anyone. Any full perm prim created by any avatar in Second Life can be used to re-build the object, so you often see copybotted stuff still showing the genuine creator, or indeed a Linden..

If it's clothing, an animation, a texture, sound, or mesh, this will usually show the name of the thief as creator. However, these accounts are often stolen accounts or throwaway alts, so the person showing as "creator" is often either a victim of a hack (and thus innocent), or is irrelevant.

I use a "copybot protection" script

These are useless and don't accomplish anything, other than annoying your legitimate customers.

Object Contents

In Second Life, it's normally not possible for a bot to steal items which are in the contents of another object. This includes anything in your vendors or dropboxes.

However, there are a few situations that might make this possible:

  • If your own account has been compromised.
  • If you have granted "modify rights" to someone who abused those rights.
  • If you have deeded a dropbox or vendor to group, and a malicious person has sufficient rights in the group to manipulate group-owned objects.

What's the threat to me?

Animations

Animations can easily be stolen. The thief doesn't need to own the animation, just be in the vicinity of the animation being used by someone else (or on a pose stand).

Clothing

Clothing can easily be stolen. It used to be possible to copy clothing directly from another Avatar. However, due to Server-Side-Baking, usually the thief will need access to the clothing in inventory to get the original clothing textures, rather than a "baked" version.

Gestures

Gestures can easily be stolen, though the availability of copybot clients which do this is limited.

Mesh

Mesh can be stolen. Copybot clients already exist which are able to steal mesh items. Contrary to popular understanding, it's also possible to copy rigged mesh, though this is more tricky.

Prims

Prims can very easily be stolen and copied. A thief can do this with objects in inventory, or rezzed objects.

Scripts

Generally speaking, scripts cannot be stolen, since they run server-side and are not downloaded to the client.

Exploits

In the past, no-copy scripted objects have successfully been stolen, due to exploits in the server-side code. Whilst the exploits have been fixed, the stolen content is still around and still actively being sold on the marketplace.

Particles, floating text

It's possible for a copybot client to recreate certain functionality of a script. For example, texture changes, floating text, and particles. This is because the copybot client can observe these things and record the parameters, and create a new script to reproduce the functionality.

Sculpts

Like prims, sculpts can very easily be stolen and copied. A thief can do this with objects in inventory, or rezzed objects.

Shapes

Shapes are trivial to steal.

Sounds

Sounds can easily be stolen. The thief doesn't need to own the sound, just be in the vicinity of the sound being used by someone else, or being played by an object.

What can I do?

There's not a lot you can do to stop people from stealing your stuff.

However, don't just throw in the towel and give up.

  • Continue innovating. Focus on making new, exciting content, and promoting your brand. Brand image is everything, and every bit of extra exposure you get, is less exposure given to the thieves.
  • Keep an eye on marketplace listings, on SL Marketplace and PrimBay.
  • File a DMCA complaint with Linden Lab or a notice of infringement with CasperTech if you find any stolen content being made available on those systems.

No matter what - keep creating, don't give in to the thieves. If you leave SL or stop selling your items, you're giving them all of your business!