Copyright Infringement or Inspiration?

POSE by you.

I agree that content theft is inexcusable, but inspiration is not content theft. Quotes lifted from Aya Liotta’s blog entry:

“…It has come to my attention that many of your poses bare a very strong resemblance to poses of other creators on FILOS and others throughout SL.”

“…He claims, he plans to make exact replicas of some of our favorite pose creators work and sell it for 1L.”

Here is my unsolicited opinion on the “issue”. Making poses is one of the many things I dabble in when I’m bored, just for fun. I make mostly static poses, and in my opinion, they cannot be copyrighted by themselves. If I make a stand, and someone else comes along and makes a similar stand, no content theft has occurred. Anybody is just as capable as I am of opening poser, qavimator, DAZ Studio or their animation program of choice and making WHATEVER POSE THEY WANT TO. It’s just human nature to be inspired by others we see and try to make our own or make it better. This is SL, you don’t have to be FIRST… but you can be better. Or even worst, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s YOUR OWN WORK. Am I alone in my opinion? I’ve decided to poll a couple of friends in SL to see their point of view. Posted below are opinions by friends who have decided to remain anonymous in their entirety.

—- Anon 1’s opinion —-

Maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but I find it hard to claim copyright over a pose that anyone can emulate if they have the right posing software. I can make poses myself and can create stands, sits, walks, and I would be miffed if someone accused me of copyright infringement if I decided to upload a sit with legs crossed. If we have the resources, why spend the 250L when you can spend 10L to upload something you posed yourself with full perms and creative authorship with it.

Dances, I would think may hold some weight. But a pose? A hug? A particular snuggling/sex position? Have we forgotten what derivative work means? Or should we start slapping the kama sutra book on posers too since they might on the chance, be getting their inspiration from there too?

Unless the actual bvh was hacked or copied, it’s not copyright infringement. i don’t even know if it’s possible to throw copyright on a pose. First of all, posing software was intended for renders and animations. Read that as pictures and films that I’ll just simply call “projects.” That static pose holds no weight unless it was rendered into an actual project. And even then the whole project is copyright, not that one element of it. Trying to lay claim on a pose anyone can interpret on several posing software is like trying to lay claim on the on the black dresses, the stiletto, hairstyles etc.

I mean by their rule of thumb then we can’t recreate any movement that may resemble theirs. But poses and anims aren’t meant to stand on their own. That animation is nothing unless a character dances it. That pose isn’t seen unless someone takes a pic with characters using it. And as far as mimicking advertising goes, do I have to say it? Advertising copies off and feeds off each other. If that’s an ad, it’s open to derivative work. And sorry, no one can scream copyright if you’re using the same black background and lighting that anyone with 2 cents worth of PS skills can do. Static poses determine nothing … if you want to really shine, make animations. That’s where it gets complicated.

For the most part, animators/posers in SL have it easy. Anytime someone puts out a creation in SL, there is a high level of risk with the potential of return. Anything you put out there as your own work is like that. For these pose vendors, you’re already putting something out there, an idea. And since you’re selling that idea, you’re enabling people to compound on that. Build on that. Derive from that. You get paid for the pose, you’re exposing that pose. And some folks will see it and go meh, I can make that myself. And that’s how it goes. You don’t hold rights on what people do with it afterwards. Unless they are outright hacking into the system to extract the bvh file and flipping that for sale.

—- Anon 2’s opinion —

Anon 2: well really you have to ask the question, how much ownership does a person have on anything in this game that emulates rl. Cell phones, blue tooth, pagers, etc are a prime example. Iphones. Materialistic items yes, but just give an example. Dig deeper, and you find that tattoos and clothing design is done similarly.

Anon 2: so naturally poses and stances etc, aren’t really anyones to claim

Anon 2: you can claim the work and the efforts put into it, the detail for the likeness of the rl version, but beyond that there’s not much

Anon 2: in a similar shade, there’s also the arguement held in rl over cologne and perfumes. A scent cannot be copyrighted. You can see 7 different bottles, each with different names, each different prices. Which is the best? The one who’s name you prefer. On some aspects the only possible way you can claim some things is by the weight the name carries

—-

What’s your opinion on this?

Posted by Gogo

Second Life Blogger since 2007. I write about SL fashion, events, and occasionally explore nice places. Thank you for reading my blog!

15 comments

  1. In a way, I agree with you. I mean, poses are based off real life, so you can’t really “copyright” them. People can make similar poses all the time, because there are only so many poses a human body could do. HOWEVER, the part that angered me was him saying that he was planning on making EXACT REPLICAS of other designers poses and selling them at 1L. He is ADMITTING his plan to KNOWINGLY copy someone elses design, and THAT is wrong. That’s the part I have a problem with. Well, that and him calling me a stupid bitch and telling me to fuck off, but that’s just me. 😛

  2. I don’t believe having “similar” poses is copyright infringement. There are so many pose makers in SL it’s hard not to create something similar after awhile, especially when you’re getting inspiration from fashion photography, runways, etc. Even if someone does a “similar” pose it’s going to be their take on it.
    I disagree about static poses not being complicated btw, they *can* be difficult to make when you’re trying to make them as natural and smooth as possible given the avatar limitations. Of course animations are far more complicated.
    Good post!

  3. Yeah that guy is dumb. The only stuff that bothers me in SL is the people who think they can copy star wars, rip textures from other games or whatever and think they have a right to when they don’t. Luckily the Batman avatar was removed thanks to DC and the Ironman one, courtesy of Marvel, since it is their property. Poses though… anyone can recreate those, even animations or movements, if you think of the imitators like Jim Carey doing William Shatner for example or Keanu doing Bruce Lee’s little hand movements in The Matrix.

  4. There are MANY poses that are similar. I can vouch for that 😀 That doesn’t mean they weren’t made by a particular creator. There are only so many ways a body can move — even if you are going by photos of RL people. I don’t see how poses can be copyright protected as they can be reproduced fairly easily “by chance” even without inspiration — and inspiration can come from many venues. I agree with Torrid and she should know as she definitely has the most “natural” poses I know. Her work gives WEIGHT to our avatars that is missing in so many other poses. I do agree that a long animation dance COULD be considered as copyrightable. That is much different. Just like shapes which cannot be copyrighted, just like recipes in RL, I don’t see how static poses can be.

  5. I agree with you that poses can’t really be copyrighted.
    I agree that if the actual digital file was stolen and transferred illegally, but if the person just made it look like a similar pose through their own work and use their own skills and programs then there is no theft.
    In our RL business, we get knocked off quite a bit, but there just isn’t that much protection for an artistic design. As long as it is altered somehow and done with that person’s own hands it’s difficult to claim copyright. I saw a Halloween prop at a store today from another company that had a face JUST like one of the props we make. But, it was a lot smaller, and looks like it was just sculpted to look like it and we have to just throw our hands up and laugh that someone liked it enough to make their own version.
    HOWEVER, if we looked at that prop and could see a sign that it was not sculpted by someone new but instead poured into a mold bootlegged from one of our actual props then that would be illegal.
    It does sound sort of snide to claim you’re going to rip off other people’s work and sell it for $1L with ill intention, but there legally isn’t much you can do.

  6. Hi,
    Most of you now know me as the owner of FILOS and the person who is making the accusations against SR3D poses. I have been told by many people since the incident of Saturday that “poses are a gray area” and “anyone can make the same human gestures”. Yes, that is true. My response to that is, if that is the case why is my sim, FILOS filled with all different poses from different creators? How could I have a sim filled with different pose shops? The answer is simple, you don’t hug your mom like you do your boyfriend. Or sit with your best friends like you do your little sister. Each person has different feelings and reactions that’s what pose creators love about pose making.
    The other issue that has arisen over my “accusation” is well, anyone can copy and ad from a magazine and make that pose and bring it to SL and use it. It is also, possible that they saw the same ad and therefore created the same pose. This would in my eyes be an option if they had copied one store maybe two, but they have used poses from all different shops all over the grid. That is nearly impossible. It’s obvious they draw “inspiration” as someone else put it, from other pose creators.
    Taking legal action or making DMAC’s against him isn’t up to me. That’s up to the creators. I however do not need to have him at my sim. I do not have to endorse their lack of creativity and apparent inability to use vocabulary that isn’t derogatory.
    Nice post, but I don’t think you really read the whole thing on my page so please, read….
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ayaliotta/2855152544/
    or:
    http://slimplythebest.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/posers-revolt-against-content-theft/
    Thanks,
    – Aya Liotta
    – Owner of FILOS

  7. I agree that outright copyright protection probably does not exist for anything but the actual BVHs in this case.
    That said, if the accusation that the person in question has made a business of creating his own versions of the designs of other creators are true, then at the least there’s an ethical issue and I can see why FILOS chose to not have this person as part of their animation group just on that alone.

  8. Aya Liotta i think YOU handled this in a very good manner – you tried to sort this and the abuse was nasty – this post has missed the whole point.
    its a ramble nothing more.
    Yes poses are hard to copyright BUT if you know you have made them in good faith and been honest then the abusive reaction would not happen.
    The vile comment about going to set out to copy and sell for 1L other people work is nasty and this should have been the realt topic here.
    Support honest creators – not people who copy others, abuse folks or when listing in search pose in words of other creators to try and steal sales.
    If your work if good and creative enough it will stand on its own and you wont need this behaviour any of you

  9. hey gogo!
    I agree with you. It’s even hard to do an animation that isn’t similar to one that already exist. It arise naturally. And also why i shouldn’t recreate myself a pose that i love very much but with all aspects in it i would like to do better. Creation envolve by inspiration. But I must say, i can’t stand ppl who don’t use their own imagination. If this guy (who ever) want to do harm to this creators he should also be good with copying promotion strategies. Anyway, I’am sure most of pricy poses you can find in a L$0 box somewhere in sl. I for myself like to buy stuff in awfully pretty shops, from talented creators and not from an ugly box somewhere in an even more ugly freebie store

  10. It’s funny. I don’t see the same level of outrage over copyright infringement aimed at a store at FILOS that used RL photographs to sell their wares. I’d be shocked if those photos aren’t copyrighted.

  11. I just thought I’d toss my 2 cents in here. Since I’ve sort of seen a bit of this in the groups and blogs as well. I just wanted to say that, I think there is a difference between being inspired by someones poses to create a similar of your own and blatantly saying that you’re copying someones poses to sell them for cheaper, and then being completely rude and ignorant on top of that.

  12. I think his stupid remark about making copies and selling for 1 linden was an angry reaction to being called a cheat and being evicted without any chance to defend himself.
    I don’t think Aya acted professionally. A professional would have said, it’s come to my attention that you may have copied some poses. If that is so, I will have to evict you. Can you show me any documentation, acquisition or creation dates that could establish your innocence.
    That is what a professional would have done. Her unprofessional actions resulted in making him angry and he acted badly. I wonder how well any one of us would act after being accused tried and convicted and being informed of the verdict and punishment when it was all over – with no opportunity to defend ourselves.

  13. @ B … If we’re going to just focus on how people have behaved on this matter, then let’s focus on both people involved and dissect why things blew up to this porportion. And how they could’ve both acted differently to smooth out this situation.
    On second thought, LET’S NOT. I think it’s only right that the copyright issue is addressed, instead of focusing on what he said, she said. To focus on the behaviours shown on this incident is polarizing, becomes a screaming match from both camps. And I for one appreciate the opinions expressed here. It’s interesting to see how people view things who have no personal motives behind it other than to give an opinion.
    Don’t take it personally if we don’t agree or aren’t feeling as strongly as your friend. The originator of that chatlog said come to your own judgments. Well, we have.

  14. let me set one thing straight – i am not friends with anyone involved with this – but manners is everything when dealing with situations – should u feel wrongly done by abuse isnt the best way to handle it
    ACT to ur own tune dont REACT to others

  15. Poses is a tough call. I see people selling poses named and based of of celebrity poses used in magazines, etc. No witch trials for them. And that would be worse than copying a sl poser pose anyway.
    When I released the dolly goth chunky pumps I knew it was a matter of time before they were “ripped off”. But it is a “style” from real life. Filing a DMCA would be stupid an a total waste of LL’s time. Fortunately I still sell mine for less so only “unaware” people buy them from “the rippers”.
    Textures on the shoes would be a different story.
    Keep in mind that if you file a false DMCA you can go to jail for perjury. So you had better be absolutely 100% certain you are exactly right before you go filing a DMCA. And witch hunts based on opinions and histrionics? That is an easy case of libel. Go ahead if you want to be peon labor for those people you don’t like.

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