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Stop Ripping Art That Isn’t Yours.

STOP this practice.

The person responsible for the mural in this painting is MALT, an artist from Detroit who does beautiful paintings around town and abroad. I recognized this picture because the irl version is located at an art park not far from me (scroll down to the last picture), and his style is recognizable just about anywhere.

I am not the first Detroiter to be active in the grid. Detroit Techno Militia was here once too. I’ve seen Niagara‘s work for sale at Tart Gallery, I’ve seen tons of great art in galleries that said they were used with permission, but I always had a funny feeling about it. Something was always off.

So when I recognize a fellow painter’s work in the game, especially if they’re a local artist, I contact the artist to let them know what’s going on. Sometimes they have actually given permission to have their work for sale or used in the grid, but many times they don’t even know their work is being used at all.

This practice is especially troubling when it comes to to hi-res photos like the one in the picture. I can tell it’s of a good quality. Whoever uploaded the texture either took a picture of this themselves, or ripped off a hi-resolution photo of the mural.

Many people still don’t understand this rule about art in Second Life, so let’s be clear:


  • You can’t just “take art” from Google searches and use them on tshirts and clothing.
  • You can’t use Disney movies on mesh versions of a VHS tape for c88 because you think it’s quirky and cute and that Disney has “enough money”.
  • You can’t upload books you didn’t author that aren’t public domain because “you think all creative work should be open source”.
  • You can’t demand to be talked to privately about this in order to prevent a public discussion. Get over yourself.

The sim this belongs to is filled with art that is both corporate (I saw an ad for Levi’s on the other side of the wall in the photo), and from other art that is so varied, it couldn’t possibly be all sourced with permission. I won’t link to them because it would encourage visits or possibly even hate–but I have contacted the muralist to tell him where his art is being used.

It’s not snitching, it’s what happens when other artists are tired of seeing work abused in Second Life and want it to stop. The grid should be a place to foster creativity and inspire others, not to deposit work you’ve taken from others.

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  1. Melanya

    Well, the 4th page of this blog features RL posters which could potentially be copyrighted. Maybe they’re too old, i don’t know, but I guess the point is that people can, so they do. No one is likely to stop them. We all know this; it’s a sad fact of sl life.

    • gogo

      I think you’re trying to make a point, but I am not getting it. There’s a difference between me unknowingly taking photos in front of vintage posters displayed in SL on a sim that I only visited once, and someone with a whole gallery of stolen art, done knowingly and purposefully. I suppose I should inspect every piece of art and texture displayed in sl, and in objects but…. I don’t have time time.

      /Edit/ I didn’t mean to sound defensive! I guess you are correct, lots of people do rip off art in SL, unfortunately. But it can be stopped if more people are aware, and call them out on it. Aemeth is too courteous to the sim owner of this art gallery by not naming them.

      I would never knowingly endorse something that I *know* is ripped, but sometimes I don’t. If something looks ‘vintage’ enough, I just assume that is is already public domain. A quick google search shows that these posters are for sale online, and possibly created in the ’50s.

      • Rebecca

        I agree with your defense here, Gogo, but I think it’s still extremely dangerous to just “assume” if something looks vintage enough that it’s in the public domain. (Which you did mention) I’m a working graphic designer and my job sometimes requires me to make original content that could look as though it’s from another era. I haven’t seen these posters Melanya mentioned at all, so I’m not attacking you, just throwing out a general PSA to be careful.

        Also, Melanya.. “People can do it” isn’t a valid argument for doing something wrong or unlawful. Gogo explains this above perfectly.

        There’s a nifty trick I sometimes use with the reverse image search tool in Google or this site:

        Also Aemeth, you really would be doing a service to inform us of the sim owner so I know who not to support or associate with.

        • Melanya

          My comment that people do it because they can was not in any sense meant to validate theft, which is why I added that I consider it a sad fact of life.
          However, I do not know the artist Aemeth references in the OP and would not have known that the images were stolen, just as Gogo didn’t know if the posters she photographed were copyrighted or not. I was NOT having a pop at her, simply stating a fact. I DID say that they were probably NOT in copyright anymore, but that I did not KNOW.
          We could reverse image inspect everything we see in SL which is not remotely practical, or we can notify the RL artists and tell our friends when we do see stolen images.
          What we will never be able to do is stop theft. And while that’s sad, it’s also just part and parcel of life.

  2. Novadestin

    Thank you so much for speaking about this.

  3. Rose

    Thank you Aemeth! More people really need to speak up about this!

    And not just about textures/artwork but SL mesh copies of of RL clothing too. It’s one thing to be inspired by a RL clothing design and another thing entirely to copy everything including the seams (and a change in color still makes it a copy)!

    And I hate how, if I even mention that something in SL looks like a copy of something in RL out loud (some recent mesh lingerie and bodysuits come to mind), it seems like everyone attacks me!! They say that I don’t know anything and if no one copied anything from RL then SL would have nothing.

    But those people are so wrong. We have imagination and creativity for a reason! And SL give us an outlet for that imagination and creativity!

    Please, more people need to say something. Thank you for writing about this.

  4. Rebecca

    This needs to be spoken about more. It’s especially true for artists, authors, and even corporations.. but it’s also true for porn and sex workers. (That’s also another issue entirely). It’s also true in the audio world and is a problem in second life gestures.

    Most creators are looking for a shortcut in SL, or quick cash. It’s one thing to upload work to enjoy in your own SL home, but its another entirely to put it on a public sim or worse, sell it. Or worse, pass it off as your own.

    For all the whiney people who clearly aren’t creative enough to find solutions for this, or for people who I am giving the benefit of the doubt of being ignorant:

    1. Go to an antique store.
    2. Hit your local flea market.
    3. Draw/create something yourself. (Don’t trace and don’t base off someone else’s original content)
    4. Use this website to find work in the creative commons:
    5. Look up works in the Public Domain. (Use Google)
    6. Read this:
    7. DON’T STEAL SHIT. It’s extremely simple. If you didn’t make it, it’s not yours.

  5. Polyhistor Serpente

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Many artists are in my family and I practice it at times myself and I know this might make me a bit biased but I think to seek permission from the artist is a must. While I really think that permission should be given these people could have at least somehow credited the artist with a URL so the artist gets traffic if anyone becomes interested. More than anything their reaction when being informed is what was the most appalling part of this.

  6. Tamera Deutsch (@tammideutsch)

    I really feel for artists when I see things like this. My husband and I own a portrait studio and when digital came about, we saw or heard of numerous instances of people copying our copyrighted work at CVS and the like and no one stopped them. Sadly, there’s no way to police it. And the horrible print quality reflects poorly on our name. The only way to prevent more of this happening is to try and educate the public. Speaking out and saying that it is indeed a crime. Although some people won’t care no matter what you say. And Juicy, I’ve been reading your blog for years and did not realize you are a fellow Detroiter! (I live in the suburbs). Always enjoy your posts. Thank you.

    • aemeth

      Hey there! Gogo (the owner of Juicy) is not a Detroiter, but I am. I’m Aemeth, I am a designer for her makeup brand and I live here.

    • Viv

      Ever heard of something called “DMCA”?

  7. Tamera Deutsch (@tammideutsch)

    Hello Aemeth. Happy to meet another Detroiter! Confused about the makeup brand. Are you behind Pink Fuel? Please clarify. Would love to support a local artist.

  8. Viv

    Basically, comments on “IP theft” like yours are pretty useless. Why? Because you cannot know if it´s IP theft. Only the original creator, if there is an “original creator” at all, can decide on what is “IP theft” or not. And unless this “original creator” decides that it is IP theft and takes legal steps against it it simply is no “IP theft”. You only can suggest, and suggesting something which lacks any legal ground and pointing fingers at people isn´t a way to go. neither by law nor by common sense.

    Ever heard of “fair use”? Or “public domain”? Most famous art pieces are “public domain”, many logos, drawings, photographs and trademarks are either subject of “fair use” or usage is tolerated, kicensed or even encoutaged by the right holders. You simply cannot know. The only acceptable way to figure out is: Inform the original creator, if you know who that is, or the right holders, if you know who that is. And leave it up to them how to react. If the “original creator” really is the “original creator” and does not react on the claim, then be it. Then it´s not “IP theft” at all.

    Pointing fingers at the “thieves, thieves!!!” in each and any case when you recognise something you previously saw in the carbon based world, on some website, turbosquid or wherever outside of SL is just wrong. Leave the legal action, if justified and necessary, up to the ones who were “robbed”, and avoid public attention. You´d do yourself and anyone else involved a BIG favor.

    • Aemeth

      Funny you should say that. I know the guy whose art was ripped, in this case. He’s a fellow painter. Literally told me it was stealing. Please read the blog next time before firing off on your opinion. o/

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