Alex Barnett blog


CopyBot and Napsterization of Matter

Last year I wrote up a post called 'Napsterization of Matter - A Thought Exercise'. The point was to consider the social and economic impact of a technology could allow real world objects to be copied and rendered by anyone without restraint.

It seems that this scenario is being played out the Second Life virtual world. 'CopyBot' is the culprit:

"CopyBot allows the user to create a replication of an object, including textures, that is fully permissive. Needless to say this product has caused tremendous worry among content creators who want to understand how its use may possibly affect their business. In particular, they are concerned about theft of their creations, and the potential for unscrupulous people to undercut their prices and essentially take away their business."

The discussion goes on regarding the impact to the Second Life ecomony and the analogies to the real world. Ralph Koster' take is interesting (via TechMeme). In fact, this paragraph sounds an awful lot like the advice one might have provided traditional software vendors and content businesses a few years ago given the advent of the internet (i.e. build Software and Content as a Service):

"Microtransactions for digital assets and virtual goods is a rising, potentially multibillion dollar industry. To succeed, entrepreneurs who are building networked systems based on user content (be they citizens of Second Life or the makers of virtual worlds themselves) must realize that anything displayable is copyable; the value lies instead in service and in server-side functionality. Content is like songs around a campfire: destined to be enjoyed for free. Those who build businesses around hosting campfires would be wise to focus on making the campfire experience great, rather than charging listeners by the song."