Coming Soon To Firestorm: Customized, Kickass Skies For Your Second Life

Coming Soon To Firestorm: Customized, Kickass Skies For Your Second Life

If you use Firestorm, the popular 3rd party viewer for Second Life, and enjoy shooting outdoor photos and machinima, you should connect with Stevie Davros. He’s creating what you’re looking at above: an alternative cloud system for use in Firestorm, which he plans to put on the Marketplace in March. The words “alternative cloud” don’t quite convey how vivid, jaw-dropping, and insanely cool these customized skies are, so you should watch that video and the one below: they totally transform the low-res, default skies of Second Life into something pretty profound.

“I have been a RL travel and landscape photog rather for decades,” Davros explains, “and skies are a fundamental part of what I photograph. In SL I was delighted with all the imagination and care taken in sim design and also the creativity on show, but was disappointed in how bland the skies looked compared to real life.” Firestorm developer Cinder Roxley added a feature that made it possible to swap the system skies with custom ones — and Davros’ photos and others made his system possible: “The TGA graphics files I have used are all extensively modified from numerous cloud photographs, some from my collection, some sourced from public internet weather images.”

His skies are not just taken from reality, however:

“[I’m also working on] fantasy clouds, hand painted clouds (including one sampled from Vincent van Gough’s brushstrokes), and some novelty and prop clouds.” (He created these cartoon clouds I blogged about recently.)

Stevie Davros Custom Skies Firestorm SL

“The standard SL sky uses a TGA graphics file which is 512x512pixels and 263kb in size. Pretty low res, but it works. The largest I have created is 4096×4096 pixels and 67Mb in size, most however are 4096×4096 and 16.7Mb in size. The big files seem to have no performance impact, so I am unsure why a better default sky has not been introduced by the developers?” That’s a good question, because who cares how large the sky files are, if you download them beforehand, and they make your virtual world that much more awesome?

Emphasis on “your”, because, of course, only the user with Davros’ Firestorm feature can see these skies — which is just fine for photographic and machinima purposes.

“If you are just sitting indoors doing glam pics, like a lot of people enjoy doing, it will be of little interest,” as Davros puts it. “But for those who like to get out and about and explore SL beauty, it is for them. And yes, will make kickass machinima and photo blog imagery as this [above] shows.”

More on Davros’ skies when they’re available!

Hackers are stealing Second Life’s player-made lootboxes and selling them for profit

Second Life is a virtual world stereotypically thought to be steeped in cyber sex, but beyond that thin layer of prurience is a thriving community of artists creating everything from lavish Beverly Hills-style mansions to the eyeliner your avatar wears. Its economy is a staggering $500 million USD machine of virtual ecommerce, with many players making a real-world living by creating, marketing, and selling digital products. But those same creators are locked in a long battle against groups of cheaters who, using a series of exploits, are stealing their products and selling them for profit on Second Life’s official Marketplace. It’s potentially costing Second Life’s virtual artists tens of thousands of real dollars and highlights the nightmare of defending your intellectual property on the internet.

Second Life is unique in the MMO genre for many reasons. It’s not so much a game as it is a social space that players can customize however they like. Called ‘sims,’ these sandboxes are spaces that players fill with all manner of player-designed objects. Unlike other MMOs, however, these objects aren’t created using some in-game crafting system, but built with software like 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, and a lot more. Some players build mansions and throw elegant parties while others own retail stores that sell their hand-crafted apparel. And, yes, some just want to have cybersex.

Second Life’s creators were on track to take home $60 million USD collectively in 2017.

But it’s also unique in that, unlike most MMOs, players can exchange Second Life’s ingame currency (called Lindens) for US dollars. Peter Gray, who was Linden Lab’s senior director of global communication before leaving early this year, told me via email that Second Life’s creators were on track to take home $60 million USD collectively in 2017. It’s what’s led many players to turn Second Life into a full-time job. But for two years now, those same creators have also had to deal with the frustrating rise of ‘dupers’ or ‘copybotters’—players who illegally duplicate their items for profit using exploits.

Theft of a salesman

“It’s very much a big deal,” Oobleck Allagash tells me. He’s the owner of PocketGacha, an innovative HUD-based storefront that works with several designer brands in Second Life to sell their products. Since launching in August, PocketGacha has made “more than tens of millions of Linden” in sales from “tens of thousands” of customers. While many creators in Second Life were vaguely aware that duping was an issue, Allagash became a unifying voice in the community because PocketGacha’s backend system allowed him to track sold inventory across multiple brands and see how widespread the issue was becoming. It’s how he became aware that the Marketplace was frequently featuring items for sale at seemingly infinite quantities and exorbitantly low prices—both telltale signs that they had been duplicated.

A lot of artistry goes into Second Life’s virtual products.

Allagash tells me that, in Second Life, one of the most popular ways to shop is through games of ‘gacha’ or, as its traditionally known in Japan, ‘gashapon.‘ “It’s a game where you have a machine that you play, paying typically about 50 Linden [$0.25 USD] for each go, and you are given either a common item or, if you’re lucky, you’ll eventually get a rare item which is typically more robust in its design,” Allagash explains. “It can be a vehicle or a house, for example.” Some gachas might award makeup or articles of clothing in a complete outfit, while others, like the popular Kunst brand, offer meticulously crafted themed decor.

On the surface there’s little difference between gachas and the controversial loot boxes that are appearing in many games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, but there’s several key distinctions. For one, these items have tangible value. Each play is always rewarded with an item, and any you win can be resold on Second Life’s Marketplace for Lindens and then converted into US dollars. Secondly, the proceeds of these items goes to their respective creators, not Linden Lab (though it does collect a small transaction fee for items sold on the Marketplace). And for those who hate the gambling aspect of gacha games and loot boxes, many creators also offer a buyout price to purchase the set in full.

“It develops sort of a trading atmosphere where people will trade for commons and rares,” Allagash explains. “There’s a whole cottage industry that has developed in Second Life of people reselling a lot of these items that they get.”

In Second Life, some items are ‘copy’ items, which can be copied and pasted multiple times inside of a sim. Most gacha items are different. Called ‘transfers,’ they can only be placed in a simulation once, and if you sell it, it’s gone from you inventory. Like Magic: The Gathering, it’s a market valued by the scarcity of sought-after rare products, and Second Life’s dupers are undermining the whole thing.

“Some bad guys have figured out how to duplicate as many of these transfer items as they want,” Allagash says. “You can duplicate thousands of them, and they have real value on the reseller market.” While the exact exploit is a closely guarded secret, the general idea is that these dupers strategically “crash” a sim, which somehow allows them to create infinite duplicates of an item. Dupers can even duplicate in-game gift cards for various player-owned stores, letting them buy anything for free.

Buyer beware

According to several players I spoke with, it’s been a problem for years that Linden Lab only acknowledged in November after mounting pressure from the creator community. “Recently, we closed an exploit that fraudulent gacha re-sellers had used,” the company said in an update posted on November 2. “Our governance team can now catch them when they attempt the cheating method that we have already fixed.”

Second Life’s creators hoped it would be an end to duping. Inevitably, it wasn’t. I spoke with one creator who requested to remain anonymous. Their brand is one of the more popular in Second Life and it’s become a full-time job that earns them a healthy income. Days after launching a new product line after Linden Lab allegedly shut the exploit down, they found a suspicious listing on the Marketplace offering the entire product line in one bulk package for almost 1300 Lindens less than the competition.

I don’t even like to imagine [the damage to my business] most of the time.

Anonymous

Second Life’s Marketplace doesn’t let customers see metrics like units sold, so this creator and Allagash had to get creative. The maximum amount of quantity that can be purchased at one time is ten, so they began buying up stock to see how much this alleged duper had. It was an impossible amount. During my interview with Allagash, he demonstrated this by sharing his screen with me via Skype. I watched as he purchased almost 40 full sets of this creator’s product line from the alleged duper. He then showed me PocketGacha’s backend tracking system, which operates similarly to any retail store, to show how unlikely it was that one person could have potentially over a hundred copies of this particular item when only several hundred had been given away through the gacha game.

Making matters worse, this alleged duper was the most popular listing for these particular items on the Marketplace, effectively tanking their value. “The damage is huge,” the anonymous creator tells me. “I’m the one paying for the subscriptions for the programs to create my products, I’m paying for marketing, I’m paying for the cost of running the sims—everything to keep my business going. Then there’s the emotional and time investment into the work. The amount of time it takes to make a gacha release, for example, can lead to 16-hour days. I don’t even like to imagine [the damage to my business] most of the time. Over a day or two it might just be a hundred dollars maybe, but over years…”

A screen capture of one alleged duper selling items for well below their going rate.

One thing that isn’t clear is what these dupers hope to gain, but Allagash and the creator I spoke to both insist it has to be real-world money. “They’re clearly not just doing this to be able to have fun in Second Life. They’re making significant money,” Allagash tells me. Because Second Life’s virtual economy is susceptible to money laundering, Linden Lab has a strict process for withdrawing US dollars. Allagash says that if it’s possible these dupers have found ways to undermine the game, it’s plausible they might have found loopholes in withdrawing their money too.

Creators aren’t the only ones finding it hard to compete with dupers, either. As Allagash tells me, Second Life has a massive economy of professional resellers. These players gamble on gachas and then sell the items they receive to ultimately turn a profit themselves. It can be a very lucrative business, according to one reseller—until dupers get involved, that is. “When [dupers] steal designs to sell I no longer invest in a set, depriving the creator of money,” Sushnik Samas, a reseller, tells me. “The expected return on a copied set plummets. Others may not be quite as scientific as I am, but surely realize they are bleeding money and also stop playing a set giving the thief free reign on the copied virtual goods.”

A history of being duped

Wanting the perspective of someone whose livelihood wasn’t impacted by this, I reached out to Wagner James Au, a tech consultant and owner of the prominent Second Life and virtual reality blog, New World Notes. He tells me that, despite the outrage, the problem of duping is largely contained within the niche of gacha sellers. “For one thing, only a fraction of the total [Second Life] economy is based around the web-based Marketplace—most active SLers prefer to conduct many or most transactions in-world, since it’s a more seamless, immersive experience.”

This is just one more chapter in Second Life’s long history of intellectual copyright theft.

Au goes on to explain that this is just one more chapter in Second Life’s long history of intellectual copyright theft. Since 2006, players have frequently found their virtual products stolen and duplicated in a number of ways, which “inevitably (and usually belatedly), Linden Lab tamps down with some increased whack-a-mole against infringers, and the outrage is shunted elsewhere.”

But even Au agrees that while duping might not be killing Second Life, it’s still an issue. “Linden Lab has not been transparent or sufficiently responsive to duping issues like this, especially when many people’s literal livelihood depends on their responsiveness. The fact that the [Second Life] virtual economy as a whole is more or less doing well doesn’t change that.”

Speaking with Allagash and the others affected by this, Au’s statement echoes their frustrations: Dupers are to be expected, but Linden Lab needs to improve. The company employs measures to protect its creators’ rights chiefly through a DMCA filing process and an internal abuse reporting system. The problem, as Allagash tells me, is that neither of these systems is very efficient.

“The DMCA report is managed by an outside company will take this particular thing down faster than an abuse report,” Allagash tells me. “So what happens in this sort of spider web is that the DMCA report will take [the Marketplace listing] first, which is immediately helpful for that creator. But after the DMCA report takes it down, there’s no [evidence for the abuse report] and so Linden Labs does nothing. The person isn’t banned, there’s no punishment. They come right back and do it again.”

For the creators who are, in many ways, the lifeblood of Second Life, it’s immensely frustrating since both systems can take days or weeks to produce results. “I feel like they see the DMCA as the end-all to the problem,” the anonymous creator told me. “And in some sense, it is—the item is removed from sale. But the problem is that someone can just make a new account and upload the item again. It’s [Linden Lab’s] follow through with repeat offenders that is lacking, and it’s their unwillingness to comment or work with us on it that makes me feel not valued as a creator.”

Linden Lab, however, feels differently. “We take the protection of SL content creators and our community very seriously,” Peter Gray, who was Linden Lab’s senior director of global communications until departing the company during the writing of this story, told me via email. “We do not share metrics on account bans, but can confirm that we have permanently closed a number of accounts for this activity and are committed to vigorously pursuing any violation of our Terms of Service and Community Standards.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for bad actors to move onto new methods. We are engaged in an ongoing pursuit of cheaters and continuously closing loopholes and working to protect our creator community,” Gray added.

When asked about the specific actions creators could take to protect their intellectual copyright, Gray said, “We follow the DMCA take down process as prescribed by the law. Abuse reports submitted by users are normally reviewed within 72 hours, although the process may take longer in some cases, depending on the type of report and information provided. We cannot comment on specific accounts, and therefore users who submit abuse reports are not notified about actions taken as a result of their reports. Unfortunately, that may lead some users to feel as if their reports may be ineffective, even when they actually result in account bans and other enforcement actions.”

But that’s not good enough for many of Second Life’s creators. While the MMO is often passed off as an aging game with a limited playerbase, CEO Ebbe Altberg told Motherboard in an interview in 2016 that 900,000 players still log in monthly. And for those who have turned their passion for it into a full-time job as a virtual designer, it’s easy to see how the continuing theft of their hard work is so damaging. “We just want our work to be protected,” the creator tells me. “In the age that we live in, it’s a basic right on the internet—I would hope.”

Most Dangerous Security Threats of 2018?

What will be the biggest security threats of 2018? Would it surprise you to learn that YOU might be on the list? Read on to learn about the threats to your privacy and security that are most likely to impact you in the coming year…

Are You Part of the Problem or the Solution?

Ransomware and “people” topped a survey of security pros’ predictions of the biggest cyber-security threats the world will face in 2018. But among the 72 respondents to research firm IDG’s question, there are more specific responses and a few threats that are less than obvious. The latter, I think, may be the more dangerous threats. Read on to learn more.

Ransomware is a proven money-maker for scammers. By encrypting the precious data of a corporation, organization or end user, ransomware inflicts immediate and severe pain. The promise of getting data back quickly by paying a ransom is keenly compelling. Additionally, ransomware and its attendant “victim relationship management” apps are now bundled into easy-to-use “Software-as-a-Service” sites that any aspiring blackmailer with a couple of hundred dollars can rent. So there will be exponentially more ransomware attacks launched in 2018.

The targets of ransomware are predicted to shift from low-value individuals and small businesses to major corporate and government systems. A crook can charge much more for the encryption key to bigger and more critical systems. Targeting key executives within a large organization with carefully crafted phishing emails is becoming a fine art among criminals.

 

That leads us into the “people” security risk, which IDG’s respondents cited 12 times to ransomware 11. There are many ways that human error can allow bad actors into a system whose hardware and software are well protected. You, faithful reader, may already know all about them. But the growing threat to you and your precious data is the staff of the online entities with which you do business.

Front-line employees are under ever-increasing pressure to produce more, leaving them virtually no time to think about whether they should click on the attachment to an angry “customer” complaint, or the link to a web page purportedly showing the cause for the complaint. Many of these staffers are unhappy, underpaid, and ripe to either cause their employers trouble or be recruited by bad actors in exchange for money.

Management, up to the C-level, doesn’t do enough to train staff in best security practices, enforce them, and demand that software systems prevent staffers from doing things that can let crooks in the door. Even IT staffers, who know better, fail to apply patches to software promptly.

An Ounce of Prevention…

In the recent Equifax data breach scandal, it was discovered that a directive to apply a simple patch that would have protected the credit histories of over 140 million Americans went ignored for at least two months. I surmise that the derelict IT employee was not irresponsibly negligent, but simply could not find time to apply the patch without “disrupting” normal business operations, which would have gotten him in trouble.

The insensitivity to security extends across supply chains. As firms become more closely integrated with their partners, a security vulnerability in one member of the group becomes a hazard to all members. Yet very little is being done by any given firm to vet the cyber-security of suppliers and large customers.

The oldest networked information systems, including critical utilities, financial services, and health care providers, are generally the most vulnerable to modern hacking threats. The industrial controls that govern the flows of water, electricity, and even street traffic were designed with only the crudest password protection, if any.

The Internet of Things is the fastest-growing “attack surface” for hackers on Earth. The makers of light bulbs, refrigerators, and coffee pots know nothing about cyber-security and don’t want to pay for pros who do. Even Amazon Key, the company’s latest “smart” innovation, allows delivery people to open the door to your home. But it launched with an easily-exploited flaw that would let a nefarious delivery driver walk off with the entire contents of a customer’s house.

“The Internet of things-connected world that surrounds each and every one of us is getting more complex, sharing more of our data in evermore opaque ways and getting less easy for the average user to understand, let alone to have any hope of controlling a perfect security storm,” wrote Nigel Harrison, CEO at Cyber Security Challenge UK, in his response to IDG’s survey.

Simply banning “smart” gadgets from your home is not a perfect defense, although it will reduce the attack surface your home network presents to bad actors. You have no choice about the software that the electric company uses in its smart meters, or the security practices of the public works department that controls water delivery and traffic signals, or the practices of 911 system administrators. You don’t even know what your car’s computer is doing under the hood, or how it can be hacked to kill you.

What you can do, and I urge you to do, is apply unrelenting pressure upon your government representatives and business partners – banks, Amazon, et. al. – to publicly demonstrate how they are acting to protect their systems upon which your livelihood and life increasingly depend.

Back to the YOU Part of the Security Picture

It never hurts to repeat a few personal security mantras. Below are some tips to other that will help you tighten up your own defenses, and ensure that “YOU” are not on the list of the most dangerous security problems in 2018.

  • Keep Your Software Updated
  • Use Anti-Malware Protection
  • Create Strong Passwords
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication
  • Guard Against Phishing Attacks
  • Backup your data!
  • Have a Safe 2018

Happy New Year from the Staff at ZoHa Islands – Animesh Previews.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of our loyal customers both new and old who have helped make ZoHa Islands what it is today.  May your resolutions for 2018 be fulfilled and your holidays feasts be plenty. As one of the top 3 Estates in Second life and over 10 yrs running, we look forward to growing more with each new year Linden Lab brings us.  With Second Life announcing the millions that will be sunk into improvements over the next few years, I’m excited to see where it takes us.

Animesh is looking very promising!   Animesh (which you can now test on Aditi using the Project Viewer) allows independent objects to use rigged mesh and animations, just like mesh avatars, and Residents have already used this feature in impressively creative ways.  Here is an Animesh Developer’s (SLURL) in-world group.  Below please find some previews of the things people are testing in world!

 

 

 

 

[TIPS] Buying a Computer Monitor

A computer monitor is often kept for many years, even longer than the computer to which it was originally connected. So when it’s finally time to replace your monitor, you may find that that new rules apply to its purchase that were unheard of when you bought it. Here are some of those new rules, without getting too geeky or extravagant…

Time For a New Monitor?

Technology changes rapidly, but when it comes to computer screens, some rules never change. To start with, shop for a monitor in person, and plan to get the biggest monitor your space and wallet permit. Technical specs are often meaningless compared to hands-on experience with a monitor. For example, the screen may be too reflective, or the connectors may be difficult to reach, or the adjustable stand may be difficult to adjust.

When shopping for a computer monitor, size is usually the first consideration. Personally, I would not consider a screen size less than 24 inches. Screens in the 24 to 26 inch range are affordable, and will serve well for most home and office tasks (email, web browsing, composing documents, online video). If you are into photography, graphic arts, or serious gaming like second life, you’ll want a monitor that’s 27 or more inches. Just remember that screen sizes are measured on the diagonal, just like televisions.

  Your next consideration is screen resolution. A monitor’s resolution is the number of pixels in its display matrix. You’ll see terms like 720p, 1080p, HD (High Definition), FHD (Full HD), QHD (Quad HD), UHD (Ultra HD), and 4K. These all refer to the number of pixels on the screen, and ultimately how crisp and clear the screen image will be. My recommendation is to avoid anything that’s less than “Full HD” which is a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, equivalent to modern 1080p HDTVs. Quad HD (2560 x 1440) is a step above, and 4K or Ultra HD is top of the line, with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.There is a sharp price jump between 24-inch full-HD and 27-inch 4K monitors; the former should cost $150 or less, while the latter is probably in the $500 range. (Here’s an ASUS 24-inch Full HD monitor for just $126 at Amazon, and an LG 27-inch 4K Monitor on sale for $398.) If you watch lots of movies or play sophisticated games, the bigger and costlier monitor makes sense. Or, you could put that money into a big 4K television set, and stream your PC display to it.

A curved screen may be helpful on monitors 32 inches or larger. A curved screen puts the vertical edges nearer to your eyes, reducing the amount of refocusing they must do when looking from the center of the screen to one of the edges. Curved screens also reduce the amount of head-turning you must do to view every part of the screen. And they don’t have to be super-expensive. This Samsung 32-inch HD Curved Monitor is on sale for just $258.

More Monitor Buzzwords

The vast majority of consumer monitors sold today use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology. Even in so-called LED (Light Emitting Diode) displays, the LED is a back light behind the LCD panel. LED monitors are helpful when the brightness of the display is critical or room lighting is variable. The most expensive monitors may boast OLED (Organic LED) tech, in which each pixel provides its own illumination.

Another buzzword you may encounter is IPS (in-plane switching). IPS monitors offer deeper blacks and more accurate color rendering than LCD or LED monitors. They also have wider viewing angles, so the picture looks the same, even if you’re not directly in front of it. This ViewSonic 27-inch IPS 1080p Frameless LED Monitor is a good example.

The ideal aspect ratio of a general-purpose monitor is 16:9, or approximately 1.77:1. That’s the native aspect ratio of most movies, so if your monitor matches it you won’t see any stretching or compression of images. If the aspect ratio is not stated explicitly, divide the horizontal display pixels by the vertical display pixels, e. g. 1,920/1,080 = 1.77.

The refresh rate of a monitor is, loosely speaking, the number of times per second that the entire display area is updated. For old-fashioned, bulky Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors, the minimum acceptable refresh rate was 60 Hz, or 60 times per second. Today’s flat-panel LCD monitors use a slightly different metric called the “frame rate,” expressed in frames (images) per second or fps. Most LCD displays are locked at 60 fps, which is adequate for comfortable, flicker-free viewing at resolutions up to 1,920 x 1,080. But 120 fps will make 4K content much more enjoyable. The trade-off is that a faster refresh rate makes hardware work harder and possibly fail sooner.

Computers and monitors often have multiple video I/O ports. Common port types are Display Port, HDMI, DVI, and VGA. A new monitor’s video input port must match the video output port on your computer, of course. Display Port is best for high-end resolutions, but the HDMI standard is the simplest and fastest connection widely incorporated in monitors and computers today. Avoid VGA, which is an older technology. Don’t let ports you’ll never use influence your monitor purchase.

Strings, Sealing Wax, and Other Fancy Stuff

If you run Windows 10, you may want a touchscreen monitor. But don’t get one if you normally sit at full arm’s length from the screen, or further. It’s just too awkward to use a touchscreen at great distance.

The monitor stand should be adjustable to the height and viewing angle that you prefer. Pay attention to have easily the stand can be adjusted, and how firmly it supports the monitor.

Higher-priced monitors may be packed with extras like speakers, front-panel display control buttons, or even all the components of a desktop PC. Buy what you need, not what’s on sale. The fewer things inside of a monitor, the fewer things that can cause overheating and early death.

Finally, read warranties carefully; a five-year warranty doesn’t help if it excludes dead pixels that develop after one year. Don’t buy third-party warranty extensions. They’re pushed so hard by sellers because they are extremely profitable, and they’re extremely profitable because hardly anyone ever qualifies for a replacement under their terms.

Personally, I’ve not found brand to be an important factor in computer monitors. Some people are loyal to ASUS, LG, Samsung, or other well-known brands, but I’ve had no-name monitors that have served me well. Pay attention to the specs I’ve mentioned above, and check consumer forums for experience with specific models before buying, and you’ll do fine.

Thanks Bob R for your input on this subject you rock!

FROM US ALL AT ZOHA ISLANDS HAVE A SAFE

Gacha creators frustrated by Second Life Oversight

(Image courtesy PocketGacha.)

Second Life, with a much bigger economy than that of OpenSim, also has a much bigger problem with copyright infringement than OpenSim.

For instance, copybotters have long been using specialized third party viewers to duplicate creators’ content and offer them for sale, lowering demand for the legitimate versions of the items and demoralizing creators.

More recently, content thieves have been exploiting a glitch to create illegal copies of products are reselling them.

These dupers may have cost creators and original owners thousands of dollars over the past two years, Oobleck Allagash, founder and creator of PocketGacha in Second Life, told Hypergrid Business.

This is a particularly vexing problem for the extremely popular Gacha ecosystem.

Gachas are vending machines that give customers random items, some more rare and valuable than others. Customers who get items they don’t want can trade them or sell them, creating a hot resale market and increasing the appeal of the Gatcha system.

“The best I can muster for a speculative look at this would be that tens of thousands of real life dollars were lost over the past two years,” he said. “That would be a significant blow to sales by creators, many of whom are one-person cottage industry artists whose livelihoods depend on every sale.”

Allagash recently discovered that items from his company were being resold without permission on the Second Life Marketplace. He discovered this by checking the back-end records for PocketGacha, a HUD-based system for merchants that tracks players and sales.

“It is an exploit that involves the person crashing a sim and duplicating a transfer item in unlimited amounts,” he said. “It duplicates perfectly with all the original aspects intact and the creator name the same.”

PocketGacha helps users to “buy on the fly” as they demo products and avoid lag issues in a crowded sim. Without PocketGacha, users would need to first gather demo items, go home, try them on, make a list and then go to find the items at the event to buy the ones they like.

For the past few years, Second Life has been lax in addressing the problem, said Allagash. The company has been reluctant to remove dupers from the ecosystem, and instead remove only the affected Gacha, but the duper remains in the ecosystem, and continues to re-post the removed Gacha.

“Many of these dupers have multiple DMCA take-downs of single sets yet continue as users and sellers without being banned or removed from the game,” he said.

That is beginning to change.

On Wednesday, Second Life banned one well known duper, an act Allagash applauds.

“We are very happy that in light of it taking time to patch all of the exploits Linden Lab is now taking steps to properly remove violators and a develop a stop gap to protect creator content,” he said.

The company said in post last month that they are continually creating new tools and discovering new techniques to solve this problem and have put in place techniques and methods that are bearing fruits. They also said their move to the cloud would allow introducing new products that would help stop the bad guys.

But while errors and glitches that allow copy of transfer items can occur, Linden Lab should, after two years, have come up with a method to identify and remove the bad actors from the grid, according to Allagash.

“Linden Lab has the ability to investigate the dupers and see within minutes irregularities with listings on Marketplace which have impossible quantities loaded for sale,” he said. “In addition, while an IP ban might not completely work, each person is required to have billing information and there are ways to regulate things with these obvious culprits.”

Being too aggressive about removing these sellers may hurt the bottom line, both in terms of resources spent addressing the problem, and in the form of lost revenues.

Linden Lab collects a five percent commission on all products sold in the Marketplace.

The behavior is also unwelcome and those doing it also hurt their creativity, another creator who has been in Second Life since 2003, Lupus Furyo, told Hypergrid Business.

“Second Life creators, just like any other, infuse their spirit in their digital creations, and it’s impossible to steal their work by just copying and selling their stuff,” he said. “That’s exactly what many people engaged in such activity never got right. One does not learn anything by following that kind of path in their life whether virtual or real”.

Meanwhile, High Fidelity has already rolled out Digital Asset Registry, a blockchain-based system that lets virtual world users attach digital certificates to their creations using digital fingerprints to secure item origins and unique ownership.

Item ownership will remain on the items regardless of where the items are distributed in the virtual world. There will also be a new cryptocurrency-based High Fidelity Coin that users can use to purchase products from the marketplace Avatar Island, and which can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Users can also offer their items for sale to other users on the Avatar Island.