I note that the term ‘marketplace’ is a little ambiguous at the moment - in the context of my post, I’m referring to the Digital marketplace server that hf will run. A browser based webstore offering assets for sale would connect to this server, and I will call that a web-page based marketplace.
From what I can gather, it’s planned that all uploaded assets (be they personal/non commercial use or uploaded by the original creator for sale) are all uploaded via the Marketplace server, tagged, numbered and catalogued, so I’m working on that as an assumption.
Inworld stores or a web-page based marketplace?
Given the overwhelming choice of digital products that can become available over time, the SL model has demonstrated that a web-page based marketplace offers the quickest way to navigate a plethora of content. The issue here may be as simple as bandwidth and render times - perhaps it’ll always be quicker to display a small to medium sized jpeg than to display the real (sic) asset, because the asset will nearly always be a larger file size.
I think user’s actual preferences just need to be let to evolve. Plus, consumer choice seems like a good thing to offer, so at this stage, I believe there is a strong argument for both a web-page based marketplace and inworld purchases via inworld stores.
However, the lines could be blurred just a little by offering try-before-you-buy inside a web browser running 3D (e.g. WebGL). I’ve seen mentions of a cut-down, browser based ‘look in’ viewer that might fit the bill here. I think if people had the ability to log onto the web-page based marketplace during their lunch hour, load their avi into the browser, try on different clothes / hairstyles / animations etc and make purchases, we’d have some very happy shoppers, eager to get inworld when they got home!
As Blueman Steele noted, try-before-by, returns and exchanges should be possible. In addition, due to the high sales volumes that selling virtual goods can often generate, features like returns and exchanges would need to be automatable. I think these should be considerations at the requirement gathering stage for the meta data format.
@Philip: I think when Judas referred to the ‘shirt off your back’ he was referring to the ability to sell your already owned shirt to someone else - as with trans perms in SL. It always struck me that there could have been room for a third, highbred permission state in SL - you can have multiple copies in your inventory, but if you transfer the asset, all the copies disappear - best of both worlds! This idea also appears to leave one less permissions state to deal with at systems level design, which could potentially help simplify the overall permissions system?
Past experience with piracy
Past experience in SL with content creation has left me with a few points - I sincerely hope I don’t sound like I’m grinding an axe here - there are a number of years of pent up frustration behind these ideas that I’ll try to keep traces of out of my wording!
The starting point for me personally is to bear in mind that, in general terms, if an asset can be displayed / played on a client’s platform, it’s almost certainly possible to copy it somehow - I don’t believe there is a silver bullet solution to piracy. The best hf can attempt is to provide an environment where simply purchasing the asset is the easiest and best way to obtain it. A good analogy here would be iTunes vs Napster - until iTunes offered a comprehensive range of music cheaply and easily available, Napster (Limewire et. al.) dominated - not just because the tunes were free (although that helped, I’m sure), but because they offered the easiest access to the biggest range of music whilst the music industry tried vainly to hold onto outdated, pre-Internet models of distribution. My point being, that whilst piracy levels cannot and will not ever hit zero, I strongly believe that offering accessable and reasonably priced Digital marketplace front-end solutions whilst simultaneously putting obstacles in the way of less technically able users and providing an effective DMCA takedown process should go a long way towards reducing the problem.
Specifically, in dealing with cases of infringement, from a good many years experience as a content creator in SL, I have the following comments:
The result of a successful DCMA takedown request needs to be effective! The SL procedure didn’t always (or in my case, seem to ever) remove all copies of the offending item from the entire grid - I could DMCA someone, the item would be removed from their inventory, only for the next person to turn up with a copy of the exact same asset, complete with matching UUID. This made the filing of DMCA requests pretty much pointless and left me as a content creator feeling highly disenfranchised.
Once DMCA’d, an infringer can simply re-upload the copied asset and the process starts all over again. Again, the filing of DMCA requests becomes ineffective. Perhaps some sort of automatic hashing of the raw asset data on upload could help prevent this more obvious form of piracy - in this scenario, once an asset’s been uploaded, subsequent attempts by another avi to upload an asset with a matching hash would fail. Of course, any mildly technically competent infringer need only make minor changes to the asset’s data to circumnavigate this, but it would still present a hurdle that would make the legitimate purchasing of assets just a little more attractive as an option - after all, making even a small change to an asset will often require the installation and operational knowledge of specialised software.
In the case where pirated items are uploaded to hf before the original creator does so, fair arbitration would entail going into SL to ascertain the identity of the original content creator. This presents obvious issues (are we 100% sure the asset in SL is the exact same one we see in hf for example?) and could equally also apply to assets from any source (Unity, TurboSquid, etc). This will also create issues w.r.t. the time spent arbitrating by hf. Moreover, not doing so could (and I’m treading carefully here!) be seen by content creators as not playing fair. /tiptoes gently back over any lines he may have crossed
On a personal note
I’ve posted as few times today, seems to be on reading these forums I’ve a lot to say and a lot of questions! Please let me add a caveat: all I’ve said is simply my opinion, at this point in time. I’m only just getting to grips with this fantastic project, so there’s a good chance I’ve spouted some complete bollocks. As a result, I’d really appreciate any corrections or enlightenment where appropriate