Step UP! for Content Creation Theft Awareness

CopyBot: It’s not just for crackers any longer

Back in 2006, CopyBot was a crackers’ tool. It used a clumsy interface, command-line driven, with a mix of IMs to remotely control a bot which a resident would point to some content and get the bot to download it to disk with full perms. It required patience and some skill, and it took time to copy the content; often it required some assembly afterwards. Since the rewards were great, many pirates nevertheless used it. But its relatively limited usage came from the difficulty of operating it.

Some CopyBot users were also easy to spot. They would stay in the same place for a long time, and walk clumsily. They often were brand-new avatars in their newbie clothes. They would loom around shops but not buy anything. Often they walked in a sweeping pattern, copying all they could see, and never answer to chat, IM, or voice. And sometimes you could see the human operator’s avatar hovering nearby, remotely controlling the bot and directing it to the next thing to copy. People naturally claimed that Linden Lab should forbid all bots (which is impossible to do, of course, as there are no differences between a “resident” and a “bot” except in behaviour, and checking for behaviour is like applying a Turing test to see if something is human or not — it takes time and is not easy to do).

Enter Fall ’09. Content pirates now aggregate around illegally tweaked copies of the Second Life viewer, and a soon-to-be-released version of one of these viewers will feature an easy, user-friendly way to copy basically everything you see in your line of sight:

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