Saturday, 3 November 2012

How Second Life & CBS Got Made To Do Someone's Dirty Work

Anyone who's been around the star trek groups over the last week would be more than likely aware of all the fuss about CBS requesting the removal of star trek unofficially made items in Second Life (SL) ,but only from two shops. Which was the first sign that something was amiss.

Opinion, views and down right misinformation have been flying through the community like bees to honey.

So maybe its time to cut cut through the nonsense and say it how it is.

Basically one member of SL who will simply be named MT  has a dispute with another member in second life about what could be a violation with the SL's terms of service.

ACT 1: The Take Down

When those accusations hit a brick wall MT decided to threaten anyone associated with that person making a variety of threats to stores, groups and sims stating by just associating with that person they be reported to CBS if they had dealings in any trek like content or they got simply harassed in private messages by him.

The upshot was the SL store Novatech was sent a letter by CBS to remove certain trek named items. But this was done due to the fact the person MT has a dispute with someone associated with them and they got dragged into a fight which had nothing to do with that company. MT has repeatedly threatened to use CBS to close down anything associating themselves with his nemesis if they have anything to do with the star trek fan community, be it creators of fan content, stores or sims. Even this blog as had various attacks by MT.

The biggest and saddest aspect of this one man's crusade to try and destroy someone is the affect its had on the SL trek community. First, many people and groups panicked, pulling trek like stuff out of their sims and stores, unsure if they would be the next to get a letter for even having something which could just look like trek creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.

Essentially dramatically affecting if not possibly killing a trek fan community in SL something back in 2007 CBS actually was courting as a place were trek could exist in a virtual world. Now with an event like this CBS gets to be the big bad corporation stopping all our fun, SL gets to play the role of the timid company who bows down to the might of Mr Corporation, were in fact this action would have been the same action virtually in any similar circumstance. Both companies, the way they are set up, in a sense had to act this way. Its standard procedure for intellectual property requests.

The issue isn't so much of intellectual properties but the fact someone with a grudge has used that grudge to try and report his enemy and those associated with his enemy to get his own back on that one person. All because he wasn't listen to about his grievance by SL, who clearly doesn't believe his case is valid. For that, he reacts by using corporations to do his dirty work in unrelated matters as Star Trek has absolutely nothing to do with the reason he is fighting with this person, but is used as a convenient stick to beat that person and those associated with him.

ACT 2: Who really loses?

But, who are the real losers here, well if you analyse it, everybody else....

Linden Labs are likely to lose thousands long term as people just say they've had enough of this and move out of SL land ownership/renting to move to less restrictive opensim. Some trek groups have already this year pulled out of SL for similar reasons and other have made it clear they intend to follow. So SL will lose money, nothing which will cripple them right now, but significant as the bad publicity will push more people to the opensims. These things create a chain reaction, people will talk and look at other alternatives for their own groups, which may be based on completely something different, but its the constant chipping away of the known groups and LL move in to other products which will make people feel, this may not be such a great place to be in the long term. From a legal perspective, LL didn't have much of a choice (could have dealt with it a bit better) they had to react to CBS's request.

CBS lose money from those who will just boycott some of their trek products, again, nothing earth shattering, they won't even feel it, but it will still be a financial loss  The removal of items in SL saves them no money whatsoever as these items don't compete with anything they produce, if anything, people coming into SL and reliving trek are more likely to have them checking trek items out again. So not only does CBS lose a bit of money like SL, they has to deal with unwanted publicity where once again has them portrayed as the bad boys.

Star Trek Fan community starts to abandon Trek in SL, not preparing to risk it whether they were in any danger at all. This kind of thing will reverberate around the community, some will go to other groups or just abandon SL altogether. The idea people will just up sticks and go to Star Trek Online has no foundation as people already play both and it hasn't turned out to be the thing in the long term to keep people away from SL as they start to get bored of the repetitiveness of it.

ACT 3: What Side Of The Fence Do You Sit On

Then it comes to which side of fence you sit on, MT has clearly laid down the gauntlet here with the "You're either with me or against me" attitude, if your against him then your a target for him, now where this becomes a problem is the people who are associated with him start to be attacked. They will find it unfair, but he was actually the one who created the atmosphere in the first place and unfortunately now they are caught up in it. Its not a subject you can sit on the fence with, either you agree with the action or not. Abstaining doesn't work here, too many people have been affected and divisions have been laid out in the sands of the community, standing on the division line gives the impression you're supporting the witch hunt which MT has brought on the community and person who was involved in his grievance.

The witch hunt has now backfired as the attacker and his associates have had to  go on the defensive, the rest of the community has made it clear with their words and actions like having MT banned from a host of sims that they didn't appreciate what had happened and why. There is only black and white here, no shades of grey, the actions taken here are either wrong or right, there is no fence and anyone standing on any side is going to get attacked one way or the other, so in this instance people will just have to deal with it, protesting their view to court sympathy will not be listened to by either side so there is no point trying.

To conclude on the side of the fence I stand on (I speak for myself and not the blog in general, but hey, that won't matter as i've point out before), it's clear someone has a grievance and used corporations to do their dirty works and those corporations should be in my eyes just as angry with MT as most of the communities in SL as this was a argument between two people and was for SL to work out, nothing to do with sims, groups or Star Trek. Second life and CBS got played like a fiddle, orchestrated to his whim and both gain nothing and lost out in the long run.

ACT 4: Epilogue

As the dust clears, in reality, nothing has actually changed much, only two vendors got letters, but it was the panic which ensued across the community. What it has done is make groups look away from Star Trek, looking for inspiration elsewhere and already some great uniforms, ships and gadgets are already being created but with a more original feel, all MT has done is push the community away from trek and what we have to remember is Sci-Fi isn't the most popular genre on telly, it can't compete with even the most average hospital, detective or teen drama, irrespective of its quality, it needs a strong fan base for that, just because a reboot film did well is partly because they aren't being thought of like the series or the older movies, its a reboot, a reimagination.

Treks strength long term has always been the fan base, what a person like MT did was happily try to wipe out one of those fan bases to satisfy revenge against someone, SL and CBS in the long term need fan bases to keep parts of their products/franchises relevant  and they should be mindful not to allow the actions of disgruntled individuals to endanger that.

Breaking News (update)

An official statement was made by CBS a few months later which the community seem to have welcomed on the matter.

Link to Story HERE

1 comment:

  1. News just in on this matter .... apparently said person's bitterness knows no bounds. He has started reporting individual groups on the basis of they raise money to pay tiers by exploiting the Trek environment. CBS has a list of reported groups which can be obtained by calling them. One of the first on the list is to be UFS.

    Said individual has a lot to answer for. Never have I known a heart so black and a mind so envious as to be utterly self-absorbed and selfish.