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The general tumult and controversy surrounding the RedZone system in Second Life is just a symptom. Indeed, even RedZone itself is a symptom.

There are deeper issues at work here.

Content creators are worried that the content that they have created will be ripped-off by unscrupulous sorts. Second Life uses no DRM, instead employing a system of advisory control flags coupled with the server’s unwillingness to do the dirty-work for you. Even using DRM wouldn’t actually help. Every DRM-controlled asset that you can obtain reduces the difficulty of finding the keys to unlock them all – and even a few minutes of wandering around in Second Life will transfer hundreds (or even thousands) of assets to you, making the job of cracking any DRM system almost a student exercise.

Nevertheless, the important thing here is that content-creators – the people who ultimately make Second Life what it is, from a (let me use the word) tactile perspective – are concerned. They either do not feel sufficiently in control, from an intellectual property perspective, or they do not feel that they have effective and efficient recourse.

Those that I’ve spoken to point the finger at Linden Lab, who they feel could be doing more. Without the Lab’s enthusiastic support and assistance, the only alternatives are protracted and expensive legal battles, to shut up shop, or to just grin and bear it.

Other users have issues with harassment. The fact that any hooligan, griefer or batshit-loco stalker can whip up an ‘alt’ (essentially just register a new account) and pick up where they left off, even though the user may have banned or muted the original from their person or property – or if Linden Lab has suspended or banned the original account from Second Life; and they can do this ad infinitum. The Lab has (or at least it once had) highly effective systems for identifying alt accounts and tying them all together. Systems that were robust enough to see through quite a bit of evasion.

These systems have almost always remained unused for enforcement purposes, and I am at a loss to wonder why. Certainly, in the earlier days of Second Life, griefers were paying customers, happy to shell out money for each new account, even if it were to be shot down within hours. So long as they were enjoying themselves, they considered it better value than going to the movies. Back in the day, I could potentially see how the Lab, still not broken even at that time, would not have been entirely sanguine about losing that steady revenue. Alt accounts are free and easy, these days – the terms of service notwithstanding – but the Lab’s alt-detection systems seem to remain unused, perhaps forgotten or out-of-date due to other software changes.

If you’re one of the users who is routinely harassed, of course you’re concerned. Being harassed regularly, online or offline, is a pain in the arse; and one that I would wish on nobody, ever.

Of course, privacy proponents are concerned too. Privacy is a very fragile thing, much like copyright. There are so many ways to break it, and little or no remedy available once it is broken. Most users seem comfortable with the amount of data that Linden Lab keeps on us and our activities, so long as it keeps that information to itself. That’s what they signed up for, after all. Having third parties sweep up some of that data, however, store it away and then share or use it in some fashion… well, that gives a lot of people the creeping chills.

Like the first group – the content creators – they feel that Linden Lab simply doesn’t do enough for privacy. That it is disinterested, and not acting as a partner to their concerns.

And then RedZone comes along, a symptom of all of these things; and not even the sole symptom, really. It’s more of the symptom du jour. The latest in a long line of outgrowths of these concerns.

Like all of its predecessors and others of its class it does just remain a symptom, not a cure. It’s the runny-nose, itchy red rash, and uncomfortable burning-sensation of more serious issues.

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