Some thoughts about texture-theft

16 08 2008

From time to time this washes up: One designer claims another one used his textures or other creations. As the original designer has put a lot of work into it, he is understandabely angry, while the accused designer while deny it. Who wants to be caught cheating at a game?

First of all, this is not a game. Everything you sell in Second Life has a real-world value, no matter how small. And in RL cheating with money is a crime.

The next thing is: How do you prove it? It is easy shouting “Hey, he stole my work” because it looks similar. You need proof. With textures this is easy. Sadly it seems, most designers even don´t know how to do this. If you do a little research on the net you stumble upon some tools to rip textures. These tools are not illegal in any way. Using the ripped textures is illegal. So, we just go ahead and dump the OpenGL-texture memory. After browsing thru a load of files you will find the textures for your upper and lower body, in full 512×512 detail. If you were of a criminal inclination – there you go.

If you were working at CSI you now start your work, too. Let us take an example – someone tipped me about clothes being sold that looked very much like our own. So, I go ahead and buy them, wear them. Yes – this looks familiar. Different cut, some straps and rings added – but very familiar.

Next step – dump the textures and take a close look at them, compare them with my own. Here are a few steps how to do this:

1. Reduce saturation. We only want it in B/W.

2. Take your own texture, also make it B/W.

3. Make a new picture. Use the picture from 1 for the R and G channels, the one from 2 for the B channel. Everything that is WHITE in your picture now is identical in both textures, all BLUE are unique to the texture from step 2, all YELLOW ones are unique to the texture from step 1.

You can´t fool this method easily and it is a great help. Some thieves get a bit creative: You might need to mirror the front and the back part of the texture. With the case I was looking at they deleted parts of the reflections, too – as the thief doesn´t know why the latex looked good the way it does, she didn´t want to add any reflections. Anywhere there you have your new texture.

So, what to do? I am a nice guy, I try to talk to people. We had this from two designers now and I talked to them. Both took down their stuff, but now pieces are on sale again. You only get insults in the end. If you talk to other people, most don´t understand what you are talking about. In my opinion the only way is to get people to be aware of what is happening. That is why I made up this post. maybe some designers try to contact me – because I am at a miss how to prevent this stuff. A DMCA might work, but how to find every place the have put up their stuff for sale. You have to sue these people, but legally we are talking peanuts here.

Kai Heideman

PS – I was thinking about putting the names of the designers here and their stores. But on the other hand – that would only boost their traffic and maybe sales.




2 responses

16 08 2008

Hi Kai, I am a fan of your work, after buying from you I haven’t bought latex anywhere else. But as a customer I’d like to be informed. I’d love to know the names of the thieves in order not to make a mistake and buy from them.

16 08 2008

Well – the main one is Luscious Latex and Linda´s Latex by Linda Brown. She even uses the textures for male outfits. If you take one look at our male stuff you immediately see why this is completely wrong.
The other one is Sauer Design by Sylvia Auer. She simply mirrored the textures and removed some of the reflections. But what she has left is still the poc-pattern of reflections.

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