BuilderBot Is Coming: Should You Be Worried?

Monday, July 20, 2009 Monday, July 20, 2009

The answer, I think, is maybe.

What is BuilderBot? It’s a new opensource utility created by virtual construction company Rezzable, who’ve recently begun moving their operations from the Second Life Grid to OpenSim.

And to do so, they needed tools to help them do bulk moves of their sims’ content. BuilderBot is their answer, as it scoops up the content in a sim and places it in a file that can be imported into OpenSim. So what’s the problem? Two things:

  • BuilderBot is being released as Opensource code - meaning it’s freely available to anyone who wishes to use it.
  • BuilderBot does not recognize any permissions on sim objects.

In other words, in theory you could quickly obtain BuilderBot, go to any SL Sim and essentially take a copy of the entire sim - whether it’s yours or not.


It’s great if your intention is to migrate your operations to OpenSim, but perhaps not so great for SL shop owners who want to continue operating in SL. They might find a duplicate of their shop appear suddenly somewhere else on the grid. Yes, this is similar to CopyBot, which currently exists and is apparently used by the bad guys, but BuilderBot might be easier to use to capture a sim’s content.

But all is not lost.

There are a few restrictions that may make this less disturbing, at least for some SL vendors:

  • BuilderBot does not capture scripts. Therefore any item that is scripted would have only it’s containing object captured. Thus, vehicles, games (and particle effects, yay!) are not really affected.
  • BuilderBot captures the data into a file that can be imported to any OpenSim grid. But you cannot import it to SL unless you purchase their “Pro” version, that may cost around USD$100. Casual thieves may not consider this an option.
  • I’m not sure, but I suspect you’d have to have control of an empty sim in order to restore captured data. This also means you wouldn’t get casual thieves doing this, since they’d have to commit to paying the outrageous USD$295 per month for a sim.

For all the details (and they are quite preliminary at this stage), you might want to read Rezzable’s post on this.

Clearly, this is going to be quite disturbing for many shop owners, and probably Linden Lab as well, because they’re likely going to be deluged with content issues.

What do you think?


Aki Shichiroji said...

$100USD for the pro version of the program is not going to deter any casual theif.. and much like Rezzable's other 'business model' for creating revenue in SL, not going to be profitable at all. How much you wanna bet the program gets cracked and passed around on torrent sites within the week of release?

Also, do not underestimate the lengths to which 'casual thieves' will go to make a buck. Last month a bunch of 'casual thieves' copybotted my entire store, rented half sims in not one but two estates, and attempted to pass off my work as well as lots of work from many other creators as their own. And when their stuff was returned by LL, they simply appeared again the next day and rebuilt.

As someone who does full sim work myself, yes, it could be useful to replicate my own work in a full sim environment to take elsewhere... however NOT at the expense of adding another completely unfettered tool to thieves.

I would really like to see LL impliment some sort of API for registered third party clients and bots only. I recognize there are many that are legitimately useful and not harmful to the SL community.

What Rezzable is proposing to release however? I certainly feel has the potential to be harmful. And Rezzable should be prepared to face legal trouble should they knowingly release something that ignores SL terms of service and creator intellectual property rights.

And all for $100 a pop? I'm pretty sure Rezzable will find the costs exceed the benefits again... but then when did that ever stop them from trying (and failing) to make ends meet when they were still in SL?

Anonymous said...

Such a dangerous business plan which I'm told by a Rezzable staff member is designed to kill business on the main grid to make third-party grids (like Rezzable's) more appealing because unlike Linden Lab they will defend IP rights when tools such as their own are used illegally.

Don't they remember that mass, organized boycott by sellers during the copybot fiasco of 2006? This time there could easily be a mass boycott of Rezzable by consumers and sellers - on whichever grid they think their future lies.

dandellion Kimban said...

For what it's worth, I always prefer having tools around even if some bad guy can misuse it. It's not software developer's job to enforce the law. And, if we follow the logic of many that scream about BuilderBot today, no software that can copy a file should exist. Nor Web should exist as well.
My 2L$ on the case:

BTW, yes, one have to be an admin of the sim to import the OAR file.

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