Table of Contents
Let’s start with a pleasant narrative: one of those stories that put you in a good mood and gives you hope for human relationships.
A few months ago, I opened Facebook like every day. I use Zuckerberg’s social networking site purposefully, just to manage my groups and my page. However, sometimes I get caught up in a few posts.
My gaze stops on a few images that cannot fail to capture the reader’s attention: on the one hand, a photograph of a dress from one clothing brand, posted as the main image, and on the other, an image of a garment from another brand posted in the comments by a user. It was impossible not to notice that the two items were identical. We are not talking about small details, such as the choice of a similar texture or a certain similarity in a top. The two dresses were completely identical in style.
The user who had posted in the comments the image of the garment identical to the one in the main image included in the post had the intention of “putting the flea in the ear” of the designer: is this not copying of ideas? Some people seem to play the role of pyromaniacs on Facebook, i.e., they have a tendency to provoke arguments and inflame tempers. The designer’s response to her ‘whistleblower’ was wonderful, an example of civility and intelligence. She began her reply by tagging the other designer who had been called into question without his knowledge to make him aware that his brand was being talked about and give him the chance to express his opinion. She continues with a few simple words: “unfortunately, we designers are inspired by images of clothes taken from RL magazines, so we may come up with the same design,” all accompanied by the image of the real-life magazine from which the dress was inspired. Needless to say, the real dress was identical to the designs of the two designers. The tagged designer confirms that the image he too was inspired by was the one from the RL magazine mentioned by his colleague, and all ends well (with some presumably bad temper from the arsonist). In an ideal world, the reader will think. Yeah, except that the story I told is true, so (unbelievable but true) people like that really do exist.
The other story is not so edifying. A fashion brand is accused by another brand of having copied its ideas and repeatedly copied from other designers. To make things even more heated, in addition to the accusation of copying, there is also the accusation of racism, which is said to come from a private conversation between the accused designer and one of her clients. But shouldn’t private conversations remain private? Isn’t this a violation of the ToS? Of course, but let’s leave it at that.
We all know the story since it is reaching record viewing and comments on Facebook. What reaction does this provoke among the customers of both shops? The most common reaction is a certain sadness. It is demoralizing to see two outstanding brands, the accused and the accuser, in a cauldron of junk comments that encourage rebellion and hatred.
This behavior is not correct, that’s all. It wouldn’t be fair even if the accusation was well-founded because if you have concrete evidence, you take legal action. You don’t smear, you don’t defame, and above all, you don’t push people against the accused brand in the hope of boycotting its sales.
Let’s get to why I removed the video in which I narrated this (sad) chapter of Second Life’s commercial history. Before going into the reason why I did this self-censorship, I have to say something. When a person creates a post with public visibility on Facebook or any other social networking site, he/she exposes him/herself to the risk of being mentioned in posts and articles that have every right (concerning the people involved) to narrate the event and express their opinion. That would be missed. The contrary would mean censorship of bloggers and journalists, and therefore an intolerable limitation of freedom of expression.
On the one hand, there is the right to express one’s opinions. Still, on the other hand, there is the opportunity for this sad chapter of Second Life to fall into oblivion, which would not happen with a video recalling its vicissitudes over time. That is why I removed the video, and that is why I chose self-censorship.
I end this reflection on the dramas of Second Life with a question: considering that designers are ‘inspired’ (copying) by creations of famous real-life brands, does it really make sense to talk about copying ideas between Second Life brands?