Animations, Poses & Copyright

QavimatorIn Second Life (SL), we can create our own animations and poses to move the avatars in different ways. Some choose to use in-world systems such as AnyPose while others use third party programs such as the complex Blender or the simplified QAvimator. Both routes require the animation to be uploaded into SL which costs 10L. Keep in mind that Linden dollars can equate to real money when transferred and therefor is subjected to loss of revenue and copyright disputes. These animations can be one frame (poses) or multiple frames (animations) but the definitions are generally misused since the data file itself is considered an animation regardless of the amount of frames. A pose is how a body is positioned, regardless if it is a real body or an avatar. The data is derived from a text data file that orients each joint via x, y and z axis for each frame. These numbers or degrees is what makes an animation unique. The data file itself is copyrighted by the creator of the animation per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Ncopyright-symbols-and-rules-you-need-to-know-01ow there are some tricky instances where the animated pose itself cannot be copyrighted. The common ‘T-Pose’ used in the animation creation process is one example. While someone can make an arm bend at a 90 degree angle, they cannot say that the pose itself of making an arm bend at 90 degrees is copyrighted. It is the animation data that is copyrighted, not the pose. This comes to play when two animator create similar pose animations. Due to the complexity of body parts and their rotations, it is impossible for a complex animation to be perfectly copied from another by merely eyeballing (visually guessing) without knowing the data numbers or copybotting. When there are absolutely perfect matches, then the first creator can file a DMCA complaint for infringement and the chances of them winning is pretty much absolute. Eerily similar poses that do not match up are not considered infringement.

For simpler animations, such as only animating an arm at a simple 90 degree angle, it is much harder to pinpoint if there was any copyright infringement unless the data file itself proves who was the original creator. The simpler the idea, the easier for someone else to have the same idea and create it on their own. This is not copyright infringement since both animators created their own work.

And lastly, for the sake of argument, you cannot merely make a million animations with all the body parts posed at all angles and call copyright infringement on anyone who creates one exactly like theirs. Another key point to copyright is that it protects the “expression” of an idea, though it does not protect the “idea” itself. While someone with a lot of time has the possibility of creating a million animations, the chances of someone using any sort of expression to create the idea is zero. This also reflects back on animators creating similar poses but not using stolen files from another to create them. You can use the tools provided such as AnyPose and QAvimator but you cannot base your creations off the data files from another.

And so, to avoid any instances where someone claims copyright over a pose, just make it yourself from scratch. Everyone’s style has subtle differences which makes SL beautiful.


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