We’ve all heard the phrase before, and if used correctly, it’s always used sarcastically. Any content creator or business owner in Second Life knows that there is nothing more frustrating, annoying, or downright infuriating than a content thief. In a virtual world where you can be anything you want to be, create anything you want to create, and live any life you want to live, I have to wonder: why do we still have copy cats?
A lot of attention has been paid lately to those thieves that take the hard work of others and pass it off as their own. Many think that these stories apply mostly to designers whose fashions are copybotted and resold in sleazy discount shops and obscure profiles on XStreet, but the ugly truth is that these purloining miscreants have pervaded nearly every area of our second lives. At Wilder, we have had the unfortunate task of helping several of our clients deal with the pilfering of their designs, and we’ve had our share of would-be plunderers snooping around the office for our keys to success as well. It has long been our practice to deal with these indiscretions in-house, saving everyone time and embarrassment, but recently a case has come to our attention so blatantly obvious, and therefore all the more heinous, that we choose to remain silent no more. Now we choose to expose and examine up close a content thief, in the hopes that she will never again steal from us or anyone else, and in the hopes that content thieves everywhere will realize that the time is coming when their underhanded and deceptive larceny will be tolerated and supported by no one.
So here you have it SL, the profile of a copy cat.
First, some history. Jaydell Lorefield was employed at Wilder Public Relations Firm for one week nearly a year ago. During this one week of training, Annette and then-manager Mahala Bing began to suspect that she may have had ulterior motives for joining the Wilder Team. When it became clear that Jaydell was opening her own company and using business experience and knowledge gained from her employment at Wilder PR, Annette took action to protect Wilder PR and terminated Jaydell’s employment. Since then, Jaydell has opened a real estate and interior design company called Lorefield & Associates. Annette, and later I, have invested our time in growing Wilder and gaining even more success for ourselves and our clients.
We’ve run into Jaydell from time to time: she has shown up randomly at our office, kept our company in her profile, and shadowed us to our clients’ events. Each of these things on its own is not necessarily a grievance for us; we welcome visitors to our office, we believe that each resident has a right to include whatever information he wishes in his profile, and we encourage everyone in SL to support our clients and their events. However, we believe this is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Upon further investigation, it has become clear to us that Jaydell’s goal in keeping tabs on Wilder PR has been to copy our business strategy in an attempt to make her company, and in particular her newest venture, Lorefield Media, as successful as ours. Consider this evidence:
In July of this year, Annette designed a new logo for Wilder Public Relations. This is the logo and link to the blog post where Annette introduced it:
Several weeks later, Annette found Jaydell in our office getting our new landmark (containing the new logo) and subsequently ejected and banned her. Not long after that, Lorefield & Associates had a new logo as well:
As you can see, the two logos are substantially similar. At Wilder, we have known about this for several months, but because we are not in the business of starting drama over something as trivial as a logo, we kept our peace.
We’ve taken little notice of Lorefield & Associates until recently, when we happened upon their webpage. Though recently revamped by myself, our webpage has been up for over a year (including the period when Jaydell was employed here) with the original design and layout by Mahala Bing. You may compare the two here: http://www.wilderpublicrelationsfirminc.com/wordpress/ and http://lorefieldassociates.webs.com/.
Please note the similarities in structure, especially the Home and About pages. Though the website is not an exact copy of ours, a reasonable person informed of the history between Jaydell Lorefield and Wilder Public Relations could surmise that her website borrows heavily from ours. As a reasonable person, you be the judge.
Finally I come to the third and most appalling piece of evidence against Jaydell. At Wilder Public Relations, one of the most important components to our PR strategy is the press release. It should be noted that the unique design and format of our press releases was created by Annette before Wilder Public Relations even opened its doors, that is to say she was using this design well over 2 years ago when she was still working for AVENUE Inc.
Please see for yourself a press release posted on the Lorefield Media blog where Jaydell has not only taken our format and changed both the Media Contact information and the COPYRIGHT notice at the bottom to refer to herself and her company, but has largely stolen the content from a press release WE wrote for OUR client Mami Jewell for the Miss Narkissos Contest: http://lorefieldmedia.blogspot.com/2009/09/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-be-miss.html. Our press release may be viewed on our website here: http://www.wilderpublicrelationsfirminc.com/wordpress/?p=620 and on our blog here: http://wilderprfirminc.blogspot.com/2009/09/search-is-on-for-miss-narkissos-have.html . We distribute press releases such as these in the hopes that our clients will gain maximum exposure throughout the SL community, not so that that our content might be plagiarized by those who would like to call themselves our competitors.
At Wilder Public Relations, we believe that Second Life is the platform of the future. We believe wholeheartedly in the potential that this virtual world has to offer us. We have been blessed with wonderful clients who amaze us again and again with their creativity and talent. We represent the best SL has to offer because we are the best in our field. We know that those with the drive and ambition to make something of their second lives have limitless possibilities here, and we know it because we’ve seen it again and again. We welcome competition because we know that is what drives business; we’ve seen healthy competition between our clients and know that in the end everyone wins. Stealing is not competing, it’s cheating. We encourage all of our Second Life neighbors to become whoever or whatever they’d like to be here in this world we’ve created, but we implore you, do it with dignity, do it with integrity, and do it with respect.
Second Life is created by its users, and it could just as easily be destroyed by them as well. We like to think that we make the rules here, but that is not the case. If you think you are anonymous in Second Life, think again. There is legal action that can be taken against content thieves, whether that content be a fashion design, a product, or a website. Whether it be in-world or just online, each of us is still subject to infringement laws, and each of us is protected by them as well. If you are reading this and you’re in the business of stealing from others online, please stop. If you think you cannot be found, you’re mistaken. Wilder Public Relations was built from the ground up by Annette Wilder, and she and I and our team will continue to work hard to continue a success we can be proud of. We will no longer tolerate the theft of our ideas or strategies. We will always stand up for our rights and the rights of our company, and we will stand up for the rights of our clients should they ever need us.
As always, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to our clients, colleagues and friends for their unending support and contribution to our success. We appreciate you standing with us as we speak out against content theft in Second Life and pledge to stand by you should such misfortune ever befall you. Together we can fight this new era of dishonesty and return Second Life to the unique platform for creativity that it was meant to be.
Wishing you only the best,
Office Manager, Wilder PR