Apparent Plagiarism of Virtual World Photo Work on Koinup

While cruising Plurk tonight before finishing up another article, I ran across a long conversation thread begun by Strawberry Singh, one of the excellent models to be found in Second Life, and well known as a public face for the couture house of Zaara Kohine for some time.  It took me by surprise, and was rather dismaying — an account holder on Koinup, the European photo site for exclusive virtual-world work, has been scarfing photos from others, posting them to their account, and claiming them for his/her own.

There was no reason to doubt the word of reputable Residents, but a good journalist checks, and I try to be a good journalist.  Following the link took me to an account named “15love,” and right on the front page were two photos skimmed off blogs, one by Berry and the other by Dailyn Holfe(Note:  in monitoring the account, Dailyn’s picture, which was cropped to remove her name, has disappeared; Berry’s is still up.) Other pictures were attributed to The Sims and IMVU, but the graphic style was clearly not from those worlds.  Some pictures appeared to have been simply slapped into the account without even taking the effort to rename them from the “hash”-style file name automatically assigned to the original by the Koinup system.  I clipped out screenshots, which I serve up below.  (My apologies for the peculiar formatting of the page when you see it; click through on the link.)

Pictures from all over the place, on the front page of the account. Top row, first is Dailyn Holfe's photo; second row center is Strawberry Singh from her recent birthday article at her blog.

Closeup of the first gallery page. Note how Dailyn's feet are cut off; compare to the original at her Web site (follow the link in the article body).

These pictures were not taken in IMVU! Notable especially about the eyes, which have a completely different look on an IMVU avatar.

According to current information, pier, the operator of Koinup, has blocked the offending account, so that the owner cannot get in and add anything more or alter items.  The account itself is still up as of my last check (3:54 pm SLT), with Dailyn’s and the next three pictures deleted.  It is uncertain at this time what action can be taken beyond this, or the deletion of the account by Koinup.  The truly terrible thing is that, with the freedom of the Web, whoever this person is can crop back up somewhere else and do it all over again.  As for the pictures themselves, I wonder if the ones with the unaltered hashcode names could be traced on the Koinup system by their administrators and the original artists informed?  It is possible, though, that they may have come from another service, such as Flickr, which would make tracing the artists harder.

And these photos were not taken in The Sims. Note the titles of the works; these are the "hashcode" filenames assigned arbitrarily by Koinup's system at original upload to give each file a unique name. When the photo is saved to a hard drive on a viewer's computer, the hash is the default name. It appears that the account owner saved the files without giving them a personal name, then re-uploaded them without bothering to make any changes.

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