dinsdag 8 februari 2011

Legal Quality Art for your Virtual Reality

Recently I have founded two groups for Art Lovers and Art Gallery Owners to meet and join hands for Legal Quality Art in Second Life:

Legal Quality Art Galleries

Group Insignia, with permission and support from photographer Marcus Ranum:

(this is also the image for the inworld signs you can touch to join the group)

Group Charter inworld:

Art Galleries in Second Life, joining hands for legal quality art for your Virtual Reality.
When you buy art from galleries in this group, you know you're buying legal art, sold either by the artist, or by an official SL agent - which you can check on the artist's website.
It also means you are buying quality art, right pixeled and framed with the right aspect ratio.
Join this group to support Legal Art in Second Life.
IM Zena Zemlja for posting rights for your art events.

Legal Erotic Quality Art Galleries

Group Insignia, with permission and support from photographer Marcus Ranum:

(this is also the image for the inworld signs you can touch to join the group)

Group Charter inworld:

Erotic Art Galleries in Second Life, joining hands for legal erotic quality art for your Virtual Reality.
When you buy art from galleries in this group, you know you're buying legal art, sold either by the artist, or by an official SL agent - which you can check on the artist's website.
It also means you are buying quality art, right pixeled and framed with the right aspect ratio.
Join this group to support Legal Erotic Art in Second Life.
IM Zena Zemlja for posting rights for your art events.

These groups are going to set the standard for legal quality art in Second Life. Gallery owners in SL often ask me advice, how to run and market their gallery. If you’d like to know which standards I set for myself, you might want to read this article. If you think you’re meeting same standards, contact me, and I will give you posting rights for your art and art events in one or both groups.

How are these standards developed?

These standards come from my experience for running art galleries for my own art and other artists in Second Life for 4 years now, also giving business consults to art gallery owners and artists who want to set up their own gallery.

It can be really frustrating for hard-working artists, marketing and selling their art legally, to see blatant copyright infringement going on in SL, and that in almost all of the cases the RL artists have no idea their art is being sold illegally in SL. So yes, that’s the most important issue to address: we are going to make a stand for legal art, giving customers a choice to buy their art only from art galleries that sell their art legally.

Same time I’m going to use these groups to set a standard for quality art in Second Life. What do I mean by that? It means I am going to address all the stuff that helps you to sell your art virtually properly, meaning your customers will feel they are buying something that’s really worth their Linden money.

I’m not talking about whether you have great art in your gallery. That’s not what this group is about. Whether or not your art is good, that’s something your customers will have to decide. I’m talking about how you present your art in this virtually reality, because that’s a whole other story than doing it in your first life.

Like your art can be gorgeous in first life, then you upload it and put it on a prim, out of aspect ratio.. ouch! Or you’re afraid to sell your art unmarked, because you want to protect it from art thieves that sneak around in SL – and you’re so right to wanna protect your art! - so you put copyright marks on it, and then you expect your customers to put that in their home or club.. but why do you expect them to settle for that, I’m sure if they buy your art for their first life, they are not receiving it marked either. If you ask a fair price in SL, then they should also receive a fair SL product, without the copyright marks.

So how to sell your art same quality as in first life, unmarked, and protect it the same time? It’s things like these that I have developed the Legal Quality Standards for.

May these standards change over time and develop further? Yes, they may. I have talked this over with several people who are familiar with the art business in SL. And I will be checking on the standards regularly, because there may be situations that may cause the standards to change over time. You can help me with that. If you think the standards are too strict, tell me and tell me why. If you think they are not strict enough, please let me know and explain.

Sane advice

I will check any doubt I may have about changes to the standards with people that know the art business in SL and/or rl (real life), like Sasun Steinbeck, Marcus Ranum, MeGaByte Pienaar, and other friends in the SL or rl art business who’s opinion I highly value, and who support the initiative of these two groups.

You all know Marcus Ranum is one of the photographers I work with for several years already, selling his gorgeous photography in my art galleries, and I’m running his Second Life Art Gallery for him. Marcus is a down to earth person, who always gives me sane advice. He’s happy with the initiative of these two new groups, and allowed me the use of his photo’s to make the insignia’s.

On one of these photo’s Marcus takes a stand for exhibiting his art without watermarks or copyright marks. Marcus feels that marks ruin a good artwork, and he thinks he should not have to mark it, because you just have to respect his Intellectual Property, and not take what is not yours, like your folks once taught you. If you would have any art of his in your gallery, that I would not have found out about yet, you may wanna take it down right now, because if he finds out, he’ll file DMCA on you before you can say ‘wut?’.

Those who know me private in SL, also know my SL bf MeGaByTe Pienaar, who is a rl (real life) photographer as well. MeGa is also a builder in SL, and he can give you advice about your gallery build or you can hire him to build one for you that meets your gallery needs.

I’m glad to know MeGa supports my new groups, which means a lot to me, because he’s not just supporting this because of being my bf. He will always tell me what he thinks is right, and I highly value his opinion. He will be an important advisor for me while I’m running these both groups.

Sasun Steinbeck is the founder of Art Galleries of Second Life and developer of the Art Gallery Kiosks. There’s no one in SL who knows the virtual art business better than Sasun, and there is no one who has done more for us art gallery owners in SL, to market our galleries and cooperate with each other in the Kiosks System.

Everyone who knows Sasun, knows how she thinks about copyright infringement in SL. You won’t be on her list if she finds out your selling art that is not yours to sell. So does that mean when you’re on the kiosk list, you’re qualified for these new groups as well? No, not necessarily.

I talked to Sasun about this. The Art Gallery Owners group and the Kiosks are very inclusive, and meant for anyone to add themselves, which is a great way to connect all galleries with each other. Sasun kicks you of her list if she would find out, often by chance, that you’re not legally selling your art.

In the new founded groups for Legal Quality Art, it will work the other way round, as the group will be a very exclusive one. You’ll first have to proof you’re a quality art gallery, meeting the same standards I set for my own galleries, for getting the rights to post your events.

I’m glad to say that Sasun supports both new art groups, as they are additional to hers, and helping the legal galleries one step further to join and take a stand for legal art in Second Life. Her support and advice for my groups are highly valued. Thank you, Sasun, for helping me do this.

So what are the standards that I set for myself and that I will set for you if you want to get posting rights in my quality art gallery groups?

Legal Quality Standards

Absolutely necessary standards:

• Written permission of the original artist

This is something your customers should be able to check. Best way to do that is to ask the artist to put your name on his website with a link to their inworld gallery. If an artist does not want to do that, then it should be possible to contact them on their website to check if the permission has been given. I will check on this if you ask me to give you posting rights in these groups. If I can’t contact the original artist to check, then the posting rights will not be given. If you say you’re the original artist, I will need to be able to check that too, on your website.

• Crediting the original artist

This goes without saying. If it doesn’t go without saying for you, then what are you doing having an art gallery in Second Life in the first place? If you don’t understand this question, you may not have read my articles on this blog before. Go here and learn.

• Exhibit of the art inworld

This actually goes without saying too. I mean, we’re talking art galleries. If you only sell your art on the SL website marketplace, that’s no inworld gallery. You need a ‘physical’ inworld gallery with a nice exhibit that people want to visit. That people can teleport to. That they can take their friends to, to have a nice chat about your art. We’re talking Second Life Art Galleries here, not world wide web art galleries. Having a world wide web art gallery is wonderful, additional to the one inworld Second Life. But the inworld galleries is what these groups are about.

• Framed Art

Of course you sell your art framed. You’re not selling it as a texture, omg, you really don’t. Not ever give any texture of your art to someone else in SL with full permission on the texture to frame it themselves. Next thing you know they are running an art gallery with your art. But you did not give them permission to do that, did you? Nope, but they will use the permission given on the texture and you’ll have to file DMCA to stop them from infringing on your copyright.

So you frame the art yourself and set the frames to no copy. Because your customers buy one copy, like in real life. If they order your art for real life, you’re not sending them an unlimited copy of it either, don’t you? Right.

• Right pixel size

Using the right pixel size is quite vital. Too low pixels will make your framed art look blurred. Too high pixels will take too long time for the image to rezz inworld. If you want advice about the pixelsize for your frames in your gallery, you can contact me inworld.

• Right aspect ratio

You will always use a frame that respects the aspect ratio of the artwork. You don’t want to use standard frames that stretch the art, omg, it hurts my eyes every time I see that in a gallery :( Please respect the original artwork and frame it right!

• Unmarked images

Yep, this is a tough one. Of course you want to protect your art. But if customers would buy it for their first life, they would receive an unmarked print too, wouldn’t they?

Marked art can be watermarked, or it can have a written text on it that says it is copyrighted, using the © sign, or having the website url of the artist on it. These are all marks that you won't find on an art print that you buy for your first life. If the art is signed with an original signature of the artist, of course that is different, that is often part of the artwork and no mark.

So if your customers are willing to pay you a fair Second Life price, then you should give them that quality for their virtual reality as well. So this is a requirement that protects the right of the customer to get what they pay for. If they want to settle for marked images, well, there are hundreds of those out there on the illegal market for a few Linden Dollars already, so why would they buy your art for a fair price if it is marked too?

• Original names of the artworks

You probably named your art, with a purpose. It’s part of the art, you did not name it by accident. And your customers will like to know the name, so name the framed artwork after the original name of the artwork. If the art is from another artist, you ALWAYS use the name they originally gave their work. If you name their art with numbers like erotic 01, erotic 02 etc, while they gave meaningful names to their work, you’re not respecting their art.

It will also help the artist to sell the art for real life if the customers can order the same art with the right names on their website.

• Fair price, with respect for the artist’s work and in compliance with the SL market art business

Aww, very tough one this is! How do you set a fair price? Best way is to visit a lot of galleries and learn from their experience. If you’re selling your art too cheap, people will not really appreciate it and will probably think it’s illegally sold. In most illegal galleries art is being sold for 50L or 100L, some even dare to ask 200L.

In legal galleries you will find prices that usually start at 300L. Most artists sell their own art for fair prices between 400 and 800L. Some may even ask more, and if people are willing to pay for it, it will sell. In the sculpt business prices are often much higher, like the gorgeous art sculpts by Amael Juran, which sell for 2.500L, which in this case is a totally fair price for a wonderful quality artwork. So since these groups are meant for all kinds of art - yes, sculptures too - it’s difficult to set a limit to a required price for the art.

I would advice to not go anywhere below 200L for a framed artwork, but, if the art is your own creation and you want to sell it for 100L, then that’s totally up to you. I will be more strict about this if you’re selling the art from another artist. Does the artist agree with your low pricing? Do they know about the usual prices that art sells for in SL, and did you inform them of the consequence for selling it cheap? Because selling it cheap will devaluate their art in SL and it may even affect the value of their art in real life. If you say you have informed them about that and they understand and agree to low pricing, I will check with the artist to make sure they really do.

If you want to be sure your art sells for the right price, I’d advise you to start pricing your framed art between 300 and 600L, or any price higher if you think your art is worth it, and see what happens. You can always adjust the price later if necessary.

• Informing the artist about consequences if they allow more people to sell their art

This one comes from my own experience with artists who sold their art in SL through more galleries. It does not work. Really, it does not. Making galleries competing for same art will cause them to set low prices for the art. They want people to buy the art at their place, so they will sell it cheaper than that other gallery. Then another gallery will want to sell it even more cheap, and before you know it your art is being trashed in SL for 50L. Your art is worth more than that!

If you’re an artist reading this, be sure you give the permission to sell your art to one person in SL, and make sure it’s someone who has a legal business in SL. I will be happy to inform you about this, if asked, whether the art gallery owner is qualified as a legal quality gallery, or could get qualified for it. You can contact me here

• Protecting the copyright of the artist

This may be the hardest requirement. But it is the most important one too. It’s the one that made me found this group: we want a virtual reality where art lovers can buy art legally for a fair price. That’s not possible if others sell the same art without having the right to do so.

So how are you going to prevent that? By being active. By visiting other galleries. By asking them to take your art down if they would sell it without your permission. By filing DMCA if they don’t take it down. By doing the same if you sell the art for another artist: you visit other galleries, and you ask on their behalf to respect their copyright and take the art down. You cannot file DMCA for them, but you can give them all the information they need to do it themselves.

Do you have art from another artist and it does not sell? Wonder why? Check out other galleries. Chances are they are selling same art, probably illegal, for less Lindens. That’s why yours isn’t selling.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to protect your art. But it’s worth it. Once other galleries know you’re serious about this, they will respect that and leave your art be. Because they don’t like to be DMCA’d. Believe me, this beats ugly watermarks. Big time.

There are some optional standards that are highly recommended for your own art, and the first two ones are required standards for selling the art of others:

• Promoting the artist’s rl (real life) website – highly recommended, required if the art is not your own

There are several ways to promote your website in SL. You can put the url on a note that you give to your customers. There is also a script that will make them go directly to your website if they touch a sign in your gallery. If you want to have that script, IM me inworld. If you sell the art of another artist, they will want their website promoted. If you say they don’t, I will check on that.

• Advertising in Search Second Life – highly recommended, required if the art is not your own

Of course you advertise your art. How can people know it’s there if you don’t? There are several ways to advertise, and it really does not need to be that expensive. If you have a parcel of your own, be sure to set the parcel for shown in search (go to about land, tab options to enable that). Lindenlab will charge you 30L a week for it, and this really is the best way to have your gallery shown in Search: it will show in tab places, where most people check where to go, and it will also show in tab all, which is google based. Check it out. You will get more visitors if you do this.

So what if you don’t have landpowers and rent a gallery on someone elses land? You can still advertise your gallery in Tab Classified Ads in Search. Go to your own profile, tab classifieds, to make your ad. You can set a price to your like, it always costs at leasts 50L a week. If you want to rank higher in search, you can set a higher price, like 500L a week. Doing both, parcel in search and classified ad in search, is an awesome combination to get your art up on the market. If you’re selling art from another artist, advertising for them is required. If you say they don’t want their art to be advertised, I will check on that.

• Art Gallery Kiosk – highly recommended!

Join the group Art Gallery Owners, founded by Sasun Steinbeck, and get a Kiosk. Really, you want your gallery to be on her list and website. It’s one of the best things in SL you can do for your art!

The Kiosk at your gallery will give your customers a hud that will teleport them to all the other galleries on the Kiosk Gallery List. It's an awesome gallery tour and people who get the hud from another gallery Kiosk, will visit your gallery too! You will get visitors that are real art lovers, because they are the ones that use this Kiosk art hud, and those are the customers you want in your gallery!

• Promoting the art on the Marketplace – recommended

Lindenlab made us a new marketplace on their website. I put a series of my poems up there for some time to see how things work, testing it. And I can recommend it. In fact, I will be promoting all my own art up there soon, and the art from my ‘other artist’ galleries as well, to the like of the artist.

So, these are a lot of standards to meet before you get your posting rights. Yep, it’s going to be an exclusive right. One that will bring you customers that are prepared to pay a fair price for quality art in their Second Life. They are the ones who visit my galleries. You want them to visit yours too? IM me and ask me for the posting rights.

If you are a new resident and thinking of making your own gallery in Second Life, you can contact me for a business consult. Charges are 450L for 45 minutes undivided attention.
Members of my Art Group Body, Mind & Spirit or the new Legal Quality Art Galleries groups get 50% discount for an art business consult.
If you're a certified Legal Quality Art Gallery Owner, any advice from me for your art business will be for free up to 30 min per consult.

Certified Legal Quality Art Gallery Owners will be granted a certificate, provided by the Legal Quality Art Group, which they can put up in their art gallery, for all customers to see.

With any questions or comments you may have, contact me inworld. You may also leave a comment on this blog.

To join group, go here

To get posting rights, contact Zena Zemlja.

Enjoy your Art Gallery in your Second Life!

Zena Zemlja,
Owner Art Galleries Body, Mind & Spirit.

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