Guntram Graef, who along with his wife runs Anshe Chung Studios (Second Life's biggest land owner) says that he regrets filing the DMCA complaint which looked to challenge the right of the press to publish images originating from the virtual world. The take-down notice was first filed after a video surfaced on YouTube depicting a 'griefing attack' in which Ailin Graef's avatar (Anshe Chung) was attacked by animated flying penises while being interviewed by CNET news in their Second Life bureau last month.
However, in a follow-up interview, Guntram Graef has revealed that the issue was never really about copyright but that the DMCA complaint was intended to stop the humiliation and alleged defamation of his wife Ailin:
I would like to make it clear that I regret filing DMCA claims in this case, because the real issue at hand wasn't at all about copyright. I didn't realize that some people would misunderstand this as a censorship attempt, which it definitely was not. What got lost in the whole coverage of the issue was that initially I had contacted all parties involved and tried to engage them in a dialogue about the inappropriateness of the graphical material they distributed.
The video and pictures are clearly defaming and constitute a sexual assault. What has never been a question was the free flow of information. I think everybody at Anshe Chung Studios believes in how important it is that the press can report on events and facts without censorship. This does not mean that it is appropriate to distribute pornographic material that people created to harm a woman.
Part of the problem was a clash between Western and Chinese values:
I think what many people in the U.S. and Australia have not been aware of is that Ailin is Chinese, and showing photos of her that have been manipulated into hugging huge penises and stuff like that is quite devastating in this culture. But even according to American standards I think imagery that shows penises forced onto a woman is a gross sexual assault and by far not a parody.
Graef goes then goes onto explain his frustration with the way the media treats incidents in Second Life compared with those in the 'real-world':
I realize I was taking it down the wrong path when making it a copyright issue, but my impression at the time was that Corporate America may view Second Life and what happens there strictly as a matter of pixels and textures and I had given up hope that my original concerns that I had raised would ever be taken seriously. I tried to engage into a discussion, also with Boing Boing and The Sydney Morning Herald, based on the paradigm of Second Life being a place where people interact and things happen--an analogy to the real world. But I was ignored when raising the issue of personality rights in that space. I felt like people believed they can do whatever they want because, anyway, they just show pixels and avatars/cartoons in a game.
Related post: Virtual land owner challenges press freedom in Second Life