Note: I’ve edited this post to remove the remarks about No Mod, No Copy, No Transfer and Mod, No Copy, No Transfer, when it was pointed out by a couple of commenters that these combinations are actually impossible.

I was originally going to write a brief article about the technical details of putting items up for sale, and I will still do that at some point, but as I was writing it I found that I had a lot to say about permissions. As permissions are something you have to give serious thought to if you want to sell things, I’ve decided to devote an entire post to it. I’ll assume that you already know how to set permissions (if you don’t, they are on the General tab of the Build dialog).

Permissions are a thorny subject, with wildly differing views. What I am going to do is to examine the ramifications of each option and (more importantly) of each combination of options. I’ll also give my own opinion on each of various options, but you should realise that there are plenty of merchants out there who will have quite different ideas. Be prepared to give the whole subject some very careful consideration!

First, let’s look at the individual permissions.

Mod means that the purchaser can freely change the object, using the Build tools. No Mod means that the purchaser cannot modify the object in any way other than simply moving or rotating it. They can’t scale it, they can’t change the textures, they can’t break it up (assuming it consists of more than one prim).

For most objects, No Mod is a sensible option. However, if you are selling clothing attachments (for example, hats), you might want to allow modification so that the purchaser can adjust the size of the object to fit their avatar (regrettably there is no way to restrict the types of modification that are allowed — it is all or nothing). In fact, some people might be reluctant to buy such items if they are not moddable.

Copy means that the purchaser can create multiple copies of the item (but only for themselves — they cannot pass these copies on to anyone else). This has some less than obvious effects. When a Copy object is rezzed, the original remains in the Inventory. If the owner deletes the rezzed object, they still have the original. If they mod the object (assuming it is moddable), the original is unchanged, and if they wish they can take a copy of the amended object back into their Inventory — they will then have two copies, both the original and the altered copy.

No Copy means that the purchaser cannot create multiple copies of the item. They will not be able to Copy and Paste the object within their Inventory (although they can move it around in the Inventory), and when they rez the object it will vanish from their Inventory.

Many merchants specify No Copy. Unfortunately, many purchasers (myself amongst them) are reluctant to buy No Copy items. The main reason is Second Life’s notorious flakiness. I have had experience myself of rezzing a No Copy object, seeing it vanish from my inventory, but failing to rez. If you are lucky, it might be returned eventually, sometimes to the Lost and Found folder. More often than not it is gone for good. Or rather, for bad.

The other reason for Copy applies to clothes. I have separate folders for each costume that I wear. In many cases these costumes are customised — I have built them by combining clothes from different merchants. Often I have an item that I want to use in more than one outfit, so I want to create copies in several different folders. From my point of view, it is a convenience for me — with No Copy items I would have to go to different folders in order to put together a specific costume. From the merchant’s point of view, I can only ever wear one copy at a time, so they are not losing out (and I’m not going to buy multiple copies just for convenience).

Nowadays I hardly ever buy clothing that is No Copy.

No Transfer means that the purchaser cannot give or sell the item to someone else. This is a very common option, but there is a catch when the purchaser wants to buy the item as a gift for someone else — this option stops them from doing that. A good solution is to create a special ‘gift’ version of the item, specifying Transfer and No Copy. With this option the purchaser can give the item to someone else, and it will be removed from the purchaser’s inventory. Of course, this goes against what I have said above about No Copy items, but there really isn’t a lot of choice in this case. You probably just need to be prepared to deal with the occasional loss of such gifts, when Second Life fails at the crucial moment of transfer!

But this is starting to get us into combinations of permissions, so let’s take a look at the other possible combinations, and what the implications are. I’ll begin with the probable no-nos:

Mod, Copy, Transfer, and the closely related No Mod, Copy, Transfer. Probably fatal, unless this is a freebie that you don’t mind being copied and given or sold on to any number of other people. For items that you want to make a profit out of, this is a very unlikely combination!

Ok, now for the more useful combinations.

No Mod, No Copy, Transfer. As I mentioned above, you can use this for items which are to be sold as gifts, but be prepared to deal with the occasional fall-out. Only use this combination if you are also selling a version with Copy and No Transfer options.

You could feasibly have Mod, No Copy, Transfer to allow moddable gifts (for the clothing attachments I’ve already mentioned). This is workable, but again be prepared to deal with problems. If the receiver of the gift mods it and breaks it, how generous are you going to be to them when they ask for a replacement?

No Mod, Copy, No Transfer. My favoured set of permissions, both for selling and for buying (except for clothing attachments, where I look for Mod as well).

Oh, while I’m at it, some merchants sell items with different permissions for different prices. Usually this means a No Copy version and a more expensive Copy version. Personally, I think this is a good compromise — I’m certainly prepared to pay a little more (but not too much!) for a Copy version, and I understand and empathise with the motives behind it.

Textures

When it comes to permissions, textures are an oddity. They are only usable by the purchaser if they come with full permissions – Mod, Copy, Transfer. This means that once you have sold the textures, the purchaser can do absolutely anything with them, including passing them on to other people. If you think about it, you can probably see why this is the case — if a texture is used on an object which is going to be sold, the texture has to be transferred along with the rest of the object. In a similar fashion, the texture has to have Copy, otherwise the purchaser could only make and sell one single item with that texture.

Does this mean there is no point in selling textures? Maybe. Personally, I have sold (and still sell) packages of textures, and make a good profit from them, in spite of my inability to restrict the usage of them. You might prefer not to take the risk.

You can, of course, accompany your textures with dire warnings about copyright, and threaten people with DCMAs. It might work, I’ve never tried it. It’s your call.

If you want to make textures your central product (and some people, such as Lauren Fox, seem to have done this successfully) you need to decide how much you are going to worry about people copying your work. If the answer is “a lot”, you might want to reconsider.

One final point. When you are selling your items, make sure that the permissions for them are clearly visible (either in a nearby advert, or on the box, if the items are boxed).

Brief, Opinionated Summary

  • Mod, Copy, Transfer – give-aways/freebies only!
  • Mod, Copy, No Transfer – good for clothing attachments
  • Mod, No Copy, Transfer – for moddable gifts
  • No Mod, Copy, Transfer – give-aways/freebies only!
  • No Mod, Copy, No Transfer – my favoured default
  • No Mod, No Copy, Transfer – for gift