Every once in a while, some Second Life drama will erupt about a “client detection system” (CDS), a scripted product that supposedly protects your store from content rippers (aka “content thieves”) by banning users of untrusted viewer programs. There was such an episode last week, with a certain store using a certain CDS that wrongly banned a legitimate customer using a legitimate viewer. I won’t bother mentioning the name of the store or the CDS, because this post isn’t about that specific incident. This post is about every CDS, every store, and every viewer.
(Full disclosure: the viewer in that particular case was the Imprudence Experimental, which I am involved with. But, users of other viewers have been wrongfully banned by similar systems in the past.)
Simply put, a CDS does not provide any significant protection against content rippers. It is snake oil: a product created to commercially exploit store owners’ fear. If you have a CDS set up in your shop, you aren’t protecting your content, you’re just paying someone to invade your customers’ privacy, drive away legitimate customers, and blemish your reputation.
Most people don’t understand how a CDS works, but believe that it might actually be able to stop content rippers. The purpose of this post is to explain how they function, why they are ineffective, and furthermore why they are harmful to your customers and bad for your business.