Prevent theft of clothing on the Roblox Platform

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The Problem

Roblox is an amazing platform that allows users to create, upload and sell clothing, among many other virtual items.

However, a persistent and recently site-ruining problem has been that of clothing theft. By this, I refer to the ability to freely copy shirts and pants, simply by either finding the template of another user's creation and uploading it as your own or by using the more advanced method of using a third-party website to download an exact copy of the clothing item.

A few years ago, and I don't mean to hark back to the 'glory days of Roblox', you could go to the Roblox catalog and find hundreds of different clothing items for sale. If you searched ‘grey hoodie’, you’d get a seemingly infinite array of variations on grey hoodies. Nowadays, if you search up any word on the catalog, you’re greeted with a seemlingly infinite array of identical copies and clones of shirts, each fighting for the front page spot by repeating the search query in their titles.

While I may have rambled on a bit, the true damage is met when you think of the original creators of the shirts and pants, the users who put time, effort and skill into creating high-quality clothing for all users to enjoy. These users, as I mentioned above, pour their time into creating these works of art, yet there is no protection to keep their work safe from theft and copying. Within a few minutes of a top clothing group releasing a new line of clothes, hundreds, if not thousands of other users have unjustly stolen and re-uploaded the clothes so that they either do not need to pay for the clothes, or so that they can sell the clothes themselves, which would be completely illegal in the real world. The original creators are left unrewarded and unnoticed. It’s a wonder why the top designers still create clothes at all, with all this to demoralise them, and I don’t find it at all surprising to see many skilled artists making money by selling their uniform templates for other users to upload, rather than risk them being stolen entirely.

From Roblox’s point of view, there are two reasons to be worried about clothing template theft - one being the moral implications of allowing users to freely copy others, and the second reason being the terabytes of storage taken up and wasted by duplicated clothing, which I can imagine must stack up and will eventually cause a real problem in terms of purchasing storage.

I have already gone over the moral problems, which I personally believe should be Roblox’s prime concern here, but I will not skip over the potentially huge amounts of money that could be saved and better spent that is wasted on paying for storage for copies clothing. We know that the requirement of a premium account to upload shirts and pants is as much of a way to encourage users to pay for the subscription as it is a way to allow Roblox to pay for the storage used by users’ uploaded clothing. Roblox will, however, Face a serious problem with this in the near future. I do not know how much it costs to pay for the storage, but with so many duplicated uniforms floating around, there is so much space wasted. Before, I mentioned that the premium Builder’s Club memberships pay for the storage that a user will take up with a clothing template, but when a group employs users to upload hundreds and hundreds of the same templates, you run into the problem of users being able to very quickly upload more data than their subscription would pay for.

The Solution

I believe that removing the ability for users and third-parties to view and copy templates would benefit Roblox on an nearly unimaginable scale. Roblox would once again return to the days of huge variety and creativity in the catalog, with everyone being given the chance to wear a unique set of clothes to fit their personality, rather than the rank-and-File duplicated characters that we see today.

Simply removing the ability to get template IDs would bring about another problem, that being the inability for developers to get clothes or uniforms in their games. This can be solved by adding a small button that lets you copy the template ID (and only the ID string) without seeing the template itself. 

To prevent third-party sites from requesting and downloading full-sized copies of templates, Roblox could only allow an encrypted request from official Roblox services to get uniform templates. With an encryption key or RSA token method, external sites would not be able to duplicate or emulate the request sent from Roblox services such as Roblox games and Roblox studio editing sessions.

Finally, if you are reading this, thank you very much for reading what I have proposed here.

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