What is an OAR?

Around the Open Simulator community, we hear things like "save your OAR" or "get an OAR from Outworldz". For the non-technical users learning to host their own regions or grids, OAR is an acronym for OpenSimulator Archive. It is a file type that can contain all of the assets of a region, its terrain, and its parcels. In other words, an OAR can be a complete backup of a virtual world known as a region in OpenSimulator. This feature allows a region owner to save and restore "backups" of their region.

Why do some grids not allow users to save their own OARs?

Unfortunately, this feature is often a topic of controversy associated with intellectual property theft. If we better understand the concerns and how to address them, we can eliminate the vast majority of controversy. If the OAR to be saved contains content that is all created by its owner, there is no issue.

With the evolution of the HyperGrid, marketplaces, and self-hosted regions or grids, it is common for a region to contain assets created by multiple users. The controversy arises for these regions - especially when they contain assets from creators on other grids. When these OARs are saved using the default 'save oar filename.oar' console entry, creator information is not preserved in the archive so the information is not available when loaded.

As a result, content creators often have concerns about their content being "appropriated" by OpenSimulator users. The vast majority of default OAR saves may result in unintentional appropriation.

What is appropriation?

This is the action of taking something for one's own use, typically without the owner's permission. In this case, if an OAR is saved without preserving creator information, when the OAR is loaded, the new owner appears to be the creator of all assets in the OAR which is not accurate. This is the source of the controversy. While statistically miniscule, intentional appropriation is never acceptable - this constitutes intellectual property theft which should always be reported.

How can an OAR that contains assets created by different users be saved "properly"?

Despite what you may have been told, there is a way to preserve the creator information! I recommend it as a standard practice so you can share your OARs at any point in the future without having to resave them before sharing. Here is an example:

Let's say:

  1. You own a region called MyRegion and you have access to the region console.
  2. You want to preserve creator information.
  3. You decide you want to save only the assets that have copy and transfer permissions.
  4. You have a folder under bin called oars where you want to save it.

To save the OAR, on the region console, you type:

save oar --publish --perm=CT oars/MyRegion.oar

Using --publish, objects in the saved oar are stripped of owner, last owner, land, and group association. This switch preserves creator information but group and land associations may need to be manually reassigned if used as a backup.

Using --perm, objects with insufficient permissions will not be saved to the OAR. The user whose permissions are checked is the estate owner. This can be useful for grids that allow their customers to export their regions to OARs, because it ensures that exporting to OAR can't be used to bypass content permissions.

To load the OAR, on the console type:

load oar oars/MyRegion.oar

When an archive is loaded, owners will be restored if the relevant UUIDs can be found in the OpenSimulator installation's user database. Otherwise, prim ownership will default to the master avatar for the region.

The loaded OAR in this example will have all creator information preserved and only assets for which the estate owner had copy and transfer permissions when the OAR was saved.

This process was validated when saving IMA Outpost Alpha after recent items from different creators were added to the region. The OAR was loaded on a different grid with a different estate owner with creator information preserved.

Suggestion for Developers: Based on currently available documentation in the wiki, perhaps these switches should be on by default so that typing 'save oar' in the console will preserve creator information and only save assets with estate manager copy and transfer permissions to a file named region.oar in the bin folder. Also, perhaps it is time to add switches for preserving group and land associations.


Written by Lisa Laxton

CEO, Infinite Metaverse Alliance LLC


This article was written for stable version Release Post-fix where the method recommended was tested. For more information, see http://opensimulator.org/wiki/OpenSim_Archives