[sldev] My question about intellectual property and Second Life

Darien Caldwell darien.caldwell at gmail.com
Fri Aug 29 00:46:35 PDT 2008

When people are talking IP, it's just used as a general term, and
there's nothing worng with that. There are no lawyers here, so it
doesn't have to be 'legally meaningful'.  It's a lot easier to say:
"I want my IP protected." than to say "I want my
else protected."
It's shorthand, and for the purpose of debate perfectly fine. And when
you own copyright on something, you do own it, so it is property. Just
like when you own a dog or cat, it's property. Although I know some
would debate that assertion too. :)

On 8/28/08, Jan Ciger <jan.ciger at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Hi David,
> David M Chess wrote:
> | I think you answered your own question there.  :)  We're talking mostly
> | about copyright, but since we're also dealing with licenses that may
> | grant or withhold rights that copyright law simpliciter might not, it
> | also gets into licensing, contract law, and less legal stuff like Terms
> | of Service, where a violation may not be a crime or a tort, but may
> | still get you banned from SL.  It's kind of nice to have a blanket term
> | for that, although I agree that the implicit analogy to simple property
> | may be a bit forced.  (Heck, even simple non-intellectual property isn't
> | all that simple; look at land for instance.)  Terminology is always
> | hard...  :)
> The trouble with the "blanket term" you would like to have is that it is
> legally meaningless and completely misleading for the lay people.
> As you have said - we may be dealing with copyright, contracts, TOS
> (which is a kind of contract), trademarks, design marks (protected
> designs - not sure whether the English term is correct) even patent law,
> You cannot lump this under one umbrella term - these things are very
> different and you will be hard pressed to even find a lawyer proficient
> in all of them. Oh, and which jurisdiction are we talking about?
> American law varies between states, European law (which country?) is a
> yet different beast. And I know some residents from Australia, Japan and
> Canada too ...
> Now, what follows is not really targeted as much on you, David, as on
> the people crying against being ripped off and having their stuff copied.
> <rant>
> Some people are even trying to simplify this further, pressing for
> having even stronger DRM controls or blanket banning of people who
> re-create or copy someone's creation as a solution to all this.
> Hate to break it to you guys, but SL is not here only for you to make a
> profit. I am not against healthy in-world commerce or having a copyright
> on something, but you cannot stop me from remaking your contraption,
> unless I provably copy your work - which may be tricky to prove. Is
> putting cubes one next to another in the same way as you did copying? It
> makes no difference whether I have used a script or did it by hand. If
> my work looks the same as yours, but didn't use any part of yours and I
> am not distributing it as yours, it wouldn't be a copy/derivative work
> in RL. Looks and functionality are not copyrightable, as Apple painfully
> discovered some years ago when they tried this stunt with MacOS.
> Some people would like to prevent me from even using the same idea (like
> one un-named animated ocean wave creator recently!). Good luck with
> that, because unless you have a patent on your work, you have no leg to
> stand on. In the case of mathematical algorithms and data (which SL
> content arguably is) obtaining patent may even not be possible (not to
> mention the ridiculous expense). So, if the wave maker is reading this,
> do everyone a favour and remove the ridiculous language from your
> "license". You will look less like a dork.
> Finally, for the people pushing for various "EULA"-like fields in the
> object properties - you do not know what you are getting yourself into.
> Your license may not even be a valid license in many places, unless it
> is translated to the official language. E.g. in Germany, all such
> documents have to be in German to be valid. So, if I want to use your
> work against your license, all I have to do is to get a German do it
> because your license is in English only. Also, "click-wrap",
> non-negotiable contracts are not enforceable in many places. So unless
> Lindens are planning to create an in-world legal system covering this
> (TOS extension?), it will be a mess.
> If you feel harmed by someone's copying your stuff, sue. That is what
> courts are for and then I will have also a chance to defend myself.
> Having a company-appointed "policeman" banning people left and right
> just because someone accused them of theft is not acceptable (some game
> companies are doing this and there is enough of crying asking for this
> on the SL forums ...).
> However, do not push blanket technical measures on everyone for your own
> sake. Look at the situation in music or video, where the big labels
> managed to completely obliterate the legitimate media market with their
> technological and legal efforts. Only one or two big players are able to
> stay in the market today. And of course, the pirates, who couldn't care
> less. Everyone else is screwed. I would hate to see this happening in SL
> too because of short-sighted stop-gap knee-jerk reactions to a perceived
> problem.
> </rant>
> Regards,
> Jan
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