Archive for the ‘Copyright’ Tag

Gwyn Sets Up a Petition to Linden Lab

A quick note before I head off to bed, as I’m finally feeling tired. Gwyneth Llewelyn has written another detailed article on the trademark rumble. While I’m not sure I agree with all of her conclusions in law, I definitely support her requests for redress as a need for Linden Lab to meet on behalf of we SLoggers.

Gwyn’s Home » Petition to Linden Lab on the Policy of Trademark Enforcement

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Linden Lab Releases Trademark Statement

Revised and updated April 2, 8:11 a.m. local:

Catherine Linden has published a fresh article on the official Linden blog concerning the trademark policy changes. Comments have closed on the article, but reading them will show you the predominant reaction to this “explanation.” I quote from it here:

1. Can I use the Second Life Eye-in-Hand logo in a press story?
Yes! If the story is about the Second Life world, you can use the logo in the body of the story. You can’t, however, use the logo to identify your blog — why? Because it looks like you’re a Second Life or Linden Lab vetted project. You can read more about this here.

2. Can I discuss the Second Life world on my website?
Of course! You can — and should — call our products and services by their names. For instance, it’s ok to say you’re “running a business in the Second Life world” or that you bought “Linden dollars through the LindeX exchange.” You can read more about that here.

3. Can I use SL with my product, domain or organization name?
Yes, under our special license to use “SL.” You can use “SL” with your own trademark. So, if you own the “Dell” trademark, you could call your presence in the Second Life world “Dell SL.”Or, you can use two common nouns with “SL.” For instance, SL Ballet is not ok (only one common noun) but SL Ballet Troup works. And SL China Portal is not ok (”China” is a proper noun), but SL Chinese Residents Association works. You need at least two common nouns so others don’t think you’re an “official” Second Life organization or website. Read more about this license.

4. What if I have a domain name that uses “SL” with only one common noun?
We’ve given you 90 days to transition to a new domain name that works with our special license. If you need additional time, please write us at and we’ll consider giving you permission to extend the 90 days or to forward the old domain name to your new one. For more on submitting a licensing request check out the FAQ.

5. I’ve got more questions, who can I ask?
We’ll be glad to help you. You can email us at with specific questions. Keep in mind there are MANY of you and only a few of us, so please be patient.

(More after the break.)

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If you think your chain’s being yanked….

…so does Hamlet Au; or at least I’m suspecting he does. The title of his latest article on New World Notes is, “Trademark Update: The Waiting Game Sucks, Let’s Play Hungry Hungry Hippos ™.” You see, Linden Lab promised to give a statement to their former house blogger concerning the fun new trademark rules they have devised — and set many an SL house into a tizzy with — and that they would release it no later than Monday (yesterday). It is now nearly closing time on the West Coast Tuesday, and nothing has been given him yet. They are now saying (through their PR flack):

Due to a high volume of inquiries on the topic, Linden Lab plans to address these questions in another blog post which should be up soon…

I’m getting the feeling that “soon” means the ever-legendary Real Soon Now.

I’m normally the tolerant sort when it comes to the peccadillos of Linden Lab, but that comes with coping with the problems of a very young technology. But your word is supposed to be your bond, and LL’s bond is now shaky at best. I still wish peace to them — but I, along with others, am also getting impatient.

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Linden Lab Promises a Reply on Trademark Issue to Blogger — Updated

New World Notes‘ Wagner James (Hamlet) Au reports that a press representative for Linden Lab has told him that the Lab will issue a statement on the Second Life branding issue concerning many of SL’s bloggers sometime Friday or Monday.

In his article, Wagner states that he received an E-mail from Peter Gray of Lewis PR, the public relations firm working for Linden Lab, promising the statement. No specific time was announced for its release, nor was any information disclosed on what the statement would contain. Wagner is a former in-house blogger for Linden Lab. The statement may be in response to the call for clarification issued by Gwyneth Llewelyn on her blog, which has been reprinted in the same article by Wagner along with the note from Peter Gray. Gwyneth is calling for a 3-day strike of SL bloggers, beginning April 15, if no satisfactory response is made to her request; this call is meeting with support from some bloggers, based on reading of the ongoing discussion at the SL Bloggers group on Ning.


An interesting hat — copyrighted, of course

It’s uncertain at this point just how much notice the larger community of Residents is giving to the trademark flap. In a thoroughly unscientific examination, I wore Kit Meredith’s attachment (pictured above) yesterday to the daily Morning Coffee at the Blarney Stone in Dublin. Nobody asked me to explain it, and I was there for two hours. I presume they all thought I was wearing a Funny Hat, and left it at that. I intend to repeat the experiment today for a span of time, and see if the results are better.

The more libertarian bloggers worry that another freedom is being cut out from under the community without its noticing, citing such examples as the gambling and banking ban. I myself, though, don’t see this turning into another Tea Crate Rebellion at any time in the near future. It all depends on how much the SL public perceives this as affecting them. It could affect them by putting a chill on discussion and reportage; if bloggers don’t know what the exact requirements are for them, or can’t meet those requirements easily, then they’ll likely stop writing. This is already threatened, at least in part, by the strike action planned by Gwyn. If the bloggers shut down, then Linden Lab will be losing tons of free publicity that their previous easy trademark policy fostered — the publicity that drove knowledge of the Second Life brand to over 10,000,000 people who have signed up.

Linden Lab does have the right to defend their brands; there is no question there. But, since they have created the community that has, in return, helped drive subscribers to their service, it is incumbent on LL to clarify the situation at the very least. It would also be a simple courtesy as well.


UPDATE, March 29:

Ham hasn’t published any statement on NWN from Linden Lab, so we appear to need to wait for a word from them until sometime Monday. If it appears before 12:00 p.m. SLT, I’ll work to get at least a link to the comment in a new article.

In the meantime, check out the following for fresh discussions from important bloggers in this controversy:

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SL Brand Center — Followup

An interesting hat — copyrighted, of course

As I was getting ready to write this, I punched up Reuters’ Second Life site to see what the latest was from the professionals, if anything. Only I was greeted with — silence. At the best, is churning without loading a page, or Firefox told me that the domain was “taking too long to respond.” We can interpret this in four ways:

  1. is overloaded right now.
  2. It’s Maintenance Time. (Hopefully not PM — as in “provocative maintenance,” which creates more problems than it solves [grin].)
  3. Reuters is taking the subdomain down (“by order” of their lawyers) to set up a new domain name, and it hasn’t propagated through the DNS yet. (Though a redirect could be quickly set up as well….)
  4. The one consistently publishing source of professional news in Second Life is pulling the plug, so as to take no chances with the new branding policy.

Only time will tell which one. I’ve been trying to connect since 7:00 a.m. RL, and nothing yet. (It’s currently 9:30.)


In the time since Linden Lab’s announcement of the new SL branding policy, reaction in the out-world from Residents has been loud and thick. Here’s a list of the blogs and news reports I’ve found so far (after the break):

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Linden Lab “Tightens” Trademark Control (?)

Just to keep myself on the safe side of the lawyers, any “conclusions” as to the law obtained by me below are not necessarily correct legal opinion or precedent, and should not be regarded as such. So don’t rely on my word for it, folks. All I can claim is that, having seen some experience with these things over my time, I think I’m pretty close to how the real world works with these questions.

Yesterday, Linden Lab announced through the Big Blog the creation of its “Second Life Brand Center,” which lays out strong, explicit rules and examples of how its various trademarks and service marks may be used. “Discussion” started quickly in the comments section to the announcement article; and, across 139 comments (as of this writing), the consensus has been strongly — if not almost universally — sarcastic, disparaging, and just plain negative. At least one commenter suggested that LL might be preparing for an initial public stock offering, and is trying to establish control of tangible and intangible assets, which trademarks certainly are to a company. (Witness the trademark inspectors who were running around restaurants during the Seventies and Eighties at the height of the Cola Wars, making sure that waitresses identified their product as their product.) Many were angry that, while LL is taking steps to protect their copyrighted material, the company seems unwilling to do anything to protect the same rights for Resident merchants.

In reality, this kind of lawyerly comedown is not that new. Any subscriber to, say, Writer’s Digest will see batches of ads several times a year imploring authors to refer only to Kleenex™ facial tissues or Frigidaire™ refrigerators, etc. This is to protect their brand name and market position, since excessive use in a generic way forces the name into the public domain. That’s why we have Velcro, and then we have everyone else making “hook-and-eye fastener strips.”

My (legally uninformed) take on how this will affect most of us after the break….

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