Archive for the ‘Law’ Tag
Curio: Party Girl Celebration and Settlement Frustration | Its Only Fashion. Thanks to Cajsa Lilliehook.
Being somewhat oblivious to all the details here, aside from knowing somewhat of what was happening, all I can add to this is that Cajsa wrote up a piece that describes quite well how the law works. Unless you have the gold to finance yourself all the way through a case, sometimes settling is the only thing that can be done. Even if you come out on the winning side in a case, depending on the circumstances, you can’t expect much reward other than feeling you’ve trounced your opponent. My RL husband and I received a check recently for a class-action settlement we were apparently parties in due to some purchase or other. The fund for things like this is usually set up in the millions of dollars. Our check: $9.22.
The hell of it is that the law is the only thing besides religion and morals that helps keep society glued together. It ain’t too satisfyin’, Marshall — but it’s the thing that keeps us from each other’s throats.
If you’re interested in the recent closure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, you might want to show up at this event. Read through to Prim Perfect‘s full article to learn more.
UPDATE, December 7, 9:00 a.m: The discussion is now up on Treet TV (57 minutes).
via Prim Perfect
Me posing in front of Fallingwater at the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, September 2010.
Bad news comes in from New World Notes: the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, one of the showcases of Second Life intersecting with Real Life, will be closing after Saturday, December 4. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which was created by Wright before his death to protect his intellectual property, has allowed the license they granted to Virtual Museums, Inc. (owners of the Usonia sim and the Virtual Museum) to lapse, and then issued a cease-and-desist order. Particulars above at Ham’s article, but it appears from my reading that FLLWF is holding VMI responsible for unauthorized use of Wright’s creations.
The irony here: the FLLWF’s actions are not going to stop, or even slow down, theft of Wright’s intellectual property. As I said in much briefer form in my comment on Ham’s article, the age of the computer and the Internet broke all the de facto limitations on transmission of visual or auditory material that made copyright law easy to enforce. Everyone who has perhaps, at most, $1,000 — perhaps as little as $500 — can buy a computer and a printer/scanner/copier, scan photographs of previously published material from books, and republish it online in seconds. This is one of the foundations of the World Wide Web as we know it today; not as Tim Berners-Lee intended it, but what the Web has evolved into. Once something is available today, in almost any form, the genie is out of the bottle, the bottle is smashed, and the cork is burned to ashes. The defenders of the copyrights — who I don’t deny have a perfect right to protect their work — seem unable to come to grips with this fact. In the case of FLLW v. VMI, an innocent group who was attempting to play by the rules laid down has been punished in the process, and the over-zealous Foundation has tarnished itself. The Foundation would have been better served by tracking down the scofflaws who are using Wright material without permission.
I’d like this question answered: is the Foundation expecting VMI to do the policing of Second Life for them, issuing C&D orders in the name of the Foundation to other vendors using non-licensed works? Was this part of the license issued to them? Is that the cause for them to drop the ax on the Virtual Museum? If so, I’d really like to know how they think a small, non-profit group can accomplish something better than their own foundation, who can more easily afford to hire lawyers to issue C&D orders? I’ve been sorely tempted to call the Foundation myself and ask this question, but I’m afraid I’d open a can of worms in the process.
While cruising Plurk tonight before finishing up another article, I ran across a long conversation thread begun by Strawberry Singh, one of the excellent models to be found in Second Life, and well known as a public face for the couture house of Zaara Kohine for some time. It took me by surprise, and was rather dismaying — an account holder on Koinup, the European photo site for exclusive virtual-world work, has been scarfing photos from others, posting them to their account, and claiming them for his/her own.
There was no reason to doubt the word of reputable Residents, but a good journalist checks, and I try to be a good journalist. Following the link took me to an account named “15love,” and right on the front page were two photos skimmed off blogs, one by Berry and the other by Dailyn Holfe. (Note: in monitoring the account, Dailyn’s picture, which was cropped to remove her name, has disappeared; Berry’s is still up.) Other pictures were attributed to The Sims and IMVU, but the graphic style was clearly not from those worlds. Some pictures appeared to have been simply slapped into the account without even taking the effort to rename them from the “hash”-style file name automatically assigned to the original by the Koinup system. I clipped out screenshots, which I serve up below. (My apologies for the peculiar formatting of the page when you see it; click through on the link.)
Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been staying out of reporting or voicing an opinion on the DMCA suit filed against Linden Lab by Munchflower Zaius and Stroker Serpentine, chiefly because I’ve had no opinion either way on the outcome of the suit, and also because others such as Hamlet Au have better sources and resources to report on this piece of news. I’m not going to step in where I’m only half informed on a subject, if I can help it; that just gets controversy instead of solution going. However, I sympathize with the creators of original content when it comes to having their hard work and sweat ripped off, since their work is being stolen by creatures who are little better than slime mold on the soles of our Stiletto Moodys.
Now comes the most blatant piece of copy theft yet. According to sources, someone came in to the Woodshed sims owned by clothes designer Rebel Hope and RH Engel, and copied everything. Rebel quickly complained to Linden Lab, but the damage has been done; the thieves have since distributed everything to the Grid at large. Read the rest of this entry »
In the several pieces of news to come down the Grid since my computer went into the shop, the most interesting — not the most important, probably, but the most interesting to me — is Hamlet Au’s report on how a major player in intellectual property has stepped in with objections. Trident Media Group, the agents of the estate of Dune‘s Frank Herbert, have sent a cease-and-desist order to Linden Lab, which passed it on to the Dune role-playing group. They have complied with the order by removing as many references to the Dune franchise as they can find within their power. However, they plan to continue the game as a more generic environment. (See Ham’s article for the details.)
This article kicked off quite a discussion, with 25 comments as of this writing. At least one of the best-known pundits in SL, Crap Mariner, has weighed in; and the flap has even attracted the attention of the master of the open source movement, Richard Stallman, with an interesting take on the legality of “intellectual property.”
I won’t take a position arguing against or for such eminences, at least not knowingly. What I will say is my own opinion: that the Herbert estate has the right to defend their legal copyrights, which means anything connected with the Dune series and its sequels by Brian Herbert — but that it’s darn silly to be picking on such a small community that simply wishes to celebrate the fantasy and live the dream. No money is being made here, except perhaps by Linden Lab in terms of tier for the regions. Speculation: this is probably the basis on which the cease-and-desist was issued — in which case, Vooper Werribee and his comrades are “collateral damage” in the battle, innocent bystanders who are being given the finger unwittingly by Trident Media. This could bring the franchise more ill-will than good, especially if Crap’s own speculation that Trident plans to start a Dune sim of their own are correct.
At least, in all the fooferaw, Vooper doesn’t seem to have lost his sense of humor. From Ham’s article:
…I asked him if he planned to remove his remaining Dune-esque objects from Second Life.
“No,” he answers. “We’ve made all the compliance changes we intend to now. Basically we’ve removed the words ‘Dune’, Bene Gesserit, Atreides, etc. from as many object names and descriptions as we can find. But we still intend to keep the place as a ‘generic’ sci-fi desert planet with spice mining. And still intend to roleplay here.” Ironically, he tells me Star Trek roleplayers have expressed an interest in using it for “first contact” scenarios. “Some Star Wars players are interested in using the place as a ‘spice mining’ base,” he adds. “As Star Wars has ‘spice’.”
“The spice must flow?” I suggest.
Vooper Werribee laughs. “It sure must!”
Thanks to Hamlet Au.
Grace McDunnough has raised an argument on her blog, Phasing Grace, that would threaten in part to explode the way business is done in the virtual world. Please read the entire article, of course; but the key parts:
…The virtual economy has become such a natural extension of my experience, that it was not until recently that I even stopped to think it odd that I would surrender monies to people, charities, or businesses that were not verifiable in some way.
I would not surrender the equivalent of $100USD to an online retail storefront without ensuring that I had a way to contact them…. However, I have handed over the equivalent of that to purchase a parcel in a virtual world. I am not alone. In Aug2008 alone, there were 10,406 transactions valued at over $50USD between two (or more) largely anonymous entities just in Second Life. What happens if you hand over a sizable chunk of your virtual currency to an entity and don’t receive in return what you thought you were purchasing?
I don’t know, and I hope I don’t have to find out. But just thinking about this led me to a simple conclusion:
We need virtual world business licenses.
I want people to be able to maintain their privacy, and manage their online identities in ways that best suit them, but with provisions for equal access to the virtual marketplace. I don’t know if this was the intent of the infamous “identity verification” movement, but if it was, I may have to rethink my position in that context.
I want to know that there is some way for me to whois a virtual business entity, and better yet I want the equivalent of a Better Business Bureau, but on an scale that covers the virtual world space.
I want there to be governance over the execution of transactions for real and virtual currrencies.
Now the creation of a virtual Better Business Bureau would be a good thing, and I would join in a heartbeat if I could afford it. I have to wonder about the idea of a business license, though. Who would administer such a thing, at least in Second Life?
- Linden Lab? Despite the moves much yelled over — banking, etc. — the Lab shows no real inclination of becoming more of a governing force on the Grid than it is. Such things seem handled more on a case-by-case basis.
- If not Linden Lab, that leaves the Real World government at some level. But do we really want RL interference in virtual world affairs? Government-issued licenses tend to be expensive, and business law will differ from country to country. If you’re doing business from RL USA with someone in, say RL Russia, whose business law would trump? Or would you need a license from both countries? From every country in the world that has an avatar resident on the Grid, in a worst-case scenario? That wold stifle virtual commerce — the great driver of in-world activity — quicker than a war. Sales die off, the owners of the businesses stop renting space or give up their expensive islands, and Second Life would blow away into the digital sea as the Grid goes dark from its amazing diversity. (The reality would probably lie somewhere in the center of this alternative, but you never can tell.)
Are there other ways of looking at this? Would a business license structure actually help SL commerce, which seems to work pretty well already from my experience? What are your thoughts?