News

NOTE: Post co-written with Odysseus Giacosa.

One of the most popular demands among Second Life’s community, and especially the content creators, has been the development, installation, and deployment, of technologies and technical means that would prevent the upload of content that infringes on their own intellectual property. Such a technology, which computer developers and internet experts call an “upload filter”, is supposed to work as follows:

When you attempt to upload something to an internet platform, the upload system analyses it and compares it to a database of copyrighted material. If it is found to bear any similarity with a copyrighted work, then it is rejected and you are told what a naughty something you are for attempting to rip off a poor creator. This is pretty much what YouTube’s Content ID system does: you upload some music, it checks it against its database and, if you can’t get an ad-powered licence for it to be uploaded, it’s rejected. You may appeal the automated system’s decision if you think your upload was rejected in error, but don’t hold your breath.

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linden-lab-logoThe talk of the day was #berryCopyright, a (erroneously named, as the dispute was about trademarks and not copyrights) hashtag encompassing a trademark complaint Linden Research Inc. filed with YouTube against a tutorial video by blogger/vlogger Strawberry Singh, who shared on her blog what had happened to her. Thankfully, sanity prevailed and Linden Research Inc., after considerable outcry by community members, bloggers, and commentators, reversed the ill-advised takedown notice and publicly apologised to Ms Singh. The trademark complaint which was filed with YouTube by the company’s IP specialist, who goes by the “Tia Linden” name in-world, was revoked, and an encouragingly-worded post was made on the company’s official blog. This trademark complaint honestly made no sense whatsoever, as the appearance of LL’s trademarks (most notably, the “eye-in-hand” logo) in the “offending” video had every hallmark of fair, informational use, as one can easily understand by reading the International Trademark Association’s material on the subject, and the material provided by Nolo (the latter was contributed to Strawberry Singh’s original post as a comment by Alana Onyett).

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UPDATE: The situation described herein has been resolved; please read the follow-up post here.

facepalm-005-blog.jpg

You had one job. How could you fuck it up so badly?

Perhaps thinking we had missed its worst, Linden Research Inc. decided to file a trademark complaint with YouTube against one of the biggest promoters, supporters, and advocates of Second Life, blogger/vlogger Strawberry Singh. The “offending” video is a tutorial, included in her “Introduction to Second Life” blog post, in which she explains to new users how to create an account, download the official viewer, and move around in their 3D surroundings. Since she unavoidably screen-captured her web browser to show people around the official website, the video obviously displayed SL’s eye-in-hand logo. The logo was also featured prominently in the 3D walkaround, as the in-world welcome area itself includes it.

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linden-lab-logoLast August, Linden Lab revised its Terms of Service. The most important changes were made to Section 2, which governs content licences and intellectual property rights. While the entire section was overhauled severely (you can read about the changes in greater detail here and here; I have also covered the issue as exhaustively as I could), it was the changes to Section 2.3 that caused certain content creators to protest in various ways, and led to two controversial announcements from stock content providers CGTextures and Renderosity – for my assessment of these two announcements, please read here. Today, July 16th of 2014, the Lab announced that it has amended the offending section.

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Allegations of IP theft and copyright infringement are extremely common in Second Life; all you need to do is have a look at social media used predominantly by Second Life users. Personally, I’ve lost count of the often heated discussions regarding who has copied or ripped off whom, what, how, to what extent etc. Oftentimes, the allegations and claims made in such discussions are wide of the mark. Sometimes they’re correct. This, of course, shows that there is a certain degree of confusion regarding fair use and copyright as they are applied to Second Life and similar virtual worlds (most notably OpenSim).

Thus, someone with actual knowledge needs to step up to the plate and inform people. Personally, I can’t really think of anyone more suited for this task than Vaki Zenovka. People who watched the ToS debate closely will remember that, back on October 19, 2013 Vaki (through her alt, Agenda Faromet), an RL attorney, along with other RL lawyers active in SL, held a legal panel to provide proper, precise and concise information on how LL’s new ToS really affect users and content creators. The panel was very successful and answered crucial questions, thus helping to counter a number of widespread misconceptions. This, however, is not the only informational initiative that Vaki has participated in. Last year, together with Tim Faith, another RL attorney (SL username: Yoss Kamachi), she held a panel to inform and educate SL content creators on the topic of copyright and fair use for SL content creators, and they are going to repeat it this year.

As she comments:

We did this last year and it was really successful, so Tim and I are doing it again this year. Are you interested in learning more about what we mean when we talk about “fair use”? Would you like to hear some actual lawyers talk about what it really means, what the current state of the law is, and how it applies to content creation and use in SL?

Of course you would.

So, tomorrow, Saturday, March 1st, 2014 and at 10AM SLT, Vaki/Agenda and Tim Faith will host this legal panel again, offering a great opportunity to those who missed last year’s panel and/or need clarifications on issues like LL’s current Terms of Service, Intellectual Property and Fair Use. The panel will be held at the Justitia Legal Resource Village. Of course, questions are welcome.

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Mona

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