Interview: Cory Linden on IP issues in Second Life
Our legal editor Candace (a.k.a. Kale, a.k.a. Arboriasha Westerburg) has been exercised for some time about potential intellectual property entanglements arising in Second Life
.Isn't there an issue about downloading those Penthouse centerfolds as artwork for your club?
...Just after I completed Road Rash for the Nintendo 64, I met Philip Rosedale, Linden's CEO, in the fall of 2000 and decided that it offered more interesting challenges than creating PS2 games.
: Second Life
is built on a unique combination of streaming and grid-computing technologies that enable a completely dynamic world.
: The briefest, official policy for uploads is best stated by the TOS itself: "[Y]ou shall not . . . upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit Content that infringes or violates any third party rights."Much like the TOS of a hosting company, it makes it clear that it is the residents' responsibility to not upload infringing content.The residents' creations are owned by the creator, again much like a hosting company or an art tool.Although they grant Linden
some rights, such as the right to use their creations for testing, they retain full rights to their creations.
Candace: I'd like to follow up on that last point, so people understand what rights Linden retains in regard to player's creations.You mention the right to use them for testing.What about advertising for Linden
or any other right?It really is a fascinating relationship between players and Linden
in SL.Of course, when people are concerned about retaining rights, they're often driven by the notion that someone else shouldn't profit from their own work, and allowing Linden to have advertising privileges in regard to players' creations flies squarely in the face of that traditional IP notion.I suppose the hope is that you'll both benefit: players have access to the medium you've created, and you have (limited) access to use their creations.Is that a fair statement of the idea?I think it's a unique situation here. Cory
: Paragraph 5.3 in the TOS covers this.
: Second Life
restricts audio uploads to 10 second clips, since the primary purpose of these samples are as sound effects in world.
: The music "played" in Second Life
is landowners allowing visitors to stream webcasts audio from other websites.
If you found that there was a demand for access to certain copyrighted materials that players could use in-game (music, for instance), what do you think of the option to find a way for Linden
to gain access and share that with all SL players? Cory
: As I said, listening to web streamed audio in Second Life
is no different than pointing Winamp or Windows Media Player at it.If options become available to deliver licensed music within Second Life
and our users wanted it, we would certainly consider it.
Candace: In the event that it comes to the attention of Linden Lab
that copyrighted content has been uploaded into SL w/out permission, what steps are taken?Does Linden Lab
*only* act to remove the item if the copyright owner makes a complaint or will they act to remove the content under other conditions (e.g., a player simply brings it to the attention of the SL owners)?Cory
: Copyrighted content comes under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), specifically its "Safe Harbor" provision.If a copyright owner feels that content within Second Life
is infringing, she
may submit a takedown notification, as detailed both on our website (http://secondlife.com/corporate/dmca.php) and in the DMCA itself (http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf).
: Trademarks are different, as they don't fall under the DMCA.
: As in the real world, it is not possible to prevent all infringement.
: Despite the nearly 1 million player-to-player transactions and over 100,000 uploads per month, infringement is a very small percentage of total customer support incidents, so it is not a major problem.
...Cory: The debate about whether digital goods are property has been covered quite well by Greg Lawstowka and Dan Hunter (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=402860) and while there may be some debate about whether items in other MMORPGs meet their definition, since all those items were simply made by the developer for the temporary use of the player, it is clear that new creations inside Second Life meet the various historical and philosophical definitions quite well.
: Second Life
does import quite a bit of data from the real world and, if anything, Second Life's
support of real-world IP increases the available content set.
The good Cory Linden
, however, was supremely kind and put me at ease.He
invited me to ask whatever I wish, held saintly patience as I prattled on and on, and he
could have easily passed me on to someone with more free time.Personally, I think "how nice is it that someone in that position would even talk to the Herald---we could have been very easily told to go to hell (and by the by, many have said *just* that).Instead, I'm able to share this piece with you and Cory
is even apparently keeping an eye to this thread to help with some of the responses.How cool is that?I must say that I appreciate and respect that immensely.
What I love about SL is this revolutionary aspect of it.There are many good discussions to be had, and one is on the streaming audio.First, is there anything objectionable with the practice, and if so, is there anything Linden
should do or is it the user's responsibility to watch what they decide to do w/materials as so often is the deal?
- you guys really really should go P2P though.