Archive for the ‘Law’ Tag

Reblog: Curio: Party Girl Celebration and Settlement Frustration | Its Only Fashion

Curio: Party Girl Celebration and Settlement Frustration | Its Only FashionThanks 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.


Designing Worlds discusses the closure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum (via Prim Perfect)

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).


Designing Worlds discusses the closure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum Join us in our Northpoint studio at 2pm SLT today, Monday 6th December as we host a discussion show on the recent events leading to the closure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum. The announcement of the closure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum (discussed here on the Prim Perfect blog) caused dismay across … Read More

via Prim Perfect


Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum to Close Saturday

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.

Apparent Plagiarism of Virtual World Photo Work on Koinup

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 »

Always Hope for Rebel; Support the SL Designer

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 »

Late News: Herbert Estate Comes Down on Dune SL RP Sim

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!”

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Do We Need Business “Licenses”?

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?

Trademarkgate — AT LAST!

(With thanks to Dusan Writer, who put me on to this while I was tag-surfing the blogs)

Rather late, but at last, Linden Lab has published an article (by LauraP Linden) on the Big Blog, addressing most of the questions SLoggers and others have raised about their now legendary (read: notorious) branding policy changes. Anyone who writes a SLog, or is thinking of creating one, make sure to read this!

The pity is that it took so great effort on the part of the SLogosphere, and the raising of much bad blood toward LL, to get clarification of matters that should have been addressed back in March, when the policy was first revised from the old liberal-use mode.  Linden Lab has had to endure in that time the castigation of a number of influential bloggers — I don’t necessarily rank myself in this category (grin) — the belief by large amounts of the remainder of the Residents that they were wasting time on stupidity when they should focus on Fixing the Grid, and a three-day protest action by said prominent bloggers to draw attention to the question.  Even now, some worry that this is no improvement (I see it as much clearer, myself), or that key questions still need addressing.  The published E-mail address for trademark and brand questions,, is going to be very busy for some time to come.  I hope they give better answers individually than we were receiving at large and at first.

Ah, well; for my part, I think the main problem is solved.  After placing a finis opus on this article, I intend to enjoy a few well-earned fingers of Bushmills and water, and then collapse in preparation for cleaning my house in the bright of morning — and my store inventory in RL on Sunday night!

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Raising the Red Flag

In my last article, I linked to Rheta Shawn’s ongoing article listing known participants in the bloggers’ protest strike to encourage Linden Lab to clarify its new trademark/brand policy.  The comments to her post show that the bloggers are approaching their concern with a sense of humor as well as seriousness — and not a little grasp of the classics, as well.  A painting by Delacroix, invocation of Victor Hugo and the musical Les Misérables that derives from Hugo’s masterpiece; it’s all there.

One writer, Laetizia Coronet of Virtual Village Voice, took it to the next level.  Revolutionaries have used the red flag as a symbol of revolt for years, and that includes, of course, revolutionaries of a more recent vintage.  In her comment, Laetizia did a bit of light filk — to the Internationale!  In the same vein, I responded that if we were going to be subjected to Marxian polemics next, I’d be putting in a phone call — to the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover.  (The modern FBI doesn’t worry too much about Commie plots….)

All that reminds me of my college days.  I have a Bachelor of Arts in humanities (hail the Seven Liberal Arts!), and was, of course, required to take several core classes.  In the one dealing with the 1800s, we were required to either write one major paper on a topic of our choice, or several smaller papers from a list of suggestions.  One classmate chose the mini-papers, and one of the suggestions was Karl Marx.  She purchased copies of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, and was reading them at work during lunch time.  They were laying on her desk, out in plain view, as the boss walked by.  According to my classmate, he took one look and winced, and begged her (jokingly, I’m sure) to put those things away in a drawer!  I think he was afraid she was planning to set off the revolution there in his company….

Allons, mes enfants!! Man the barricade!”


At this press time, 23 Second Life bloggers have gone on a three-day virtual strike in protest of Linden Lab’s introduction of their new Brand Center trademark rules.

As reported here and elsewhere, LL has changed their rules from an open, easy to read and understand set of guidelines that encouraged bloggers to write about the virtual world, to a set of rather opaque rules that have left many writers uncertain what the status of their blogs will be at the end of the 90-day grace period. Many writers are wondering if they must pepper their articles with ™, ® and © symbols every time they mention the words “Second Life” or “Linden Lab” in an article; others fear being forced to change domain names that contain “Second Life” or “sl.” There have been some legal concerns that, having been compelled to agree to revised Terms of Service that include the new branding rules, any failure to comply completely will result in a shutdown of an account.

Gwyneth Llewelyn, one of the best-known SL bloggers, has demanded a clarification of LL’s new policy beyond the second article posted in their Big Blog (the official SL blog), which is considered essentially a rehash of the actual Brand Center page without any true explanation of what the Lab’s intent toward bloggers is. At the end of her article, she stated that she would “go on strike” for three days if no full explanation was given by LL. Other bloggers have now chosen to join her in this. A list to date of participating blogs can be found at Rheta Shan’s blog, Rheta’s World, along with a nice touch of humor that raises the image of a Les Misérables-like stand on the virtual barricades, raising the red flag of revolution.  A protest stand in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Clementina is planned for Sunday, at good times for both European and American participants.  Interested participants should contact Gwyneth Llewelyn for more details.


Linden Lab is still botching its public relations with a group that has done it more good for free than any amount of paid publicity could have done. The appointment of a new communications manager, Katt Linden, is a positive step for the future; but they should address the present as well, which includes this situation.  That they have not, in a form that is clear and satisfactory to the Residents concerned, does not augur well for their future communication ability.  While it is quite possible that Second Life could have grown in similar ways from paid advertising, nothing beats the advertising of satisfied customers — the legendary word of mouth.  Someone who likes what they see will try to get more people involved in it to share the fun; they will talk it up to friends and strangers alike.

Similarly, though, a dissatisfied customer can also express their dissatisfaction — and many studies have shown that the words of a dissatisfied customer affect more people in the long run.  Those studies were done years ago, in the days before public use of the Internet.  Imagine now how much reach this powerful communications tool can have.  The current customer base outside of the concerned bloggers are mostly unworried at this time; but potential future customers can run across all the negative press generated by the controversy, and be turned away by concerns over a potentially tyrannical situation.

In their second blog writeup, Catherine Linden also seems to believe that we don’t understand why trademarks are important to companies.  She fails to realize, apparently, that there are many professionals, corporate types, Highly Educated Persons, and just general smart people that understand quite well what value a trademark holds.  Few or none of us have any objection to LL’s protecting their rights — provided that they do not step on our rights in the process.  The newly restrictive attempt at trademark enforcement, coupled with a failure or disregard to explain things adequately to satisfy our concerns, makes LL look even worse in the eyes of an increasingly estranged customer base.

The ball is in Linden Lab’s court.  How will they respond now?

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