Consider my thunder stolen,

by Alphaville Herald on 14/11/03 at 6:56 pm

Linden Labs dropped their bomb today. Second Life has given real-world property rights to content created in game. This is a world gone mad. i haven’t even played Second Life and now I feel that I must visit it jsut to watch the repurcussions ripple through.

You can read the Press Release here.

7 Responses to “Consider my thunder stolen,”

  1. Peter Ludlow

    Nov 14th, 2003

    I just got back from The State of Play Conference, which I will report on in detail shortly, but Philip Rosedale, the founder and CEO of Linden Labs gave a presentation in which this came up. I have to say I was *extremely* impressed by the guy, his vision, and more generally by how smart he was. One point that came up was that they had Lawrence Lessig as an advisor on their property rights strategy. Lots more cool stuff which I’ll report on soon, but the short form is that I’m completely jacked up about Second Life now and I told Rosedale that I wanted to franchise the Herald into his world too. He seemed stoked (or was that because I told him I had bought of lifetime subscription to 2nd life? Hmmmm….).

  2. Candace

    Nov 15th, 2003

    “Hmmmmmm,” indeed… don’t want *my* opinion Peter. Others chime in, though.

    Squirrel, hell with “thunder stolen”; you get in there and get your thunder back. If this gentleman can get “rights” to real world property on-line, more power to him. I didn’t get the idea from the beginning but it’s starting to dawn on me now: This is just another race to own the world. Who will be the first to plant the flag on the moon? That’s hysterically amusing. Run squirrel, run……you can catch him, man!

  3. kale

    Nov 15th, 2003

    Peter, when you were cozying up to Mr. Rosedale did you manage to ask him how actions involving disputes about the on-line property will be settled….specifically, are we talking on-line courts or genuine real-life ones? If there’s real life courtwork to be done, I have an attorney or two already hot to advocate for their (virtual?) clients real proprietary interests {gods but I want to be the one to see the judge read those pleadings: “you’re claiming your right to “Treatment Bound,” a clinic you’ve created to help get ‘virtual’ addicts help has been infringed upon by a real-life health center in Minnesota…..uh oh well uh”), but if they have to log-on, boy, it will be hopeless. This is really screwing with my head here. Revolutionary stuff happening, it seems; absolute craziness.

  4. Peter Ludlow

    Nov 15th, 2003

    Just so we’re clear, the 2nd Life proposal is novel in that online creations will be owned by the players, rather than the game owner (as is typically specified by user agreements in every other game). Hence, when squirrel talks about “real world property rights”, he is talking about rights to virtual property that will be conferred upon the game players who created said property and in theory will be recognized as intellectual property by rw courts.

    As to your excellent question about dispute resolution Kale, this came up in the discussion after Rosendale’s prestation, but in the context of disputes between game participants about who made what first. There is some content review involved in applying for a “patent” but it is quick and dirty. One vector that helps here is the fact that the virtual objects can be tagged by date of creation and creator. It then gets down to judgement of whether the later creation is substantially different. Here one has to resort to some form of online dispute resolution, but presumably it will be small potatoes compared to the dispute resolution one faces on E-bay, where there can be 6,000 dispute per day. This was discussed by Ethan Katsh at the conference. See the book he co-authored with Janet Rifkin: Online Dispute Resolution.

  5. kale

    Nov 17th, 2003

    I guess I need to look at that agreement. I would be shocked if people are really (as opposed to theoretically) able to establish any intellectual property rights to their creation beyond the game. At this point, I also wouldn’t advise someone with the mind to come up with such “property” to do so in this medium because I think there is a real danger of people (including Rosendale’s company) trying to either rip-off the idea or limit the idea to formats that they don’t find objectionable. We’ll see; I’m still giddy for that first test case.

  6. Peter Ludlow

    Nov 17th, 2003

    Well look, at a minimum this seems to allow that people will be free to sell their creations on ebay without violating the user agreement. And I suppose that anyone might try to rip off some user’s creation. How is that different from someone trying to rip off a piece of software that I write or a poem that I write. If I can show infringement then I should have a case in court assuming there is some real world value to my losses. Any intelligent court should see tha this is just another copyright infringement case.

  7. kale

    Nov 18th, 2003

    “Intelligent Court”— we’re sliding into a contradiction in terms (Okay, now that was purely bitter cynicism and uncalled for; let me get all serious).
    I’m assuming the court here will be a judge; let’s say a bright judge without an interest in either party: I still see some concerns, and I can’t tell how paramount they are without looking at the user agreement. 1.) If this is revolutionary, do we have precedent for it? Most companies have been able to preserve *their* rights in the material created (so, the bitch about “e-Bay selling” might have already set a bad precedent for individuals in this realm). 2.) In fact, since the material is created in part by materials/capital from the company that is specifically theirs (the company’s software will be utilized, I assume), this may give the company some entitlement to a share in the rights of your creation. 3.) Kinda sliding from my last concern into this, what happens if you want to take your idea that you developed in this forum and use it in an objectionable way (from the software company’s point of view) or you turn it into something very profitable? Can you assure me that the company won’t want to limit the format I can use “my idea” within….(the “well, we give people rights to their creation within the game, to sell-online, but beyond that we have an interest of our own to protect” line)? 4.) Creating something on-line in front of an audience of people and using software that someone has created and can monitor just seems to invite trouble if your main concern is to protect your intellectual property. That is why I wouldn’t advise it (who the hell listens to me and why should they? I guess, I’m better off saying I wouldn’t do it). As you well know, academics and scientists get real nutty about having their ideas ripped off. They go to great lengths to hide them until the patent is theirs, and I think that’s a good idea if it’s important to you.

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