August 13th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
About a month ago, There.com quietly made a policy change that gave users some serious tools to enforce in-world copyright infringement. More Than Words, a site that follows There.com, reported that the policy “has some teeth,” and indeed, it does. Three strikes and you are not only banned from There.com, so are all of your other avatars, any associated credit cards, and the hardware used to access the service.
Notably, this policy is specifically designed to protect resident designers from having their work stolen by other users, what There.com calls “peer-to-peer texture theft,” and what is alleged to have triggered a recent lawsuit between Second Life users. Larger corporations that discover trademark abuse and copyright infringement in There.com can presumably use this service too, but There.com’s submission process for user-created content filters out most infringement of big corporations’ intellectual property already.
Unauthorized asset use, more commonly known as “texture theft,” is a form of copyright infringement. It is when a Developer takes a texture or model file created by There or another Member Developer and incorporates it, in whole or in part, into his/her submission without having authorization from the copyright owner.
The message here is that There.com is straightforward about actively helping protect users’ intellectual property. Content developers are encouraged to alert There.com management of potential infringement, and management says that it actively investigates every claim. Even a first offense, if an “extreme case,” can result in the banning of all avatars and credit cards associated with the account. There.com has also put in place a policy to prevent time-wasting witch hunts and associated drama: after two warnings, management simply ignores further alerts from trigger-happy developers.
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