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Virtual Worlds 2007 LogoWelcome to new readers visiting the site for the first time after hearing about it at Virtual Worlds 2007 in San Jose this week.

I am going to be in the Bay Area through the weekend, so regular updates will resume next week.

Here are a few initial thoughts and notes from the conference…

  • Kevin Alderman (Second Life’s ‘Stroker Serpentine’) gave a great presentation on his thoughts on enforcing his Eros trademark and copyrights using a lawsuit. Alderman said he hopes for settlement in the near future, and thanked the content-creation community for everyone’s ongoing support of his efforts.
  • Virtual world economic expert Edward Castronova had an interesting presentation. Take home message: if there are no rules — or no real way to enforce the rules that do exist — virtual worlds and games will inevitably suffer a tragedy of the commons. Oh, and regulation is coming, like it or not, so we’ll all be better off if we work to make sure it is good regulation.
  • Sean Kane, one of my co-chairs on the American Bar Association’s committee on Virtual Worlds and Multiuser Online Games of the Section on Science and Technology Law, gave an informative overview of copyright in virtual worlds. Bottom line, it’s $45. If you care at all about your content, register.
  • I’ve been to some other great panels too, but best of all, have had surprisingly candid one-to-one conversations with executives from Active Worlds, IMVU, Entropia Universe,, Multiverse, and a handful of others — some on and some off the record. I have a much deeper understanding of these companies’ virtual spaces at this point, so readers can expect more coverage of these platforms.

Personally, it was fantastic to meet so many readers, members of the blogosphere, and most importantly, people who are involved — sometimes very personally — in the stories I cover here. This is a really exciting time to be involved in virtual worlds, and attending an event like this makes me look forward, more than ever, to seeing and being a part of what comes next.

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7 Responses to “Notes and Thoughts from Virtual Worlds 2007”

  1. on 11 Oct 2007 at 4:32 pmc3

    “expert” in virtual economics…?;)

    1 VR Economic Expert + 250K “grant” = “Money Spent- project into Limbo”…shakespearean_virtual_world_to_be_or_not/

    sorry but those who live by the blog shall die by the blog.

  2. on 11 Oct 2007 at 11:48 pmBenjamin Duranske

    C3, I hadn’t seen Tony’s post (which makes some fair points) but in the business world quarter-million buys you one what… maybe one code-savvy project-manager type and two coder monkeys for a year, tops? I wanted to see Arden succeed, but that’s alpha-angel cash — at best.

    I’ve definitely seen academics burn through grants that size with far less to show for it at the end than what Ted built, so to me, it’s hard to knock Ted for Arden, especially given the fact that this was an academic excercise from the get-go anyway. I’m just bitter I didn’t get to play around in it.

  3. on 12 Oct 2007 at 9:46 amMondrian Lykin

    One really has to love Edward Castronova :D
    Thanks for the update Ben, really interesting!

  4. on 13 Oct 2007 at 1:00 amBenjamin Duranske

    FYI – I moved VB to new servers today and any comments made during the move were lost. I suspect any that got trashed were in this thread, but I don’t have any way to pull them up. If yours disappeared please accept my apologies, and feel free to post again.

    For what it’s worth, I really have no idea if the grant money c3 is referring to here was well spent or not, and it seems like nobody else (aside from Castronova and his team and, to an extent, the MacArthur people) does either at this point.

    None of this was part of Castronova’s presentation at VW2007 though — and since neither Shakespere or economic experiments falls under my usual coverage area, I wasn’t really paying much attention to Arden. Is there a controversy about this? It seemed like most of the people at Terra Nova who commented were fairly positive about what got done, and even Tony Walsh’s point is essentially that any error here was probably in just thinking the money would go further than it really could.

  5. [...] were arrested for scripting unauthorized ‘bots for the MMO game Perfect World. Remember what Castronova said at Virtual Worlds 2007? Game and virtual world regulation is coming; let’s make sure it’s good regulation. [...]

  6. on 23 Oct 2007 at 8:25 pmFlowereater

    I’ve seen that you’ve covered a number of stories of copyright infringement on Second Life. I am a developer for IMVU and was wondering if you would give your opinion on the following: IMVU has been getting complaints from users for months about copyrighted music products being sold, but the company does nothing to remove the content and even encourages it–one of the chat client software updates included a patch that improved the loading of music content. In fact, users have flagged the items as inappropriate, but it has made no difference because only the copyright owner is allowed to file a DMCA takedown. IMVU staff has assured the developer community that the company’s stance comes from the advice of their lawyers. How can this be legal for them when they get a cut of the profit every time one of these products sells?

  7. on 24 Oct 2007 at 11:39 amBenjamin Duranske

    Flowereater: I’ve got an IMVU account that I haven’t logged in for a while, but I’ll check it out. Off the cuff, and totally based on the description you posted, it sounds like there is an argument that they’re enabling peer-to-peer copyright infringement. Ask Kazaa or Napster how that worked out. Consider this though: Second Life is stuffed with copyright and trademark violations, and has a higher profile than IMVU at the moment. They have a similar policy as well: they’ll respond to properly formatted DMCA takedown notices, but not much else.

    Until somebody sues over it, it is all upside for the providers.

    I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective before, but now that you bring it up, I could see the RIAA bringing a claim against a provider. And depending on how IMVU handles it, they may well be a more attractive target for the RIAA than Linden Lab, particularly if they’ve built a specific music file-sharing client in to their software.

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