October 29th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
The Second Life Patent & Trademark Office, has opened its doors, offering Second Life users a suite of new intellectual property protection tools. The SLPTO, now in live, free, open alpha-testing, is the brainchild of Second Life developer ‘FlipperPA Peregrine‘ (Tim Allen) and Michael Eckstein, an international IT business consultant and former CEO of a Blue Shield technology subsidiary.
VB interviewed ‘Peregrine’ about the new service. We discussed the tools available at the SLPTO, the recent content creator copyright lawsuit, and Linden Lab’s handling of in-world copyright infringement allegations.
Virtually Blind: What is the SLPTO?
FlipperPA Peregrine: SLPTO stands for the Second Life Patent and Trademark Office. Before anyone states that we are trying to be the government, the most important thing to say is what we are not. We have no legal authority, nor do we have any special power over Linden Lab. However, we are a neutral third party where you can register dated information, some public, and some private, about your creations. We hope to be a suite of tools for content creators to help protect their intellectual property, educate creators on their rights, and add value to their products.
Many Second Life creators don’t have the means to afford the hourly rates of an attorney; we hope to automate some processes, such as DMCA notices and copyright applications.
VB: Why did you create the SLPTO?
I’ve been in Second Life for four years now, and as it has become exponentially bigger, so have the problems with protecting one’s intellectual property. Not a day goes by now where I don’t hear of a problem of intellectual property theft. Some people seem to think that anonymity gives them the right to steal, as we’ve seen with the World Wide Web. I’m a Second Life content creator myself, and good friends with many: some attended my real-life wedding, and I’m married to a Second Life clothing designer.
Over the years, I have become close to many content creators – and their concerns – by founding and running the popular web shopping portal SLBoutique. The chief concern I’ve heard over the years from creators is protecting their intellectual property. Many Second Life creators don’t have the means to afford the hourly rates of an attorney; we hope to automate some processes, such as DMCA notices and copyright applications. We hope to educate on the differences between copyright, trademark, and patent. We hope to add value by allowing creators to sell their items as registered, numbered limited editions.
VB: Can you comment on the recent IP lawsuit where six well known Second Life content creators are suing Thomas Simon (‘Rase Kenzo’) and potentially others, and how a service like SLPTO might impact a situation like that in the future?
FP: I fully applaud the content creators standing up for their rights. I also find it predictable that the accused are now trying to play the “it is just a video game” card, while they didn’t have any problems while they were the ones making real money off of other’s creativity. The anonymity that Internet based services offer can always be a problem; I doubt either of the accused would break into a self-employed single mother’s home to steal food out of the refrigerator, for example.
SLPTO wants to help educate content creators who might not be able to afford legal services, and serve as a neutral third party which can provide evidence including dates of registration and privately held information describing source materials which wouldn’t be obvious when items are gained through an exploit. We also hope to automate DMCA take down notices and copyright applications, which can be intimidating for a person relatively new to running a sole proprietorship or LLC, as well as offering tools for creators to add value to their brands and products, such as offering digital certificates of authenticity for limited edition items.
VB: Can you explain a little bit about the mechanics of the SLPTO? Let’s start with the “Vault.” How does that work? Is it essentially a watermark for any object?
FP: The vault collects information such as the creator’s name, item name, and item key, from Second Life about the creations and automatically sends them to the SLPTO server. Items puts into the vault will then appear under the creator’s account, where they can add information about the items which will be shared with dates of registration upon request. In fact, you can simply drop our script into an existing Shop.OnRez or SLExchange prim, so you don’t have to “double pack” your boxes.
We have public and private description areas. Let’s say you make a shirt. You may want to publicly describe it as a “Red velvet shirt with gold buttons.” However, in the private section, you could enter “The original layered graphic file for this shirt is 15 layers.” If a dispute ever arose, the creator could then provide the original layered file, as well as the date of registration (and the fact they said the file had 15 layers) to Linden Lab. The potential thief would only have a file with one layer.
This system allows content creators to sell fully registered limited editions. Every time a sale is made, the text above the prim is updated with how many copies have already been sold.
VB: What about limited editions?
FP: The limited editions may be the neatest part of the system. It allows content creators to sell fully registered limited edition items. In the past, content creators would often sell limited editions for a certain period of time. With this new system, a prim is packed with a creation just like a normal “for sale” prim is now, and the SLPTO Limited Edition script is added. It automatically pulls the price and total quantity available from the web site (where the creator enters those values). Let’s say the creator decides to sell 50 copies of an item. Every time a sale is made, the text above the prim is updated with how many copies have already been sold.
Additionally, if the seller has multiple locations, they can put out multiple copies of the limited edition “for sale” prim. Once 50 copies are sold grid-wide, the prims will automatically stop selling. Every time a sale occurs, the buyer is registered on the SLPTO web site, with their avatar name and key, and which number they purchased, in this example, between 1 and 50. They will then be stored in the database – a certificate of authenticity, if you will!
After filing a DMCA, the only thing Linden Lab will do is remove stolen copies of content that are in-world. That is not good enough. If a creation has been stolen, it needs to be removed from the virtual world, the thief’s inventory, and anywhere it may have been passed on to.
VB: What’s the SLPTO business model; how do you plan to make money with it?
FP: We are still working on this. Right now, it is entirely free. I want to see how people decide to use it first. I have a hunch that the limited edition code may appeal to the Armani’s of the world, and that may be the best way to capitalize.
VB: Are you hoping to see something like this integrated directly into the creation tools at some point?
FP: That would be fantastic! The more automated tools we can put in the hands of content creators to protect their intellectual property, the better. We are seeing more and more cases of Second Life content creators having to resort to the legal system to protect their content. I’d like to see Linden Lab take a somewhat more proactive position as well; from what I have seen, after filing a DMCA, the only thing Linden Lab will do is remove stolen copies of content that are in-world. That is not good enough. If a creation has been stolen, it needs to be removed from the virtual world, the thief’s inventory, and anywhere it may have been passed on to. Something I’m happy to be seeing now, and trying to help with, is content creators working together as a team, supporting one another, and sharing knowledge. We hope to be a suite of tools to help in this collaborative effort.
Related Posts on Virtually Blind
- Second Life DMCA Statement Raises Question: Does Provider Expeditiously Remove Infringing Material?: " Linden Lab, creator of Second Life, recently posted guidelines for..." (20 comments)
- Six Major Second Life Content Creators Sue Alleged Copyright Infringer in NY Federal District Court: "Six major Second Life content creators have filed a lawsuit (.pdf) in..." (47 comments)
- Transcript of IP Attorney’s Presentation on Content Creation Available at Second Arts: "Second Arts recently posted a comprehensive transcript of a..." (2 comments)
17 Responses to “SLPTO Offers Second Life Content Creators Suite of Intellectual Property Protection Tools”
Leave a Reply
Notes on Comments: Your first comment must be manually approved, but after it is you'll be able to post freely with the same name and email. You can use some HTML (<a> <b> <i> <blockquote> etc.) but know that VB's spam blocker holds posts with five or more <a> links. VB supports gravatars. Got a gravatar? Use the associated email and it'll show with your comment. Need one? Set it up for free here.