Virtual Law Quicklinks: Second Life Content Theft, Guitar Gambling, Griefers, Goods, and Calling 5-0
February 6th, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
Virtually Blind periodically runs “quicklinks” — items that are not long enough for a full story, but are worth a click. Here’s today’s batch.
- The Second Life Newspaper reports on a DMCA success story. Apparently Linden Lab acted on a properly documented DMCA claim regarding an alleged instance of purely in-world infringement. From the article: “Do take heart honest content creators and designers, file your DMCA in the correct manner and do not give up, every little thing counts.”
- On the other hand, that’s apparently a drop in the bucket. See recent articles on content theft in Second Life from ‘Tateru Nino‘ (via Massively) and ‘Morris Vig‘ (via Second Arts). What has focused everyone’s attention? One straightforward video regarding Second Life content theft that ‘Ziggy Quirk’ put on YouTube, featuring the real-life person behind the avatar talking frankly about the impact of content theft. ‘Quirk’ is right when she says, “Eventually the creators in Second Life are going to stop creating. [...] What’s the point in making quality products if someone can just get their hands on it, put it out in their own store, distribute it as a freebie, and pass it around the grid? Nobody’s going to bother.” (Via New World Notes.)
- Congrats to Mark Methenitis, who landed a cool gig doing his Law of the Game thing every week over at Joystiq as a regular feature. His first column focused on Guitar Hero as a potential cash-gaming platform. The idea is that since it is 100% skill based, it wouldn’t fall under gambling laws. The idea works — if you’ve played GH, you know that each of the songs is identical every time you rock out, so there’s not even a tiny bit of luck involved. Interesting concept.
- Tech Law Forum’s Erik Schmidt ran a post suggesting that some griefing may lead to tort actions. It’s not the most groundbreaking article, but it makes a good point, and hey, there’s a snapshot of ‘Hiro Pendragon’ (who isn’t a griefer) with a pair of katanas and a cup of coffee.
- And on that point, ‘Pendragon’ recently analyzed Julian Dibbell’s Wired article on griefers. He concludes Dibbell is a griefer-symp. My take? A small percentage of what griefers do, particularly in social virtual worlds like Second Life, is criminal and/or actionable under civil law, but most game-based griefers do not cross this line. The guys Dibbell interviewed mostly don’t do the really bad stuff, which does slant the piece a bit, but not more than you’d expect given that it’s running in Wired.
- Lightspeed points out three use cases for virtual goods. One is that people like paying money for things as gifts (e.g. Facebook’s seemingly constant barrage of $1 icons representing pumpkins, candy, firetrucks, underwear, legal pads, and whatever) simply because paying money for something signifies the importance of the gift, and thus the giftee. There are other interesting thoughts here too.
- If your pixelated junk gets jacked, though, good luck convincing the police to investigate. Particularly if you live in Blaine, Minnesota and you’re reporting the theft of l33t l00t from Final Fantasy XI (via twincities.com). From the article: “Investigators said points earned in games are devoid of monetary value.” I’m sure it’s easy to blow this kind of thing off if you’re a busy cop, but this is nonsense. Ski lift tickets are non-transferable and have no monetary value by agreement too, but if somebody was stealing them from skiers in the lift line, you can bet the Blaine police would check into it.
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