Monday, July 2, 2007

Linden Lab's Dirty Little Secret

As usual, if you haven't yet read the Official Blog of Second Life you need to to understand what I'm talking about today.

Linden Lab has posted a BLOG entry today stating they won a case in France, in which an organization was trying to get SL banned because of the Adult Content. Linden Lab not only won, but went on to postulate that they are truly a service provider, not so much a game company. Linden Lab wants you, and I, to believe this, so they can get better protection under the law. Basically here in the US, a Service Provider IS NOT liable for those illegal items on their servers, as long as a USER put them there. The Service Provider is also NOT LIABLE for someone slandering someone else just because it might have happened on their servers.

Now, this is all good and well, until you start to put some pieces of the puzzle together. Let's say this one, have you ever been in Second Life and seen a COPYRIGHTED logo that was being displayed either on someone's clothes or in their home, and doing the right thing you reported it, only to find it was still there weeks later? This is the problem Linden Lab has to face, that when their USERS report violations, if these violations are NOT taken care of, they then CAN be held liable, because they have received notice of the illegal item. This is also true with the DVD businesses in SL. I'm willing to bet, that NONE of these businesses have the correct license structure with the big Studios to be re-broadcasting the DVD's for commercial profit. If they did, they would be like NetFlix and offering 30-second startup movies on your PC.

Over a year ago now, I brought this apparent problem to Linden Lab's attention, and was told by Philip to talk it over with the Attorney. This went for one round of emails, when the attorney told me in no uncertain terms to: "Trust me, I'm a lawyer, you aren't." While I found this attorney's arrogance to be super terrific, I found his understanding of DVD Licenses to be a bit lacking. If you pull out a NEW DVD and carefully read the license agreement, you will see it states plainly that this is for PRIVATE USE only and NOT for re-broadcast. So, unless these DVD Business owners have a license from the studios to be re-broadcasting them for commercial gain, then they and Linden Lab could be under the gun if a group like the MPAA started to investigate our world.

In the earlier days of SL, if you made something and applied a COPYRIGHTED protected image to it, you would be slapped down hard and fast. Today, you can do it, and laugh about it, because NO ONE at Linden Lab seems to care if you break the law, just as long as you don't get caught, and if you do get caught, trust me, Linden Lab will take the position they are a Service Provider and NOT responsible for the User Generated Content in the world.

I'm only saying that Linden Lab needs to adjust how it handles these cases, because it takes only ONE BIG lawsuit to bankrupt a company like Linden Lab, which means we are all out of our world if that happens.

Legal Ease: Second Life is a registered trademark of Linden Lab. NetFlix is a registered trademark of NetFlix Corporation. And I'm just covering my a** in case Uncle Philip takes this too personally.

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