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Second Life: Designer Suits For Sale
November 20th 2003, 20:08 CET by m0nty

Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life, has just announced that it has changed its EULA to grant ownership to players of objects they create in the game. Is this a harmless stunt, or long-awaited legal justification for exports from virtual economies to the real world... or just a crafty ruse to escape liability?

Second Life strips back the RPG frippery of most MMOGs and revels in the genre's true purpose: as a glorified chat room. Flawless idealised personae of the players lounge around and interact with each other in a cross between Disneyland and Club Med. Gameplay consists of chatting, emoting, using in-game objects and designing new objects - although most of the "new" objects are actually established objects, like T-shirts, with player-uploaded textures. If you think it sounds wet, Wagner James Au writes a blog for it - say no more.

Of course, commerce between virtual worlds and reality is now well-established in practice, but what implications does this have for the legality of this kind of transaction, which is currently questionable? To listen to Linden Labs, there is a healthy in-game economy in Second Life:

The economy supporting this activity includes over 12,000 objects for sale. Each month, nearly 100,000 user-to-user transactions for goods and services take place, with more than Linden$19million in in-world currency changing hands.

Despite this supposedly burgeoning economy, searching for SL-created items on eBay is fruitless, for there doesn't seem to be any exporting going on. Maybe this will change after the EULA modification, which can be seen in full in clause 5.3 in Linden Labs' T&C page.

There is also a more sinister possible reason for Linden introducing this policy. The official SL board thread on the subject shows that the complexity of US copyright law is far beyond the mortal ken of most MMOGers. Linden Labs might have relaxed ownership rules because they didn't want to be the subject of copyright lawsuits, and that amending the EULA carefully offloads the liability onto the players (particularly clause 5.3.II). Reading Linden's rights FAQ does not fill one with confidence, seeing that the answers are full of boilerplate legalese.

There is a lot more detail in this story concerning Edward Castronova and all the other stuff at the State of Play conference in New York at which Linden Labs announced the news, but this topic is esoteric enough without getting into all that. The essential issue is this: how influential could Second Life's new EULA be on the rest of the industry?
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#1 by LoneStar
2003-11-20 20:09:30
cwcraig64@hotmail.com
Ver First One. Period.

Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one
#2 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2003-11-20 20:10:27
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
TWO

/me high-fives <insert recently deceased celebrity here>
#3 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2003-11-20 20:10:44
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
AND THREE.. OH YEAH, MOTHERFUCKERS!! OH YEAH!!

/me high-fives <insert recently deceased celebrity here>
#4 by lwf
2003-11-20 20:11:07
NO, it sucks, remove it.

monuments and steeples to wear out our eyes
#5 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2003-11-20 20:11:21
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
`sup lwf

/me high-fives <insert recently deceased celebrity here>
#6 by lwf
2003-11-20 20:13:01
I like ice cream.

monuments and steeples to wear out our eyes
#7 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 20:13:18
Is this thing hijacked yet?

Dood.
#8 by Jibble
2003-11-20 20:16:50
How dare he steal my topic from me and post it on the front page.  That never happens here!

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#9 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 20:17:21
Since I voted yes, I suppose I should try to discuss the topic (a radical opinion, I know). Too bad I don't understand it.

Dood.
#10 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 20:17:45
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
NO, it sucks, remove it.


You talking about the game or the topic?
#11 by G-Man
2003-11-20 20:19:17
Yep. It is too bad I didn't end up going to that conference. I could have given you a bunch of gossip.
I can tell you that a small cadre of lawyers is very excited about all of this stuff, and that I was originally going to write my note on this topic.
#12 by lwf
2003-11-20 20:19:45
The topic.. It's not a bad topic or anything really, just I think we discussed it about as much as needed in a thread last week, when Bailey was boohooing about mmorpgs sucking cause you can't really effect anything.

monuments and steeples to wear out our eyes
#13 by Jibble
2003-11-20 20:22:20
#11 G-Man

...a small cadre of lawyers is very excited about all of this stuff....

I can imagine they would be, what with the gigantic influx of even more frivolous lawsuits about who was the first to design a fabric with a single white pixel in the middle of a black virtual t-shirt.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#14 by CheesyPoof
2003-11-20 20:26:17
Second life is doing what is morally and ethical correct.  It's odd in this world of publishers and on-line entertainment, but I could imagine the outcry if they didn't do this.  If I was looking at this more cynically you could say that did it becuase it was a business decision and didn't want to piss off their target audience.
#15 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 20:26:59
This cube primitive is copyrighted! Give me royalties!

Dood.
#16 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 20:27:32
Seriously, I don't understand this at all. Someone explain it to me.

Dood.
#17 by Jibble
2003-11-20 20:32:44
#14 CheesyPoof

Second life is doing what is morally and ethical correct.  It's odd in this world of publishers and on-line entertainment, but I could imagine the outcry if they didn't do this.  If I was looking at this more cynically you could say that did it becuase it was a business decision and didn't want to piss off their target audience.

It's ethically and morally correct to let people in a game world copyright their creations and deny other people from creating identical or derivative works without paying a licensing fee?  I wonder how this EULA handles material that's copyrighted in the real world...like what happens if someone makes a Mickey Mouse hat?

For me, the bottom line is that by doing this, they're crippling the creative freedom of people in a game world that's supposed to exist beyond the laws and regulations of our normal existence.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#18 by G-Man
2003-11-20 20:40:37
I can answer all these questions... but not right now.
#19 by CheesyPoof
2003-11-20 20:42:29
It's ethically and morally correct to let people in a game world copyright their creations and deny other people from creating identical or derivative works without paying a licensing fee?

This is how it works in the real world I don't see why it should be differently here.  That said I'm not sure if that's what is going to happen having read M0nty's topic.
#20 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 20:51:52
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
It all seems really wanky to me, whether it's a good idea from a legal perspective or not.  Nothing you make in-game has any value, so copyrighting it seems like a form of ego masturbation.  If you're that excited about exploring the wild frontiers of copyright legislation, design a real world t-shirt and copyright it.  If nobody rips you off, try the other angle and rip off someone else's copyrighted work.  If they don't bother to sue you and just whine about it on a message board, you've just recreated the experience of playing Second Life and saved yourself the monthly fee.
#21 by Matt Perkins
2003-11-20 21:10:00
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
I'll tell ya this...  If I had some extra time, I'd probably sign up to Second Life.  Being able to create things online and own them is incredibly interesting.

Were that much closer to the world described at the beginning of Tad Williams's sci fi series (the series bit, imho, but the virtual world described was as love in a box).

I'm the spoon
#22 by Matt Perkins
2003-11-20 21:11:28
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Shadarr

You've never had the urge to say, "I created that.  Cool ain't it."  No matter whether anyone else ever cared, creation is fun.  Being able to do that online and actually not be creating for someone else, but creating things that are "yours", that seems pretty interesting.

I'm the spoon
#23 by yotsuya
2003-11-20 21:12:31
I agree with what you wrote.

"YES!!  You see people, THAT'S why he's the Vice-President of A/V Services here at Respawn Games.  Yotsuya ALWAYS unleashes the fucking fury!" - Warren Marshall
#24 by crash
2003-11-20 21:16:19
I can't wait for the dupers, server-crashers, and exploiters to get a handle on this one. The potential for abuse is beyond staggering. At least the news writeups will be fun to read.

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#25 by Jibble
2003-11-20 21:25:19
Is it wrong for me to develop a boiling, seething hatred every time i see the acronym "LOL"?

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#26 by Post-It
2003-11-20 21:26:09
keithlee@speakeasy.net
Real quick in regards to the DX2 demo being exclusive to Fileplanet, and rumored to be released today, Steve Gibson just posted this over at Shacknews:

By: Steve Gibson
 
  since i imagine you guys are just a tad curious about this stuff. eidos has firmly rebuffed the idea of a public deusex2 demo release and insists that an exclusive release through a single point is the best idea to promote their game.

a number of us are hard at work on convincing them otherwise but a point may end having to be proven. :(  


I still don't understand the point of having exclusive demos, it just seems stupid as shit to me.

Comment Signature
#27 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 21:26:20
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
You've never had the urge to say, "I created that.  Cool ain't it."  No matter whether anyone else ever cared, creation is fun.  Being able to do that online and actually not be creating for someone else, but creating things that are "yours", that seems pretty interesting.


I was with you right up till the end.  I like creating things.  This is why I do my church newsletter.  However, I like creating real things.  I have physical copies of every article I've ever written and every publication I've ever made, and I can look at them and show them to other people.  They're real.  They don't disappear when I cancel my account or the company folds and all the servers are shut down.

I take a dim view on all the "life simulating" games.  If you've always wanted to do something, go do it.  Don't spend as much time pretending to do it as you would've spent actually doing it.
#28 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 21:27:22
LOL YES

Dood.
#29 by BobJustBob
2003-11-20 21:28:06
That was for Jibble, of course.

Dood.
#30 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 21:29:20
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
kekekekekeke
#31 by lwf
2003-11-20 21:30:39
I hope everyone knows that internet is now an adjective, too.

monuments and steeples to wear out our eyes
#32 by Dethstryk
2003-11-20 21:37:22
jemartin@tcainternet.com
Shadarr -

Value is bestowed upon something by people. User-created objects may have a value to a certain group.

sunny days have funny ways of quieting the roar
#33 by Squeaky
2003-11-20 21:47:14
#26 Post-It
Real quick in regards to the DX2 demo being exclusive to Fileplanet, and rumored to be released today, Steve Gibson just posted this over at Shacknews:

By: Steve Gibson
 
  since i imagine you guys are just a tad curious about this stuff. eidos has firmly rebuffed the idea of a public deusex2 demo release and insists that an exclusive release through a single point is the best idea to promote their game.

a number of us are hard at work on convincing them otherwise but a point may end having to be proven. :(  


I still don't understand the point of having exclusive demos, it just seems stupid as shit to me.

Let's all prove their point by not buying DX2!

it's my onion and you can't change it!
DVDs
#34 by Trolly McTroll
2003-11-20 21:52:21
#25 Jibble
Is it wrong for me to develop a boiling, seething hatred every time i see the acronym "LOL"?


FY

"..and Trolly McTroll is the best name EVER. I laugh every time I see it."  - ZEP
" If i ever have a daughter, I'm going to name her Trolly. - The_Joker
"Fuck are you stupid. Kiwi is a bird. Fucking moron. " - lwf
#35 by Greg
2003-11-20 21:56:12
's TM

We are OK in a misguided, sadist way.
We are OK in a disabled veteran's way.
We are OK.
#36 by Matt Perkins
2003-11-20 22:09:01
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Shadarr
I was with you right up till the end.  I like creating things.  This is why I do my church newsletter.  However, I like creating real things.  I have physical copies of every article I've ever written and every publication I've ever made, and I can look at them and show them to other people.  They're real.  They don't disappear when I cancel my account or the company folds and all the servers are shut down.

I take a dim view on all the "life simulating" games.  If you've always wanted to do something, go do it.  Don't spend as much time pretending to do it as you would've spent actually doing it.

I think that's where we differ.  I consider creating bytes just as good creating other "real life" things.  Hence why I work as a programmer.  Creating something in Second Life that is yours seems to me to be the same thing as programming something, just visually (?) doing it.

Am not, just so we are clear, recommending anything virtual as a replacement to real life, but I don't think that's what I'm arguing here.

I'm the spoon
#37 by jafd
2003-11-20 22:10:06
#27 Shadarr
However, I like creating real things.  I have physical copies of every article I've ever written and every publication I've ever made, and I can look at them and show them to other people.  They're real.  They don't disappear when I cancel my account or the company folds and all the servers are shut down.

So, what you're saying is, you're the new Amish.

I understand that there are certain advantages that physical objects have over digital ones, but the reverse is also true. The acid test is, "Can you sell it?" If yes, then, it's real enough.

"It was fucking RPGotY, fucker!"
#38 by Jibble
2003-11-20 22:13:49
People here seem to be ignoring the fact that music is an intangible object, and it's very easy to own a digital representation of sound.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#39 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 22:15:55
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I didn't really mean to distinguish between physical and digital.  I meant that something you create in the real world (a book, a board game, a computer program) has more permanance than the same thing created in the fake world, because the world itself is impermanent.  They could implement a programming language within Second Life, and you could spend all your time in your virtual parent's basement working on an Asteroids clone.  But because it's created in the game world, it's stuck there where if you create it in the real world you can show it to your friends and play it long after you kill your subscription.
#40 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 22:16:54
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
People here seem to be ignoring the fact that music is an intangible object, and it's very easy to own a digital representation of sound.


That's why I have to pay $.50 every time I download something off Kazaa, right?
#41 by Jibble
2003-11-20 22:18:04
I never said you couldn't steal it, too.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#42 by Matt Perkins
2003-11-20 22:23:53
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Shadarr
I didn't really mean to distinguish between physical and digital.  I meant that something you create in the real world (a book, a board game, a computer program) has more permanance than the same thing created in the fake world, because the world itself is impermanent.  They could implement a programming language within Second Life, and you could spend all your time in your virtual parent's basement working on an Asteroids clone.  But because it's created in the game world, it's stuck there where if you create it in the real world you can show it to your friends and play it long after you kill your subscription.


But you are making the distinction with the phrase, "But because it's created in the game world, it's stuck there where if you create it in the real world you can show it to your friends and play it long after you kill your subscription.".

You're saying things you create with a programming language aren't as interesting/good/useful/whatever.  That doesn't make any sense to me.  Computer games, for instance, are their own thing.  They are fun, they are interesting, etc.  They aren't meant to replace anything else, they just are.  Why would creating a computer game be less than creating a new board game, for instance?

I think you making an unneeded distinction between RL and virtual life, when that's not really the point here.

I'm the spoon
#43 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 22:26:38
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
You're saying things you create with a programming language aren't as interesting/good/useful/whatever.


No, you're saying that.  I'm saying a version of Asteroids or a board game or a designer shirt you create in Second Life has less value than a corresponding version of Asteroids or board game or designer shirt you create in the real world.
#44 by Jibble
2003-11-20 22:33:17
#43 Shadarr

I'm saying a version of Asteroids or a board game or a designer shirt you create in Second Life has less value than a corresponding version of Asteroids or board game or designer shirt you create in the real world.

Except that there's already a billion versions of Asteroids around in the real world, but there'd only be one in Second Life.  Keep in mind that the shirts aren't really shirts, they're art.  Shirts in the real world are subject to valuation because of the designer (a real world entity) that created them, not to their aesthetic appearance in a virtual world.  Shirts in Second Life would be valued because of their actual appearance rather than the name on the label.  There's only one material in Second Life, so you can't say it's a silk shirt so it costs more.  There's also no manufacturing cost in Second Life, so all you're spending is your time.

The virtual goods marketplace is a mental realm, not a physical one, that's why it's called "intellectual property".

Bottom line: If you can show me a clothing designer that makes money without manufacturing anything, spending money on advertisements, or paying for materials, then you win the argument.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#45 by jafd
2003-11-20 22:50:38
#43 Shadarr
I'm saying a version of Asteroids or a board game or a designer shirt you create in Second Life has less value than a corresponding version of Asteroids or board game or designer shirt you create in the real world.

Or, alternately, it has more value, because you can send it to the other side of the world at the speed of light. Which is great if you have friends in the antipodes, or have no legs, or both.

Agreed, the fact that all this stuff is tied to the company that makes Second Life is a limitation, but in the larger picture, so what? In order to get from "here" (physical objects being the only real standard of value) to "there" (digital objects existing as a unit of global trade), well, we have to start somewhere.

Think of it as a beta test for the new world order. Doesn't that excite you, even a little bit?

"It was fucking RPGotY, fucker!"
#46 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 22:52:56
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Shirts in Second Life would be valued because of their actual appearance rather than the name on the label.


Maybe at first, but I bet you in time there are "in brands" just like with anything else.  90% of everything is crap, after all.

There's also no manufacturing cost in Second Life, so all you're spending is your time.


I'll give you that, but your options are going to be more limited.  If there's no choice of materials, then you don't have the option of creating a fleece pull-over or a silk blouse.  You can't do fine stitching or put pearl buttons on the collar, or at least no one will be able to tell if you did.  Basically, you get out what you put in.  If it's easier to do in the game world, it's because the final product isn't as good.
#47 by Shadarr
2003-11-20 22:56:27
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Think of it as a beta test for the new world order. Doesn't that excite you, even a little bit?


No.  If the new world order is a crappy MMOG/chatroom, count me out.
#48 by jafd
2003-11-20 22:58:19
No problem. I've already commissioned engraved ostrakons for you.

"It was fucking RPGotY, fucker!"
#49 by Jibble
2003-11-20 22:58:31
I think jafd means that it'll be a testing bed for a digital-based economy.  I'm actually interested to see if any economics firms buy accounts to gather data on how the whole thing goes.

<Bailey> Turnips! Potatoes! Animal husbandry! This is all I care about!
#50 by G-Man
2003-11-20 23:04:03
What exactly do you mean by "economics firms"?
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