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Designer Fights For Second Life Rights

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the get-a-first-right dept.

Games 64

An anonymous reader writes "A London-based industrial designer has had his work ripped off in Second Life and is now looking to file a DMCA grievance against his client. Commissioned to recreate the French Quarter in New Orleans, the designer, Gospel Voom, spent six months on the project, only to sign on to Second Life after its completion to find it was deleted by the client. She claimed it was taken down because it wasn't making money. However, despite having signed a contract that let Voom retain creative rights over his work, he later found out it was sold to another community, OpenLife, without his knowledge or permission."

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Virtual Court? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#29074123)

Well, if they are going to use virtual currencies for virtual "property," they might as well settle this through a virtual court or at least beforehand let a (virtual) third party somehow be able to serve as a court with virtual enforcement. I'm serious.

Re:Virtual Court? (2, Funny)

Kligat (1244968) | about 5 years ago | (#29074155)

Unfortunately, there exists no Internet Court of Law existing solely on the Internet with Internet-spanning enforceability for regulating disputes over downloaded music.

Oh, look, I can already see in the distance the World of Warcraft players flooding into Slashdot to tell people to get a first life.

Re:Virtual Court? (3, Insightful)

SL Baur (19540) | about 5 years ago | (#29074499)

You're incorrect from what I read from the article. He did not sell all rights to his artwork and it was basically moved to a different game with his name removed.

I can see his point, but if he didn't have it in a contract in writing, he's probably screwed. I sympathize. My only real payment for my Open Source work in Linux is that if you grep for my name in the various ChangeLogs, you will find it. I do feel his pain.

Oh, look, I can already see in the distance the World of Warcraft players flooding into Slashdot to tell people to get a first life.

/rude

That was uncalled for.

Re:Virtual Court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075845)

Mod parent down for epic fail.

Re:Virtual Court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076129)

...World of Warcraft players flooding into Slashdot to tell people to get a first life. Did the irony of your comment strike you like a ballpeen hammer yet?

Re:Virtual Court? (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29074163)

It's not a virtual dispute. It's a dispute between a real-world business who hired an artist to create something which was paid for with real money, and an artist who got a contract before performing or being paid for the work that assured the artist he would keep certain rights.

And the business taking his work, and selling it lock stock and barrel to a third party, which they had no right to do, and resulted in a "clone" of his work appearing in another virtual world, where he wasn't given any credit for it (thus a very real breach of his creative rights).

This would be as if an artist for a character in any video game licensed artwork to the game publisher to be used in a specific production, and required a certain royalty for every copy of the game published.

But shortly after release, the game publisher decided it wasn't profitable, scrapped the game, and sold all the bits (including the artwork) to another company, who picked up the picture and displayed it for various uses as their own creation.

Re:Virtual Court? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 5 years ago | (#29076761)

ive got 2 things for you

1 Linden Dollars are currently trading at L$251 to US$1

2 it is often customary for large projects to be settled in real world currency (the better land sellers are setup with Paypal)

A tempest in a teapot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29074139)

Tonight at 11, a developer performs work for a client, then whines when the client does what he wants with the work! In other news, scientists say they've discovered that water is wet, and that fire is hot. All this and more, after Scrubs.

Re:A tempest in a teapot! (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29074851)

Tonight at 11, a developer performs work for a client, then whines when the client does what he wants with the work!

Actually it sounds more like the developer is claiming the contract was for him to produce and license a work, rather than to sell the work outright. However, he seems to have given away the original and/or developed it ON the client's system, instead of developing independently and supplying a copy to the client.

Normally, if I license software to a client, and the client burns their DVD, I'd be expected to have a master copy somewhere.

Sounds like the failing is the developer's in this case --- either to not develop independently, or to not understand the nature of the medium he developed for.

Re:A tempest in a teapot! (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | about 5 years ago | (#29077155)

I'm not 100% sure it's possible to develop a SecondLife object outside SecondLife. I'm sure someone here knows. I've tried it in SL and there's too much fussy mousing for me to ever do it. I would guess the textures get done in some normal graphics editor like Paintshop or Gimp or whatever.

He probably developed it then transferred ownership of the objects within SL to the client. SL objects have both owner and creator attributes, and rather complicated permissions about what can be done with the object based on those roles.

It sounds like the object owner (Gospel Voom's client) transferred both Real Life and Second Life ownership of the objects (such as they had) to another party, who in turn moved the objects to Open Life, and, in the course of that move, lost the creator attribute being set to Gospel Voom, likely because Gospel Voom doesn't have an Open Life account.

So Voom is mad because he lost the attribution of his work (just like if you scraped the signature off a painting.)

I got the feeling from the article he'd be satisfied with getting the attribution put there in Open Life but I may have missed something, I read it pretty quickly. There probably isn't any way to do that without intervention by the Open Life system operators except to re-do the import to Open Life which is probably more trouble than the current owner is willing to do being forced to do so.

Ha HA (0, Troll)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 years ago | (#29074159)

Hey, maybe they should get a FIRST life, amiright?

Re:Ha HA (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 years ago | (#29074419)

Your life must be so boring, having chosen to completely ignore your fantasy.

Clear case of copyright infringement (2, Funny)

scotsghost (1125495) | about 5 years ago | (#29074165)

... at least, if the summary is accurate and precise.

Oh wait, this is slashdot. Of course the summary's incomplete and/or biased. I haven't RTFA, someone tell me what's missing?

Re:Clear case of copyright infringement (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | about 5 years ago | (#29074335)

And yet you read and comment anyway...

Re:Clear case of copyright infringement (2, Insightful)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | about 5 years ago | (#29074739)

Honestly... After years upon of goatse.cx, tubgirl, and penis bird links; can you blame someone for not clicking on a link out from slashdot?

And no, the link being in the summary is no protection. I recall at least three separate cases when some poor individual had his server crushed by a slashdotting and did a redirect to goatse.cx out of either spite or mischievousness.

Re:Clear case of copyright infringement (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 5 years ago | (#29078681)

Honestly... After years upon of goatse.cx, tubgirl, and penis bird links; can you blame someone for not clicking on a link out from slashdot?

goatse.cx is very broad, there is just so much of it. Tubgirl, I have seen. One. Sick. Bitch.

Penis Bird Links?

Never heard of that.... mind.. posting some links? For research purposes of course?

Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (4, Insightful)

daniel_mcl (77919) | about 5 years ago | (#29074167)

... to see how this thread will go. Soon it'll be flooded with debates about virtual property, whatever that means, and whether you should be able to prosecute someone for murdering your Elf Lord or whatever. The fact is that this guy was commissioned for an artistic project, retained full rights, and then had his property deleted. Take an entirely analogous situation: suppose that Ray Charles -- whose contract stated that he owned the original masters of all his recordings -- goes into a studio to record an album, and the studio subsequently throws said recordings away. Ray would have a pretty solid case, and so does this guy. This case has nothing to do with the MMO aspects of the incident; however, I can solidly say that at least half the population of Slashdot will *make* it about that, somehow.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (5, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 5 years ago | (#29074189)

The fact is that this guy was commissioned for an artistic project, retained full rights, and then had his property deleted.

No, not quite.

He did some code work but retained some rights to it. The client sold it contrary to their agreement. Simple contract issue, has little at all to do with "virtual property" as the concept is being bandied about here, has to do with some code and artistic work that was misappropriated.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 years ago | (#29074429)

Liken it to Rembrandt or some other painter having been commissioned to paint an artwork (or in this case; a painting of an artwork), then seeing the painting get sold by the party that commissioned it.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (4, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 years ago | (#29074779)

Liken it to Rembrandt or some other painter having been commissioned to paint an artwork (or in this case; a painting of an artwork), then seeing the painting get sold by the party that commissioned it.

Except in this case, the original signature was replaced, the original painter lost all the credit to his work, and the original client is pretending that the original work was so bad -- it had to be destroyed.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (4, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 years ago | (#29074905)

Soon it'll be flooded with debates about virtual property...
[...]
I can solidly say that at least half the population of Slashdot will *make* it about that, somehow.

This debate isn't about virtual property, it's about stolen credit.

This guy basically negotiated the fact that he would get credit for his work. The original client resold his work (erasing all traces of his authorship). And adding insult to insult, the original client is telling people that the author's original work was so bad for its purpose, that it was purposefully destroyed (this isn't what I'd call a great reference by the way). If I was that original artist, I would certainly be pissed.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075241)

I'm just surprised that anyone still gives a shit about Second Life.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075263)

1. "retain[ed] creative rights" is nowhere near "retained full rights", so you're wrong on that account.
2. The deletion is probably irrelevant. Just because Voom "retain[ed] creative rights" almost certainly does not mean Second Life could never delete their copies. But I've done independent coding under similar conditions, and I don't think I've ever had a "You must keep this forever" clause, and I seriously doubt Second Life did.
3. The sale may or may not violate the contract between Voom. Without a contract to examine, it's impossible to say. I've never seen a contract that prohibited the buyer from selling to someone else the entire package of what I sold them.

And finally, if the "there's no such thing as IMAGINARY property" folks ran the world, Voom would be totally SHIT OUT OF LUCK here, because once the code/product was in Second Life hands, without the concept of intellectual property Voom would have no claim at all.

Even more interesting, Voom's claims, if true, are almost certainly based on COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | about 5 years ago | (#29076021)

It wasn't Second Life that contracted him to do the work, it was someone with a Second Life account. I don't know anything about Second Life, but context seems to imply that there's no straightforward way to do a local backup of these things, i.e. apparently they can only reside on the Second Life servers. As such, the client did not have the right to delete them, because the creator had some rights to them.

A roughly analogous situation would involve your building a duplex (in real life) and selling half of it to me, and my setting the whole thing on fire one day.

Also, you seem to be confusing "imaginary property" with "intellectual property."

Intellectual property = literature, music, code, etc. Protected by copyright law for centuries in a reasonably well-defined system.

Imaginary property = "I have a property right to the record in the game's database that says that my character has 100,000 gold coins and 75 experience points, and if someone in any way indirectly causes and SQL UPDATE statement that affects that record, it's theft."

Re:Doesn't take Karnak the Magnificent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29076983)

Also, you seem to be confusing "imaginary property" with "intellectual property."

Intellectual property = literature, music, code, etc. Protected by copyright law for centuries in a reasonably well-defined system.

Imaginary property = "I have a property right to the record in the game's database that says that my character has 100,000 gold coins and 75 experience points, and if someone in any way indirectly causes and SQL UPDATE statement that affects that record, it's theft."

You're confusing "Imaginary Property" for "Virtual Property". "Imaginary Property" is a term used by critics in place of "Intellectual Property".

Hih? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 5 years ago | (#29074175)

Sounds like a simple contractual dispute. Why is this a story?

Re:Hih? (1)

multisync (218450) | about 5 years ago | (#29076299)

I guess because - rather than sue the company who presumably violated their contract they had with him - he's chosen to use the taxpayer-funded hammer of the DMCA to go after them?

Full Item Pemissiosn anyone? (1)

Sylak (1611137) | about 5 years ago | (#29074199)

It was the designers fault for giving his work full permissions. Welcome to Second Life, if we can copy/resell/give out for free, and we want a quick buck, chances are we will no matter what you tell us. Even with Second Inventory you will need full permissions to move it across SL grids, and CopyBot (last i checked) was rendered useless by the latest SIM software.

Don't hide the real news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29074213)

On first sight this news item seems to be about a copyright infringement case, but then the real news struck me: Apparently there are people who still use Second Life! Who are these people? Why haven't they moved on to a fresh hype?

Was there a contract? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#29074245)

If no, then he's fucked.

If yes, then, if it was any good, it covers stuff like this.

No story.

Re:Was there a contract? (2, Informative)

dstar (34869) | about 5 years ago | (#29074291)

Actually, no. If there was no contract, he wins. Slam dunk. Because copyright is automatic, and has to be explicitly transferred.

Re:Was there a contract? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075317)

Actually, no. If there was no contract, he wins. Slam dunk. Because copyright is automatic, and has to be explicitly transferred.

I've been in an intellectual property dispute over some code I wrote, a situation very similar to Voom's.

If I remember all this correctly, there are five or six situations where it's not true that explict transfer of copyright is required. "Work-for-hire" is almost one. IIRC, to be a "work-for-hire" requires a written contract that specifically uses the words "work-for-hire". So the author of a "work-for-hire" does NOT retain copyright. The other four or five situations which I don't recall also do NOT require a written contract to transfer copyright.

The reason why you hear phrases similar to "copyright must be explicitly transferred" is that it's very, very easy to make sure those four or five situations don't apply to you as an author. And any author with half a brain makes damn sure they put themselves where they retain copyright by default. It remains to be seen if Voom has half a brain or not.

FWIW, I recall that there are also some legal hurdles from case law that Voom has to clear before it would be found that he retained copyright. I think the case most of those hurdles are from is CCNV v. Reed. I know two of those hurdles are (1) where the work was done, and (2) how much supervision the author was under while creating the work. (I remember those because in my dispute I did all the work on my hardware and was under no supervision whatsoever.)

If Voom did the work on Second Life servers and was under close and continuous supervision of Second Life management, he may not have cleared those hurdles and may very well not have retained copyright. If, on the other hand, the product was developed on his own hardware and the only contact he had with Second Life after signing the contract was using FTP to send them the results, he probably did retain copyright.

So no, this doens't appear to be a "slam dunk" at all.

Re:Was there a contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29088205)

It does NOT have to say "work for hire", the part that matters is the clause that says "[Artist] assigns all rights and interest in [IP] to [licensee/employer/client]"

That's it. Assigning your rights transfers them.

Re:Was there a contract? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29074843)

There is always a contract, even if verbal. If the client won't admit that in court, it becomes more complex, but if it's a simple case of two people misinterpreting the contract, that shouldn't be an issue.

Seriously (0)

Arcady13 (656165) | about 5 years ago | (#29074249)

Who gives a shit?

They deleted my virtual boobies (2, Interesting)

krick-zero (649744) | about 5 years ago | (#29074315)

I remember when SecondLife opened up the French Quarter area and had a virual mardi gras fund raiser for New Orleans disaster relief efforts. Virtual crews made virtual floats and everything. I'm sad that it's gone. Here's a screen shot from the event... http://livejournal.3feetunder.com/slmardigras.jpg [3feetunder.com]

Re:They deleted my virtual boobies (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 years ago | (#29078819)

Warning: that link was not work safe.

Gender confusion here? (0, Redundant)

Dahamma (304068) | about 5 years ago | (#29074447)

She claimed it was taken down

he later found out it was sold to another community, OpenLife, without his knowledge or permission

From the actual article sounds like it's a he... why the crappy editing?

Re:Gender confusion here? (1)

NimbleSquirrel (587564) | about 5 years ago | (#29074531)

If you read the summary, it shows SHE was the person who comissioned HIM.

Of course you could always RTFA to find out that is the case, but this is Slashdot after all. ;)

Re:Gender confusion here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29074617)

"

She claimed it was taken down

he later found out it was sold to another community, OpenLife, without his knowledge or permission

From the actual article sounds like it's a he... why the crappy editing?
"

From this post it sound like you don't know how to read. Why are you stupid? I am sorry... That was political incorrect. Why are you illiterate?

Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1, Interesting)

Morgaine (4316) | about 5 years ago | (#29074687)

Having read the article, it's clear that the designer has no idea how virtual worlds and especially Second Life (SL) and its many clones like Opensim work. He's making up a legal theory about virtual property and artist rights in virtual worlds that simply doesn't exist, yet. It's wishful thinking.

If he created something in the physical world, the law provides him with some default protections, for good or for bad, and he still has those protections now. If he wanted permanence of his works, he should have held onto his own copies, not given away his backups --- that's his own negligence, nobody else's.

The following is how virtual worlds of the Second Life type work, condensed: If you make some object privately, nobody can see it. When you place your object into the virtual world, in order for others to see it the world has to make copies of it and send those copies to everyone in the region, so that everyone present can see your object rendered in their clients. Everybody gets a copy of your object: copying and distribution is an inherent part of the implementation.

Under such an architecture, real-life artist's restrictive expectations and control-freakism over distribution of their creations just doesn't work. This artist didn't understand the nature of the medium for which he was creating. And while he'll probably try to bring lawyers and the DMCA into it, that whole area is a complete unknown in the context of virtual worlds at present. Judges don't know and can't know how it works either (they're still catching up with how the Internet works anyway), and past legal precedent is largely inapplicable as it would break the worlds.

What's more, all of this is changing continually and at an increasing pace too, and nobody knows where it's going --- the 3D metaverse is still an extremely fuzzy evolving concept. The only thing that's very clear already is that virtual goods do not obey the same rules as physical goods, and so applying current real-world laws to the virtual situation is (i) broken by design, (ii) obsolete before it even starts, and (iii) not enforceable.

In addition, both the clients and the Opensim SL-lookalike world are open sourced, which is one reason why the pace of development is so huge, yet it also means that the guarantees are even fewer. It's important to understand this if you're going to work in the area. The artist is making up a case out of ignorance here.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

lordlod (458156) | about 5 years ago | (#29074845)

Having read the article, it's clear that the designer has no idea how virtual worlds and especially Second Life (SL) and its many clones like Opensim work. He's making up a legal theory about virtual property and artist rights in virtual worlds that simply doesn't exist, yet. It's wishful thinking.

It's not virtual property, it's intellectual property and courts have plenty of experience dealing with it.

The way that the program distributes temporary copies, the fact that it's a virtual world and that's it's an open sourced simulator are completely irrelevant.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29074949)

FTFA, it sounds like a "work for hire." (can't tell for sure, since we don't get to see the actual contract, but if the contract was clear that it wasn't work for hire, then why not post it and resolve this matter?) Work for hire == shit out of luck..

So it was as a real-life businessman that he was careful to communicate the terms of his commission with his client, on more than one occasion, to ensure he would retain and protect his creative rights and credit.

If it isn't in the actual contract (and it doesn't sound like it - sounds more like he wrote some emails after the fact, which mean nothing, since you can't retroactively change the terms of the contract without the other party's approval), he's simply screwed himself.

Also, a quick search - sure looks like his "windrider" virtual watches [wordpress.com] are a ripoff of^W^W^Ware derived from a Rolex.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

voss (52565) | about 5 years ago | (#29075361)

There is no such thing as implied work for hire, it must be expressly written in the contract, if its not clearly written that it is work for hire...its not.

Im sure the client would happily have included a work for hire clause if they could have.

The fact that its a virtual is irrelevant to copyright, if the client had simply deleted the work, there would be no case. Not having a backup is clearly
the authors fault.

However putting on another site clearly violates the authors rights. Of course remedies would have been limited had the openlife person not ignored the takedown notice.

The openlife owner is a moron for not taking it down. Its not a "private" matter if an author of a copyrighted work tells you are showing his work on your server/3d world/website/blog without permission.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 5 years ago | (#29075893)

There is no such thing as implied work for hire, it must be expressly written in the contract, if its not clearly written that it is work for hire...its not.

No. In fact, it often won't matter whether a contract asserts that a work is a work made for hire.

A work made for hire is defined in the Copyright Act at 17 USC 101 as:

(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a "supplementary work" is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an "instructional text" is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.

Also note section 201(b), which relies on the above definition:

(b) Works Made for Hire.--
In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.

Thus, any work done by an employee within the scope of his employment is a work made for hire where the employer is the author unless there is an express agreement in a written instrument, signed by both parties, to the contrary. The courts will look at a large number of factors to determine whether or not there is an employment relationship between the parties. The CCNV case runs through a bunch of them.

Or, where the work is not done by an employee, it is only a work made for hire if it falls into one of the specific, narrow categories of work listed above (e.g. a translation, an atlas, etc.) and there is an express agreement in a written instrument, signed by both parties, saying that it is a work made for hire.

Anything that doesn't fall into one of those two categories is not a work made for hire, regardless of what the parties might think or might have in a written contract. Regular copyright transfer contract provisions may be needed instead.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29079731)

The designer is based in London. "Work for hire" doesn't mean the same thing as in the US. Also, we don't know until we see the contract, and if the person doing the bellyaching was in the right, why don't they just show us the agreement?

Their stance reminds me of the "If the facts are against you, pound on the table" school of argument. I want to see the contract, or they're just blowing hot air.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075363)

FTFA, it sounds like a "work for hire." (can't tell for sure, since we don't get to see the actual contract, but if the contract was clear that it wasn't work for hire, then why not post it and resolve this matter?) Work for hire == shit out of luck..

...

You've actually got that backwards. IANAL, but my understanding of copyright law (that comes from actually having been in a similar situation...) is that unless there's a written contract that clearly uses the exact words "work for hire", it's NOT a "work for hire". The contract doesn't have to be clear that it's not a "work for hire", it must be explicitly clear that is IS a "work for hire". Also, IIRC if the work does not fit the legal description of a "work for hire", it's NOT a "work for hire" despite what the contract says.

In other words, it's pretty much impossible to force any randomly-selected work into being a "work for hire".

I do clearly recall that when opposing counsel sent my lawyer a letter claiming my work was a "work for hire", my lawyer and I got a good laugh out of it because that was the point we both knew I had won.

Once again, though, IANAL.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29079805)

US law doesn't apply - the guy is based in London.

The very terms used indicate it was what you would term "work for hire" - he admits he "was commissioned to" render the objects in question. In other words, the work was done in exchange for money. How is this different from you accepting a fee for producing some of the artwork for a video game? The contract is the governing document, and not any later emails from him to the client trying to retroactively withhold more rights.

We need to see the actual contract - and the guy has pretty much admitted that all the references to his retaining any rights are NOT in the contract, but in one-sided correspondence from him to the client. Sounds like someone trying to get "read in" something that's not in the original agreement, and the client basically ignored the attempt.

The client lost money on the whole adventure. Sure, it would have been the right thing to give the guy credit for the original work on the new site, but a DMCA takedown notice is not the way to go about it when you've been PAID for the work. We don't know what additional rights the client retained - again, because we don't see the contract.

Get it in writing. Get it in writing. Get it in writing. Because if it isn't in writing, it's a can of worms - and it sounds in this case like he didn't get the additional rights in writing. The client obviously has the right to maintain a copy of the work - they paid for it, and it was to be maid available to the public, with temporary copies also on any user's computer in RAM, as well as intermediary copies of all or part on hard disks, etc. If the client decided to move it from second life to open life because she was losing money on second life, unless there's a prohibition in the contract, tough shit.

In other words, the guy should show the contract or STFU.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075713)

It's not virtual property, it's intellectual property and courts have plenty of experience dealing with it.

The way that the program distributes temporary copies, the fact that it's a virtual world and that's it's an open sourced simulator are completely irrelevant.

It's not a car, it's just more advanced horse transport, and courts have plenty of experience dealing with buggy carriages.

The way that this horse transport drives at 100mph, the fact that it runs on gasoline, and that it doesn't drop horse turds are completely irrelevant.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29074873)

He's making up a legal theory about virtual property and artist rights in virtual worlds that simply doesn't exist, yet. It's wishful thinking.

It's called software and copyright. You know, that stuff that gets run to make the virtual world come alive? Maybe it shouldn't exist, but it does.

If you're actually holding courts INSIDE a virtual world, then you might need virtual laws. That would be over things like whether the virtual cash from one virtual country was traded at the correct virtual exchange rate to another virtual country's cash system. Even then, it'd probably be easier to make a case for simple theft in the real world, assuming that cash was related to subscription fees and play time.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075417)

>> It's called software and copyright. You know, that stuff that gets run to make the virtual world come alive? Maybe it shouldn't exist, but it does.

It's called wishful thinking, or rather, not thinking at all. If an artist creates something for a world that operates by design through replication of content to all viewers, and then he complains that his work was replicated, it's abundantly clear that he carried out his work under a misconception of how it was going to be used. That's nobody's fault but his own.

If you don't understand the business model of an area, you aren't going to be successful in it. "But I want the world to work differently" just doesn't cut the mustard. These particular worlds work as they do. Laws can't change that, other than by shutting down the worlds and creating new ones based on a different design. Good luck with that.

Millions of creators in Second Life and Opensim create content perfectly happily within this model. That guy wants a different architecture. And I want a pony.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | about 5 years ago | (#29076071)

The client hired the contractor to do some work for him. They had a real-world contract stating that he was to be paid with real money and was to retain full rights to his creations. From a legal standpoint this is no different from doing graphic design for a website, writing a book and selling limited rights to a publisher, etc. If you hire me to make a baseball bat for you and our contract states that I retain copyright to the design, and then you start selling knockoffs of it, you are not going to be successful in a lawsuit by stating that the official baseball rulebook says nothing about copyright. In other words, the rules of a virtual world do not somehow override the rules of the real world.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29075315)

If you commission me to create some graphics for a website, and the contract says I retain the copyright; you can't then sell my graphics to another website.

That is essentially what happened here.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29075667)

If you commission me to create some graphics for a website, and the contract says I retain the copyright; you can't then sell my graphics to another website.

What website? Do you even know what this topic is about? Are you even on the right planet?

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29075747)

In legal terms, is there any difference between a website and a second life virtual world?

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

Tybalt_Capulet (1400481) | about 5 years ago | (#29077745)

Personally I don't believe so.

This man had his work sold, even if it does fall as a different category as a website, it is an intellectual property.

Say someone sold a book to a publisher, who in turn sold the rights to that book to another publisher, the act is highly illegal.

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 years ago | (#29078749)

What website? Do you even know what this topic is about? Are you even on the right planet?

The Second Life creators themselves keep on making that same comparison. They see virtual real estate on their servers just like a hosting company would see a web site that one of their customers uploaded on there. The customers who upload virtual real estate retain all rights to their intellectual property, Second Life makes absolutely no claim over it. Those customers just have to rent the virtual land that's occupied by their virtual real estate, that's it. If you don't believe me, you can hear it straight from their mouth -- in oopsla's podcast #18 [oopsla.org] .

Okay lemme explain this (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 5 years ago | (#29076713)

Please note i am a SecondLife member not a lawyer or any kind of legal person

First off the contract should has very clearly stated "the work being done has been created for use on the SecondLife Primary Grid and is not authorized for use on any other grid Beta Teen or other"

Second if you want to "backup" a build like that then all you have to do as the creator is install a copy of say the Greenlife Emerald third part client and then select the item and pick "export" from the pie menu
this will create a full copy of all prims and textures in the folder you select.

Third part of the metadata of an object is
1 the creator
2 the current owner
3 the group as set by the creator or current owner

Fourth you do not receive a "copy" of the object just because you happened to go to that sim apart from the other
thousand prims data that you have in cache (and somehow fishing the object out of the cache is non trivial)

if anybody is confused hang around the NCI Kuula setup and find the Wolf

Re:Designer doesn't understand virtual worlds (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 5 years ago | (#29076857)

So, according to your theory, by publishing in a format that requires duplication, you lose the rights to your creations? Fine, then I claim ownership of the following text:

Having read the article, it's clear that the designer has no idea how virtual worlds and especially Second Life (SL) and its many clones like Opensim work. He's making up a legal theory about virtual property and artist rights in virtual worlds that simply doesn't exist, yet. It's wishful thinking.

If he created something in the physical world, the law provides him with some default protections, for good or for bad, and he still has those protections now. If he wanted permanence of his works, he should have held onto his own copies, not given away his backups --- that's his own negligence, nobody else's.

The following is how virtual worlds of the Second Life type work, condensed: If you make some object privately, nobody can see it. When you place your object into the virtual world, in order for others to see it the world has to make copies of it and send those copies to everyone in the region, so that everyone present can see your object rendered in their clients. Everybody gets a copy of your object: copying and distribution is an inherent part of the implementation.

Under such an architecture, real-life artist's restrictive expectations and control-freakism over distribution of their creations just doesn't work. This artist didn't understand the nature of the medium for which he was creating. And while he'll probably try to bring lawyers and the DMCA into it, that whole area is a complete unknown in the context of virtual worlds at present. Judges don't know and can't know how it works either (they're still catching up with how the Internet works anyway), and past legal precedent is largely inapplicable as it would break the worlds.

What's more, all of this is changing continually and at an increasing pace too, and nobody knows where it's going --- the 3D metaverse is still an extremely fuzzy evolving concept. The only thing that's very clear already is that virtual goods do not obey the same rules as physical goods, and so applying current real-world laws to the virtual situation is (i) broken by design, (ii) obsolete before it even starts, and (iii) not enforceable.

In addition, both the clients and the Opensim SL-lookalike world are open sourced, which is one reason why the pace of development is so huge, yet it also means that the guarantees are even fewer. It's important to understand this if you're going to work in the area. The artist is making up a case out of ignorance here.

MINE, ALL MINE.

First Life avatars are scarier (1)

David Gerard (12369) | about 5 years ago | (#29075565)

And they're so much work [today.com] to change!

On the upside, attacks of flying penises are all but unknown. Nearly [youtube.com] .

Other engines (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 years ago | (#29076717)

Yeah, there's a lot of stuff I'd like to try to build in virtual communities like Second Life, but it's stuff like this that makes me shy away. I think if I had to create virtual mockups for architectural / engineering review, I'd try to use blender and maybe try to get it working in the unreal engine if the blender game engine wasn't enough. Not as much community access as SecondLife provides, but at least you work would be safe.

Resale? DMCA? Confused. (1)

rakslice (90330) | about 5 years ago | (#29079579)

Is there a better summary of events available somewhere? A lot of people are talking about the original buyer of the work having re-sold it, and there's nothing about that in the linked article. Also it mentions the DMCA without explaining how that could be relevant.

The Virtual Worlds Liberation Front! (1)

Zobeid (314469) | about 5 years ago | (#29080301)

Today I have founded a new organization, the Virtual Worlds Liberation Front (VWLF)!
.
We shall agitate against "permission flags" and others forms of DRM and copy protection in virtual worlds. If necessary, we shall strive to create new worlds free from these digital chains!
  .
Think about it. . . How would the WWW have been hobbled if nobody could look at the HTML code of most web pages to learn how it works? How about you couldn't link to websites outside of your own domain? (That would pretty much kill the whole point of the thing, wouldn't it?) What if you had to buy JPEG images, and they couldn't be modified, or transferred to other servers, or even used on more than one page at a time? (Forget about Google Images!) The inhabitants of Second Life have come to take these kinds of absurd restrictions for granted. Plus, there are occasional witch hunts against "pirates" running copybot, or glintercept, or various hacked viewer programs -- even though these tools can be used for perfectly legitimate purposes.
  .
This sad state of affairs, more than anything else, is what's hobbling the growth of virtual worlds. The VWLF will work toward establishing environments based on sharing and collaboration, not restrictions and punishment.
  .
For those who think it can't work. . . The WWW works. Linux works. Wikipedia works. A virtual world with freedom can work!

IP rights in SL (1)

zephc (225327) | about 5 years ago | (#29082505)

Second Life has a piss-poor reputation for helping content creators retain control over their creations. Skins (texture over avatar models), clothes, etc. are routinely ripped off because, amongst other reasons, they're cached as individual TGA files on the client computer, and 3rd party SL clients are allowed. These 3rd party clients (e.g. CopyBot) can and have been coded to save any texture desired to a place where the user can then upload to SL and use as their own (complex models are made from what are called sculpted primitives, or "sculpties", which are stored and uploaded as UV map images in TGA format)

Also, Linden Lab (the creators of SL) offer little to no recourse for stolen property, and have very arbitrary and frequently ass-backwards policies. For example, you can make a claim (true or not) that a user is underage and have them banned for 1 or more days almost instantly; to challenge the claim you have to contact Linden Lab (I think by phone, or snail mail) by which time you have been unbanned.

However, when dealing with content theft, you have to file a DMCA request and - this is the best part - FAX OR MAIL IT to Linden Lab, and they may or may not put it on the back burner. You can wait days or weeks while they get to your complaint.

An analogy is a country in which there is almost constant theft and assault, you are allowed almost no tools to protect yourself or your property, and a small number of magistrates wield arbitrary control over property, life and death (i.e. temp and permanent banning) with no real laws.

That SL isn't failing as fast as it should be is probably due only to a fairly large user base's average noobishness and inertia. /rant

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