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  links for 2007-09-21  
Posted 2007-09-21 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-09-06  
Posted 2007-09-06 by Tony Walsh
  Microsoft Kills Fan-Fiction Based on Xbox 360 Games  
Posted 2007-08-15 by Tony Walsh
The good news is that Microsoft has spelled out how gamers are permitted and prohibited from using Xbox 360 games in machinima and other derivative works. The bad news is that "You can't add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with 'lost chapters' or back story or anything like that."

Historically, universe-expanding fan fiction related to TV shows and movies has in some cases extended fan interest in a given property, or has even been incorporated into the property's official canon. Killing fan-fiction (which almost always adds to a property's universe or storyline) pretty much invalidates any of the activities Microsoft has permitted, in my view.
  links for 2007-07-31  
Posted 2007-07-31 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-07-29  
Posted 2007-07-29 by Tony Walsh
  Obey ‘Second Life’ Republic Or Be Shunned  
Posted 2007-07-17 by Tony Walsh
I would rather have no justice at all in Second Life than to subscribe to the half-baked, self-appointed Metaverse Republic, a group trying to establish an independent virtual-world legal system "with real powers of enforcement originating in user-created tools, and a democratic parliament." Introduced to me by the Metaversed podcast, and made the subject of a round-table by Virtually Blind, the group's system relies on voluntary, widespread adoption to work properly.

There are a limited number of actions one avatar can take against another without permission in Second Life. The most effective of these, available only to virtual-land owners, is to ban an avatar from entering one's land. It's a good, old-fashioned shunning, and it's how Metaverse Republic plans to "enforce" its laws: Obey the Republic's rules, or face banishment. The good news is that the system only works with a high level of participation, but the bad news is that single avatars sometimes own vast acreage of virtual land. The Republic could be a serious annoyance to those it disagrees with, but it's highly unlikely compliance with its system will reach critical mass.

Continue reading: Obey ‘Second Life’ Republic Or Be Shunned
  links for 2007-07-16  
Posted 2007-07-16 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-07-05  
Posted 2007-07-05 by Tony Walsh
  Coke Gives Up on ‘Second Life’ Trademark Infringement? [Corrected]  
Posted 2007-06-28 by Tony Walsh
Coca-Cola, which recently entered Second Life, has reportedly "released" its trademark to resident merchants. According to Vint Falken, news of the release was delivered in an email from SLExchange, one of Second Life's biggest third-party shopping web sites. The Coca-Cola brand has been bootlegged by Second Life merchants for years--I suppose Coke's decided this actually works for their business.

I'm no lawyer, so I have to wonder what "releasing" a trademark actually means, or what the implications are. I wasn't aware a corporation could issue a blanket release for a proprietary mark while still owning it, but hey, I learn something new every day. Looking forward to Benjamin Duranske's comments on this one.

[Correction: The news source had originally been cited as C.C. Chapman, but is now cited correctly as SLExchange. Sorry, C.C.]
  Bootlegged Superheroes Safer in ‘Second Life’?  
Posted 2007-06-19 by Tony Walsh
Bootlegged Superheroes Safer in ‘Second Life’?
Spider-Man crawls 'Second Life' walls. Photo credit: Onder Skall.
A couple of years ago, superhero-comic publisher Marvel sued superhero-game makers NCSoft and Cryptic for copyright and trademark infringement. Marvel felt that NCSoft/Cryptic's game City of Heroes induced infringement by giving players tools to create facsimiles of proprietary characters such as Spider-Man and The Hulk. The issue was settled amicably the same year, and Cryptic Studios is now officially on board for the development of Marvel Universe Online.

Elsewhere in the metaverse, the sandbox-style social world of Second Life has been wall-crawling with bootlegged superheroes for about as long as City of Heroes. Using Second Life's tools, it's not only possible to re-create a Marvel character's appearance more accurately than in City of Heroes, but to sell these facsimiles like Halloween costumes for a virtual currency easily convertible to real dollars. So why was City of Heroes threatened by Marvel while Second Life has been ignored? I asked attorney Benjamin Duranske, author of the blog Virtually Blind, for his informed opinion.

Continue reading: Bootlegged Superheroes Safer in ‘Second Life’?
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