Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  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.

"I think it's a two part question of (1) economics and (2) control over the creation process," Duranske told me via email. "First, economics. City of Heroes was a single target making enough money that it was worth the suit. No individual Second Life user who is selling avatars is really making enough to make it worthwhile from an economic perspective."

"Second, perceived control. It's far easier for [Second Life maker] Linden Lab to argue that it's not responsible for the infringing content than it would have been for NCSoft, since NCSoft (a) created a specific superhero sim and (b) gave users tools to make the avatars look like specific trademarked / copyrighted super heroes (for example, the complaint points out that you can use the Creation Engine provided by NCSoft to make a 'giant green ... hero that moves and behaves nearly identically to Marvel's character [The Hulk]') That's a lot more likely to be considered contributory infringement than just giving people generic tools to make avatars that could, with a lot of effort and skill, ultimately be made to look like superheroes..."

Second Life isn't entirely off the hook, however, even if it's unlikely comic companies like Marvel would sue for contributory infringement. Trademark holders such as Marvel have an obligation to defend protected character names and logos. "If they don't," Duranske noted, "it makes subsequent enforcement harder."

Photo credit: Onder Skall.
  ... share via email digg bloglines fark reddit newsvine simpy blogmarks magnolia  
[ Detailed Search ]
Clickable Conversation
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'

yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool

Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy? get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock

Clickable Culture Feeds:

RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0 ALL



Clickable Culture
Copyright (c)1999-2007 in whole or in part Tony Walsh.

Trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments owned by the Poster. Shop as usual, and avoid panic buying.