Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Intellectual Property and Virtual Worlds: Definitions

The Joint Information Systems Committee provides a snapshot of issues related to copyright, intellectual property and trademarks for a Web 2.0 world and gives a quick call-out on virtual worlds, and Second Life in particular:

“Second Life typifies rights issues that arise within the use of the internet per se and in particular the cross applicability and relevance of specific jurisdictions. Copyright issues can range from copies of real life works being created within Second Life without authorisation, to the use of software that makes it easy to copy in-game artifacts. Whilst some virtual worlds claim ownership and control of anything created in the game, Second Life acknowledges that players have copyright in their creations: for instance, players can sell (or refuse to sell) their in-game ’tchotchkes’. Any creation on Second Life is subject to Second Life’s Terms of Service which include perpetual licences to Linden Lab and users of the service. In the case of student created work, as in the real world, permission would need to be sought prior to the use of any content.”

I’m not sure what they mean by ‘tchotchkes’ which has a kind of seedy, touristy feel. While the summary is a useful cheat sheet on basic concepts, it skims over the often confounding overlapping boundaries and issues when terms of service, law, and technology collide.

But as a quick reminder for students or educators, it at least brings us up to a common understanding of what we really mean when we’re talking about ‘rights’.

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