Tom Hale on Content Protection in Second Life

Tom Hale recently commented on Metanomics that Linden Lab “feels very strongly about the rights of our intellectual property creators and holders and want to protect those as much as we can in a Virtual World.” He expanded on the challenge of balancing the need for an open expressive platform with the obligation to protect content. He also spoke of the content protection road map, which he implied had only really just gotten started, and the idea of a ‘teller registry’.

The video of the relevant clip follows. You can view the full episode on Metanomics or read the transcript here.

TOM HALE: It’s one that we spend a lot of time and energy discussing. Certainly one of the great kind of innovations of Second Life was the idea that creators and residents in the World would own their own intellectual property, and that’s a very kind of novel and interesting idea, and I think it’s one of the things that sort of has snowballed into the economy that we’re talking about today. It’s also tricky because, in any digital context, the notion of intellectual property is a slippery one, and it’s made all the more slippery by the fact that digital artifacts can be programmatically copied and can be programmatically transferred from one IP address or one computer to another.

So certainly we have a challenge between our desire to have an open environment and an open platform for people to be expressive and creative and to innovate on that platform. And then also the obligation to our residents, whether they be merchants or consumers or just people who are creating for their own interest, to balance between those. It’s a classic problem of the needs of the few and the desire for us to make it as open a place as possible. So we take this very seriously, and we’ve certainly been engaged on this topic quite a lot.

We’ve kind of started to roll out little bit of a roadmap about how we want to manage this. So I think the first thing that we’re thinking about is, “Let’s actually just start to set some expectations about what is actually expected of people, what’s the norm.” So we’re starting to do this, and one of the sort of objects of this would be, or the outcomes of this, would be a teller registry. So you would actually know who was a trusted seller and who wasn’t. You could start to manage that.

Other things that we would be doing are more programmatic in nature, and I think that’s where we’ve been spending a lot of our energy trying to figure out what the right balance between those two poles are and what the right technical strategies are. But rest assured, we certainly feel very strongly about the rights of our intellectual property creators and holders and want to protect those as much as we can in a Virtual World.


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