Yesterday we wrote about a new conference looking at the issue of how do offline laws apply in online worlds, especially with respect to digital goods within those worlds. Ernest Miller is at the conference and is reporting that Linden Labs, who runs the game Second Life has officially announced that players get the ownership rights to intellectual property created in the game. They've put up a press release with more details. While interesting, I'm not sure this is a good development, since it basically throws the issue out of the online world and into the offline courts. Whereas most games handle such issues internally, Linden Labs is basically punting on the issue to the US court system. I can see the argument for both sides, but I'm not sure what makes the most sense yet. In the same post from Miller, he points out that a representative from There.com says that there have been problems within their world of people wearing "knockoff" clothing. Someone will design a new virtual shirt that looks like a more expensive virtual shirt. Suddenly, all of the problems of our intellectual property system in the offline world will get passed on to the virtual world. Why not use this opportunity to create new and better rules concerning intellectual property online?
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