Second Lifers get intellectual property rights

Linden Lab announces that Second Life players will now retain full intellectual property rights for any in-game content they create.

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Linden Lab has today announced changes to Second Life's terms of service that recognize the ownership of in-game content by the subscribers who create it. The changes mean that players will retain full intellectual property protection for any digital content they create, including characters, clothing, scripts, textures, and objects. The online world's creator has also committed to exploring technologies that would make it easy for players to license their content under Creative Commons licenses.

"Until now, any content created by users for persistent-state worlds, such as EverQuest or Star Wars Galaxies, has essentially become the property of the company developing and hosting the world," said Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab founder and CEO. "We believe our new policy recognizes the fact that persistent-world users are making significant contributions to building these worlds and should be able to both own the content they create and share in the value that is created. The preservation of users' property rights is a necessary step toward the emergence of genuinely real online worlds."

While other online world service providers retain ownership of user-created content, Second Life residents will own their own work just as they would any other original creations. Following today's announcement, they'll be able to create and sell derivative works based on their own content or even license their work to other residents.

"Linden Lab has taken an important step toward recognizing the rights of content generators in Second Life," said Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University professor of law and founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. "As history has continually proven, when people share in the value they create, greater value is derived for all. Linden Lab is poised for significant growth as a result of this decision."

Second Life is an online world largely created by its 10,000-plus inhabitants who, since beta testing began a little over a year ago, have fashioned more than 200,000 objects, including characters, homes, an amusement park, and even an alien spaceship capable of abducting other residents. The world boasts its own economy, and every month there are almost 100,000 user-to-user transactions for goods and services totaling more than Linden$19 million.

Second Life was launched commercially in June this year. For more information, check out our previous coverage of the game.

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