Friday, May 31, 2013

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Fashionista Open Forum: When It Comes to Copyright Concerns at Shopping Fairs, Where Do You Draw The Line?

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Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Another Second Life event, another Second Life controversy, but it seems like lately the drama is just repeating itself (and no, even though the timing might imply otherwise, I'm not talking about The Arcade.) Several recent fashion fairs have had more than their share of drama over copyright concerns -- specifically, the lack of management response when such concerns are raised. Fantasy Faire 2013, an event which initially took a hard stance on copyright issues, caught some static when several participating stores displayed assets and artwork allegedly taken from copyrighted sources, including games like Skyrim. More importantly, event organizers failed to act in a way that satisfied the concerned fantasy fashionistas who had reported the suspicious brands.

Now, only a few weeks later, a familiar problem reared its head at the Home and Garden Expo. This time a brand was accused of using artwork that wasn't their own (and they've since voluntarily pulled out of the expo) but the lack of immediate action from organizers caused some friction with both designers and consumers. All of this really makes me wonder, what exactly do you expect of an event's organizers? Can their action/inaction affect your willingness to participate in their event, or do you think it all rests on the individual designers? Would you ever boycott an entire event based on an organizer, or would you only avoid a specific "guilty" brand? Where do you draw the line when it comes to bad behavior at good events?

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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CronoCloud Creeggan

well perhaps content makers would stop making infringing content if it wasn't profitable to do so. We the consumers are the real problem. Every time we buy a N7 FemShep style outfit for our avatar we are a part of the problem.

Heck even those Vita's Boudoir girls NWN has plugged a few times, have stuff that violates Warner-DC's copyright. They've got Supergiirl, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl outfits. I want them of course, but odds are they don't have a license to make them...sigh.

The real problem is, WE want supergirl costumes and N7 armor for our avatars but licenses aren't easy or cheap to get, not even taking into account that CD or Bioware might not wast to have to deal with every content maker wanting a license for this or that. It isn't like the old days with American Apparel and L'Oreal doing stuff in SL.

Ananda

I do think it's likely people are being much too hard on event organizers, not recognizing the legal quandary they are in. If you try to put together one of these events you are faced with this dilemma:

1) You can decide to exercise editorial control over everything that is presented. However, if you do and IP-infringing material slips in anyway, YOU become liable for it.

2) You can disclaim editorial responsibility and let presenters show what they feel like showing, on their own liability. However, if you do that you can't then arbitrarily decide to pull down displays that *might or might not* be infringing, or again you open yourself up to being sued, by the presenter.

What this leaves is the approach common to large scale hosts like youTube and Linden Lab: You act carefully within the law, and only take down infringers when requested *by the IP holders* and no one else.

So, don't be too hard on event hosts. They've got a minefield to navigate here.

Elysium Hynes

"What this leaves is the approach common to large scale hosts like youTube and Linden Lab: You act carefully within the law, and only take down infringers when requested *by the IP holders* and no one else."

This would work if they actually did that one of the persons who´s work was being used at H&G withhout permission directly imed the organizer f the event to have it removed shwing proof of their identity and was told to go to LL. No one is liabe for asking for a license and returning things that don´t have one sorry

Nicole Twigvald

"1) You can decide to exercise editorial control over everything that is presented. However, if you do and IP-infringing material slips in anyway, YOU become liable for it."

People say this pretty often, but that's not how it works. You aren't liable for removing someone from your private sim. LL is liable because they are hosting the material, they actually take it away from you when they remove something. When you kick someone off your sim for using material you have judged as infingement, it doesn't go away from their inventory.

It's not a take down, they still have it in their inventory. Just not on your sim. Not the same thing at all.

Arcadia Codesmith

Most event organizers don't have the staff or resources to police copyright, nor are they necessarily subject matter experts on everything geek. Sometimes infringement is obvious, but often it's very much a subjective judgement call.

If you spot what you believe to be a copyright violation at an event (or anywhere else), the appropriate action is to notify the copyright holder. That person or organization is the one that initiates action, not you, not event organizers, and not Linden Lab.

Vaki

I cannot echo Arcadia's comment enough. That was beautifully stated and absolutely correct.

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