Value of copyright in Virtual Worlds

The value of copyright in a world where everything can be copied

• Copyright protects the property rights of creators of certain categories of original work.

• Copyright generally lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years.

It is difficult for me to have a perspective on copyright and the difficulties surrounding ownership of properties and creation of content  within Second Life because I do not own any property or own any creative content with the virtual world. However, from my reading of Shenlei Winkler’s  blog post ‘Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds‘ and F. Gregory Lastowka and Dan Hunter’s legal theory research paper ‘The Law of the Virtual Worlds’ I have gathered an overall understanding of how copyright may or may not be valuable to those within a Virtual World.

Although there may be a significant difference between real life and virtual life when it comes to law and ownership of content, it must also be noted that real life and virtual life are intertwined. As described in the text ‘The law of virtual worlds‘, “property interests in the virtual worlds bleed over into the real world, and assets accumulated their world have value in ours.” As most know, living in the Virtual World is not as simple as it may seem to be. As seen in Second life, real money is used and transferred into the virtual world for you to create and buy what you want within Second life. In my opinion, using real life money within these virtual worlds creates a sense of entitlement within these worlds such as Second life. When you are using real money that you have earned, presumably money you have worked hard for, in these virtual worlds you want to protect your property and creative content that you have spent valuable time and money on. It is obvious there are issues surrounding “whats mine” and “whats yours” in Virtual worlds. From my small amount of experience within Second Life, It shows how freely your avatar is able to travel from place to place and house to house with minimal trouble. My avatar was able to go into someones house after clicking on a random location on the world map. Similarly my avatar was able to access lots of locations that were made by people over a long period of time who had put a lot of detail and effort into creating them. As I am new to Second life, I still do not understand a lot of things you are able to do within the game, however from my reading about the issue of copyright there seems to be problems with people who deliberately destroy peoples hard work and so leaving the content creators to rebuild what was carelessly destroyed.

I find this a difficult situation to comment on. On one hand it seems essential that there should be some sort of copyright law when it comes to owning and creating virtual content as people use their own money and spend time creating content. However on the other hand it seems that by creating laws surrounding virtual worlds it makes the freedom of living virtually extremely rigid. Most of the point to creating a life and communicating in a virtual world is being able to do whatever you want, being able to push the boundaries of real life society where we must uphold so many laws, to having no laws and no rules at all. These problems pose a problem to the debate of the value of copyright in virtual worlds. It could be argued that those who wish to create laws surrounding their work in the virtual world  restrict others who want to live freely in a surreal world that allows you to fly, become a vampire and own property you dream of owning in the real  world.

A good point made by Shenlai Winkler in her blog post ‘Content Licensing in Virtual Worlds‘ that there are problems now with content creators now making licenses for their specific coding in Second life  “where they are suddenly changing their terms of agreement for previous purchasers.” As explained by Winkler, licensing does not work in that way, these licenses are being created by content owners and not professional lawyers it creates a mess where, legally, they are incorrect because they do not contain “critical and important terms”. What is interesting here is that although the content creators want copyright licenses that protect their work and property, they are not willing to abide by actual laws put in place in real life. This becomes a bit of a nightmare for people in Second Life because it would be impossible for a person to know every single license created individually for every original piece of coding. Overall this seems to not be a feasible way to tackle problems with copyright in Second life. As technology grows, It is concerning to see how the virtual world might progress.

I hope to be able to gather a better understanding of the problems that surround copyright values in Virtual Worlds as I learn more about Second life.

Communicating with my SL group

After class last week, the group and I communicated over private messages and decided collectively it would be easier for us to communicate via a Facebook group. So we added each other on Facebook and created our group page. We introduced ourselves and added links to our blog and twitter account and then proceeded to discuss what our group assignment entailed and what ideas and common interests we could come up with. By using Facebook as a tool of communication, it enables us to contact each other on the go from our phones and reply back as quickly as possible. Overall our group worked well at communicating and getting ourselves up and running on Facebook and thinking of ideas for our group assignment.

SL Encounters

As part of last weeks class we were asked to go outside of our class group and make contact with people on SL and discuss interests. This task I found quite difficult I must say. I selected a location under the ‘Newcomer Friendly’ category called ‘Fire storm support region’. I chose this location because as a newcomer to SL I thought it might be an obvious place to get chatting to people I have never met before. Before I even began to try to chat to someone there was no one online. After exploring for two minutes I realised that it was somewhere for a newcomer to go to learn different skills necessary to play SL. After that I teleported to another obvious location under the ‘Chat hotspot’ category called ‘London’. There was quite a large group of people gathered in the courtyard, and the people were speaking over microphone but it sounded very mumbled over the taylor swift song. I decided to make contact via the nearby chat first to see who might interact with me, and no luck, except one person who said they could not help me on SL as they don’t play SL anymore. Quite Strange. Off on my travels again somewhat deflated after my exclusion in their chat I visited the ‘Blarney stone Irish bar’ hoping to find some ‘craic’ there. I did end up chatting to another person there but they decided to flirt and be inappropriate over mail, so I left quite swiftly. Overall my experience this week of trying to make conversations with strangers by virtual means was very difficult. From my encounters, it seems that a lot of SL players only chat to people that they trust or know already. I think perhaps there are virtual boundaries that need to be broken down in order to make friends with people you don’t know on SL. However it could potentially be the time of day or the places that I visited that were not suitable for asking questions and chatting to people I don’t know. Or maybe they were repelled by my avatar, either way I got a sense they new I was a newbie to SL.
Hopefully I can break down some boundaries and try again to communicate via Virtual means.

Location Hopping

This week our assignment was to visit 3 locations on SL we have never visited before.

The first location I picked was called Nagare under the Adventure/Fantasy categories. I was lured to Nagare by its picturesque Japanese-syle garden location picture, and boy did it live up to that picturesque expectation.
The location is so detailed from the trees and floating petals to the refined decoration in the quaint buildings. I personally have an interest in Asian styled design and this location transported me into the world of SL, I felt inspired by how much effort and time someone/more that one person had put into creating it.
The name of the location also intrigued me;
(Nagare. Home of Blue Lotus Clan and Dojo Eternal Blades) I haven’t quite figured out what/who the Blue lotus clan are yet but it seemed very quiet when I visited, so I will definitely return again to find out more.

Location: well worth the visit.

The second location on my list of adventures was Muddy’s Music Café under the club category.
From first glance the place did not seem like a club, the outside environment was eclectic with strange shaped buildings and a mixture of Autumn tress and winter trees. I then explored the club itself where I was greeted kindly by the group of people making shapes on the dance floor. The music was a little bit corny but the overall environment was inviting.

Location: Average but worth at least one visit.

The third and final location I visited was Miami Beach Florida under the beaches category.
From the outset, I really appreciated the detail put into this location as well. It completely resembles the real life Miami beach in Florida. The sun and shimmering ocean were lovely especially during sun set. Again this is another location that transported me into the virtual world of second life.

Location: A must see.

Nagare.

Nagare.

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My Expectations: Virtual Environments Module

What I hope to get out of it:

From my experience of the first two weeks of virtual environments module, I have learnt a lot about how to create my virtual online persona and I hope to be able to expand on my technological knowledge by the end of the module. I hope that I will have learned to communicate and work collaboratively in a cross-cultural environment by working with my SL friends from DIT and SL friends from Akron University. From my perspective, it is very important to be able to learn how to communicate properly and appropriately online as the advancement of technology has taken over the workplace, so these skills are vital for being able to adapt quickly to a technological working environment.

What I hope to contribute:

As part of this module I hope to contribute valuable feedback to my lecturers and my peers through virtual means. I also hope to contribute my time to working in a team with my peers and producing work of hight standard.

About Me

Hi everyone.
My name is Rachel. I’m a third year (final year) student in DIT studying Creative and Cultural Industries. I really enjoy the diversity of subjects within my degree as I have learnt a lot from many different subjects from Law to design and music (to name a few). This year we have been given the opportunity to take Virtual Environments as a module and I am looking forward to learning new skills within Second Life and learning how to write a blog.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like my blog. 🙂