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Nov 272010
 

BSG Fandom Disappears in Second Life Overnight

by Kalel Venkman

On Thanksgiving Day, Universal City Studios ordered Linden Research, creators and operators of the popular online community, to remove any and all  to remove any and all intellectual content  relating to ‘Battlestar Galactica’  from its grid.

The following contact was sent to all BSG sim owners or officers, in all BSG related inworld groups:

“Linden Lab has received an intellectual property complaint from Universal City Studios, Inc., complaining about use by Second Life Residents of names and content that it believes are associated with Battlestar Galactica. For example, they have complained about names such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Battlestar,” “BSG,” “Colonial Warriors,” and “The Twelve Colonies,” and about content such as “recreations of Battlestar Galactica ships like the Vipers, Raiders, and Raptors.”

Linden Lab respects the rights of both Second Life residents and intellectual property owners. Accordingly, we ask that you discontinue any use of Battlestar Galactica intellectual property in Second Life. You must not use the intellectual property of others unless you have their permission to use it.To address Universal’s concerns, Linden Lab has disabled certain Second Life content, including the content listed at the end of this email.

**PLEASE REVIEW ALL OF YOUR NAMES, CONTENT, AND BUILDS AND CHANGE OR DELETE ANY THAT MAY BE RELATED TO BATTLESTAR GALACTICA**

Linden Lab may remove or disable any other content that may infringe intellectual property rights. In addition, further reports of your unauthorized use of another’s intellectual property in Second Life may result in your suspension or termination from Second Life.
If you have a region or group whose name was disabled as the result of Universal’s complaint, please respond to this email with a new non-infringing name for the region or group, and Linden Lab will change the name to your new non-infringing name. As a default, while we await your new non-infringing name, the region or group has a placeholder name based on your avatar name.

For any questions about the intellectual property complaint of Universal, please contact Universal’s counsel:
Mark E. Kalmansohn
Kalmansohn & Andersen, LLP
24th Floor, 1801 Century Park East
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Telephone: 310-552-6024
Email: mek@k-alaw.com

We appreciate your cooperation and your creation of original content in the Second Life virtual world.

Sincerely,
Linden Lab

All the regions in violation of this new content policy regarding Battlestar Galactica have been removed from service.

The damage to the fan community and the health of the franchise may have been considered by Universal as unavoidable, as their failure to defend and protect their copyrights and trademarks may  eventually result in loss of control over their own creations.  In other words, if they don’t defend their rights to their intellectual property now, it is possible for these properties to pass into the public domain.  There is precedent for such occurrences,  with Xerox and Kleenex brands both passing into the common vernacular and each of those companies having to fight vigorously to retain control of their own product names.  A few examples of trademarks that have lost their legal protection in the US are:
Trademark law works similarly in other countries.  Even Microsoft  lost its right to its own Windows trademark in South Korea, where it lost its “Windows” trademark to book publisher Kim Yong Sae in 2000.

Universal City Studio’s action, while legal and proper, may have done as much harm to the following of their BSG franchise as good.  The BSG community on Second Life was quite substantial, and the effect on the in-world economy may be profound.  The action may have a more far-reaching effect as well, since the Second Life fan base was a significant part of the fan community surrounding the Battlestar Galactica and Caprica television series.  Fans turned away from Star Trek en masse in the late 1996 when Viacom began aggressively taking down fan web sites related to Star Trek.  It wasn’t until they took a middle ground and allowed the sites to remain online so long as Viacom was properly attributed as the copyright or trademark holders that Star Trek fandom once again began to flourish.  The situation in Second Life is more tenuous, though, since proper copyright attribution in a virtual 3D environment would be nearly impossible to properly implement or supervise.
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  9 Responses to “Universal Forces Battlestar Galactica Off of Second Life”

Comments (9)
  1.  

    It’s a truly sad that this happened, and while I respect the rights of copyright owners. This shows a line of thinking that really does way more harm than good, on the part of the copyright holders. Instead of simply demanding the content be taken down, they could have such as in the case of Star Trek, demanded proper credit for the material, or even came in and demanded any profits from the materials sold in SL.

    They could have at least tried to work with the fans and come to a understanding that could have benefited both sides. I can only hope this comes back to bite Universal in the butt as hard as possible, the PR fallout from this will be huge, at least I hope it will.

    I don’t want to see anyone’s legal rights violated of course, but doesn’t fan work/fiction have certain legal rights as well?

  2.  

    In practice it’s micropayments, and the money is moving around in such small amounts that it’s impossible for them to track it. The only thing they could have been going after here would have been the protection of trademarks, under the misconception that somehow they’re being infringed in a way that could cause them loss of control in the future, if I’m reading the article correctly. Personally I think it’s stupid.

  3.  

    The BBC has wrestled with this as well in regard to Dr. Who and other properties. More enlightened agencies realize that fan fiction drives real world marketing. However, US copyright/trade mark law at current pretty much forces you to protect yourself. Don’t like it, write your congress person, I have.

  4.  

    I THINK THE POINT IS THAT PEOPLE DON’T GET THE POINT. IT’S SORT OF LIKE SHATNER IN THAT SNL SKIT (“HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER KISSED A GIRL? GET A LIFE!”) AND ALSO THE ACTUAL FRACKING SITUATION.

    AS IN, PEOPLE WHO DON’T GET IT, WELL, THEY CAN BABBLE POINTLESSLY BUT THE SHOW’S OVER. BACK TO REALITY. SO SAY MANY OF US. AND WHICH OF THEM HAS ACTUALLY PAID ATTENTION TO THE SERIOUS FRACKING PROBLEM FACING EARTH, NOT “EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT” BUT THE REAL, NOT MADE-FOR-TV OR WEBISODE BUT ACTUAL PLANET EARTH? AND THE ACTUAL FRACKING THAT TAKES PLACE?

    THE FRACKING SITUATION IS UNTENABLE AND UNSUSTAINABLE. WHAT’S PATHETIC IS ALL THE PEOPLE WHO MEMORIZED AND CAN NO DOUBT RECITE HUGE CHUNKS OF DIALOGUE — BUT DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS AN ACTUAL FRACKING PROBLEM.

    THEY WILL CALL THIS AN INCOHERENT RANT. THOSE WHO FAIL TO UNDERSTAND AND WHO FIND FAULT WITH THAT WHICH THEY HAVE FAILED TO UNDERSTAND INSTEAD OF REALISING THAT THEY THEMSELVES HAVE FAILED — THEY WILL FIND SOMETHING ELSE GEEKWORTHY TO BECOME ADDICTED TO. FOR OTHERS, THERE IS A FRACKING PROBLEM TO BE ADDRESSED.

    TTFN

    MARCELLUS SHALE
    PENNSYLVANIA
    CURRENTLY CONTEMPLATING FRACKING

  5.  

    All caps. Ouch. Posted this anyway, as Marcellus appears to have a point to make.

  6.  

    Obviously, a matter of concern for “Krypton” Radio.
    Although you are obviously refering to the element, not the fictional planet. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more).

    Sometimes the line between paying tribute to something and damaging the creator can be hard to define.

    As I found out CJ Cherryh asked me were I got the “AS Norway” ball cap.

  7.  

    . . . where (not were) I got the “AS Norway” ballcap.

  8.  

    Actually, pretty good observation, Steve. Krypton is an element, and we’re working on creating an entirely new pantheon of our own original comic book hero characters, most of whom derive their powers from a peculiar radioactive isotope of krypton gas called ‘polarized krypton’. So Krypton Radio doesn’t tie into the mythos everybody thinks of when they think about red capes and ‘S’ shields – it refers to the power source for our universe’s metahumans.

    So in this case, we’re completely free and in the clear with the name of our radio station, and there’s no trademark or copyright concern for us at all.

  9.  

    polarized Krypton Gas, sounds good to me and since an arc reactor is simply one using an electrical Arc, as in arc welding, arc furnaces, carbon arcs, etc . Even I’m covered (after a suit redesign, hehe )

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