In doing this month’s stats report, I updated the Terms of Service and Intellectual Property Rights policies for a few grids. And I got to wondering about all the other grids that don’t have these policies posted. Out of 213 active grids this month, I only have links to 23 Terms of Service pages, and only 14 pages that explain how to get infringing content removed from a grid.
The lack of good content protection is keeping many creators away from OpenSim.
But I understand that creating a policy is hard work, and grid owners have a lot of other stuff they’re dealing with all the time. So here’s I’m offering a basic policy that any grid can use. Feel free to copy and paste, and adapt for your own needs.
If you’re a commercial grid, I also strongly recommend that you register with the US Copyright office to get DMCA safe harbor for a one-time fee of $105. Several big grids have already done so, including InWorldz and Virtual Highway. You can register even if your grid is based outside of the United States — after all, who’s more likely to sue you than your U.S. users? One international grids that’s done that is Kitely, which is based in Israel.
Remember that the DMCA isn’t a special US law that forces websites or grids to take extra steps to protect content. Every country out there has pretty much the same steps. The DMCA registration is insurance to protect you against being sued as long as you follow those steps.
I’m releasing this sample policy under a CC0 license, which is as close to putting it into the public domain as you can get. I am not a lawyer, and this is not intended as legal advice, but is for informational purposes only.
My goal in writing this is to have a common-sense policy that a human being will actually be able to read and use.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS POLICY Our grid respects the rights of content creators and will immediately take down infringing content. Users who repeatedly infringe on others' intellectual property rights will be banned. Export of non-exportable content via OAR region backups, IAR inventory backups, viewer-based exports or hypergrid teleports is not permitted. If you are a content creator, and discover copies of your content on our grid without your permission, please email [email protected] with the following information:
- Your legal name and real-world contact information, including address, telephone, and email.
- Enough information for us to locate the infringing content, such as in-world locations and owners' names.
- Enough information for us to know that you are the original copyright holder, such as a link to your Second Life Marketplace, Kitely Market, or InBiz listings for that content.
- The following legally-mandated statement: "I have a good faith belief that the use of the described material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear that the information in the notification is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."
You can also create an online form for takedown requests, such as what Kitely has here.
Why the need for legal names? Because copyright ownership is a legal thing, associated with legal persons and corporations. A typical avatar has no legal standing. A grid can choose, if it wants, to take down infringing content without a legal complaint, but it isn’t required to do so. Plus, the “John Smith” who uploaded the allegedly infringing content to your grid might actually turn out to be the creator themselves, under a different name.
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