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Protecting Intellectual Property

Protecting Intellectual Property (IP)

What is IP?

According to the NZ Ministry of Economic Development:

“Intellectual property (IP) is a generic term for the range of property rights accorded for the protection of creations of the mind. The term “intellectual property” is defined in Article 2 (viii) of the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation 1967 as including rights in relation to:

  • Literary, artistic and scientific works;
  • Performances of performing artists, sound recordings and broadcasts;
  • Inventions in all fields of human endeavour;
  • Scientific discoveries;
  • Industrial designs;
  • Trade marks, service marks and commercial names and designations;
  • Protection against unfair competition; and
  • All other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”

According to WIPO:

“Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

IP is divided into two categories:  Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.  Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.”

According to Wikipedia:

Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law.[1] Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.”

According to KiwiBelma: IP is creations of necessity – necessity to live, evolve, mature, develop, progress, advance, improve… necessity to continue & flourish as a human race. If we don’t strive to be better, to do better, to have better, how can we call ourselves a human race?

It is also due to our human nature that we need to protect our intellectual property. Well, because we are, after all, only human. In a ‘perfect’ world (perfect is another abstract, hard-to-define term, that can never really be fully achieved), we would congratulate the creator, ask for permission to use his/her work and acknowledge it publicly. I think some of us try to do this, which makes the world a great place to live in. Unfortunately, others somehow fail to do this, for some reason or another. Hence the need for IP Protection – just as a reminder that there are people who are trying to make world a great place (turning ‘vicious cycle’ into a virtuous one).

How do the Permissions systems protect IP?

“By applying different permission sets to different categories of people, you can control how items you create in Second Life are used and distributed.” (Second Life Wiki)

What is CopyBot?

CopyBot is a debugging tool used to access the virtual world, Second Life. It is able to, among other things, export objects within Second Life to an XML file, which can then later be imported for use in the game. LSL scripts cannot be copied at this time.” (Wikipedia)

How can/should it be used?

 “CopyBot was originally created as a debugging tool by the libsecondlife development team, and was created with such purposes in mind as an import/export or “backup” tool, or to assist in the development of AIs and NPCs.[1][2]

Possible uses of the import/export function:[3][4]

  • No reliance on Linden Lab for data backup services.
  • Importing content created on other grids such as the preview grid (currently Aditi, previously Siva).[5]
  • Importing content created on a locally installed simulator (and thus not having to rely upon the availability of official simulators).
  • Exporting one’s own intellectual property to other environments.

These intended official applications required creator and owner permission, and a response to a disclaimer before content could be copied.[3] (Wikipedia)

“CopyBot does not operate within the Second Life virtual world. It is written in C#,[9] not LSL. Software was distributed via third-party sites and services such as SL Exchange. Currently (April 2008), most legitimate Second Life out-of-world operations do not allow the distribution of CopyBot, although there are programs which use either original Copybot code (heavy modified) or this funcionality re-implemented as well as some kind of copyright protection (i.e. allow only copying items/dropping restrictions if you are creator). This is an attempt to recreate what was the original intention of CopyBot (backup purposes).” (Wikipedia)

An analysis of ways in which creators of content can protect (or open up) their creations in a virtual world.

Copyleft  allows an alternative to copyright, where the program/software (GNU), and/or original creations (Wikipedia), are freely copied and modified without anyone or organisation being able to make it a private property.

Another option may be working for a company within SL, e.g. Language Lab and creating works under their name. As the company is governed by the SL Terms of Service, the IP of the work should be protected. The copyright of the work belongs to the company but at least the ‘employee’ may get the recognition in the form of experience. This applies to educational institutions when their staff produce scholarly works.

Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand provides a number of licensing options.

“Creative Commons aims to realise the full potential of the Internet. It provides a range of copyright licences, freely available to the public, which allow those creating intellectual property – including authors, artists, educators and scientists – to mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry.

Digital technologies offer new opportunities for making and accessing creative work of all kinds, and digital self-publishing is rapidly expanding across the world – from musicians, filmmakers and designers to universities, museums and libraries.” (Creative Commons)

This option is almost like saying – “Well, this is what I have done, and I’d like to see it distributed with the following proviso”. Things may get difficult when those requests are ignored. Then we would really need a good lawyer, and a big bank account.

But if more people strive to live in a ‘perfect’ world, then perhaps education and awareness programmes can ease off the not-so-legitimate uses copying, modifying and selling of IP. There is still some hope I think.

There is always the movie 🙂

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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