A generic post to avoid copyright infringement

Dedric Mauriac inSLA virtual world created by a company that I enjoy regularly has provided a new logo for its community. Along with the logo came a lot of strict terms and how many common terms may be used. I am still reading over everything. I am uncertain if I can talk about this company at all now, or some of the basic terminology associated with it.

For now, I have signed up to use the logo that they provide to residents. I read through the documentation and I believe that I have set it up correctly. I am only allowed to use it as long as it is not the central focus point. In this case, I displayed my logo a little larger, and above it. A few friends of mine are confused as well. I linked to the article on the web site, but I am afraid that the trademark of the service within the URL may cause some kind of copyright or trademark infringement.

My main concern is if this blog may have to come to a close. I have removed references to the product in my blogs title and tag line. I may have to go through my old posts and remove any reference to them. Just writing posts while avoiding the trademarks would be a lot of work in itself. These trademarks are used in everyday jargon.

I am a little upset and confused at the moment. Am I violating the rules? Is it going to take a lot of effort to fix the violations? What are the consequences? I have 90 days to clean up my act. However, I first need to identify what exactly it is that I need to clean up.

23 Responses to A generic post to avoid copyright infringement

  1. Radar says:

    I’m a little confused as well. I can’t tell, honestly, after reading the terms and so on if “SL Under the Radar” is acceptable or not. Technically, I guess “under the radar” does not contain two generic nouns. So I probably am in violation.

    It’s a little … silly to expect us not to be able to use the term ‘sl’ for anything at all. How do we reference and therefore drive interest towards their product?

  2. Radar says:

    oh, one more thought.. maybe i’ll wind up relying on the domain name that crap mariner suggested for me .. “slandertheradar.com” instead, and now it has a double meaning.

  3. I was looking for clarification too, since the fansite kit remains posted at (http://secondlife.com/community/fansites.php) and it contains tons of hand-eye-logos.

  4. slander? funny. It was hard to notice at first. I was reading it as sl-ander-the-radar.com and thought that perhaps you misspelled “under”.

    This reminds me of the Apple folks going after products using the word “pod” in their names. Oh, and let’s not forget everything that is prefixed with “i”.

    I wonder why this is happening. What exactly are they avoiding, or what has triggered them to do this? It may give some insight as to what I need to focus on to determine if I am infringing on their trademark.

  5. Hello Orange. Great to see you over here. I noticed a lot of people had the original logo on their moo cards back at the last SLCC convention. I suppose everyone needs to switch over to the inSL one. It seems there is a difference in meaning between the two logo’s though. One appears to mean that you do not dedicate much of your content to the virtual world, but that you do meander a bit here and there (new logo). The other appears that your content is dedicated specifically for the virtual word specified (the hand/eye logo). Am I reading this wrong?

  6. In spite of the massive branding documentation provided by that company, it seems that many are pretty confused about what is permitted or not. And I think its even more confusing for those of us who operate businesses in that virtual world in addition to blogging. I wish they would publish something a lot more clear for real people (and bloggers) to understand. I feel your pain, Dedric!

  7. They need an FAQ. Not one that they choose there own questions to answer. They really need to address many of the questions being asked in the comments of that post alone.

  8. Maybe they just caught my Hand of Isengard comment way back when. 😉

  9. Yea, I saw a web page with roughly 50 different eye-in-hand symbols in the past. There were even a few with a spiral (for healing?).

  10. You are one funny Bastard(™)…lol

  11. Yxes and I are going to form a resident action group to change the resident term for the world formaly known as sl(™) we now will refer to it as Lagg Land..and I suggest all residents do so from now on..and stop our ongoing promotion of the world formally known as ….as we have been giving it far too much publicity, they can keep their name…and promote it all they want but its now Lagg Land(™) or L.L(™) as far as we are concerned…ooh we should trad mark it asap(™) whoops Im getting all paranoid now…the big problem with all this (™)is there is no easy key stroke other than cut and past to keep writting the bloody thing! (™) lets hold a vote
    what shall we the residents call this world that was previously “our world and our imagination” hmmmmm I feel a competition comming on..so we have our own words for it…that does not endorse or advertise or promote the world formally known as……..Lagg land™ sounds good anyone?..I declare lagg Land open..and as its queen decree that anyone can use the name cause I want as much viral publicity as possible………..sorry too much wine..tonight…

  12. Hello Paisley Beebe™! I am happy to see you drop by. I agree that the ™ mark is hard to use since it is not a standard key on the keyboard. I often have to copy it from a web page and paste it into my content. I attempted to create an object in Second Life® and named it with the ™ character. It turned into three ??? question marks! I do not believe that Second Life® is “always” synonymous with Lagg Land™. And it looks like you already have a trade mark for Lagg Land™. Perhaps Lagg Land™ refers to Second Life® only when there is much lag present. This is often in specific areas of the Second Life Grid™, and not over the entire the SL Grid™ as a whole. The possibility also exists that eventually Linden Lab® will address this lag issue to a point where it is virtually eradicated.

  13. First up, trademark and copyright law is very different – I’d recommend looking at PubLaw’s section on trademark for details.

    Secondly, this is a classic case of Linden Lab doing the right thing and communicating it very badly. The Lab needed a programme which would allow businesses like Dell, who tend to have lawyers worrying about these things, to create in-world presences that used Linden Lab trademarks. Hence the “inSL” programme. It saves the likes of Dell from having to go to Linden Lab every time they want to use the SL trademark and check with them if it’s OK. Corporates really do spend a LOT of time on this stuff, so the inSL programme will be a real help.

    Sadly, the way this has come across is “if you ever want to say Second Life or any of our trademarks, you need to plaster your site with disclaimers and put TM after every instance.” This is very, very much not true.

    Trademark, like copyright law, has fair use provisions – and if you are using terms like Second Life in a way which is nominative (ie refers to the product) and which doesn’t suggest you are affiliated with Linden Lab in any way, you will be falling under fair use in most circumstances. Think of newspapers, which refer to trademarks all the time without using TM or having disclaimers. No license is required from Linden Lab for using their trademarks in this way.

    However, if you want to use “Second Life” as part of a business – say if you’re a metaversal agency and want to refer to the work you’ve done in SL as part of marketing material – you now have clear guidelines from LL over how they’d like you to use their trademarks, and what they consider “non-infringing”. Again, you might not need to use it (for example, if you write a sentence like “we have completed work for Dell Inc within Linden Lab’s virtual world Second Life” I can’t see how that would infringe), but your lawyers will thank you if you do.

    The only grey area is publications which use “Second Life” as part of their names – ie “The Second Life Foo”. In theory, Linden Lab could probably insist they change the name. In practice, they’ll almost certainly simply insist on similar licensing conditions to other examples from the trade press (like, say, “MacWorld”) – a clear disclaimer and no prominent use of the LL logo, for example.

  14. […] remove that copyright infringing content. As Orange Montagne pointed out on Dedric Mauriac’s Generic Post to Avoid Copyright Infringement, the Fansite Toolkit is still there, contain all the hand-in-eye logo’s you could wish. So […]

  15. Raul Crimson says:

    That’s the point, Dedric, what we have to clean exactly.
    I signed up also for the new logo and i try to follow the rules, but i feel so lost and confused about how to act in some cases.

  16. Rich Desoto says:

    I’ve had this line on my [that metaverse place] references since I started to promote my activity there:
    “Second Life® and Linden Lab® are trademarks or registered trademarks of Linden Research, Inc. All rights reserved. No infringement is intended.”

    I don’t know if that helps at all, but I am certainly going to start tracking down some of my old posts and other web activities to see if I have posted logos and such.

    Some of the id3 tags on some of my song files have included the phrase “Songs from Second Life” or “Songs for Second Life”. I certainly wasn’t attempting to infringe on their trademark or registration mark, however, I did think it should be referenced as a related activity. Good thing I’ve not released an album of the same name!

    I deal with this so much in the music industry, anyway… but one would think that this wouldn’t have been an issue as it relates to one’s activity in this virtual environment.

  17. I wonder about photos of the eye in hand logo. I know one of their islands on the grid look like the logo. I can see myself taking a snapshot of things like that. I have often seen builds of the logo in-world at large events such as the birthday parties. Should I refrain from photographing them?

  18. Kasumi Rieko says:

    I think it is safe to say, if you are planning on selling something and use SL in reference to the product, you should be using SL™, but if you are just talking about SL, then the ™ would not be needed.

    I would also think that older posts (or photos) with the fact that these are “time stamped” before this change took place would also be fine. Can’t really go back an rewrite history everytime someone changes something to a company. This would more relate to “Headers” and “Footers” on a website that are part of the main design or for advertising.

    I think the main part is, as long as you are not making money off of their name, their lawyers won’t come after you and you won’t need to worry to much about it.

  19. I sell a lot of gadgetry in second life. I often blog about them as I create them. I tend to mention “Second Life™” while I am blogging. The gadgets eventually end up being sold … so, it looks like I am still in trouble.

  20. […] I would like to thank the following residents, who helped fleshing out the above document, provided insight, comments, and rewriting of several sections, as well as some minor legal advice.Cat Magellan and Ana Lutetia, for their encouragement in writing the petitionRheta Shan, for the extensive revision and adding several sections and changesSignpostMarv Martin for comments and more external linksJamie Palisades, for comments on estoppel and genericideiAlja Writer, Tateru Nino, and several others for taking a look at the document and making some private commentsPalUP Ling, for the T-shirt (and his promotion)The unofficial community of Second Life® residents on Twitter, for a lot of comments, input, and ideasAn even larger group of bloggers that wrote about the issue, providing lots to think about, and including, but definitely not limited, to the following articles:http://www.vintfalken.com/insl-your-world-your-imagination-our-trademark/http://sl.governormarley.com/slpress/?p=27http://codebastardredgrave.com/2008/03/26/so-they-owe-us-a-sl/https://dedricmauriac.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/a-generic-post-to-avoid-copyright-infringement/http://www.technovia.co.uk/2008/03/the-huge-kerfuffle-over-second-life-trademarks.htmlhttp://harperganesvoort.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/sl-brand-center-followup/http://laetizia.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/clarity-there-is-movement-there-is-not/ http://www.massively.com/2008/04/02/making-your-mark/ http://getasecondlife.net/2008/03/second-life-geral/a-comunidade-portuguesa/ (even more links here)Robin Linden, for some early clarifications before Catherine Linden posted her article on Linden’s Official Blogand Everett Linden for reading this document before it was publicly posted.Permission to copy the above text, modify it, or translate it into other languages, is granted by the author. […]

  21. Yes, Dedric. The problem here is that Linden Lab can ban you first (and remove all your in-world content) and never file a lawsuit against you. If “Dedric Mauriac” is not allowed to exist any more, and all your content in SL has been removed, and all your land confiscated, why bother with filing a lawsuit against your blog? It will be abandoned shortly thereafter.

    That’s one of the most important issues for me. “Preventively” banning all avatars that are violating LL’s ToS on trademark usage is a fantastic measure. How many will be banned? 10,000? 15,000? Well, that’s just one day of new registrations.

  22. If “Second Life” ever expands to grids beyond the control of Linden Lab, then banning our accounts may not be so bad. Unfortunately, the quality of second life grids (or what ever you are supposed to call them) outside of the Lindens control are very poor. So … what exactly is the name of the platform that these other grids operate on? Open Grid / Open Sim – these are not names. they are different brands that work on the same protocols. There is something that Linden Lab, Open Sim, and Open Grid all provide that is compatable with the clients. What the name of it is, I am clueless now.

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