Who was Minding the Store?

An important part of the upcoming introduction of “Mesh” to the Second Life Grid appears to be an increased emphasis on protecting copyright (see Mesh Update: Part Deux). Very interesting as this 2009 official video demonstration of mesh uses the Hulk character copyrighted by Marvel Comics:

Between this and news about copyright from elsewhere in the tech world — Samsung postponing a product launch pending resolution of a lawsuit with Apple (Web) — makes me wonder “Who was minding the store when I bought an “Apple” laptop in Second Life and an iPad just yesterday?”

Is that a DC Comics-regsitered superhero logo on my shirt?

The Apple logo on the “laptop” is a violation, I’m sure, as would be the photo-texture rendering of the keyboard and ports. I found it on the SL Marketplace by searching with the term “Apple.” Amusingly, the iPad there is the kicker considering the Samsung/Apple news. Sure, it was a freebie in-world, but its a very accurate reproduction, right down to the icons — a key part of the Apple lawsuit against Samsung. It was positioned near accessories the creator probably hoped I would buy to compliment the gift.

So who at The Lab is in charge of policing copyright violations? If they leave it to the public then I doubt brand-name violations like this will be officially noticed. There’s no incentive. One merchant turning in another to trim competition? Probably not as they’d be caught, too. Would real world brands go after individual residents? Gucci was involved with that back in 2007 (Web) yet a current search of the SL Marketplace (Web) turns up over 100 items using the name in some fashion, if not outrightly. The furor of old really hasn’t had a huge effect, it seems.

Much like real world “KIRFs,” I suppose. After all, someone in China recently cloned a whole Apple store, right down to the t-shirts (Web). The shop I visited when looking for a new Second Life laptop and tablet was a pretty good clone, too, though the owner wore a suit as he leaned against a table that could have been hauled out of the real world Apple store an hour from my house.

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