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Linden Labs Sends "Permit-and-Proceed" Letter 140

Posted by kdawson
from the as-you-were dept.
linuxwrangler writes "In sharp contrast to the incidents chronicled at Chilling Effects, Second Life creators Linden Labs have sent the parody site Get a First Life a proceed-and-permit letter. From the letter: 'Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception. In conclusion, your invitation to submit a cease-and-desist letter is hereby rejected.' The letter also grants permission to use the parody logos."
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Linden Labs Sends "Permit-and-Proceed" Letter

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  • IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadManCoding (961283) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:50AM (#17824548)
    In an age of the MAFIAA and other organizations dedicated to maintaining stupid IP laws and restrictive fair use laws, it's nice to see a company realize that a parody only helps them more. After all, this is free PR, and good PR at that.
  • Isn't it sad ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gone_bush (578354) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:19AM (#17824672)
    that we are commenting on the application of common sense.
  • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lamasquerade (172547) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:20AM (#17824674)
    ...it's nice to see a company realize that a parody only helps them more.

    Indeed, or even that behaving socially (as opposed to the MPAA's sociopathic actions) is more important that whether or not GetAFirstLife's action helps them. Reading the letter I was struck by just how ridiculous the expected behaviour of companies is. We expect them to act ultra-selfishly - and of course this is covered by the focus of a corporation, profit above all else. But to see a company have some humour, and even grant something it doesn't need to (possibly for a long term profit motive as suggested by parent, but also possibly just because it can and it's nice) shows that the all-profiting, knee jerk bullshit that we are used to is not at all necessary.

  • by Falladir (1026636) <kingfalladir@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:32AM (#17824740)
    "companies in the future will start referring to this action"

    I'm no lawyer, but I aren't precedents set by courts? The actions of a company's legal team have no effect on the status quo.
  • brilliant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange@ a l u m n i . u chicago.edu> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:44AM (#17824806) Journal
    Trademarks need to be fought for, otherwise they are useless. This is actually IMHO a very brilliant move by Linden to maintain their hold on their trademarks without being a complete asshole about it.
  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:51AM (#17824838) Homepage

    The parody site operator of getafirstlife.com should reject this letter immediately. How many companies in the future will start referring to this action as a basis to stop "fair use"?
    Wow. Layoff the paranoia pipe a bit. Everyone knows that parody is OK. It has been for years. Companies have been parodied on Saturday Night Live since the stoner age. If they were gonna get the fair use provisions relating to parody changed, they would have done it already.

    Secondly, if we want companies to be good citizens and respectful of individual's rights, should not also individuals respect companies when the company does something right? I do. I went to second life from the first life page and signed up for an account. Who woulda thought they actually have a linux version (alpha) for the game?

    What I see is a company that is not full of pricks, plus they supply a linux version of the game. Isn't that what (we linux users at least) have been saying would be great? I say that's worthy of my support so I flipped them a few bucks.
  • by john-da-luthrun (876866) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:02AM (#17824880)

    This is actually quite smart from a legal point of view. Once Second Life had decided not to go down the road of trying to sue the parody site into oblivion - a wise decision given the PR meltdown such cases tend to cause - it then had a choice.

    If it ignored the parody site, that could dilute or otherwise weaken its trade mark rights, making it harder to take action against truly problematic infringement in future. However, by sending a "permit-and-proceed" letter, it not only gets some positive PR for taking a pragmatic and humorous approach - it also transforms the parody site from a trademark-diluting independent endeavour into something that is, in effect, licensed by Second Life. This means they can still be seen to have asserted their trade mark rights rather than allowing the parody site to continue without any intervention at all.

    A similar position can arise in relation to land, at least under English law. If someone encroaches on your land for a sufficiently long period of time (12+ years) and you do nothing about it one way or another, you can lose your rights in the land (many people living near railway lines have extended their gardens to the edge of the line by these means). However, if you say to the encroacher, "Oh, that's fine, carry on, I don't mind, you have my permission", then that turns it into a licence, and they cannot then claim "adverse possession" against you later.

  • Re:brilliant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supersat (639745) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:39AM (#17825006)
    Agreed. If you read the letter, at the very bottom, they grant a license to use the parody logo on products sold at the CafePress store, just in case one is needed. For example, someone wanting to use the proper trademark could convince the court that such commercial activity wasn't fair use, and that a license was needed, and since Linden Labs didn't enforce or license the mark, it should be invalidated. This covers their ass while still allowing the parody.
  • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by veganboyjosh (896761) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:23AM (#17825372)
    it always amazes me to read/hear about corporations that operate with the "profit first" motive. as opposed to some other companies, such as this one, who do something good/funny/charitable in lieu of heavy handing it right away. sure, they could have sent a c&d letter right away, but as other posters have already said, this is a neat way for them to retain their hold without being asshats. in the longterm, it now endears the company name to people (who also have a sense of humor) who know nothing about them other than this story. when i hear the name again, i'll think of this story. which puts the company miles ahead of others whose names i associate with overbearing drm, rootkits, etc... in effect, by taking this (non)action, they've potentially made more customers, who are happy with their products for more than just the product's sake. a smart move on several levels, methinks.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @09:46AM (#17826656) Journal
    Second Life is run by geeks, and I bet they read Slashdot. They know full well what will turn their customers away. I bet they have explicit instructions for their legal team not to C&D anyone without express permission from the owners.
  • Re:pun intended (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scumdamn (82357) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:12AM (#17827650)
    Not to be a noodge, but they've enhanced the joke as far as I'm concerned. I would appreciate Get A First Life without the letter, but the wording in the letter is right on. I bet the legal dept. got with the marketing dept. for that one because the tone is just perfect. Dry, yet actually funny (you've seen companies try too hard I'm sure. This isn't the case.)
  • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arodland (127775) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:09PM (#17828474)
    Acting in the "community" way is the selfish thing to do most of the time -- it's just a sort of long-term selfishness that many businesses can't seem to appreciate. It's guaranteeing that there will be an ecosystem for you to be part of down the road, instead of alienating/bankrupting/killing all of your potential customers and partners.

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