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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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  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:46AM (#17824516) Homepage
    Second Life creators Linden Labs have sent the parody site Get a First Life a proceed-and-permit letter.

    In other words, they're virtually going along with the joke.
    • Re:pun intended (Score:4, Insightful)

      by scumdamn (82357) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:12AM (#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.)
  • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbert@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:49AM (#17824542)
    I've always said second life is like four times better then half-life.
  • IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadManCoding (961283) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:50AM (#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.
    • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lamasquerade (172547) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:20AM (#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.

      • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Informative)

        by GuyWithLag (621929) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:31AM (#17824736)
        Actually, Linden Labs had to permit or deny use of their logo, or risk losing the trademark. This is a clever move by them both from the legal side and the PR it generates.
        • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @04:08AM (#17825304) Homepage

          This is a clever move by them both from the legal side and the PR it generates.
          There is nothing wrong with being clever and funny at the same time (even though the /. [slashdot.org] moderation system seems to think otherwise).

          • Re:IP and Fair Use (Score:5, Informative)

            by miyako (632510) <miyakoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:57AM (#17826268) Homepage Journal
            I see this complaint all the time, but if something is already modded funny (which doesn't give karma) can't you just mod it underrated- which will give karma and not change the label? That's what I generally do if something is funny enough to be worth karma, or largely funny but also insightful.
            • by yarbo (626329)
              Some people don't want to read jokes and they should be reduce the rating (shown to them) of posts modded funny. Funny moderations are meta-moderated, underrated moderations aren't.
              • by dr_labrat (15478)
                But that is sooo unfair.

                What if you don't want to read things that are underrated, but still want to read funmy things?

                Oh right. Other sites.

        • Actually, Linden Labs had to permit or deny use of their logo, or risk losing the trademark. This is a clever move by them both from the legal side and the PR it generates.

          Yeah, I have no idea what the hell Linden Labs is, or what this First Life/Second Life thing is all about. But, based on this, I know I like Linden Labs. I think I'm going to hit Wikipedia right now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by networkBoy (774728)
        In fact you are very correct. (I was honestly blown away).
        I've written about this on my site below in my sig, or specifically in the editorial section: http://www.farmersreallysucks.com/editorialgetafi r stlife.shtml [farmersreallysucks.com]

        While the response from Linden Labs was permissive, in another editorial (the one why Arent Fox sucks) I pick apart the inherent error in judgment sending a stern C&D letter up-front. You can always send a nice letter and follow up with threats if necessary. In the meantime, anyone who woul
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by veganboyjosh (896761)
        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 abou
        • Wait, so... you're saying... people might like companies whose first action ISN'T to legally rape anyone who even remotely steps into questionable copyright territory? ...I just don't see it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arodland (127775)
        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.
      • You'd think that, but when there isn't an obvious opportunity for good PR, Linden Lab is even more proactive in chilling efforts. This article [secondlifeherald.com] details how they sent a frantic letter to the CBC to keep a critic from speaking out on a radio show. Not that you'd ever know it from the mainstream media's lack of coverage.
    • by RexRhino (769423)
      I resent you comparing the RIAA to the Mafia. The Mafia has traditionally increased people's freedom and personal choice (by providing goods and services that wouldn't be available via traditional sources because of government prohibition), while the RIAA decreases people's freedom and personal choice by encouraging government prohibition.
  • depressing (Score:5, Funny)

    by qw0ntum (831414) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:51AM (#17824554) Journal
    How depressing is it that this type of thing would only happen in an online world? I think if someone did this to Disney they would send Mickey to come eat you or something.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:19AM (#17824670)

      I think if someone did this to Disney they would send Mickey to come eat you or something.
      Make that the little mermaid. She can eat me any time!
    • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:32AM (#17824986) Homepage Journal

      I think if someone did this to Disney they would send Mickey to come eat you or something.
      I can see the cartoon now: Minnie laying on the bed with the speech bubble: "Mickey, come eat me". ;-)
      • by Baloo Ursidae (29355) <dead@address.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:41AM (#17825220) Journal
        You must be new, or you would have known The Internet's motto: "Yes, there's porn of that."
        • by RESPAWN (153636)

          You must be new, or you would have known The Internet's motto: "Yes, there's porn of that."
          I don't know. I still haven't found any Cheerios porn, and I've had a connection to the internet since 1996. :(
          • Go to /b/ [4chan.org] and call Rule 34 on it. It shall appear for you soon.
          • I don't know. I still haven't found any Cheerios porn, and I've had a connection to the internet since 1996. :(

            Nice try, but I will not find the magic google keywords that cater to your fetish for you.

            • by RESPAWN (153636)
              LOL. I really don't think it exists. That has always been my counter-example to my friends' claims that you can find anyting on the internet. In fact, I once offered up a prize of first, a case of beer, but later upped it to $100 to any one of my group friends who could legitimately find porn with cheerios on the internet. Nobody won the bet. (Of course, I was also drunk so it may have just been that nobody believed I would actually follow through on my bet. :)
      • by metlin (258108) *
        Dude!

        That is so wrong. I could say something about mice and pussycats, but that would just be wrong.
      • I think if someone did this to Disney they would send Mickey to come eat you or something.
        I can see the cartoon now: Minnie laying on the bed with the speech bubble: "Mickey, come eat me". ;-)
        Well come on then, seed the torrent for the rest of us...
    • by argent (18001)
      Disney has been known to send C&D letters to day-care centers where someone had painted a picture of Das Mouse on the wall.
  • Yay linden labs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ocelotbob (173602) <(ocelot) (at) (ocelotbob.org)> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:01AM (#17824580) Homepage
    Now if only other people could be so lenient towards copyright [livejournal.com]...
    • by Kelz (611260)
      One does wonder how one may patent a series of movements set to music :P (how many monkeys...)

      Oh and that WAS a really good show.
      • by ocelotbob (173602)
        Hey, furries bring the funk...unfortunately, some fanboys bring more than their fair share ;3. Plus, that dance may not even be copyrightable. As it was created prior to 1978, the rules on copyright are a lot different, and it seems that Mr. Silver doesn't really have a legal leg to stand on.
        • by Kelz (611260)
          I noted that the hot tub was closed the first day due to the chlorine content being upped by about 15x.
    • Re:Yay linden labs (Score:5, Informative)

      by Boogaroo (604901) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:35AM (#17824758) Homepage
      Copyright and trademark are different situations. To protect your trademark(logo, company name, etc) you MUST take action to protect it. If you ignore it, you may lose your trademark protection. If you license/permit the usage to a group, this is seen as a way to protect your trademark since you've considered the usage and allowed the parties to use the trademark.

      If they did nothing at all, that would cause potential problems. Their response is both classy, and covers their ass.
      • by ocelotbob (173602)
        I'd disagree. A tip of the hat without a license would serve just as much purpose. Hell, saying nothing at all wouldn't cause any problems, all things considered. Obvious parody is something that weighs heavy in trademark rulings, so it is doubtful that any sort of acknowledgment is needed in this situation.
        • Re:Yay linden labs (Score:5, Informative)

          by bersl2 (689221) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:33AM (#17824990) Journal
          Trademark law (at least, the case law) doesn't work like that.

          If you do not take steps to protect your trademark by either threatening to sue or---apparently, because I've never seen it done like this until now---granting permission, then if someone does end up violating your trademark, no matter how flagrantly, they can argue (and successfully at that) that the mark has been diluted and is therefore invalid. You snooze, you lose.

          Interestingly, a recent instance of this happening was when Sega Europe fired off a nastygram [ytmnd.com] to YTMND [ytmnd.com] regarding an instance of [ahem] unsavory treatment [link NSFW] [ytmnd.com] of a certain trademarked character. Sega can't do anything right these days. If you read the C&D, you can tell it's pure BS, but it's this aspect of trademark law (i.e., needing to defend marks in such an asshatterous manner) that gets it put on my personal proscription list, along with copyright and patent.
          • by ocelotbob (173602)
            I'm not so certain in cases like this. There are plenty of situations of comedic movies where a trademark is parodied and no such mention of licensing is made. Perhaps certain litigious parties would like people to believe that one has to file claims against every usage, regardless of how small, but precedent seems to suggest otherwise.
            • by bersl2 (689221)

              I'm not so certain in cases like this. There are plenty of situations of comedic movies where a trademark is parodied and no such mention of licensing is made. Perhaps certain litigious parties would like people to believe that one has to file claims against every usage, regardless of how small, but precedent seems to suggest otherwise.

              One need not sue everyone; one need not even threaten everyone. [chillingeffects.org] When in doubt, threaten now, ask questions later. All that matters is that you can demonstrate a history of enforcing the rights granted by the mark.

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel.bcgreen@com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:19AM (#17824666) Homepage Journal
    The Get A First Life people need to find a lawyer to slam Linden Labs for denying him work, and suggesting that he could get an injunction against the 'proceed and permit' letter under `restraint of trade` laws.
    • by jd (1658)
      Oh, I can think of others. Is the sense of humour strict? If not, then the letter is false advertising. Is the act of rejecting an invitation a cease and desist of the parody (for once rejected, it is no longer parody but being parodied)? Is it even lawful for a lawyer to have a sense of humour?
  • Isn't it sad ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gone_bush (578354) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:19AM (#17824672)
    that we are commenting on the application of common sense.
    • by ookabooka (731013)
      What are you talking about? This is slashdot! Land of the geeks and nerds who spend hours formulating arguments to debate trivial things that can be pages long; anything from the difference between geeks and nerds, the proper use of a semicolon (is this sentence correct?) to Java vs. C++ (apples and oranges, there I finished it, don't bother debating).

      In all seriousness, that is why I love slashdot, you get to see all sorts of opinions and as long as the arguments aren't inflammatory and make a bit of sens
  • by melikamp (631205) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:44AM (#17824802) Homepage Journal

    What's with all the lawyer bashing and paranoia? These guys are clearly making fun of him. Just because the person is a lawyer, doesn't mean he is out to rip you off. There are plenty of good lawyers around. In fact, most lawyers wouldn't do something unethical just because it pays so handsomely well.

    Because most lawyers are dead.

    Ah, haha, I just couldn't resist...

    • by smyle (108107)
      As a friend of mine (who IS a lawyer) says:

      "95% of the lawyers give the rest a bad name."

  • brilliant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange@@@alumni...uchicago...edu> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:44AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by supersat (639745)
      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.
  • How ever came up with the respons at Linden Labs should get a bonus, turing something that would have been negative news into something both funny, positive and yet still manage to defened their tradmark.
  • Did any one else see the google adds for Second Life on the First Life web site?
    Did that happen before or after the letter?
    • I believe the Google ads were there the first time I saw that page, which was before the letter from Linden. It makes sense that Google would cough up Second-Life-related ads for that page, since it doesn't have any subject matter beyond a Second Life spoof to base AdSense on.
  • by john-da-luthrun (876866) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:02AM (#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.

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:11AM (#17824912) Homepage Journal
    Corporations with a sense of humor, and lawyers with common sense? Wow: Second Life really is a fantasy world.
  • ...than /. stories about flying genitalia
  • Despite never being able to quite get myself into a frame of mind where I'd enjoy second life, I've always liked the management. They've always seemed oddly sane, given not only the industry, but the fringe subset they've founded.
  • The letter (and some of the resulting comments) remind me that there are dim lawyers, smart lawyers, and truly smart lawyers. Linden Labs can obviously afford truly smart lawyers.

    Remember, a lawyer is paid to advise you on your legal interests. A merely smart lawyer knows what plays well in court. A truly smart lawyer knows that public opinion is also a court, and that the best interests of the client involve playing well there as well. The RIAA merely has smart lawyers; they are trying to spread compliance

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      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.
  • Is it just me or is secondlife.com slashdotted or otherwise down? It's not even linked to from the article but we can't get to it from here.
  • Aristophanes wrote a play titled "The Clouds," in which he lambasted the state of education in ancient Athens. In the process, he also lampooned Socrates, who was depicted as one of the corrupters of youth... even though public opinion at the time considered him no such thing.

    Socrates attended the production of the play... and laughed as uproariously as anyone else at his on-stage caricature.

    Mind you, he might not have had the same remedies available as today had he been thoroughly offended by the play, but
  • The "offending" sight seems awfully slim. I get the sense that this whole exchange might be a bit of a publicity ploy to promote Second Life.

    -Eric

    • The "offending" sight seems awfully slim. I get the sense that this whole exchange might be a bit of a publicity ploy to promote Second Life.

      That's an interesting thought, and if so then I would guess it would be an employee of Linden Labs. However after looking it over I'm inclined to think that perhaps you might be only half right -- that while it's a publicity maneuver (and a very clever one at that) it was designed to protect their intellectual property at the same time.

      The creator of the getalifefir
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