What we create of content in virtual worlds or in social media is far from staying in our hands or under our control. And do we want to keep for us what we write in blogs and forums at all? Isn’t it what we want the creations to do: To go the long march to other sites and followers and to bloom by being taken notice of and by the likes and comments we can collect? It seems we have become a risky species by the introduction of Web 2.0. The attitude of having something alone and solely or shared with few close friends is changing towards a constant publishing of inner thoughts and personal pictures to the entire web. In the best case other’s content still is acknowledged by us as their original creation and we will cite it. With our own content we are pretty careless. When the new post looks boring we add one of our pictures, but have we considered where it could appear next time?
From the reflections in the 5th class of the “Is One Life Enough?” module it was seen, that e. g. in the Nicola Kirkbride – Tesco case, authorial, photo-graphical work had marched into other hands or uses than expected from the creator. Even though it was stated on Miss Kirkbride’s fashion blog, that all rights on her content would remain with her, her photo was picked up and used on a Tesco girl’s sweater. She was then taking on the supermarket.
According to Lastowka as a definition for content applies, that it is used “in the broadcast and entertainment industry, as a term to describe a particular form of information that can be presented to an audience” (Lastowka, 2). This term of content can be stretched to user-generated content and virtual worlds. Because of the creative process behind the content creation, it hereby is covered and protected by copyright laws.
It isn’t known, whether Miss Kirkbride in March 2012 used Creative Commons (CC), which is a set to define the online and offline uses we want others to have of our created content. The example just shows, that there might be a need for content creators, to make as clear as possible, how they want their creations treated.
CC’s form for the choice of license in between 2 dimensional media and content is easily walked through and delivers a code string to be placed on website and which will show the CC License, as it can be seen at the bottom of the side bar of this blog for this particular article here “The March of Content”.
Additional in the content creation process for social media, CC offers a search site, which holds huge amounts of diverse material from several providers. It is obvious, that a thinking, which respects fair use of other creator’s content and copyrighted material in general, should be enforced in school and education.
In the 3 dimensional virtual worlds we see a different picture. We still have to look for and to respect the authorial content in them, but we also have to encounter, that they “are appealing primarily because they are social spaces” (Lastowka, 2), which generates another kind of content by and about present users, such as patterns of their behavior, teleport histories, site, event, profile and group descriptions – all valuable information for virtual world providers. Residents in a virtual world such as Second Life (SL) also are aware of, that chat logging can be abused and some post on their profiles with the reference to the TOS in SL, that they would rapport such an abuse, when it comes to their knowledge.
To begin with, the “licensing” of created content in SL, which is carried out by the permission system of the metaverse, is pretty detailed and hereby protecting property rights. At BABEL Language School a series of Language Learning Units is sold for autodidactic use.
The units for sale are in boxes and include a notecard for the student’s information of topics, which also can be seen from the various boxdesigns, a description of the level which is worked on and the Media Board itself. Boards contain images with the main activities, often going through an example situation to act in and some helpful information to solve the task. The Boards also contain recorded audio files, so that the dialogues in question or a short article will be played for the student as often as needed in order to practice the correct pronunciation. There is a button on the Board to give out the task card for the unit, explaining the tasks to do in English. Another button gives out a study board e. g. with a grammatical overview. Finally there is a shortcut button to open an online dictionary in the student’s browser. So, the content of these units is created with huge efforts and there is naturally no interest to have them march around to people, who not want to pay for them.
The permission system can avoid that. By right clicking and chosing “edit” in the “General” tab, the name and description, the creator and owner and which permissions of the three “modify”, “copy” and “transfer” a new owner would have is shown. In this case the unit can only be transferred, so that a student, who has been through it, could give it to another, but would loose it from her/his own inventory.
Going to the “Content” tab there are check boxes and the modify, copy and transfer options for any included content in the Media Board.
Furthermore the permissions of the object can be seen by the customer in the “Buy” window before sale:
As the vitality of Second Life depends on good conditions for it’s content creators and a fair trade for the content buying residents, detailed facilities like these have been developed and implemented through the years. Also the metaverse in general is pretty safe not to have content marching out, as the discussions showed, when in 2010 several educational institutions and universities considered to leave SL cause of a new prizing policy for these groups. From half prizing for landholding before, Linden Lab had announced normal pricing for all. Many educational providers at that time considered to switch to Open Sim, only the problems to export content from SL to this other virtual world gave too many headaches (Educator’s Exodus from SL?).
Proctecting created content in virtual worlds from long marches is also what is in focus, when Winkler states: “We don’t like Creative Commons licenses for our content because a CC license does not address each right in the copyright individually.” At Winkler’s Fashion Research Institute they have instead of been working on a wider licensing as CC can offer. It should at least cover legal property issues in the United States.
Lastowka, Greg: “User-Generated Content & Virtual Worlds”. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Forthcoming. 2008, 1-22. Retrieved March 8, 2013 from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1094048
Winkler, Sheinlei: “Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds”. Fashion Research Institute. 2010.
Retrieved March 9, 2013 from: http://shenlei.com/2010/10/13/content-licensing-in-virtual-worlds/