Announcing the Formation of a Legal Steering Committee for OpenSim-Based Content Creators


A legal steering committee has been formed through the Fashion Research Foundation to examine the legal requirements to develop standardized, freely available content licensing contracts for OpenSim-based virtual worlds.

The committee is comprised of attorneys admitted to the bar in their respective states, who are serving the Foundation as Legal Fellows.  These Fellows meet biweekly and are working to develop a functional legal lexicography of common virtual worlds terms, which can then be used to develop standardized enforceable OpenSim-based virtual worlds licensing contracts for use by both content creators and those who wish to license that content.

The development of a lexicography and standardized contracts is critically important to the evolution of OpenSim-based virtual worlds because they help enforce the rights of content creators and any entity which wishes to license content.  By providing both groups with standardized legal tools, both sides have a fair starting point from which they can further negotiate the terms of the agreement.

Content creators can define how they want their content to be legally used and to have those terms written into a legally binding contract, which those licensing that content  must agree to before content will be provided.  Similarly, an entity seeking to license content can define terms which a content creator must meet (for example, requiring that the creator certify that their content is authentic and original to prevent liability to the entity licensing it).  The development of such initial standardized contracts provides necessary and critical supporting documents for prosecution of a DMCA take-down in the event of copyrigth infringement.  These contracts in conjunction with Fashion Research Institute’s content certification process help provide evidence to verify originality and authenticity of content in legal proceedings.

We think that the development of such instruments is a necessary component to aid in the evolution of OpenSim-based virtual worlds, and to this end Fashion Research Institute CEO Shenlei Winkler is working closely with the committee to provide test cases and working examples for review and evaluation.

Upon completion, both the lexicography and the standardized contracts will be made freely available through the Fashion Research Foundation Press.

While standardized contracts will not replace the need for appropriate legal representation, they move the field forward and will provide a good initial starting point for content licensing contracts.

About Fashion Research Foundation: Fashion Research Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 organized in the state of New York.  The Foundation was founded by Shenlei Winkler, who serves as the Executive Director of the organization.  The Foundation researches new methodologies for fashion design education using virtual worlds, publishes related books and periodicals through its Press, and develops and evolves related concepts that serve its core mission of assisting designers to achieve their dreams with respect and dignity.

8 thoughts on “Announcing the Formation of a Legal Steering Committee for OpenSim-Based Content Creators

  1. @ Jeff – The best thing content creators can do to help is use the results of this committee to help protect themselves. Contracts are not the whole answer to protecting your creative efforts. However, we’ve been working with emerging designers long enough now that we have the data ito show that most content creators do not have the legal resources they need. The standardized contracts are a starting point, which we hope will prove beneficial to the users.

    @ Corbylaw – This is a closed committee, so our meeting locations aren’t publicized, nor are minutes or ancillary documentation.

  2. As an Open Simulator and Second Life content creator, I’m incredibly pleased to see this need being addressed. Please let the community out here know how we can help.

  3. Count in ReactionGrid we feel this is where the foundation of protecting IP should start and not with technical protections which are always easy to bypass and likely will be for awhile until Intel finishes work on making the video pipeline secure.

  4. Jaymin, always good to hear from you.

    The committee is a closed committee, largely because the process of conducting appropriate due diligence to avoid conflicts of interest, employer approval, and the necessity to have legal agreements executed with all participants is demanding and adding a new participant means we’d have to go through the whole process again.

    We actually began this effort last spring, but the process of forming the committee has been time consuming. It has been meeting since August and progress is being made.

    FRI is providing confidential information to the committee to use as test cases, so minutes and notes can’t be released. The final products will be published, however, and made freely available through the Foundation Press.

  5. Awesome! I had taken on a task this year to produce three guidebooks for people wishing to sell virtual assets to IBM, people in IBM wishing to buy them, and for IBM Legal to understand the field so they can negotiate/review contracts. Unfortunately I’ve been bogged down in other stuff. I’m glad to see this initiative start up.
    I do not have any legal qualifications and do not speak officially for IBM, but I would love to be circulated on any minutes or news from this effort.

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