Thursday, June 24, 2010

Organisers Notes regarding Trademark Violations

Dear vendors, hunters and whom it may concern,

the last days brought some unsecurities to the hunt and this note is to sort them all out. First of all – and maybe the most important news to everyone: The hunt is still on and it will run til its end 11th July 2010. :-)

Nevertheless we have to look into these trademark and copyright issues. Therefore I will take the opportunity of this blog to make several things clearer (hopefully)

As you probably know we have been contacted by Linden Labs regarding possible trademark violations. That does not mean that the guys from Linden are the bad guys who want to spoil the fun for everyone. See it as hint that there maybe could be some copyright issues with your huntgift or also maybe with some sales items you are providing. There are no good guys or bad guys in this game. Copyright protection is a really complicated topic. And also I will tell you all out there that Linden Labs are huge fans of the hunt and are quite supportive.

What am I allowed to use and what not?
In this special case FIFA protected nearly everything that stands in relation to the World Cup in South Africa. That means: every symbol, every logo, every mascot, the cup itself but even combination of words containing "World Cup" are registered trademarks and must not be used for any kind of item. This also goes for logos of sportswear manufacturers like adidas, puma, nike, ...etc. And it also concernes the new soccerball the teams are using in the match.
BUT: This does not count for flags like i.e. the South African Flag, the German Flag...etc. as long as you use it not in an insulting way (burning flags, ripped flags...etc.). This also does not count for the old soccerball we use as huntitem (the one with the octagons on it).
So if you have used any of the above mentioned symbols or words better remove them. And here comes the challenge: We are in SECOND LIFE and everything is possible here. You can make up your mind about a "fictional" sports manufacturer on your own. Do not use three stripes but two or four. Do not use the Nike-Hook but a wave. Do not use the puma but a kittycat or a coyote. You see - the range is wide open and all of us in SL are quite creative in making things up - a small logo should not be the point of just giving up ;-)

Picture- and Personal rights:
This is also a very tricky one. It can cause problems if you use photographs of soccerplayers, trainers and even arenas for your gift. Many people are not aware of that also pictures of avatars in SL count under personal rights! So if you use i.e. Pictures of hunters in your store for your huntblog this can be a violation of personal rights of SL-residents. Of course you can always ask them if you are allowed to use the picture and if they agree you are absolutely on the safe side.
So if you have used pictures of celebrities for one of your items (either for the hunt or in general on sales items) better replace them with i.e. a leopard or zebra pattern. Nearly anything goes as long as you made it on your own and not just took it out of google picture search and pasted it on your item.

What is this all about? I mean - i give away the item for free...
That is right - we all do not make money - either virtual or real life currency - out of this.
BUT: The FIFA and also the sport manufacturers payed really big money to protect their brands. That includes also the possibility to sell their brands to i.e. broadcaster who are allowed to use them during the games. On the bottom line FIFA could come to the idea to sell their logos and brands to one vendor in SL exclusivly and make money out of it. And that is where the problems start: If the vendor pays the FIFA for using their brands on his clothing, furniture or whatever, the vendor needs to be sure about that he/she is the ONLY one using the brands. The very same goes for picture copyrights and personal copyrights.

OMG - they gonna get your ass in jail for that...
Nope, they are not. We are the organisers of this hunt and we did not violated any of the above mentioned trademarks. But as organisers we do want to stress this issue to all people out there. By the way - this is exactly the same thing Linden Labs did with us. And again - it is not that Linden Labs wants to cancel the hunt or all the fun. It is - like we do now - to make people aware of possible issues.

OMG - they gonna get MY ass in jail for that...
Nope, they are not. Even if you used a symbol or did a trademark violation by just not knowing about the rights. But therefore it is essential that you all check with your huntgifts AND your salesitems in the store if there is such a thing like the above mentioned problems. And if there is - alter that a.s.a.p. Use "Soccerfun South Africa" instead of "Wold Cup 2010" or even "The Beautiful Game" (which is very british by the way ;-) ). Remove the issued logos and brands from your huntgifts AND from your gift-promotionshots! Like said above - use your imagination. If your store is on a sim called "Posemuckelhausen" make up your mind about the gears of the "Posemuckelhausen Soccer Team" (even if they did not made it in the finals of the cup ;-) ).

Final thoughts about trademark violations and copyright protection:
Without bragging the Go4Goalhunt is right now one of the most awared hunts at this time of the year which is quite natural since the World Cup is up and running. The above written stuff is specific for the vendors of the G4GH. But that also goes with every item that can be seen offworld - may it be a movieposter, a motorcicle, a comicbook character or whatever. It has been a grey area in SL for a long time - but since this issues hit us like a bolt of lightning the last two days this is the possibility to check and doublecheck and also to discuss this topic. In fact a discussion would be quite helpful - so let us know your thoughts about that - either via e-mail or IM's or notecards. We will publish them here in this blog (if you allow us) with making your name/avatar name invisible. The blog is a wonderful tool to share and so is also the Sports Hunt Group.

We provide here again the link to the trademark guidlines provided by FIFA:

Trademark Guidlines

In any case: If you have any questions or still feel insecure about that topic - you can always call Manuel and myself inworld. :-)

Hugz and Love

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