The last time we saw any statistical data on overall awareness of intellectual property issues, it seemed that awareness of copyright and trademarks was quite appallingly low – and actual accurate knowledge about them was a very rare thing indeed.
Surprisingly few people seem to know their way around the don't-do basics, and with record numbers of trademarks being registered in recent years, it is actually nice to see that some online operators have got a firm grip on things this year.
Honestly, if you tossed a press release on our collective desk touting your virtual environment or MMOG having items or outfits available in support of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ ... well, it'd probably cause an avalanche of pizza boxes ... but after we got the mess cleared, we'd probably assume that your promotional stuff was littered with unlicensed FIFA trademarks. It's happened before.
Instead of that, it's nice to see Gamigo have not only managed to avoid that trap, but they've done it very stylishly with entirely new national uniforms in Fiesta Online (pictured above). Not only that, but players with the English, French and German versions of the game will earn double XP when their team wins a match. It's smart, and elegant and avoids a lot of potentially litigious difficulties.
With blogs, websites and all manner of user-generated content in games and virtual environments, more of us are making content than ever before, yet awareness of the intellectual property issues by those creators remains surprisingly low.
Just recently, Linden Lab promoted a pair of Second Life locations as a part of a contest. One of these locations was the start of a hunt – a sort of scavenger hunt through many Second Life retail stores looking for hidden freebies, and the location of the next store in the hunt. The hunt, Go4Goal, was also themed around the current football league contest in progress.
The Lab took their eyes off of things for just a few days, and a surprising number of trademark infringing items sprang up in the hunt like excitable mushrooms. The Lab was quick to respond to the resulting mess – we can only imagine what their faces looked like when they realized that they were promoting a freebie hunt packed with FIFA's trademarks and images – and the whole mess was apparently sorted out with rapidity and aplomb.
You can see some of the results of that at Go4Goal's blog.
These days it must seem like intellectual property is a bit of a minefield, where you can barely create something without falling foul of somebody's IP. Perhaps things will get rather worse before things reach the breaking point and take a turn for the better.
Nevertheless, in the meantime, it's nice to see that some people are 'on the ball', so to speak.