Friday, November 24, 2006

Second Thoughts About Second Life: IP Issues Don't Disappear in Cyberspace

It turns out that not all is well in the world of Second Life these days. While members are still skimming around this virtual city in forever-young electronic avatar bodies, the growth of the service is creating new opportunities for crime, just as with any other municipality. Gamespot reports on problems with destructive worm programs destroying gamers' experiences in addition to last week's concerns about software that allows users to make copies of intellectual property sold by vendors in the online world. So much for good looks solving everything.

Time and again we see software-oriented companies come up with great ideas for products that turn out to be recognized as content plays after the fact - at which point it's usually too late to address the basic questions of how to enforce intellectual property rights. As we warned in our News Analysis a few weeks back the lessons to be learned from Second Life are more about the general need of publishers to think about how to appeal to digital natives who have been brought up with gaming and a sense of being able to access content as they wish.

Many marketers thought that they had found a special Nirvana in Second Life to bridge into this market segment, but you don't leave the rules of the "real world" behind in doing so. Instead of rushing towards a crude tool like Second Life to solve their marketing issues publishers and marketers need to concentrate more on how the lessons that can be learned in Second Life can be applied more effectively in the much more complex world of online publishing beyond it.
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