« CFP: New Journal | Main | Virtual economy: As real as real »

Aug 13, 2009



IANAL (and all that), but I'm pretty confident that Barack Obama and Angelina Jolie fall into different legal categories.

Politicians are considered to be public figures while celebrities retain rights to their likeness.

There was actually a lawsuit about this when the Governator took office and crossed from being a celebrity to a public official.


Thats like saying I am unable to draw political cartoons using a politicians likeness...

How does this apply to people from different countries? US Law is only valid in the US....


I just had a quick look on Xstreet and it seems like they should have a lot less listings shortly as most breach these new guidelines especially gestures. Type any famous persons name into the search and you can find something :P

That and all the clones from video games like Halo avatars, assassins creed etc.

In one way it will be good for people who are selling original items but it also will reduce the total numbers of choices. I do notice the brand copied items are normally premium as they charge more for branded things rather than generics so this may be good also to stop the price gouging.


We'll have to see how serious they are about enforcement of these guidelines.

Wrt international law issues, copyright, trademark and other forms of IP are generally subject to international treaties that can extend protections across borders. The "right of publicity," however, is a newer and less clearly established right.


I have to make an important observation about the 1st Amendment and "freedom of speech" protections. Originally, like all the Bill of Rights, this was only a restriction on the power of the US federal government. This is reflected in the wording, "the Congress shall make no law". The US govt couldn't dictate what people could or couldn't say.

Ever since the Civil War and the 14th Amendment, this has also applied to state governments. Thus, the State of Texas (where I live) can't dictate what I can or can't say, nor can any subsidiary arm of the state do so, which includes city governments, public schools, etc.

However. . . My employer *can* tell me what to say or not say. At least, he can if I want to remain in his employ. The Bill of Rights is a protection against the power of government, but it has nothing to say about agreements between non-governmental parties. The same principle applies to the terms-of-service agreement between a SL user and Linden Labs. LL can restrict what you are allowed to do on their service in any way they see fit, and you can love it or leave it.

The only way this state of affairs might be challenged is if LL were declared to be a "common carrier" like the phone company, who merely provide a channel of communication for their users, or if Second Life were considered to be equivalent of a "public space", such as a mall in real life. (I.E. it's private property, but it's open to the public and therefore the public has certain privileges.) Neither of these situations have been established for Second Life, nor I think are likely to be anytime soon.


Hi Zobeid --

Yes, that's all very good.

The First Amendment would come into play if a private party were to attempt to use a federal or state law (e.g. trademark or the right of publicity) to curb the speech of another private party. So the First Amendment actually does place limitations on the scope of federally-granted private rights.

Regarding contractual limitations on speech and the intersection between private property and the First Amendment, you're correct that the scope of the limitation is considerably less in those cases, even in instances where parties are looking to the government to enforce their private rights.

The comments to this entry are closed.