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Joined: 2009-11-05

For those out there looking to create their own massively multiplayer online game, a [URL=http://www.PillsburyLaw.com]Pillsbury Law Firm[/URL] lawyer has some recommendations for you.

Pillsbury’s Jim Gatto, who specializes in intellectual property for the firm, passed along the pointers via a podcast and accompanying article on [URL=http://www.chromacoders.org/blog/?p=454]the Chroma Coders website[/URL]. Pillsbury claims to represent “many leading companies in the space” [virtual worlds/online games], including Activision.

To begin, Gatto recommends having a “comprehensive IP strategy to protect what you’re doing.” He also recommends that developers keep abreast of evolving legislation, which some developers neglect until it’s too late. Of course for those that require assistance in this matter, Pillsbury can offer their expertise in order to minimize surprises.

Gatto on other surprises that might come up for fledgling developers:

[INDENT]…for example, terms of service, a lot of people, we’ve seen, will cut and paste from someone else’s site and say, if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us.

The problem with that is that each business model is different. Second life terms of service doesn’t work for some other companies, and even then the first time that Linden went to enforce their terms of service in a lawsuit with Mark Bragg, that you may be familiar, one of the provisions was struck down. Even they’re not infallible, right?

[/INDENT]He continued:

[INDENT]One of the other things that extends to virtual goods involved in a game or virtual world, there’s a lot of issues there in connection with virtual currency and, for example, taxation. China imposed a 20 percent tax on games from virtual goods. The U. S. is looking at imposing something similar.

[/INDENT]Dealing with the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) might be another aspect that new developers pay little or no heed to:

[INDENT]One of the things – in fact, there’s a company we work with called Privo. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but they’re actually one of the few COPA safe harbor things. They’ll come in and do some of the compliance policies, but the companies really care about this, making sure that you have an effective strategy and policy and that you’re actually following it is going to put you in a good position.

With the safe harbor provision under the FCC, even if you intend to comply you take steps. If you’ve got the safe harbor even if you’re not in compliance. Typically, you’re going to get an opportunity to fix it, and you’re not going to put yourself in a situation of being in the headline of the company who is next to not comply with COPA.



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