Linden Labs Does Right By Parody Second Life Site

I’ve played with Second Life on and off for a little over a year and have been as underwhelmed by the experience as I’ve been overwhelmed with the passion of its users. Some folks “grok” Second Life and some folks dont. I’m definitely one of the donts. To me SL is just D&D 2.0 with a larger percentage of girl geeks. Enter, GetaFirstLife.com, a great send-up of SL by Darren Barefoot, a canuck techie and Shakespeare fan.

By itself the site would be little more then a harsh one page critique of all the hullabaloo surrounding SL. However the good folks at Linden Labs, the creators of SL, did something that was even more impressive then the site itself. They joined the conversation! In a break from everything the record labels, books publishers and movie studios have been doing for the last 7 years, Linden Labs didnt send a pack of lawyers out demanding the the site be taken down. Instead they sent a hilarious letter, which in my view is funnier then the site. I quote a snippet here for your amusement:

Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.

In conclusion, your invitation to submit a cease-and-desist letter is hereby rejected.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is possible that your use of the modified eye-in-hand logo for Second Life, even as parody, requires license from Linden Lab, especially with respect to your sale of goods with the parody mark at http://www.cafepress.com/getafirstlife/. Linden Lab hereby grants you a nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicenseable, revocable, limited license to use the modified eye-in-hand logo (as displayed on http://www.getafirstlife.com/ as of January 21, 2007) to identify only your goods and/or services that are sold at http://www.cafepress.com/getafirstlife/. This license may be modified, addended, or revoked at any time by Linden Lab in its sole discretion.

Linden Labs gets a Gold Star and goes to the head of the class. If this was only a savvy PR stunt it wold still be the most impressive example of a company joining in the conversation with its customers (or non-customers). More companies need to understand what Linden Labs has done and find ways to replicate their example as they inevitably draw closer to the time when they will also have to decide how to respond to a parody of their brand/product.

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