Metaversally speaking – where are they?

I build. No secrets there. I sell through an in-world store, SL Marketplace and Metaverse Exchange (MVX).

Or rather, I did.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a huge price restructuring for my house and home builds to reflect current market trends. As a part of this, I obviously updated prices on both SLM and MVX – noting in the process that the latter was now supporting several other grids – good oh! I thought.

Around the middle of last week, I was fiddling around and needed to log into MVX- only to find it’s no longer there.

What on earth has happened? Currently, going from the page that is displayed, it would appear the site is held pending renewal – but the fact it’s been like this for the better part of a week is a little worrying; and others are noticing as well, with questions being asked on forums including SLU. Siann Beck, creator of MVX apparently hasn’t logged-in to SL since the 17th January. Nor have there been any e-mails through the MVX channels (or at least, none that I’ve received).

*IF* MVX has gone, it’ll be a shame. I didn’t sell much through that channel, but the site was well considered and, even with the massive improvements LL have made in developing SLM, had several options that LL would have done well to adopt.

Here’s hoping this is just a hiccup, and MVX hasn’t permanently vanished into the ether…

BSG returns to SL

In November I blogged about Battlestar Galactica within Second Life being on the receiving end of a DMCA from Universal Studios. Now it appears, by way of a cheese-loving investigative resident and a delightfully easily to tease medieval lord that an agreement has been reached with regards to Battlestar Galactica in Second Life.

Some had said that the NBC/Univseral move was to quash opposition to their own upcoming BSG MMOG, now about to enter beta. Well, not so.

The actual news was broken by the Harrisburg Second Life Examiner (as was the original information relating to the issuance of the DMCA) that following intense negotiations between a number of parties, including NBC/Universal’s IP licensing office and the International Federation of Trekkers representing BSG interests in SL, an agreement has been reached whereby BSG roleplay can now continue within Second Life.

This is an encouraging move, and shows that major corporations are prepared to act in a reasonable manner towards activities in Second Life. While it is true that several BSG sims have folded in response to the original DMCA and the statement from NBC/Universal contains a very specific caveat, this outcome should nevertheless not be taken with any sour grapes on the part of SL residents.

The caveat itself  relates to BSG goods within Second Life; specifically, NBC/Universal state:

users may continue to create and interact with each other as BSG fans, so long as such interaction does not include the creation and sales of unlicensed of real-life or virtual items featuring our intellectual property

Note my emphasis. “And”. It implies that NBC/Universal might be willing to allow the creation of BSG material (uniforms, vehicles, etc.) providing the evidence can be provided that the creator is not profiting from such items. That this seems to be the case has been confirmed in a follow-up telephone call from NBC/Universal to those representing BSG activities within SL, wherein it was confirmed that the company will tolerate goods made under the fair use act (i.e. not sold or re-sold), but that lawyers for the company will follow-up on individual cases involving the creations and sale / re-sale of BSG-related material.

The cynical might say that nevertheless the caveat still “kills” BSG as no-one will “want” to create BSG items that they cannot sell and thus receive some benefit for their hard work. Frankly, I say “not so”.

Fans of series like BSG are extremely loyal both to the franchise and to the idea of keeping the concepts, philosophies and appeal of such shows alive – and in having fun doing so. As such, I have little doubt there are BSG content creators out there who will be willing to forego profit and see some of their wares available for use in such sims under the fair use act.

As it stands, those running RP sims have a green light, providing they clearly demonstrate they are neither creating BSG goods for sale and that they are not in receipt of any proceeds from the sale of such goods. Indeed, those directly involved in the major remaining sims have indicated their full support for the agreement, and one group is already working on a comprehensive roleplay scenario that takes the BSG concept in something of a new direction.

Kudos should be extended to those that kept the faith and put in such positive effort to keeping BSG alive in Second Life. Such kudos, should especially go to Anthony Haslage (“Ntaniel Swordthain” in SL) for acting as mediator in this matter and to NBC/Universal themselves for being willing to engage so positively and work towards a satisfactory conclusion.

So say we all!