Earlier today I was thinking of how certain companies stomp all over their biggest supporters. Apple is famous for intimidating bloggers who reveal any information about Apple products; lately it's threats against anyone who "skins" a phone to make it look like an iPhone.
I was thinking to myself how smart it would be for a company to encourage, rather than discourage, people who use discarded or neglected bits of intellectual property. If your fan base finds something of value that only they care about, and the money is insignificant, why not just let the fans work hard to spread buzz about your product?
This evening I received a link from a friend of mine to a blog comment written by the lawyers from Second Life. Someone had created a parody web site called "Get a First Life." The usual way this story goes is that the lawyers write to threaten the parody web site; since they're lawyers, and since the parodist can hardly afford a day in court, the parodist closes the site and the joke is over.
Not the lawyers for Second Life, however:
We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at http://www.getafirstlife.com/ constitutes parody — it clearly is. Linden Lab is well known among its customers and in the general business community as a company with enlightened and well-informed views regarding intellectual property rights, including the fair use doctrine, open source licensing, and other principles that support creativity and self-expression. We know parody when we see it.
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.
The lawyers then go on to remove any doubt over the right of the parodist to modify Second Life's logo by granting him a license. This is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, the triumph of common sense, and a move guaranteed to bring Second Life enormous good will.
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