KEEPING COPYRIGHT CLAIMS OFF YOUR LA(W)N: DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES AGAINST CLAIMS OF SECONDARY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BASED ON USER GENERATED CONTENT
Here's a quick disclaimer. This is not specific legal advice, this article serves as an educational resource only. You should always speak to an attorney about your specific situation to get the best advice for you. If you're looking for representation you can contact me here.
1. UGC Intro
User Generated Content can add value to any platform, especially in online gaming, where the strength of the community’s involvement is the primary driver of success. However, giving control of the game’s content to one’s users can be a risky venture. This is the world where when the internet is given the ability to name a landmark for all time, they vote on names like Dickbutt and Boaty McBoatface. One should never underestimate the willingness of internet users to push boundaries.
I serve as the Vice President of EFF-Austin, a Texas nonprofit. EFFA has a storied history closely tied to the genesis of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Both organizations launched at roughly the same time, and out of the same event - a government entity misunderstood technology and the people behind the technology, and the following legal battle almost bankrupted the company that was targeted. A group of technology nerds came together in Austin to defend Steve Jackson games, and the movement was born. You can read more about the beginning and go down the Wikipedia rabbit hole here.
On Monday of this week (12/10/2018), I presented our legislative agenda at one of our monthly meetups. You can watch the video here to learn how you can get involved. Slides below the player.
I'm an attorney based out of Austin, and I work with startups in the tech and entertainment space because I'm excited about what those companies are trying to achieve. I've worked on the business side of an entertainment startup, and I'm the founder of my own tech startup to make legal services more efficient.
I come from a computer science background, and I'm really interested in the intersection between technology and the law. I think the underlying technology of blockchain applications is the wave of the future, so I particularly like working with blockchain companies. One thing I've come to understand, is that blockchain tech can be intimidating on multiple fronts - the people who understand the industry that a company is addressing may not understand the blockchain technology, and people who understand the underlying tech may not get the industry that a company is attempting to help.
This general murkiness is exacerbated when people come across legal terms that feel like opaque legalese. While I'm not your attorney, and an attorney-client relationship can't be formed unless we come to an explicit arrangement (and you shouldn't send me confidential info unless we make an explicit arrangement), I did a write-up of a blockchain company website's terms of service that you should feel free to use. I find that this tone invites trust with users.
I hope this is helpful, and that as your company has legal needs arise, you'll keep me in mind!