You know how sometimes things just make you smile?

So, I've always assumed that all the corporate lawyers out there are relatively cookie cutter. You make a parody or comment site you get sued (or at the very least threatened).

Well, it is with the greatest joy in the world that I announce that I am wrong and the most enlightened corporate legal team (in regards to comment, criticism, and parody) I have ever seen.

There is this game, it's called Second Life. If you haven't heard of it, that's fine. Suffice to say it's a big on-line game (free to dabble with) which makes money selling property in its virtual world, a second life as it were. Lots of people have made the comment that once someone joins one of these games is soaks up all their free time like a sponge. I have some co-workers that play World of Warcraft, and there are days that the damn game is all they talk about. I then promptly interrupt about my latest conquest in NetHack (a super geeky, almost not fun to most, ancient text console {think DOS} based game). They call me nuts and continue with their conversation. So free time soaked up like a sponge and all, some people say how ‘bout you get a first life.

Enter This Guy ( who made a page about getting a first life. On this page he blatently rips off the look and feel of the Second Life main page, he rips off the main graphic (a stylized hand) and changes it to a hand with the index finger indicating a number 1.

The site is a total rip-off of the Second-Life website. He's even selling stuff through Café Press! (I wonder if I could get away with that?) A totally actionable site, except that parody, like this site's criticism of its target, is protected speech.

As it turns out the lawyers from Linden Labs sent the creator of getafirstlife a letter. I've copied it in full below (though if the Linden Labs lawyers request, I'll trim it to what I need to make the point). Also, here are a pair of screenshots for your reference (first is the original, second is the parody site):

• Ginsu Yoon Says:
January 21st, 2007 at 2:57 pm
This notice is provided on behalf of Linden Research, Inc. ("Linden Lab"), the owner of trademark, copyright and other intellectual property rights in and to the "Second Life" product and service offering, including the "eye-in-hand" logo for Second Life and the website maintained at

It has come to our attention that the website located at purports to appropriate certain trade dress and marks associated with Second Life and owned by Linden Lab. That website currently includes a link in the bottom right-hand corner for "Comments or cease and desist letters."

As you must be aware, the Copyright Act (Title 17, U.S. Code) contains provisions regarding the doctrine of "fair use" of copyrighted materials (Section 107 of the Act). Although lesser known and lesser recognized by trademark owners, the Lanham Act (Title 15, Chapter 22, U.S. Code) protecting trademarks is also limited by a judicial doctrine of fair use of trademarks. Determining whether or not a particular use constitutes fair use typically involves a multi-factor analysis that is often highly complex and frustratingly indeterminate; however a use constituting parody can be a somewhat simpler analysis, even where such parody involves a fairly extensive use of the original work.

We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at 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.

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 Linden Lab hereby grants you a nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicenseable, revocable, limited license to use the modified eye-in-hand logo (as displayed on as of January 21, 2007) to identify only your goods and/or services that are sold at This license may be modified, addended, or revoked at any time by Linden Lab in its sole discretion.

Best regards,
Linden Lab


FarCry - Mollio