Recently, GamePolitics reported on the availability of Barack and Michelle Obama avatars for use in Second Life.
But it seems that those virtual depictions of the President and the First Lady are destined to have short careers.
New World Notes reports that, beginning next month, SL publisher Linden Lab will implement strict new rules on the sale of real-world products and brands – including depictions of actual celebrities. Barack Obama and Angelina Jolie avatars are specifically referenced as examples of prohibited content in the new Linden Lab guidelines.
Readers may recall that stun gun manufacturer TASER, Inc. brought a trademark lawsuit against Linden earlier this year over virtual copies of its weapon which were being sold by third-party content creators for use in Second Life. The suit was later dropped, but the new SL guidelines are almost certainly a response to such legal concerns.
As New World Notes mentions, enforcing the new policy may be problematic for Linden Lab:
While I’m not a lawyer, I would think avatar imitations of celebrities, especially political figures, would fall under the parody safe harbor of fair use. In the real world, you can still buy an unauthorized Barack Obama mask for Halloween. Not so in Second Life very soon…
The biggest challenge to this policy, in any case, is likely to be the SL content creation community itself, who often do reference the real world in their works, but are still proprietary about their products.