[MUD-Dev] BIZ: Who owns my sword?

Ren Reynolds ren at aldermangroup.com
Thu Oct 2 10:58:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On 26 September 2003 19:29 Matt Mihaly wrote:

> And while we can't stop you from trading your character we reserve
> the right to ban, delete, etc at will, which is what will happen
> if we catch character trading going on.

Maybe - I'm still unsure on this point.

In a number of classic cases companies have tried to say in their
contracts that the customer can only use the companies _thing_ on
the basis user does not perform certain other actions - these have
included using different salt tablets with a dispenser machine,
different film with a projector etc.

To take the second example: Fair enough you might say, it's the
company's projector they can write whatever terms they want, after
all people are not forced to go renting projectors.

But this not what the courts say. They say -company you have a right
(be it copyright or patent) and that grants you monopoly over acts A
to N, but the act you are trying to prevent is not in the list A to
N, so you don't have the right to say if you customer can or cannot
do this act, even if it involves your product and even if you write
it in the contract and someone agrees to that contract.

Now, I'm not saying that this is the case here. But it looks pretty
similar. Companies are saying that they own copyright so customers
cant sell characters, but where is the breach of the companies
rights ? There is no copying going on, no public performance - just
an agreement between two individuals about the use of a virtual item
- what's that got to do with the game company ?

So certainly, if the company has the right to tell customers what
they can do in this respect, then they are free to reserve it, at
the moment I'm genuinely not sure if companies have it.

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