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

Zach Collins {Siege} zcollins at seidata.com
Sun Oct 5 05:04:10 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, Chris Mancil wrote:

> Couple of examples:

IANAL, but here goes my effort to reinterpret the positions taken.

>   -- If I pay membership to a golf club and I then jump into the
>   pond off the 18th hole and splash around. Do I own those
>   splashes?  Can I sell those splashes to my friend? Does the
>   self-portrait I drew in the sand trap on Hole 12 with my seven
>   iron become my property, or do I have rights to sell that to the
>   party behind me?  Or if I found the perfect lay shot off the
>   fairway on Hole 9 that I discovered or helped discover - can I
>   sell that spot? I doubt it. I mean I could try - but I would
>   probably be tossed out before I succeeded, and if I was to
>   succeed I could probably be arrested or sued because of it.

You certainly own the splashes, but not the substance from which
they are formed.  Your friend may wish to purchase something he can
experience for himself, however, such as a photograph or video
showing some of those splashes.  As for the artwork in sand, your
work was made of someone else's sand; they probably won't let you
sell the sand, even if the art was of salable quality.  Meanwhile,
selling that spot on the ninth hole isn't going to work - but some
people might pay to know its location.

>   -- Making choices does not imply ownership. When I get a new
>   cell phone and make all these choices about ring patterns, voice
>   mail, long distance or minutes plans, friend plans, and tons of
>   other personalized choices that reflect me and my experience -
>   do I have any right to sell that phone, plan, and contract to
>   someone else because I chose it and it is unique to me?

The phone?  Sure, but you might have to cancel your contract.  The
plan?  Well, its structure would be salable information, but not the
plan as it applies to the use of your phone.  The contract?  The
terms of the contract probably forbid its own transfer.

>   -- Can you subscribe to Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax and then sell
>   that subscription to your neighbor because you have a method of
>   altering those channels at certain times which provides an
>   experience that reflects you as an individual?

You're not selling your subscription in this case, you're selling a
subscription to the experience which you can create.  This may,
however, involve unlicensed redistribution of copyrighted material.

>   -- Can you sell your leased car to someone else simply because
>   all of the available options from the tow package to the
>   matching paint and seat colors simply because that's how you
>   ordered it?  Does writing your poetry into the leather seats
>   with a red marker give you any more rights to the vehicle so
>   that you can sell it on Ebay? I really doubt that you can
>   legally do that - in fact, I doubt any of us would ever try
>   because doing so what certainly put us in major legal trouble.

For this one case: plain, flat-out no.  Because you don't own the
car, any transferable experience of it as described involves
defacement or illegal transfer of ownership.

> My argument is simply this - you lease the key to a dream. It's an
> experience, and its intangible. That is what you pay for and
> receive. The realism and social aspects of this dream do not make
> real life rights and ownership any more obtainable or feasible
> regardless of how material and solid they may feel to you.

Entirely agreed.

Zach Collins
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