In a sobering development for fan creators, Linden Lab has removed Power Rangers merchandise from the Angel Grove Mall in Second Life and from the Marketplace Second Life website.
Acting in response to an August 13 notice of copyright infringement from Saban Entertainment, owners of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers trademark, Linden Lab disabled merchandise bearing the Power Rangers name from Marketplace Second Life. Removals Linden, an avatar from Linden Lab’s legal department, inspected the Angel Grove sim, a popular Power Rangers roleplay site, and deleted vendors and signage bearing the Power Rangers trademarks from the Angel Grove shopping mall. Linden Lab’s terms of Usage for Marketplace Second Life forbid the selling of trademarked material.
In addition to the removal of vendors from the Angel Grove in-world mall during Removals Linden’s inspection, Second Life resident Hakkersszz Trenchcoat had all material bearing the Power Rangers and related names removed both from his inventory and delisted from Marketplace Second Life. Another Angel Grove resident’s account was briefly inspected by Linden Lab.
The news, coming after Linden Lab’s closures of the Battlestar Galactica sim and delisting merchandise and the removal of Star Trek vendors on the basis of intellectual property claims by Universal and Paramount , shocks fans who have sold media inspired wares in Second Life for years. However, the only material removed from Marketplace Second Life and in-world account inventory had the distinction of openly bearing the Power Rangers names, which were readily identified by Saban. Linden Lab, under national and international copyright and intellectual property laws, is legally obligated to respect the claims of intellectual property owners and acted immediately. No other sanctions were initiated by Saban or Linden Lab after the removal, and all affected resident accounts remain open and in good standing with Linden Lab.
Angel Grove sim remains open and continues to draw role players. Linden Lab is in something of a no-win position, being obliged to respect the legal rights of intellectual property owners and yet also acknowledging the large role media-inspired sales play in the virtual economy. Savvy media creators often avoid scrutiny-and Linden Lab’s restrictions-by rebranding their wares so as to avoid overt use of copyrighted names or sales images. Second Life residents familiar with media politics have speculated on the timing of these removals, which coincided with Universal’s heavy promotion and merchandising of Galactica’s TV revival, Paramount’s creation of Star Trek Online and Saban’s recent reaquisition and revitalization of the Power Rangers franchise. Whatever the motives for the sudden onset of media scrutiny, content creators in world and on internet marketplaces remain watchful for future such developments, hoping to remain overlooked in what they view as purely a labor of love by fandom.