Posts Tagged ‘Battlestar Galactica’

In the past week there have been a multitude of breaking news stories involving intellectual property and the internet.  Lets start with the biggest story known as COICA or the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act which the Senate quickly passed unanimously in the lame duck session so quickly there was very little time to even launch a decent campaign against it.

With in a week of its passage, the US shut down over 70 websites deemed to have “no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than offering or providing access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted works”.  In a suspiciously similarly timed move, the appeals of The Pirate Bay founders has failed, and they all face jail time and stiff penalties, and I assume the site will disappear, just like Limewire did just a month ago.

While I personally consider the removal of these websites to be of no big loss (good bye and good riddance), it sets a disturbing precedence that could easily explode into the removal of intellectual ideas, which would be very very bad.  Who decides what websites get shut down? Is there an appeal process in place?

IP holder attacks BSG RPs in SL

Then there is this other precedent setting move by Universal. They forced the shutdown of all regions and the removal of all items that infringe upon the copyright of Battlestar Galactica.  As someone who dabbled in RP on the Battlestar Pacifica, this news disturbs me.

Pick any famous sci-fi, fantasy, or historical book movie or TV show and there is probably a group in Second Life role playing it.  It is what many of us came to SL to do.  So if some corporation decides to make an intellectual property claim on builds that “fans” have spent months and years of their lives building, not for profit (often at a severe loss) but for the love of the show, it now gets taken down with little warning.

As far as I know, only the IP owners of Dune have made a move like this before.  Many IP holders have a very lax attitude when it comes to how fans use their IP as long as it is not for profit.  In fact, some secretly like fan made materials, because it is a new way to discover new talented artists and writers. The number of BSG communities are small compared to the number of RPers of Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, and DC and Marvel Comics. If any of these IP holders pull what Universal did, it would piss off a lot of their audiences.

Battlestar Galactica is a TV show with unique art that has been recreated. The picture above is definitely a BSG Viper, and can’t be mistaken for anything else.  But role play of books and specific genres can avoid IP claims, or at least make them very fuzzy.  There is a lot of room for discussion about what constitutes IP violation and what does not. The more I think about it the blurrier the lines get.

Consider three of the most popular role play areas: Steampunk, Vampires, and Gor

Steampunk is a genre that seemingly came out of nowhere in the mid 80’s with the William Gibson and Bruce Sterling collaboration The Difference Engine. With such recent origin, pretty much everything associated with Steampunk is copyrighted by somebody. And yet the genre is not owned by anybody. It is a world of fantasy inspired by the futuristic visions of 18th century writers and inventors like Jules Verne, Charles Babbage and Nikola Tesla, all of which are in public domain.

Vampire lore goes back centuries, but the modern take owes its origins to Bram Stoker and F.W. Murnau whose works on the subject are in public domain. And yet nobody uses the free versions of vampire lore, they use the very much copyrighted Buffy, or Twilight, or True Blood, or World of Darkness versions of vampire lore, but can the owners of IP make claims on role players when public domain versions exist?

The copyright holders of Harry Potter are similarly stuck. They own certain names like Hogwarts, Voldemort, Griffindor, etc. but almost everything else is based on folklore. Doing an RP of a school for witches and wizards, as long as you avoided copyrighted names, would be free from IP claims. And yet there are RPs of Harry Potter that do use the copyrighted names, but if the copyright holder were to come in and make an IP claim against them, all they would have to do is change a few names and textures to comply, not a complete region shutdown or object/building removal like the BSG fans were subjected to.

Then there are the Goreans, which is RP based on a series of copyrighted books, and yet the RP only borrows the title and the BDSM premise and virtually none of the plot or characters. How much of an IP claim could be made on them?

Will the IP war become a guerilla war?

If the makers of these BSG builds were smart, they would have made backups of their ships, and props and uniforms.  Then they could move to private Open Sim servers and rebuild.  Universal would have to go after the individuals personally to shut down Open Sim grids, will Universal even bother?

And what about the websites shut down by COICA?  Will they just re-open using alternative DNS roots and foreign hosts and proxies?

Information has a tendency to spread whether you want it to or not, just look at what is going on at Wikileaks.  To quote another Universal Sci-Fi movie: “You can’t stop the signal, Mal.

Generally speaking I do not do movie or TV reviews on this blog, but Caprica is a sci-fi story that hits many themes I tend to hit on this blog.

For Battlestar Galactica fans, it is the story about the creation of the first Cylons. For Virtual World fans there is a deep plot involving virtual reality, its nature and practical uses. The opening scene is what a lot of SL players probably wish SL was really like. (this scene will likely be heavily toned down when the movie finally airs)

I like science fiction, especially the speculative fiction with real world ties, like Philip K. Dick, or the “cyberpunk” writers like William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and early Neil Stephenson. This kind of stuff does not translate well to TV or Movies, and even when it is done successfully there is not a big enough audience to sustain it.

Battlestar Galactica often managed to get beyond its space adventure genre and start telling stories with real world parallels, like the “New Caprica” episodes and their table turning parallels to the war in Iraq.

Caprica loses the whole space adventure genre completely. It is more of the dystopia genre. Caprica is a parallel Earth slightly more technological advanced than ours. The fact that it is also slightly more advanced than BSG as well says that Ronald D. Moore and crew understand how tech can slide backwards in the time of war (which hasn’t happened yet in Caprica’s timeline).

Bottom line is that Caprica is a good sci-fi story set in the BSG universe. If you are a fan of either, you should really check this out. I will definitely be looking forward to the series this fall.

Devil's Moon based on Blade Runner

The number of Second Life builds based on TV, Movie, and Video games is rather extensive. I could spend about a month researching it, like I did for the world tour, but I thought I would just post about the cool sites I know about now and later maybe I can add a few more.

Lets start with a classic. The Blade Runner Build at Devil’s Moon. This build has been around for a few years, and used to house a popular club. Now it only houses the main store of Abramations primarily, although the wet looking streets (the streets are patially transparent, and a mirror build of the streets can be seen underneath) are still there.

Less famous is a life size replica of Serenity, as seen in the TV show Firefly and movie Serenity. This is on a mainland server, and is fairly detailed. There are numerous Star Trek and Star Wars themed worlds including multiserver RPGs. A good place to start on the former is the Star Trek Museum. I have previously blogged about the incredible Battlestar Pacifica RPG sim.

Another incredible sci-fi build is the Privateer Space build. This server has multiple levels, each a different planet environment to explore.

Bedrock in SL

While Sci-Fi is a very popular theme in SL, its not the only one. One of the sillier builds I have come across is one based on Bedrock from The Flintstones.

Speaking of silly, the ship from Mystery Science Theater 3000 has its own replica build as well. Turn on your media player if you dare to be subjected to a really bad movie.

Vampires: Santa Monica

Finally, if you are a fan of the game Vampire: Bloodlines, somebody has managed to build a decent copy of the first level of the game. Check out the Vampires Santa Monica build.

If the above picture looks at all familiar, you might have been playing my Dating Simulator, and reached this picture:

Yes I used the same game as a background for the Dating Simulator club.

CIC Batlestar Pacifica

Welcome to the Battlestar Pacifica, the new sci-fi RPG zone in Second Life.

I’m Lt. Ariane Brodie junior officer and viper pilot. Here we are in the CIC of this huge and vastly detailed Battlestar. There are four decks complete with quarters for all the crew (to help pay for the game) engineering, galley, officers quarters, gym, briefing room, two landing bays, 8 launch bays on 4 decks.

Flight suit in launch bay

I’m scheduled to go on a routine patrol flight of the nearby fleet. There are four ships in the fleet at the moment. The largest is the Battlestar of course.

HUD display of 7th Heaven

I’m first doing a flyby of the luxury ship 7th Heaven. This is the first ship new people go to first. Looking up through the glass dome you will see the Pacifica. Each ship has a docking bay where you can catch a shuttle to the other ships.

Outer camera view of the mining ship

Here is an outer view of the viper flying past the mining ship and worker quarters. The worker quarters are actually nicer than my cramped pilots rack. There is also the Celestia which is nicer, but not as nice as the 7th Heaven. All the ships currently have plenty of rentals for people interested in joining the fleet.

Coming in for a landing on the BSP

Patrol is finished, time to come in for a landing on the port side strip. The Pacifica is a downright huge ship. but still landing can be a little tricky. Once on the deck there is a ship elevator back to the bays.

back on board

Perfect landing and the ship is safely in the bay. Patrol is over. Mission accomplished.

Back in the Rack

Time for a much deserved rest. Things have been pretty routine. We have not seen real war since the Cylon war nearly 40 years ago. What could possibly go wrong?



Cylon Base Star

Now is the time to join, the war begins soon… TO BE CONTINUED…