City of Heroes - IP Enforcement sign now

Your name, Hattori Hanzo, based on 16th century semi-historical Japanese legend, was taken away, because a recent video game or motion picture happens to use that name.

Your name, Veridiana, a common girl's name in the Spanish language due to the existence of a 13th century saint by that name, has been taken away, because a minor character named Veridium appeared a few times in an obscure DC Comics title.The public would not abide by such acts in the real world. Yet in "City of Heroes," this sort of thing happens every day.

Since its inception, the massively multiplayer online game "City of Heroes" has aggressively enforced third parties' IP (intellectual property) rights.

Also enforced, however, are purported rights that do not exist (i.e. nobody holds any rights to the legend of Hattori Hanzo), or purported rights that are a major departure from the law (i.e. DC Comics' rights in comic books containing Veridium have no bearing upon the common name "Veridiana"). These cases of IP over-enforcement have served to stifle subscribers' ability to express creative, original concepts, while accruing no benefit to third parties.

Worse, malicious users have discovered how easy it is to use the Internet to discover third-party IP similar to subscriber content. They can then abuse the IP enforcement in "City of Heroes" to strip their victims of their content.

We, the undersigned, urge the developers and administrators of "City of Heroes" to reconsider this policy. We seek to promote creative, original expression instead of needless protectionism of nonexistent IP rights, and to prevent malicious users from harming subscribers through abuse of the IP enforcement process. To this end, we would assign more value, and hold more respect, for a policy that:Respects the United States constitutional basis for copyright-- "to promote the progress of the arts."

Observes the United States statutory limits on copyright, allowing to the public the right to use expired works, as well as unprotectable works such as stock characters and generic themes.

Avails of the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure (17 USC 512), which provides a mechanism for actual copyright holders (and not merely malicious users) to challenge alleged infringements, and also provides recourse for the alleged infringers to defend their use, while also granting "City of Heroes" safe harbor from liability as a neutral Internet service provider.

Informs the public fully, through the EULA, of the exact standards by which subscriber content is editorialized, instead of allowing unlimited editorial discretion and forcing the public to hope such discretion will not be used against them.

Recognizes that exercising broad editorial discretion over subscriber content jeopardizes the ability of "City of Heroes" to claim neutrality for purposes of the DMCA safe harbor.

Acknowledges the statutory definition of trademark infringement under United States federal law (15 USC 1114)-- specifically, that only "use in commerce" that "is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive" consumers is infringement.

Understands the non-commercial nature of subscribing to and playing "City of Heroes," and its bearing upon the statutory definition of trademark infringement in the United States.

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Anne GreerBy:
City LifeIn:
Petition target:
Cryptic Studios, NCSoft Corporation, NC Interactive

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