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Troubles with the Ballet

March 8, 2008

This might not be common knowledge to a lot of people, but until recently, I served as the Second Life Ballet’s resident artist– that is, I designed some sets for them, made art for their playbills, designed their performance posters and, most importantly, I designed their logo.

Upon resignation of my position with the Second Life Ballet, I decided to draw up an agreement for the director, Inarra Saarinen, to look at and sign to insure that the ballet would use the art that I created exclusively for non-profit endeavors (which, as I understand, would not be a problem, since the SLB is a non-profit company to begin with).

This is the first email I sent on February 28th, 2008 at 9:25 PM:

Hey there Inarra:

The following is a quick and painless agreement in regards to using the posters, playbill images and the logo that I’ve created for the Second Life Ballet. Please read and send a return email indicating that you agree along with your RL name and contact information. Thank you!

The Second Life Ballet hereby agrees to use all materials created by Cyanide Seelowe (posters, playbill images, the Second Life Ballet logo, etc.) for non-profit purposes only. If any for-profit endeavors wish to be made in the future, royalties must be paid which will be agreed upon if the need ever arises for it.

The Second Life Ballet’s CafePress site (link redacted) must therefore cease the sale of its merchandise containing any content created by Cyanide Seelowe by March 31st, 2008.

Copyrights to the posters and logo can be found at the following web addresses:

~”Les Fleurs Rose” poster: http://cyanidebutterfly.deviantart.com/art/Les-Fleurs-Rose-poster-75811469
~”The Nut” poster: http://cyanidebutterfly.deviantart.com/art/quot-The-Nut-quot-Poster-71859393
~”Windows” poster: http://cyanidebutterfly.deviantart.com/art/quot-Windows-quot-Poster-v-1-0-56441425
~Second Life Ballet logo: http://cyanidebutterfly.deviantart.com/art/Second-Life-Ballet-Logo-55885634

Sincerely,

Cyanide Seelowe/Jackie Steffen
(RL contact information redacted)

A little more than half an hour later, at 10:07 PM, I received this notice in my email:

[20:06] Inarra Saarinen: You have been ejected from ‘SLB Productions’ by Inarra Saarinen.

48 hours later, I had not yet received a response from Inarra, so I sent a follow-up email:

Hey there Inarra:

If you would be so kind as to sign this agreement (by “sign” I mean just sending a return email stating that you agree with your RL name and contact info) by sometime on Monday, March 3rd, that would be fantastic. If you have any questions or concerns in regards to the agreement, I’d be happy to clarify. Thanks!

~Cyanide Seelowe
Founder, Virtual Artist Alliance
Admin, VirtualArtpedia (http://virtualartpedia.wikisite.com)

Several days later, without a response, I sent Inarra a Second Life IM (she was offline at the time, unfortunately) requesting that she respond to my emails:

[2008/03/05 14:35] Cyanide Seelowe: Hey Inarra: I need you to sign that agreement that I sent you in email. If you didn’t recieve it, I’d be more than happy to resend it, or if you have any questions or concerns about it, I’d be more than happy to discuss them. Either way, you need to respond to me. Thank you.
[2008/03/05 14:35] Second Life: User not online – message will be stored and delivered later.

I understand that offline Ims are not the most efficient way of getting a hold of someone in Second Life… but I was left with no choice at the point, since I only have one email address with which to get a hold of Inarra.

As of this point, I still have not received any communication or response to these mails from Inarra or acknowledgment of my rights to the work.

This whole situation is making me regret not drawing up the agreement when I first started working with them. The lack of attention, the ignorance of an obviously important issue for any artist– it’s one of the reasons I left in the first place. There was no apparent appreciation for the volunteer efforts, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that I will have to take legal action just to ensure that a simple agreement that is beneficial to BOTH parties gets signed.

Tonight I will be crafting emails and sending take-down notices to Linden Labs, Cafe Press and the hosting service for the Second Life Ballet website asking for the removal of my copyrighted materials.

Now, I realize that there may appear to be a dichotomy between my situation and my previous comments on Richard Minsky’s trademark of the term “slart”– the difference, as I see it, is that the Second Life Ballet logo and all other materials that I created are unique creations. The term “slart” was and continues to be a commonly used term within the Second Life art community that predates Minsky’s attempt to trademark it for his own purposes.

The lesson here? Whether you are a volunteer or an employee, always-ALWAYS- draw up an agreement to protect yourself and your art.

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4 comments

  1. Go getem hon.


  2. this is an interesting issue, nice job


  3. […] Troubles with the Ballet […]


  4. […] I’m at my wit’s end. For someone who supports the arts in Second Life, she doesn’t seem terribly concerned with helping her peers protect their intellectual property. I sincerely hope this doesn’t end in a messy legal battle… there’s no need for it to, as I think the agreement I offered was pretty generous. […]



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