The problem with user-created content is, by and large, users are very bad at creating content. If they were good at it, they'd be called "designers," not "users." Case-in-point: Linden Labs' Second Life. The idea of this MMO was to create a magical fantasy world where players could literally do anything. The result: Second Life is a lot like the real world, but with more unicorn sex. Linden Labs is getting rid of some of the real-life influence in their cyber worlds, though, and it's not because they prefer the Unicorns. It's because users don't necessarily own the rights to the products and/or people they represent in the game.
See, designers in-game are selling their creations for profit, and when you "create" and sell something that actually exists in the real world, you may be violating a copy-right.
According to the guidelines, you can't market anything in Second Life that:
- contains or uses a brand name or logo;
- replicates or closely imitates the appearance of a real-world physical product of a brand owner (for example, items that replicate the appearance of brands of cars, jewelry, or shoes that are available in the real world);
- replicates or closely imitates the appearance of a celebrity, famous person, or fictional character from a copyrighted work (for example, avatars that replicate the appearance of movie stars or characters from a book, film, television program, or game); or
- replicates or uses an artistic or creative work that is the subject of copyright (for example, virtual artwork that replicates artwork available in the real world or a sound clip that includes part of a song recording).
This will kill a good number of designers who create digital representation of Nike shoes or Hondas. Unaffected by the new guidelines: Makers of furry costumes and manufacturers of oversize, Second Life genitalia, although adult content must be labeled adult.
Interestingly, Linden specifically lists Barack and Michelle Obama avatars are verboten, in spite of the fact that they are political figures, and thus (you'd think) fair game according to the First Amendment. The question of whether Constitutional rights are guaranteed in virtual worlds hasn't been determined, but I'll leave it to actual constitutional scholars to debate.