Jason D. Arnold, Attorney at Law, Joins Fashion Research Institute’s Black Dress Technology as In-House Counsel

New York, NY March 21, 2011 – Jason D. Arnold, Attorney at Law, Joins Fashion Research Institute’s Black Dress Technology as In-House Counsel

Fashion Research Institute CEO, Shenlei Winkler, announces that Attorney Jason Arnold has joined the FRI team as in-house counsel for Black Dress Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of FRI. Mr. Arnold is a 2007 James E. Beasley Temple University School of Law Graduate. Admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and to the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, he was an active member in the American Bar Association serving on committees in the Intellectual Property and the Science and Technology divisions.  He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Furthermore, he has worked on copyright infringement litigation, including assisting in writing a certiori petition for the United States Supreme Court.  He has worked on trademark registration and infringement cases.

“I am very pleased to be joining Black Dress Technology because of their visionary use of immersive technology, something I personally believe will be integral to our professional and personal lives,” says Arnold.

“We are excited about having Mr. Arnold join the Black Dress Technology Team.” Says Shenlei Winkler, CEO of the Fashion Research Institute. “We think his experience in virtual worlds and particularly his emphasis in virtual goods and content will make him an integral part of the Fashion Research Institute team, focusing particularly on areas of content licensing from design houses in the apparel industry to virtual goods development for game development.”

Fashion Research Institute has been leading the effort to defining legal templates for users of decentralized OpenSim-based virtual worlds, including End User Licensing Agreements and easy-to-use content licensing templates.  Mr. Arnold served with distinction on the OpenSim Legal Steering Committee formed by FRI in 2009.

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About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: The Fashion Research Institute is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices. Shenlei Winkler’s work spans both couture and mass-market design and development for the real life apparel industry. A successful designer, her lifetime sales of her real life apparel designs have now reached more than $70 million USD, with more than 25 million-dollar styles in her portfolio. Her couture work has appeared extensively on stage and movie screen.

Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds

We are seeing an increase of something that we find disturbing on many levels: self-created licenses for content.

The reasons we find these licenses is disturbing are many: in general, content creators are not lawyers, nor do they seek legal counsel in developing their license agreements.  These agreements are often poorly framed or worded. The agreements do not indicate what legal jurisdiction and what laws of what country govern them.  And, scariest of all, some of these licenses attempt to ‘reverse engineer’ previous licensing agreements.

Any software developer will understand why licenses cannot be changed after something has been issued.  Others will have used that original bit of code issued under one license, which has its own unique set of requirements and restrictions.  These users may have even created a product that incorporates the original bit of code.  If coders were allowed to change their original license terms, that means that anything created with that original bit of code would also be subject to these new terms, which might be more restrictive than the initial license agreement. Trouble, heartache and grief and legal strife lies that way, and so once something has been released under one license, that is the license that governs its use for all time.

Likewise, content creators can’t change their license terms after the fact.  We see this increasingly with content creators who have been developing for Second Life®, where they are suddenly changing their terms of agreement for previous purchasers.  Unfortunately, licensing doesn’t work that way. If you license content under one agreement, you cannot legally to make a unilateral change in the licensing agreement unless you have included language to this effect in the original license.

It’s just like the coders with their software licenses: if they were allowed to change the license type, that change would create a legal and administrative nightmare and no one would use their code as a result.   Users would be afraid to, since they wouldn’t know if they had to try to track everywhere that code was used, in what products, and how the licensing might change the usefulness and applicability.

Since most of these licenses are not developed by actual lawyers, but by the content creators themselves, those agreements are missing certain critical and important terms…such as a clause enabling the content creator to make changes to the licensing agreement at will with appropriate notification to purchasers of that content going forward.

We have been working with a team of American Bar Association lawyers for the past 18 months, developing legal templates that content creators will be able to use as a ‘jumping off’ point for their own agreements.  These agreements are only suitable for organizations or individuals who are based in the United States, and of course, legal counsel should be sought to help further develop them. Towards the end of October, we will be publishing these legal templates for content creators to use in developing their own legal agreements for licensing.

We will also be publishing our legal primer for content creators, which is intended to help content creators navigate the murky waters of content creation and licensing for OpenSim-based worlds.