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Infringers of Dune: Dune role-players shut down by Herbert Estate. Spice keeps flowing

Tateru Nino

Among the various business, educational and social uses to which Second Life is put, Role-Playing gamers have quite a number of thriving communities. If you want to role-play in the world of Joss Whedon's Firefly, or Straczynski's Babylon 5, Lucas' Star Wars universe(s), Tolkien's Middle Earth, John Norman's Gor, Frank Herbert's Dune, Roddenberry's Star Trek, or the settings of Doctor Who, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, Harry Potter, Final Fantasy VII or CCP/White Wolf's World of Darkness, Second Life is home to all of these and more.

Well, until this week anyway. According to Wagner James Au, Trident Media Group, a literary agent "designed for the twenty first century",which maintains the Herbert Estate sent cease-and-desist notices via Linden Lab requiring one non-profit role-playing community to remove Dune-related names and objects from the virtual environment within two days.

Vooper Werribee, head of this particular community (and the one paying the bills for it), has largely complied with the request, removing and replacing identifying names from all places and objects that could be located.

The location itself is still there. Now a generic spice-mining planet, which (perhaps somewhat amusingly) is now becoming of considerable interest to some Star Trek and Star Wars role-playing communities in Second Life. Fully-developed, themed role-playing environments with an attached active community don't just come along every day. So the spice-harvesters will keep up their schedules, no doubt troubled by enormous and cranky vermicular life forms.

Role-players in the various themed properties we mentioned in the first paragraph number perhaps a hundred-thousand or more, and these role-playing communities (virtually unknown in Second Life before 2006) grow in size and numbers every year.

Things being what they are, though, we're wondering which of them will be the next target of legal notices.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

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