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According to Examiner.com, the USMC (the United States Marine Corps) “has filed a DMCA (Digital Millenium[sic] Copyright Act) notice against several Second Life residents who were recreating artifacts and uniforms bearing the USMC logo.”

Now, the USMC absolutely does have intellectual property rights to a number of distinctive marks and logos. The problem here, is that the USMC is claiming trademark infringement, and trademarks are not covered under the DMCA 512(c) process. That process is for copyrights only, and to use it for trademarks is improper and ‘abusive’ (that is, that it is a misuse – called an ‘abuse’ – of copyright law).

It may not be entirely the USMC’s fault in this case. In at least some previous circumstances where a trademark-holder has contacted Linden Lab about in-world infringement, Linden Lab itself has improperly advised the rights-holder to follow the DMCA 512(c) notification process – acknowledging no other channel for infringement claims. That may well have happened here, putting the USMC in the unenviable position of misusing (the legal term is ‘abusing’) the articles of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Additionally, the uses to which the USMC seal is being used by some creators in Second Life are among those uses which appear to be “ordinarily granted” by SECNAV (Secretary of the Navy), if only the usage is specifically requested, per Marine Corps Order 5030.3B (PDF).

Second Life items bearing USMC seals and logos are particularly popular among Second Life users who are members or ex-members of the United States Marine Corps, and who wish to maintain their continuity and/or identity with the service – nevertheless, Second Life creators who wish to use the USMC and logos for Second Life items should file an appropriate request for a license with the SECNAV office – even if they themselves do not fall under the auspices of Titles 10 or 15 of the United States Code.

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