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LICENSING & APPROVAL 

Update:  March, 12th 2021

Licensing and Authorization is an important part of post-production product development and creation.  Every artist holds exclusivity to their works and is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  But the questions stands, what is the DMCA?

 

The DMCA was enacted in 1998 within the United States and works in parallel with the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).  This is a globalized standard that was enacted to bring a halt to digital piracy, requiring third parties to obtain use approval before they elect to implement or even modify an individual artist’s original works.  As an IMVU creator, you are the third party in this situation, and prior to deciding to use an individual artist’s works, you must obtain a form of approval.  For more information on the DMCA and its underlying purpose, click here.

 

Why is approval important?  Well, you are using another individual’s artistic content, content that they spent time and effort to make as part of their livelihood.  Because of this and the growing emergence of digital piracy, the DMCA and WIPO protect artists from unauthorized use of their works.  In regard to IMVU, without proper authorization you are in violation of IMVU policy and are participating in digital piracy-an act that carries civil and criminal penalties should the artist desire to pursue.  Not only that, you bring copyright violations upon IMVU, attention they do not favor that can have some stark consequences for you. See, here and here.  Let us take this information and now craft an example or hypothetical situation.  You have a creator who is simply uploading products with no regard for DMCA or WIPO rules, the creator's disregard for IMVU policy prompts the attention of their internal DMCA Administrator, the resulting possibilities are: (1) IMVU possesses will remove the product for policy violations; (2) can and may suspend your account for a period they deem to be just and based on the magnitude of the violations; (3) remove your creator rights indefinitely; (4) discontinue and delete all the products in your store that stand violation of the DMCA rules; or (5) delete your account and membership.  Now, as extreme as that may sound it has happened.  Who needs such unwanted complications when all they have to do is take a few preliminary steps to protect themselves, and totally avoid such negative consequences.  Remember, your account is an investment, one that is made over time with great cost.  I cannot imagine any member who desires to be suspended, deleted, or removed from IMVU for an issue that could have been avoided by taking a few front-end precautionary steps.  But common sense is not all to common and there have been many members who even after warning consistently engage in acts that violate policy resulting in removal and deletion.

 

What is important here is for you to know that as a creator it is your responsibility to obtain approval from an artist or music label before deciding to use the artist’s works as part of your creation.  This requires you to take a few extra steps before you start, you may be required to buy a license or formally request artist authorization and maintain that authorization should it be requested.  In order to accomplish this task you may have to contact the artist direct (often difficult with larger artist) and request approval or make the investment and purchase license authorization this satisfying the legal requirements under the DMCA and WIPO.  See, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 104, 104A, 108, 132, 114, 117, 512, 701, 1201–1205, 1301–1332; and 28 U.S.C. § 4001, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 104, 104A, 108, 132, 114, 117, 701 (Click here for access to the United States Code).

 

Then again, if reaching the artist is impossible, your next best avenue is to reach out to the Public Relations (“PR”) contact for the artist, explain your request, and see if they can assist you in your request.  These people are usually very inquisitive, asking about what you intend to do with the artist’s works, how you intend on using them, and may even ask you about the virtual IMVU environment.  Do not be overly alarmed, they are only making sure that you are not promoting any illegal or violent activity that may bring public discredit to the artist.  They may suggest purchasing a license authorization or they may grant you authorization on the artist's behalf, I am not saying this is the case 100% of the time, but it is a possibility if they possess the right to make such decisions for the artist and their works.  

IMVU Sound Products & Terms of Service

As of Jun 11, 2020, the IMVU policy regarding their music store, sound products, and DMCA reads as follows:

 

Music Store Terms
IMVU may also act as a music content provider through the IMVU Music Store ("Music Store"). Specifically, the Music Store allows you to purchase digitized versions of audio recordings, and, as applicable, artwork and other information relating to such audio recordings ("Digital Content").You may use Credits to purchase downloads of Digital Content (as defined below) or the limited right to stream Digital Content within certain areas of the Service. The Digital Content can be downloaded or streamed to you and other IMVU users in an IMVU chat room from a playlist queue ("Playlist"). You and other IMVU users accessing streaming Digital Content are prohibited from making any recording of such streaming Digital Content.

 

The Digital Content is considered Third Party Content (as defined below in the Third Party Content Section), and all right, title, and interest in or to such Digital Content is the sole property of IMVU’s third party licensors. All Sony content made available for digital download through the Music Store is sold directly by Sony Music Entertainment Downloads LLC (via VL Engage, Inc., acting as its agent).

 

Upon your payment of the applicable fees for Digital Content, IMVU grants you a non-exclusive, and non-transferable license to use the Digital Content for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use, subject to and in accordance with the terms of these Terms. You may copy, store, transfer, and burn the Digital Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use.

 

You represent, warrant, and agree that you will use the Digital Content available through the Music Store only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use. You agree not to take any action that would infringe the rights of the Digital Content's copyright owners and to comply with all applicable laws in your use of the Digital Content. You agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license, or otherwise transfer or use the Digital Content except as expressly permitted above. You are not granted any synchronization, public performance, promotional use, commercial sale, resale, reproduction, or distribution rights for the Digital Content. You acknowledge that the Digital Content embodies the intellectual property of a third party and is protected by law. Accordingly, any unauthorized reproduction or distribution of Digital Content violates applicable law.

 

You agree that IMVU and its licensors have no liability to you for Digital Content that you may find to be offensive, indecent, or objectionable.

 

All sales of Digital Content are final. We do not accept returns of Digital Content. Once you have purchased Digital Content, we encourage you to download it promptly and to make backup copies of it. If you are unable to complete a download after having followed the download process, please visit the IMVU Help Center. You bear all risk of loss upon purchasing Digital Content and for any loss of Digital Content that you have downloaded, including any loss due to a computer or a hard drive crash. We may, from time to time, remove Digital Content from the Music Store without notice.

 

You do not acquire any ownership rights in the Digital Content as a result of downloading Digital Content. As required by our Digital Content providers, certain Digital Content will, unless otherwise designated, only be available for use by users located in certain territories, and, accordingly, you hereby acknowledge that certain Digital Content may not be available (as a download, as a stream, or both) if you reside in a territory that is restricted by our Digital Content providers. With respect to all territories where Digital Content is made available, you represent and warrant that you reside in such permitted territories throughout the time you are accessing Digital Content.

 

Owners of the Digital Content and/or their authorized agents are intended third-party beneficiaries under these Terms and may enforce these Terms against you.

 

Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA)
You will find detailed information about the process for contacting IMVU regarding copyright and trademark infringements. Only the intellectual property rights owner or the owner's authorized agent is permitted to report potentially infringing materials through IMVU's reporting system.

 

Copyright and Trademark Infringements
Only the intellectual property rights owner or the owner's authorized agent is permitted to report potentially infringing materials through IMVU's reporting system set forth below. If you are not the intellectual property rights owner or the owner's authorized agent, you should contact the intellectual property rights owner and they can choose whether to use the procedures set forth in the Terms of Service.

 

Notification: IMVU respects the intellectual property rights of others, and we require you to do the same when interfacing with the Site or Products.

 

Submissions and unauthorized use of any Materials or Third Party Content contained on this Site may violate applicable laws and regulations. You agree to indemnify and hold IMVU and its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, agents, licensors, and business partners harmless from and against any and all costs, damages, liabilities, and expenses (including attorneys' fees and costs of defense) IMVU or any other indemnified party suffers in relation to, arising from, or for the purpose of avoiding, any claim or demand from a third party that your use of this Site or the use of this Site by any person using your user name and/or password (including without limitation, your participation in the posting areas or, your Submissions) violates any applicable law or regulation, or the copyrights, trademark rights or other rights of any third party.

 

IMVU may, in appropriate circumstances and at our discretion, terminate service and/or access to this Site for users who infringe the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that your work is the subject of copyright infringement and/or trademark infringement and appears on our Site, please provide IMVU's designated agent the following information:

 

A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Identification of the copyrighted and/or trademarked work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a full list of such works at that site.


Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled at the Site, and information reasonably sufficient to permit IMVU to locate the material.


Information sufficient to permit IMVU to contact you as the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which you may be contacted.


A statement that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright and/or trademark owner, its agent, or the law.


A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.


IMVU's agent for notice of claims of copyright or trademark infringement on this Site can be reached as follows:
By mail
IMVU, inc.
Attn: DMCA Administrator
PO Box 2772
Redwood City, CA 94063

By e-mail
DMCA@imvu.com

 

Please also note that for copyright infringements under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability.

 

Counter-Notification
If you are a user who posted allegedly infringing material and who received notification to that effect from IMVU, you may elect to send us a counter notice. To be effective, such counter notice must be a written communication provided to our designated agent that includes substantially the following (please consult your legal counsel or see Section 512(g)(3) of the Copyright Act to confirm these requirements):

 

Your physical or electronic signature.
Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled.


A statement under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.


Your name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located, or if your address is outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which IMVU may be found, and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification of a complaint of allegedly infringing materials or an agent of such person.


Such written notice should be sent to our designated agent as follows:

By mail
IMVU, inc.
Attn: DMCA Administrator
PO Box 2772
Redwood City, CA 94063

By e-mail
DMCA@imvu.com

 

Please also note that for copyright infringements under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability.

 

Final Provision
The English text of these User Terms constitutes the sole authentic text. In the event of any discrepancy between the English text and a translation into a foreign language, the English text shall prevail.

 

Because IMVU's policies are ever-evolving, please click here to ensure that the information you are reviewing is the most current.

DMCA and WIPO Licensing and Authorization Exemptions

There are always exemptions to the rules.  If you are the original artist (meaning you created the original work), then you maintain the intellectual rights to the works and the rules of the DMCA and WIPO do not put forth any licensing requirements, but instead now protect you as an artist.  Or, if the works are copyright free (meaning they are free and outside any copyright restrictions) you are not required to obtain any approvals, because there is no party that specifically owns the works and it is open to the public without restrictions and official registration.  Then there is the possibility that you possess the right to do as you wish with a work as long as you have legally purchased or obtained it, permitting you with the right and authorization to do as you wish with the purchased article or works.  And then there is the final possibility-personal use.  If you intend the work to be exclusive to personal use, and you have a legally obtained the works, then you may "personally" do as you wish with the works at a personal level-because it is for your enjoyment and you possess the legal right.  These rationales create a DMCA and WIPO exemption, and something you may wish to consider when creating your products and how they are deployed.

Closing

Your account is an investment, so it is important for you to protect it.  Of course, taking the extra effort to obtain approval may delay product posting and public enjoyment, but in the end you are safeguarding you investment with only a small amount of front-end effort.  As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.