In Response to Play Final Fantasy VII in Second Life
While the idea of playing Final Fantasy VII in Second Life sound fun, my infringement sense is tingling. The original article states: "As far as Square's sponsorship of the whole thing, we know for sure that they aren't directly involved. Among the GMs I spoke with, almost all of them were 100% convinced that Square had given some kind of blessing to the proceedings, but nobody was positive who exactly got that blessing." And if I were involved with this, "not positive" would mean "bad idea."
What the people have created is a derivative work, of sorts. I only say "of sorts" because no one has ever tested this medium (to my knowledge) in court. In short, among the bundle of rights a copyright owner has is the right to create derivative works. Derivative works are things like re-makes and sequels that rely on elements of the original work. As a relevant example, Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children are both derivative works of Final Fantasy VII. The rumored remake (based on the E3 2005 Tech Demo) would also be a derivative work.
And so would Midgar in Second Life.
Second Life Midgar relies on significant (and substantial) elements of Final Fantasy VII. It is, without a doubt, a derivative work. Which means that either the creators need a license to create the work, or they are likely committing copyright infringement, which SquareEnix could bring suit over. The fact that they are profiting from the work (or at a minimum collecting revenue, even if it is a wash or a loss) only makes the infringement more troublesome.
Maybe SquareEnix will continue to look the other way. Maybe one of the GMs secretly works for the RPGiant. In any case, if I were taking profit from this game, I would want a license in writing sooner rather than later.