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A sad day for virtual Frank Lloyd Wright fans

by Richard Elen on 3 Dec, 2010

in Art, Science & Technology

The Frank Lloyd Wright Vir­tu­al Muse­um in Sec­ond Life is wide­ly regard­ed not only as a won­der­ful reviv­i­fi­ca­tion of the lega­cy of America’s great­est archi­tect, but as one of the major points of inter­est in Sec­ond Life and one held in high regard by archi­tects and those of an artis­tic bent, many of whom are drawn to vir­tu­al worlds.

The FLWVM con­tains fas­ci­nat­ing exhibits on the life and works of Frank Lloyd Wright, 3D vir­tu­al recon­struc­tions of his key build­ings, and much more, and it’s host­ed by knowl­edge­able and help­ful staff. For the last year or so there has been a licens­ing agree­ment in place between FLWVM and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion, the organ­i­sa­tion that con­trols Frank Lloyd Wright’s lega­cy.

One of the Foundation’s goals is to “Pre­serve the works, ideas, and inno­v­a­tive spir­it of Frank Lloyd Wright for the ben­e­fit of all gen­er­a­tions” – one of the things that the FLWVM def­i­nite­ly does. I was very much sad­dened and sur­prised at the deci­sion announced recent­ly, there­fore,  by the Foun­da­tion not only to ter­mi­nate its licens­ing agree­ment with Vir­tu­al Muse­ums, Inc, who run the FLWVM, but also to issue a Cease and Desist order effec­tive­ly requir­ing them to close forth­with. The Vir­tu­al Muse­um will there­fore close on Decem­ber 10 unless some­thing hap­pens to change that.

You can read more about the sto­ry sur­round­ing this deci­sion here in Prim Per­fect Magazine’s blog, and the let­ter sent to sup­port­ers of the FLWVM by the Chair of Vir­tu­al Muse­ums, Inc, Ethan West­land.

As a result of that deci­sion, I was moved to write the fol­low­ing email to the Foun­da­tion via their con­tact email address, info[at]franklloydwright.org. If you agree with me, you might want to do the same.

I was sad­dened to hear today of the immi­nent clo­sure of the Frank Lloyd Wright Vir­tu­al Muse­um in the vir­tu­al world of Sec­ond Life as a result of your Foun­da­tion with­draw­ing its exist­ing licens­ing agree­ment with Vir­tu­al Muse­ums Inc and appar­ent deci­sion not to renew it.

I was involved in a TV pro­gramme about the vir­tu­al muse­um some months ago and was excep­tion­al­ly impressed at the work they have been doing pro­mot­ing the work and lega­cy of America’s great­est archi­tect in new areas of tech­nol­o­gy. It seemed to me at the time (the show went out just as the orig­i­nal licens­ing agree­ment was being signed) that the licens­ing arrange­ment was a per­fect idea in that it enabled the Foundation’s work and goals, and an aware­ness of the work of this great man, to be extend­ed into new realms with health and vigour.

I am thus extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed that the Foun­da­tion has decid­ed to take the mea­sures, not only of fail­ing to rene­go­ti­ate the licens­ing agree­ment or some oth­er mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial agree­ment allow­ing the Vir­tu­al Muse­um to con­tin­ue, but with the addi­tion­al step of issu­ing a Cease and Desist order effec­tive­ly caus­ing the Muse­um to close imme­di­ate­ly.

From what I have heard about this deci­sion, it appears to me that the Foun­da­tion has been labour­ing under the mis­un­der­stand­ing that as a result of the licens­ing agree­ment, the FLWVM some­how assumed respon­si­bil­i­ty not only for its own cre­ations based on copy­right designs and con­tent owned by the Foun­da­tion, but also those of com­plete­ly uncon­nect­ed third par­ties. I note this as a result of the fact that the Cease and Desist order was appar­ent­ly sent to the Vir­tu­al Muse­um and not to Lin­den Lab, the cre­ators of Sec­ond Life; nor did it take the form of a DMCA take-down order addressed to Lin­den Lab – the usu­al course of action in the case of per­ceived copy­right infringe­ments in the vir­tu­al world.

I would strong­ly urge the Foun­da­tion to recon­sid­er its action in this case and con­sid­er instead re-open­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Vir­tu­al Muse­ums Inc with a view to reach­ing a fur­ther mutu­al­ly-ben­e­fi­cial licens­ing arrange­ment that would allow the Frank Lloyd Wright Vir­tu­al Muse­um – wide­ly regard­ed as a prime exam­ple of the great pos­si­bil­i­ties of vir­tu­al worlds in pro­mot­ing art, cul­ture and design – to con­tin­ue oper­at­ing, con­tribut­ing so effec­tive­ly as it does to the lega­cy of this great man.

If you’re a Sec­ond Life res­i­dent and you want to vis­it the Muse­um before it clos­es on 10 Decem­ber, this link will tele­port you there.

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