Avatar-on-Avatar Legal Action in Second Life

We have a rather odd story this Saturday coming all the way from the idyllic digital shores of Second Life. Last Month entrepreneur Kevin Alderman, founder of Eros LLC, a company specializing in the manufacture of virtual genitalia and intimate action scripts for Second Life avatars, filed a civil lawsuit against avatar "Volkov Catteneo" in a U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, alleging that Catteneo broke copy protection on Eros's "SexGen Platinum" and sold unauthorized copies of the program. "We confronted [Catteneo] about it and his basic response was, 'What are you going to do? Sue me?"' Alderman said. "I guess the mentality is that because you're an avatar ... that you are untouchable. The purpose of this suit is not only to protect our income and our product, but also to show, yes, you can be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to Catherine Smith, director of marketing for Second Life creator Linden Lab, this suit is the first recorded legal fight between two Second Life avatars, though probably not the last, as Linden Lab grants its users broad rights to create and sell content with few restrictions. "Whenever you create a situation where people are buying and selling things and potentially misappropriating them from their rightful owners, it is only a matter of time before the legal system gets called in," said Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "This seems like a relatively straightforward case. It sounds like there is a real copyright issue."

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There's a Google ad for "The Virtual World of Kaneva" at the top of this page. I don't know what to make of it but whatever, it might be a sign. :P

Whatever solve all your problems by suing, it's the American way.

oh soon you'll see real life people suing for their content being sold on second life... like designer clothes and stuff like that lol. its just unbelievable what people would do for some extra cash.

That's so hilariously pathetic in so many ways I can't breathe in enough air at once to laugh out as loud as I'd like to.

'What are you going to do? Sue me?'

That was a pretty solid arguement back when we were in, you know, fifth grade.

It's virtual genitalia... sounds like a valid comment to me. I mean, the perfect defense is "I looked in my pants and was inspired by what I saw..." I don't think there is any intellectual property rights on genitalia, fake or real.

There are intellectual property rights on the program Kevin Alderman made that the user "Volkov Catteneo" sold copies of after breaking the copy protection.

Don't you have to have a first life first before you can have a second life? from the sounds of it a lot of people playing this game have no first life

I play, and have played, beta tested, etc., many MMO's, including Second Life. Beyond testing, I couldn't get into it. It's just too... strange. At any rate, what I find odd is that most traditional MMOs try to restrict or prohibit players from crossing the line of spending real world money for in game items or in game money, where Second Life encourages it. I doubt this will be the first such lawsuit that we see stemming from a virtual world, but what intrigues me is whether or not a real world court will allow claims of IP theft in a virtual world to be substantiated in the form of real world damages and claims.

Shane Pitman said,
At any rate, what I find odd is that most traditional MMOs try to restrict or prohibit players from crossing the line of spending real world money for in game items or in game money, where Second Life encourages it.

Something about kids "gambling" I think. I don't get it either, I don't see how trading virtual goods can be considered gambling. By that kind of rationale, kids should be banned from the stock market?

manufacture of virtual genitalia

wow...just wow. I wonder how much people paid to be virtually well endowed. Avatars tripping on their own junk. I guess its better than buying fake pills that claim to do the same thing in real life :P

Another wow!!! from Second life website on buying virtual land.

Islands are priced at US$1,675 for 65,536 square meters (about 16 acres). Monthly land fees for maintenance are US$295.