NY Times Reports New Alliance Race/Second Life Sued

May 10, 2006

Seriously. The New York Times.


Somebody recently said, "Warcraft is the new golf."

This article comes one day after Mark Bragg issued a press release announcing his lawsuit of Linden Labs, makers of Second Life. Mark, an attorney, alleges that immediately after investing thousands of real-world dollars in a virtual land deal, Linden Labs cancelled his account, "without explanation, without citing any violation of community policy, and have since refused offer a credit or a refund."

This could be a landmark case in the legal and popular understanding of virtual worlds. So far, there's been no response from Linden Labs. I, for one, hope Mark wins. If people are going to be investing millions of RL dollars in Second Life, as Linden Labs hopes they will, these entrepeneurs will need basic legal rights to protect their investments.


2 Responses to “NY Times Reports New Alliance Race/Second Life Sued”

  1. Will Hines said

    This is amazing, and even kinda scary. It’s like a Phillip K. Dick novel — what’s the difference between the fake world and the real one?

    I mostly wanted to name-drop that I’m reading a Phillip K. Dick novel.

  2. Inkling said

    The facts remain unclear on the lawsuit situation. The popular understanding around the Second Life community is that Marc used an exploit to acquire the land at such low prices, and has a history of self-aggrandizement and searching for ways to sue Linden Labs. But even that's unclear- discussion at http://www.secretlair.com/index.php?/clickableculture/entry/real_world_lawyer_files_suit_against_virtual_world_maker/ and http://www.3pointd.com/20060509/land-lawsuit-hits-linden-lab/.

    While Bragg's actions do seem exploitive to me, and perhaps should be defined as exploitive for the future, it doesn't appear that they're currently exploits under Linden Labs' policy. Gamers and entrepreneurs will allways seek the most efficient path toward a goal. This is a fundamental aspect considered in game design. Can we fault someone for doing this, especially when it's not explicitly prohibited?

    Developers can't realisitcally predict and prevent all exploits, and certainly they need policies and procedures to protect themselves from unexpected things like this. But can Linden Labs make retroactive rulings that completely dispossess users of their investments? I certainly hope not.

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