Monday, October 29, 2007

'Real' Lawsuit dealing with illicit duplications in Second Life

An actual lawsuit has been filed in the state of New York against a Second Life user named Thomas Simon, avatar Rase Kenzo. The suit alleges that he duplicated and sold unauthorised copies of the plaintiffs' products through JEVN vendors, transactions from avatar to avatar and virtual 'yard sales'. There is some evidence that this avatar used a Second Life security flaw to duplicate 'no transfer' and 'no copy' items by moving them from his inventory to the world at times of heavy lag, server crashes or roll backs. This is not a minor infringement, but involves thousands of items by many major creators and designers in Second Life.

The case is discussed in 'Virtually Blind', a site created by a man named Benjamin Duranske who is working on a book about legal issues in virtual worlds. It is an interesting subject to say the least. The article can be found here:

Second Life Lawsuit in New York Court

As some one who knows many artists and creators in Second Life, I am particularly opposed to pirating activities such as those performed by Thomas Simon, aka Kenzo.
Whether an item is tangible or virtual, it is the result of tremendous effort sometimes on the part of the creator. Whether the creator is motivated by a need to seek a livelihood or by sheer creative need is irrelevant. It is wrong for another individual to make copies of some one else's items, real or virtual, for the purpose of making a profit.

The plaintiffs in the case emphasise the fact that it is not primarily a matter of money that drives them in this instance. Attempts to negotiate a settlement proved fruitless. Litigation in a court of law is the last rather than the first recourse. Attempts to persuade Linden Labs to take action evidently had no effect.

Perhaps this post does not belong on this page, which is devoted primarily to profiles of artists in Second Life. I do feel that the topic would be of interest to any Second Life artist, however.

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