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Second Life Creator Being Sued for Allegedly Confiscating Virtual Property

April 30, 2010

Would you purchase virtual property with real world money?   What if you purchased the property with your hard earned money, paid monthly fees on it, and then all of a sudden your property is stealthily confiscated?  Do California consumer protection laws apply to confiscation of virtual property?  Where would one seek recourse?  What are your damages??

This case raises more questions than answers…literally.   I mean look at the first paragraph of this post.  I’d say the tone here is part incredulity and part fascination.  Who buys virtual land, and what value is added to virtual land by “developing” it?  Can you add value to virtual land?  What does one do with the virtual land?  According to an interview in the LA Times, architect David Denton uses his virtual land as a virtual meeting place where he can meet with “avatar equipped” clients.

San Francisco based Linden Research, Inc., the creator of Second Life, has been sued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The complaint alleges: “Defendant Linden has quietly gone about doing so by removing, one by one, the representations of ownership on its website yet providing no compensation to those that it induced under the false promises of ownership.  Despite the quiet removal of such representations over time, Defendants’ prior representations continue to proliferate and cause consumers to believe that when they purchase land in Second Life, they own it.  For example, to this day, the publicly monitored and edited Wikipedia entry for Second Life continues to state that consumers can “own” land in Second Life.

This will be a case worth following.

Courthouse News Service has a more detailed summary here.

And here is the Complaint (pdf) in its entirety.

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