A dispute over land acquired via an exploit of the Second Life Land Auction site has now resulted in a real world court case moving forward between a resident of Second Life and Linden Lab.
Second Life Land Deal Goes Sour
– Wired Magazine
As quoted from the article, the dispute is a result of land purchases and the closing of a resident’s account:
“Bragg v. Linden Research, a civil complaint filed May 1 in West Chester’s local district court, charges that Linden Lab “breached an auction contract by allowing the land to auction, accepting online payment, and then suspending plaintiff’s account.”
This dispute is not seeking large damages, only $8,000 in restitution is being sought. However, it is a significant case as it’s the first to move into a real world court of law, and not be resolved internally at Linden Lab. This case is not about intellectual property (the odds on favorite for the first legal challenge). The court case to watch for will be the one that involves intellectual property rights, or the rights and freedoms of an avatar in a virtual world. Of course the other hot issue to watch in the coming year(s) will be hearings on taxation of virtual property and assets.
It appears that the sheriff is coming to town, and the days of the Virtual Wild West are tumbling towards an end. It should be interesting to watch the courts grapple with virtual issues, as the majority of the public still do not have a point of reference for these virtual worlds (although that is changing by the day).
Check out the Wired article linked above for the details in this case.