Linden Lab Sued Over Copied Virtual Goods
from the dmca,-anyone? dept
Way back in 2003, when Linden Lab announced that individuals owned the real world copyright on virtual trinkets they made in the game, we noted that this was a bad idea that would lead to problems. It was, in effect, taking bad real world laws and bringing them into a virtual world. It was even worse, because it was taking real world laws that were designed for a world of scarcity, and bringing them into a world of abundance — and effectively allowing the laws to reach from the real world into the virtual world. That’s a recipe for trouble.
And, indeed, a few years back there were lawsuits over “copied” products, though the main one we know of ended with both sides dropping the case. However, a new lawsuit has been filed, but this time, Linden Lab itself is a target, and the guy suing is claiming both copyright and trademark infringement. It’s the same basic story. A guy creates virtual things (in this case, “sex toys”) in Second Life, others copy them, and he’s pissed off, so he sues. But he’s suing Linden Lab, perhaps because it’s better to sue a company that actually has money.
But legally, it seems like a huge longshot. The copyright claim should get tossed out pretty quickly due to DMCA safe harbors. The guy filing the lawsuit claims they don’t apply “because it is aware of the rampant infringement of Alderman’s copyrights and trademarks, and hasn’t take proactive steps to prevent that piracy.” Unless there’s specific evidence of Linden Lab being informed of a particular infringement that Second Life ignored, it’s hard to see how this isn’t protected by the safe harbor. The trademark claim isn’t covered by safe harbors (which is a problem…), but it’s difficult to see how anyone could claim that Linden Lab is the one violating anyone’s trademark here. Yet again… someone who can’t handle the fact that digital goods are copyable feels he needs to lash out and sue everyone, rather than adapt.