Second Life Lawsuit Over Copied Goods Settled

from the just-like-that dept

Just after we discussed yet another bad situation involving bringing real world laws into virtual worlds involving World of Warcraft, it looks like there's an update on another such case we discussed last year. In this case, it was a dispute between two members of Second Life, one of whom had "copied" items made by another and started selling them. This seemed perfectly ridiculous, since being a virtual world where there is no scarcity, nothing was being stolen. Indeed, it looks like the participants in the lawsuit more or less came to the same conclusion. They've "settled" the case, but by settling, it sounds like they really meant giving up the case. No money is exchanging hands and no one is admitting to any guilt. That sounds a lot more like they're just dropping the case.

Filed Under: copyright, lawsuits, second life, virtual worlds

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 27 Mar 2008 @ 10:38pm

    Re: IP: socialist monopoly or capitalist property

    I'm guessing you're new around here, because we've covered all this in great detail.

    The exclusive right to copy and deal in a work of authorship or invention is a property right.

    Thomas Jefferson: "Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

    It is not a property right. There are a vast number of differences between copyright and property rights.

    There are some similarities, but to consider them the same is simply wrong. The entire purpose of property rights was to handle the efficient allocation of rivalrous goods. That does not apply to content. So different laws were put in place, but they are not property rights.

    It does not forestall competition, it prevents a form of trespass, thereby encouraging competition through innovation!

    You can say that, but it shows you simply haven't looked at the research on this.

    You can start here:

    It most definitely does forestall competition. That was the exchange the government set up: we forestall competition in order to increase innovative output. The problem, though, is that there's little to no evidence that it actually did increase output.

    What causes innovation is competition. Taking away the ability to compete through artificial monopolies removes competition. This has been seen time and time again.

    Ascribing the epithet "monopoly" to the basic right of exclusion enjoyed by a property owner is, in this context, a needlessly incendiary phenomenon.

    It's not an epithet. It's a descriptive term and it is accurate.

    James Madison: "But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good."

    Thomas Jefferson: "the benefit even of limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppression."

    It's a very straightforward term. If it was good enough for Jefferson and Madison in creating the clause in the Constitution, it should be good enough for you.

    The Framers coded a limited period of exclusive ownership of writings and discoveries into the supreme law of the land because they figured it would promote progress.

    Actually, as the quotes above highlight, they were very, very, very worried that these monopolies would be abused. As Madison noted they should be used "in very peculiar cases only; if at all."

    Please do not forget that opening clause of the Constitution "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts." That means that if it is shown that such monopolies DO NOT promote the progress, then they do not fall under the constitution as being legal.

    And, that's a problem, because all of the research shows that they, in fact, do not promote the progress.

    Instead, stronger IP rights *lag* innovation. In other words, what happens is that innovation occurs, and then companies look to use IP rights to stop the competition. Numerous studies have shown this time and time again. The studies have been both cross regional at the same time, and in a single region over time. And they've all showed the same result.

    Because we have all consented to be governed by that document and its progeny, IP laws are no less legitimate than any others that grant exclusionary rights.

    Yes, we have consented to be governed by that document, which is explicit: those monopolies must promote the progress. If they are found not to, then they are no longer legal monopolies.

    Forcing me to permit you to use my constitutionally granted property as a resource for your own profit is a redistribution of wealth that is most assuredly anti-capitalist.

    You've made a very big leap that the use of an idea is somehow a "redistribution of wealth." That's not true at all. For those who understand fundamental (capitalist) economics, you would realize that using ideas as a *resource* rather than as a *product* allows you to make much greater wealth.

    And if you copy from me unlawfully, I lose nothing less than the per-copy market price, the price I would have charged you, even if you wouldn't have paid it, because that's the price I have the exclusive right to set.

    In the capitalist world, the market sets the price. A unilaterally determined price is not a capitalist marketplace.

    Furthermore, to claim that every copy is a "loss" is laughable. Even the RIAA has finally given up on that argument.

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