Fake Assets, Real Lawsuits

May 4th, 2010 by alyx · 6 Comments · bitchfights

Second Life, a video game with a $160 million economy despite the fact that it trades in nothing but online simulations of land, houses, cars, etc (yes, people will actually drop large amounts of real American cash for a digital representation of property in the video game) apparently went socialist (or, probably more accurately, fascist) and decided you no longer fully own the pixelated property you thought you owned:

A number of paying users (or “residents”) of virtual world Second Life have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and its founder, Philip Rosedale. Their complaint: The terms of virtual property ownership have changed, and residents were forced to agree to a new terms of service that eroded their ownership rights to virtual property and goods. In fact, the suit filed on April 15 claims, the promises of “ownership” were empty in the first place. Through extensive marketing, Second Life parent company Linden Lab, with Rosedale as its spokesman, “lured consumers across the United States to invest real money into (Second Life) by promising those users that they would own the virtual land and property they purchased as well as the content they created,” the terms of the suit allege.

“Then unilaterally, without the consumer owner’s consent, knowledge, or permission, changed the terms of the service agreement to state that these land and property owners did not own what they had created, bought and paid for, and that these consumers had no choice but to click on a new terms of service agreement or they could not have access to their property,” the terms of the suit continue.

And yes, this is a real court they’ve filed in, in Pittsburgh, not some court simulation in Second Life where your filing fees are in Linden dollars unless your avatar is filing in forma pauperis and submitting the lawsuit on the back of an e-cereal box.

Can I knock these people? Not really, because we’ve sadly seen far worse synthetic assets being traded than this, and far worse real estate deals than spending eight grand in cash to own stake in an e-island. All I have to say is: c’mon, people, really? Could you not just spend a few more bucks on some e-guns and e-pitchforks and stage a Second Life rebellion? It would be far more entertaining.

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