Monday, December 11, 2006




If you want to gain a deeper sense of an influential thinker, bring him into an alien environment where he's beset on all sides by humanoid animals, supermodels, and intermittent fireballs, and see how he engages the unpredictable world around him-- my personal conclusion for what follows after the break:  The lightly edited transcript of December 7th's evening in Second Life with Judge Richard A. Posner's avatar

The conversation ranged back and forth between topics as abstract as law in online worlds and mortally serious as law in the shadow of Al Qaeda-- along with infrequent interruptions involving aforementioned raccoon and simulated terror attacks.  During the live event, questions for the Judge ricocheted back and forth between three broad topics (which he nimbly answered while enjoying the surreal quality of the world and his audience of natives), but for readability's sake, I've slightly rearranged the transcript according to topic.


Event hosted and sponsored by Creative Commons.  Visit CC's site in Second Life on Kula Island. As with all New World Notes, this transcript and accompanying screenshots are CC-licensed "Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5"-- i.e., recopying for educational and journalistic use is permissable (and encouraged), please just include "Courtesy of" with the excerpt.


I.   Introducing Judge Posner, and Posner on the value of online worlds
II.  Judge Posner on Terrorism, Law, and Not a Suicide Pact
III. Judge Posner on Parody, Satire, Fair Use, and Fan Fiction
IV. Judge Posner on Law and IP Rights in Online Worlds
V.  Autographs, Fireballs, and Befriending the Raccoon

I.  Introducing Judge Posner, and Posner on the value of online worlds

[Creative Commons staffer] Genevieve Junot: Welcome everyone to Kula, Second Life's space for Creative Commons, generously provided by CC board member Joi Ito.  Tonight we have a very special guest: Judge Richard Posner, one of America's greatest legal minds-- and former boss to Creative Commons CEO Lawrence Lessig.  This should be a great night of conversation.

Screenshot of Genevieve Junot by Zonker Wombat

We love having events like this in Second Life, along with all our other activities in the world outside. We hope you consider donating to Creative Commons, so we can do more of both. You can donate L$ directly into the sign in our auditorium in Kula 4 [direct teleport to Kula 4 here]-- these funds are sent directly to Lawrence Lessig's PayPal account, converted to US$, and from there, right to CC's bank account.  Or on the Web, you can go to  You will be supporting our efforts to spread free culture.  But now, let's give the floor to New World Notes author and CC consultant Hamlet Au, who'll introduce Judge Posner!

Hamlet Au: Thank you Gen! Thanks everyone for coming. I'll start with my intro.

By sheer coincidence, tonight's Second Life appearance of Judge Richard Posner happens on December 7th, the "day of infamy" (as President Roosevelt put it), which eventually led, in the US response to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, to the unjust internment of some 72,000 Japanese-Americans (as President Roosevelt ordered.)

But the date that looms today is September 11th, when another attack challenged the country, leading to laws advocated or endorsed by another US President which many find almost as noxious.  Suspending habeas corpus for terrorist suspects; indefinite confinement in Guantanamo; the USA PATRIOT act; warantless wiretapping; forceful interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects (or as some would have it, torture). To name but a few.

Into these grave contentions comes Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and his latest book, Not a Suicide Pact, which offers a new way of thinking about this challenge which doesn't fit neatly in either a left or right framework, but is sure to be controversial.  I'm confident all of you already know something about Judge Posner, so let me introduce him with the words of the Second Life resident who knows him best-- Lawrence Lessig:

"He is the most influential lawyer of his time. His work in law and economics revolutionized the legal academy. His opinions as a judge are easily among the most influential in the federal judiciary...

"I was a law clerk for Judge Posner... Once I sent him a letter very strongly criticizing a draft of a book he was writing. The next morning I had second thoughts... so I wrote a letter to apologize.  He wrote back immediately: Never apologize for strongly stating your case. 'I’m surrounded by sycophants. I don’t need that from you.'"

And I'll take those last words as advice for all of us.


So with that, ladies and gentlemen, robots, furries, and elves of indeterminate gender, join me in welcoming Judge Richard Posner to Second Life! Welcome sir!

Judge Richard Posner: Thank you, Hamlet, for your very gracious introduction.  It is a pleasure to be here. MMORPG (if that's the correct acronym) are an enormously important development.  So I'm ready to answer your questions and take comments. Don't be shy.


II. Judge Posner on Terrorism, Law, and Not a Suicide Pact

HA: Judge Posner, I usually start appearances like this by asking my author guests to offer an "elevator summary" of their book. I hesitate to ask you to simplify Not a Suicide Pact that way, however, so let me try this:  Let's say Senator Obama is reading your book, just before an important hearing on a new anti-terrorism bill which civil libertarians consider draconian. What's the one thing you most hope he gleans from your book, before going to that hearing?

JRP: I want him to understand the danger of using constitutional law to resolve difficult issues of national security, because if the Supreme Court makes a mistake and holds an important national security measure unconstitutional, there is as a practical matter no way to correct the Court's error. I would like to see these issues hammered out between the President and Congress with minimum judicial intervention.

HA: Sir, you're pretty harsh with civil libertarians in this book. If I read you right, you believe their concerns over USA PATRIOT and other government counter-terrorist measures don't take into account this nightmare scenario: if there's another successful 9/11-level terror attack, the public will surely clamor for measures that are far more liberty-impinging than anything on the books now. Have you discussed this point with civil libertarians, and what do they say?


JRP: Civil libertarians cover a huge range, some of which overlaps with my own views.  My frequent sparring partners Geof Stone is a member of the board of directors of the ACLU, etc., but we agree on many points, including the danger of terrorism, and that if there is another attack, of comparable magnitude to 9/11, it could spell the end of civil liberties.

HA: Forgive me, Judge, but I couldn't help thinking that this book seems to reflect a September 12 mindset. That is: it assumes the Al Qaeda threat to American soil is imminent, apocalyptic, and all-pervasive. But in the 5+ years since 9/11, no Al Qaeda cells have been uncovered in the US (but for a few scattered incompetent wanna-bes); instead, Qaeda-related terrorist attacks have been confined to Europe and the Muslim world, and none committed with WMDs. So is there an empirical case to strengthen our anti-terrorism laws any further? Seems to me we're better off working to enforce and bolster laws in Europe and the Muslim world, where the danger is most imminent.


JRP: Unfortunately, we don't know the dimensions of the terrorist threat. It could be greater than in 2001, or less. I think it's probably greater, for two reasons: the continuing proliferation of highly destructive weaponry (latest example: polonium 210) and the growing anger of the Muslim world toward the U.S. and the West.  Before the July 7, 2005 transit bombings in London, the British didn't think that their citizens would turn to suicide bombing. Now they know. We may learn the same thing some day.

HA: Judge, perhaps the most shocking (to me at least) argument in your book is that coercive interrogation or torture of terror suspects is not in itself a Constitutional violation (if I read you right)...

JRP: I don't defend torture in the book.  There are forms of coercive interrogation intermediate between simple questioning and torture, such as the old "third degree," bright lights, noise. Any beating, shaking, etc. would cross the line into torture. The intermediate forms may be permissible in extreme circumstances, but not to produce evidence that could be used in court.

HA: Finally from me, sir, a question related to where we are now.

The Internet is already an essential recruiting, communication, and logistical tool for Al Qaeda and its ideological adherents, so it seems inevitable to me that terrorists will be attracted to Second Life.  For example, to "dry run" attacks in simulated environments they custom-build, to launder money through Linden Dollars, and most advantageous for them, to communicate anonymously as avatars in a way that would be very difficult for government officials to track.

For all we know, Al Qaeda may already be in Second Life, doing those very things right now.

Obviously it's a concern, but what should be the legal response? A court warrant so the Feds can monitor chat dialog in Second Life? A law that requires Linden Lab to cull their database for suspect conversations and activity? Suggest some legal principles, sir, for Constitutionally permissible counter-terrorism in the metaverse.

JRP: There is I believe no legal impediment to an FBI special agent enrolling in Second Life under an avatar that would not identify him as an agent. The general rule is that if a building or other area is open to the public, anyone can enter if he adheres to the rules of the owner, but the owner cannot bar an investigator who does not resort to coercion or other distinctive police methods of investigation.

But in response to your broader question, the Internet offers opportunities both for terrorists and counterterrorism. Open source intelligence (that is, intelligence gleaned from public sources such as the Web) is an increasingly important form of intelligence used by the CIA and other government agencies.  So it's an arms race between the opposing forces, both seeking maximum advantage from the digital revolution.

HA: Thank you, Judge! Now we go to the audience questions.

Doctoe Schnook: Indeed-- what is a "terrorist" in the 21st Century?

JRP: A terrorist broadly defined is a politically motivated crime involving actual or intended harm to person or property.  But I would prefer to confine the term to situations in which the actual or intended harm is very great. I would therefore exclude ecoterrorism and animal rights terrorism.

DS: Even if ecoterrorism meant kiling thousands possibly?

JRP: No, if ecoterrorism involves killing hundreds or more, sure, then it's terrorism that I would define as endangering national security and therefore worthy of extraordinary methods of prevention. So far, though, my impression is that ecoterrorists just like to blow up electrical pylons.

Claude Desmoulins: Are there any lines that should be considered uncrossable in the fight against terrorism, and if so, who should decide where those lines are?  You seem to suggest it ought not be the courts.


JRP: I hesitate to draw a sharp line, because I don't know what the outer limit of potential terrorist destructiveness is. It is not unrealistic to fear the possibility of a nuclear attack by terrorists or an even more devastating biological attack. The appropriate preventive measures have to be scaled to the magnitude and probability of the threat.

Suddenly, a large wooden cube materializes in the middle of the auditorium, blocking Judge Posner from the audience-- an apparent griefer attack on the event, or the Judge himself.

JRP: That's an example of the kind of threat that worries me-- a huge box marching through an amphitheatre.

The audience laughs while chaos ensues, during which Hamlet Au briefly crashes out of the world, and the Judge notices an audience member:


JRP: Is that a raccoon?

Kear Nevzerov: I'm a "furry". Not sure how I got this way.

JRP: I think it's Al Qaeda.

KN: I'm really an IP lawyer from DC. Honest.

JRP: I like your tail.

Somewhere within this interchange, CC staffers remove the giant prim and eject the griefer.  The conversation continues.

JRP: Why don't we ignore the enemy.  Out of sight, out of mind.

OneBigRiver Stork: Sir, it seems that many people believe that the executive branch has repeatedly over-stated outside threats in order to make political gains. Examples include the red scare and WMD in Iraq. What reason is there to think that we should not have the judicial branch involved, if we cannot trust the executive?

JRP: Sure, politicians will exaggerate when they perceive a political benefit from doing so. I am also skeptical of claims that "we are safer." Unfortunately, as with the boy crying wolf, you can't dismiss a threat merely because it is hyped.  Put differently, a threat of unknown probability may be represented by government as having a probability of 90 percent, when the real threat is 60 percent-- which may be quite high enough to warrant drastic preventive measures.

lawrenceindyk Ah: Judge Posner, first let me say I enjoy your blog with Professor Becker. My question concerns your recommendation against express authorization for certain harsh interrogation techniques, instead making a "public statement" that harsh treatment is wrong, but simultaneously relying on military or intelligence agents to do what is necessary, in grave circumstances, to prevent grave harm to the nation. Do you think this is a practical suggestion given that behavior in the military and intelligence community tends to more strictly follow the requirements of regulation?

JRP: It's not an ideal solution, but I would hesitate to rule out a situation in which a cop punches a kidnapper in the nose in order to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the victim.

Peridontus Malaprop: I had two questions. The first was whether you could clarify your position on Supreme Court review of anti-terror laws? It sounds like you're suggesting that the Supreme Court should not review the constitutionality of laws such as the PATRIOT act, and leave such matters to the Executive and Legislative branches. Do I understand correctly? If so, are there any other classes of laws that should similarly be exempt from Constitutional review?

JRP No, I think it should review the laws, but with a light touch, resolving genuine doubts in favor of constitutionality.

LA: The US Army has stated that their policy on military tribunals is that either evidence against the witness must be declassified to be presented at trial, or if declassification is not possible, to hold subjects in indefinite detention without trial. What are your thoughts?

JRP: I think the classified version should be shown to the judge in private, and he should compare it with the unclassified version and make a determination as to whether the unclassified version gives the defendant enough information about the evidence to enable him to defend himself adequately. Then the evidence should be excluded.

I think it's a mistake to lard constitutions with amendments or to make constitutions, especially the federal constitution, to be amended too easily. But a constitution like the U.S. constitution drafted in 1787 can't be treated as ironclad; otherwise it becomes a straitjacket because the framers couldn't foresee all 21st century problems.

Matthew Merilouto: Yeah that's pretty fancy Mr. Posner, but I know how to fly!


III. Judge Posner on Parody, Satire, Fair Use, and Fan Fiction

Neptune Rebel: For the Judge: I recently wrote a paper which used an article you wrote in '92 called "When is Parody Fair Use." After reading the article, I have two questions: 1) Do you not see restricting satire which borrows from copyrighted work as a violation of promoting progress and creativity, and 2) In light of court cases that came after that article (specfically Campbell v. Acuff-Rose) do you still consider your opinion to be correct legal doctrine?

JRP:  I read Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, though murkily written, as authorizing large-scale copying for purposes of parody. Satire is a little more complicated. Bill Landes and I discuss the issue in a chapter of our book The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (2003 or 2004).

... [I]f a work is offered as a substitute for another work, then it takes away sales from the copied work. If the work is offered as criticism, it may take away sales too, but not by virtue of the copying-- by virtue of the criticism, which should be permitted. 

NR: But do you still, then, consider satire completely devoid of fair use?

JRP: No, what concerns me is copying from X to satirize Y-- that seems much like other copying. But the courts sometimes mischaracterize parody as satire, as in the Puppies sculpture.

Chalil Vandeverre: So why isn't that the basis, [rather] than labels like parody or satire?

JRP: Judges aren't yet comfortable with concepts such as substitutability and complementarity.

Kear Nevzerov: But what about the question of cultural cross-pollenization? Do you think interpreting copyright law too strictly will inhibit this?

JRP: In general, I think copyright is interpreted too broadly. But parodies at least are safe, I think. I'd like to hear from the raccoon.

For now, the raccoon remains silent.


Thunderclap Morgridge: What is your opinion on Fan Fiction, Judge?

JRP: I've never heard of "fan fiction." What is it?

TM: Derivative works made by fans off of a series of movie or TV by fans of that show not the authors/writers or copyright holders.

Skadi Nordwind: Sometimes fan fiction can even influence the original author, as when fan fiction plot lines are incorporated into future "canon" plots.

JRP: Very interesting. I think if the character is sufficiently elaborated to be copyrighted, and if it figures prominently (beyond fair use) in the fan fiction, then there's a probably violation. I wrote about comic book character copyright in an opinion called "Gaiman".

Francesca Babeli: Wicked, the musical, is an example from Wizard of Oz, and The Wind Done Gone  as fan fiction of Gone with the Wind.

JRP: Wind Done Gone was a parody. I don't know Wicked.  The suit against Wind Done Gone failed on that ground.

TM: So these people are in violation? An example is a person in Australia is doing a work on Seaquest 2040 but is using different characters, only the environment remains.  Would that pass or fail?

JRP: How much environment, and is it distinctive? If it's the equivalent of a painting, it would be copyrighted and if used extensively would not be fair use.  Environment-- it would depend on how close the language, setup, etc. was; it would be important if the background looked identical.

Chancery Jae: Judge Posner, I have spent quite a lot of time looking at secondary liability decisions in the P2P context. I'm really interested to know whether, if you had to decide Aimster today based on current law, whether you think you would still go through the process of finding the Aimster defendant contributorily liable (with everything that entailed regarding the interpretation of the Sony protection), or whether you would rely purely on inducement liability?

JRP: I am stumped; I have forgotten the distinction.

Crash Sienkiewicz: Your Honor, you mentioned that you wrote about a case involving comic books called "Gaiman".  Can you briefly elaborate on that for me?

JRP: Gaiman is a well known writer who agreed to write the text for a Spawn comic. He didn't do the drawings. The question was whether he had any copyright in the text and characters, as the character, in particular, was a composite of some details supplied by Gaiman but also the drawing and coloring by others.  We ruled that he did.

NR: This would be Neil Gaiman?

JRP: Yes, Neil Gaiman. There is more to the case, but it would take too long to explain.


IV. Judge Posner on Law and IP Rights in Online Worlds

Ryan Auxarmes: [H]ow does one try to apply law to someplace like this? How does the idea of jurisdiction apply in a virtual world?

JRP: Great question; with real money being invested in virtual worlds, there need to be law-like rules to resolve disputes, protect property rights, enforce contracts, protect intellectual property and so forth. I assume without knowing that Linden is the supreme ruler of your world.

Neptune Rebel: Ooh, new title for Philip!

Chalil Vandeverre: What is so virtual about Linden's servers?

JRP: The servers are solid, but not the software. The way law historically develops is from custom. I can imagine customs emerging from interactions among avatars, and then Linden codifying the customs, as laws, that seem best to regulate the virtual world.

RA: That brings a second question, in a world like this, what separates property rights from intellectual property rights?

JRP: If you buy an island, you have a counterpart to a physical property right; if you design a dress, you have or should have some kind of intellectual property right, if you want to motivate people to enter the world and transact in it. I found the choice of suits for my avatar rather limited. Maybe there is a business opportunity for someone in male fashion in Second Life.

Hamlet Au: There is, sir!

Donald Gulick: Given the rise of virtual economies, what can be done in real world law to protect against terrorist disruption of digital economies?

JRP: The FBI has a cyberterror division which is worrying about terrorist disruption of the Internet.  SL is not a democracy, but with competition among virtual worlds, you have the form of protection which political scientists call exit, to distinguish it from voice (i.e., the vote). I hope it's a benign dictatorship.

Thunderclap Morgridge: More like a charismatic oligarchy.

Justice Soothsayer: What would you think of conducting oral arguments for the 7th Circuit in a Second Life Courtroom?

JRP: The first step is to hear oral argument by video, which many of my colleagues resist.  Oral argument in Second Life would be great, if I can buy an ermine robe for my avatar.

HA: We'll have the Judge playing Tringo yet!

Nickz Fortitude: Recently the IRS announced that it is looking at taxing income earned in virtual worlds like SL, do you have any comments?

JRP: I have put that as a question in my latest edition of Economic Analysis of Law--  it's a great question. I don't know the answer.

Skadi Nordwind: Is income made in world really differentiated from actual income?  Are they hoping to tax Linden currency before it is exchanged?

JRP: Well, there is an exchange rate, so if you make money in SL, it's like making money in a foreign currency like the Lira.  My guess is that the IRS has better things to worry about.


NF: If the IRS can tax it, can't they take it if you don't pay?  How do we ensure due process in a virtual world?

JRP: What will ensure due process I assume is Linden's self-interest. They want people to invest in SL and we know that people won't invest if their property rights are not reasonably secure. If Linden inflated the currency, it would drive people from SL.

Jimby Pomegranate: My question deals with virtual economies. How far away are we from the day of recognizing a virtual economy (e.g., that of Second Life) as an independent, legitimate economy (e.g., that of a sovereign nation)?

JRP: Not a sovereign nation, because your servers have to be somewhere. What is true is that virtual worlds are difficult to regulate.

Thunderclap Morgridge: Then what is required for a currency to be considered legitimate?

JRP: A currency is legitimate in the usual sense if it is legal tender-- i.e., you can't refuse it as a means of payment. So you can have a legitimate currency within a virtual world, but you could not compel people outside it to accept virtual world dollars in payment for goods or services.

Skadi Nordwind: The corporation still resides in the US.

JRP: Good question, but it arises in ordinary law--accident at sea, etc.--so there is an international law of admiralty. Eventually there will be an international law of virtual worlds.

Rob Miranda: Mr. Posner, what are your thoughts on privacy rights in Second Life? I understand your stance in 1981 was that privacy is not economically inefficient.

JRP: What I said is that privacy is double-edged: you want to hide from other people but you would like them to be transparent to you.  So it has a manipulative character.  Anonymity is a good example of the problem. It protects but it can also be used to deceive. It is hiding the true appearance of the raccoon from me.

Ludwig Swain: Copyright question: would you consider the "cloning" of a copyrighted real world architectural work into SL to be infringement or fair use?

Ben Solomon: No fair. That's Bill Patry's question...

JRP: I think Patry is in here somewhere-- maybe he's the raccoon.

Basman Kepler: I believe Patry has described his avatar as looking like Swiper the Fox from the Dora cartoons.

JRP:  Great question on cloning a copyrighted real world architectural work into SL-- probably infringement, on the theory that the SL counterpart is a derivative work, hence the property of the copyright holder.  These are excellent questions!

Ludwig Swain: But what about 17 USC 120(a)?

JRP: I left my statute book in the office.

LS: Sorry... 120(a) is the exception for pictorial representations of architectural works.  Bill and I have been kicking this around.

JRP: I didn't know there was such an exception. The general rule is that the picture of an object, such as a sculpture, is a derivative work. Of course it could be argued that a building in SL is a building, not a picture, since it can be entered.

LS: On the other hand, a "building" in SL is not "habitable"...

JRP: Does it have to be physically entered? A locked building can't be physically entered either, without violence.

BS: It can only be entered as a virtual construct. That is, it stays a picture, even when your avatar "enters" it.

JRP: But that's true of most derivative works-- they're not substitutes. There is an argument against giving the ownership of the derivative work copyright to the original copyright holder. Landes and I argue however... [t]hat it is efficient to concentrate all the related rights in one owner, as otherwise it is difficult to know what is being copied.

Skadi Nordwind: Architects often render their plans in a similar fashion to the way we do here.  I believe some architectural programs and firms even use SL as a building area for "real" projects.

BS: Fashion works are generally considered functional in the US. Pictures of same aren't infringing.

LS: Yes, but the touchstone of what is considered a "building" (according to the copyright office) is whether a building is habitable...

JRP: Why does the Copyright Office think habitability is important?  Are the pyramids habitable?  If I built a new pyramid, I could copyright it.

Hypatia Callisto: Hm, wouldn't the style of pyramid be too simple to copyright?

JRP: A simple pyramid, yes.

LS: The idea is that bridges, etc. are not "buildings" under the AWCPA, because they are not habitable, even though they are works of architecture.

SN: So if an architect plans a building, but it is never built, can he still copyright his design?

JRP: I thought building plans could be copyrighted, but ask Patry...

I don't know what kind of legal rights a participant in SL has. It would depend on an express or implied contract between you and Linden. If you bought virtual property from Linden for a large amount of U.S. dollars, you would want to have some kind of contractual protection unless you were confident that Linden's self-interest would be served by fully protecting your property right.

Hamlet Au: I do hope you return to Second Life, Judge Posner, I feel the world would benefit from your jurisprudence!

Audience applauds, and Judge Posner moves to the autograph session...


V. Autographs, Fireballs, and Befriending the Raccoon

After the Q&A session, the audience lines up for an autograph of the SL edition of Not a Suicide Pact (published by Falk Bergman), each fan moving one at a time within the red circle of the writing table in the center. When Judge Posner clicks on the table, a ray of light emanates from his avatar, and a digitized copy of his signature is permanently displayed on the fan's copy of the edition.

Judge Richard Posner [to autograph seekers]: Thank you very much. You have been a great audience.


Cindy Heying, an avatar in the Pamela Anderson mode, approaches the Judge to have her autograph signed.

Cindy Heying [grinning]:  Hello.  Thank you!

JRP: Hi... Watch out, my wife is watching.

Suddenly, another griefer attack is unleashed on the colisieum.

Neptune Rebel: Fireball!

Screenshot by Zenigma Suntzu

Chancery Jae: Oh no, it's Al Qaeda again.

Undaunted, Judge Posner continues autographing books.

Quee Taiyang [having her book signed]: Thank you your honor!

JRP: My pleasure. But where's the raccoon? Come back here, raccoon.  That's an order.


Kear Nevzerov: Yes, sir?

JRP: Hi. I have a Maine Coon cat--half raccoon. Her name is Dinah. She was in the New Yorker.

KN: It's what they gave me when I signed up yesterday. Would like to lose the tail.

JRP: Your tail is great.


The firebombing continues.

Gwyneth Llewelyn: Eek.

Hamlet Au: Simulated terror attack.

Judge Richard Posner: I'm afraid I'll have to go, before I'm blown up.  I've really enjoyed the experience. My best to all of you.

With that, Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Senior Lecturer at University of Chicago Law School, exits the metaverse.

Photo of Judge Posner by Sam Sellers


In Second Life, thanks to Zenigma Suntzu and Gaetana Faust for help with this transcript. 

Thanks to Genevieve Junot of Creative Commons for promoting and co-hosting the event, and for CC's Rejon McLuhan and Bovinity Oxberger for their help as ushers and bodyguards.  Thanks as well to CC's Lawrence Lessig for initiating the appearance, and to CC's Joi Ito for making the colisieum available for the appearance.

As always, the SL edition of Judge Posner's book is by Falk Bergman, who heroically stayed awake into the early morning from Germany to ensure the autograph sessions went successfully. 

Judge Posner's avatar is by Melandra Brown.

In both Second Life and Chicago, vast gratitude to Judge Posner's assistant Sam Sellers, who did tremendous spade work preparing the Judge for this appearance.

And of course, above all, thanks to Judge Richard Posner for generously devoting his time to the Residents of Second Life.


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Tomas Hausdorff

I am very impressed by Judge Posner's comments, his sense of humour, and his willingness to interact with something so "odd" as Second Life.

Generally I think of people like judges and lawyers as very rigid, humourless people, without much imagination. This fellow has flipped that perspective on it's ear.

Thanks for putting this transcript up for folks like myself to see, Hamlet. It is important to have my biases and generalizations disrupted now and then :)


Although I'm somewhat less than impressed with Posner's apparent willingness to piss all over the constitution, at least he has a sense of humor.

Doesn't stop him from being grossly, dangerously wrong.

Are we going to see someone with an opposing viewpoint invited in to SL soon?

Nobody Fugazi

Thanks for putting this up; I was unable to attend because of other things... How the Judge just kept going with the griefing is wonderful.

Wish I could have been there.


now britney looks great . look here


Thanks for such a smart article. As usually Judge Posner is the best. Wait for the next publications.


Judge Posner is the best. You should visit

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