Some two years after the dispute began, we have a summary judgement in the copyright dispute Amaretto Ranch Breedables, LLC v. Ozimals, Inc., two companies that produce virtual breedable animals in Second Life. (Or as I love calling it, Bunneh v. Horsie.) Tateru Nino has a short summary and a .pdf copy of the judgement from Charles R. Breyer, Senior US States District Judge. (Who as it happens, is brother to US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, which suggests some interesting "Dude you will not believe the case I just ruled on!" conversation over Thanksgiving.)
"This is a copyright case between business competitors who sell virtual animals in an online simulated world known as Second Life," the ruling begins. And here's the core of Breyer's conclusion:
Because Amaretto has not established a reasonable likelihood of facing copyright infringement liability, the Court finds that Amaretto lacks standing to pursue its remaining claims; it also finds that the possibility of harm is so speculative that the Court would not exercise its discretion to rule on the declaratory relief claims even if the threshold standing requirements were met. Accordingly, the Court DENIES IN PART Amaretto’s motion for summary judgment as to the declaratory judgment and copyright misuse claims, and DISMISSES those claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet, but my layman reading makes me think it'll be very difficult for this lawsuit to continue forward.
It also strikes me as establishing a legal precedent for future lawsuits similar to this one. The passage stating that "the possibility of harm is so speculative that the Court would not exercise its discretion to rule on the declaratory relief" seems to suggest that the judge is noting (at least in part) the difficulty of discerning harm in the competition between two kinds of virtual animals that breed. Lawyers and legal scholars reading this, please tell me if that's the gist, or better express it Comments!Tweet