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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


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Adz Childs

Well said!

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I rent a garage. I hold legal title to the old car inside it. The garage belongs to the man from whom I rent it.

If I put a new tailpipe or bumper on my car while it's in his garage, I retain possession of the parts and the car as long as I continue paying him rent.

If, however, I fail to pay the rent, he can take possession of my entire car and all its contents after a warning period. He can even break my lock. It's all in the TOS...I mean rental agreement.

So...what's so hard to understand about that concept? Perhaps if LL had simply referred to our "virtual land" as "server space" this never would have occurred.

Arcadia Codesmith

More to the point, they should avoid phrases like "your land" when referring to their land, and words like "buy" when they mean "lease with a large, indefensible up-front payment referred to, purely metaphorically, as a purchase price".

I'm not entirely certain the court is going to sympathetic to a big link that says "Buy Land" and some small print that says, "oh, by the way, you're not actually buying land."

The fact that the technologically saavy understand that we don't own jack doesn't mean it's not false advertising to say, "this is yours" when it really isn't.

And if fine print negates any overt claims... would anybody like to own a bridge in Brooklyn? I can make you a fantastic deal! Just be sure to read the TOS regarding our proprietary definition of the word "own".

Adric Antfarm

If this were isolated, I would be cool with some sympathy, but these are the people who make the rest of us suffer with their habitual clue deficiency disorder as it is.

-'Do not eat stick' note on my cheese and crackers

-'Not for kids' on plastic bags

-I can handle lawn darts even if you cannot.

-Low fat only dressing at places compelled to compensate for your need to offset those double cheeseburger with a diet coke and salad.

-And the biggest injustice of all is poking along at 55 because you idiots can't go fast and think at the same time.

Botgirl Questi

I think the main problem is that the Second Life marketing language says "owning land" while the underlying legal language in the TOS tells another story. Check out the language used in the the ad pictured here: http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/lie-of-sland.html

CarloAnotnio Negulesco

Exactly my feeling. The TOS says you don't own squat (except your IP). Meanwhile, all the advertising says "own land". The land is more leased than owned, since you must pay the tier, or you lose it. I suppose they could re-word their use of the term 'tier' and change it to 'tax'. Which would make it more in line with real world terminologies. You can own your own land in the real world, but if you don't pay your taxes, the land, house and everything else on it will be confiscated by the government.

brinda allen

On the face of it Linden Labs advertising comes periously close to bait and switch...much like the old credit card low percentage rate offers. If you are resonably erudite, and take the time the fine print spells out the details.


The terms of service would seem to gualify as a "contract of adhesion"...a "take it or leave it".
ie: you don't accept? you lose your account and all your inventory.

The obvious downside to a "win" by residents in any suit could at worst just cause the Lab to close it's doors. No business except the US government is is business to lose money.

Hamlet Au

"the Second Life marketing language says 'owning land' while the underlying legal language in the TOS tells another story."

Well, it'll be very interesting to see what the court makes of that. By that logic, Linden Lab should have qualified every single description of SL being a "world" with the disclaimer "Not really a world, just data on our server". If WoW ran an ad that said, "Control your own destiny in World of Warcraft!", can players sue Blizzard because the ToS basically says you actually can't control your own destiny in WoW? For that matter, most advertising for MMOs and virtual worlds speak very loosely about buying and owning valuable items and/or property, which is totally contradicted by the ToS.

Harper Ganesvoort
It would be nice if CNN (or the LA Times, or other outlets which picked this story up) would spell out these details.

It would be even nicer if they actually put someone in world occasionally, like Reuters tried. I suppose it doesn't justify a permanently embedded reporter, but someone who checks out the scene once a week or so would be helpful.

Galatea Gynoid

Hamlet: It's worse than that. Blizzard said I'd be able to own and ride flying mounts and kill evil monsters. In fact, I don't own a thing, and have failed to kill a single living being in all the time I've played WoW. Clearly, Blizzard is engaging in deceptive advertising... ;)

Hamlet Au

Hey wait a minute, Philip Linden said he's building a country. And I got an SL premium account with the clear intention of joining the the Second Life National Guard to pay for college. Then they told me SL doesn't have a national guard or even a standing army. I WAS MISLED.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Private Au, your nation needs you. Orcs from the World of Warcraft have been spotted storming the waterfront of Bay City.

Arcadia Codesmith

Oh, I'd go further than that. I submit that there is no such thing as private ownership of land in RL; that land is owned by whatever sovereign entity claims jurisdiction over that land and has sufficient force of arms to press their claim; that governments routinely exercise their soverignty through eminent domain to seize 'private' land at their whim; that the chimera of private ownership has been deliberately fostered by government for centuries to distract the citizens from their status as mere tenants; and that citizens who don't understand this are fools.

When we draft the Magna Carta for virtual worlds and call the kings to task, let's be damned sure we don't get hoodwinked again.

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