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The Courts Games

Can Avatars Make Contracts? 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the +1-tax-ledger-of-smiting dept.
edadams sends in a story about the legal questions that are starting to crop up over property disputes in virtual worlds. A lawsuit in March 2008 that stopped one Second Life user from selling a virtual product created by another user marked the beginning of a significant amount of casework for several law firms, in large part due to the way Second Life's currency interacts closely with real money. (And yes, apparently the product in that particular case was for cybersex — did you have to ask?) "As transactions grow in volume, it's inevitable that disagreements will crop up. Linden says that although it will enforce its terms of service, including its ban on violating other users' intellectual property, it can't settle most disputes for users." A lawyer for one intellectual property firm handled a case in which the co-ownership of virtual real estate had to be determined, ending with a financial settlement given to two users who helped a virtual land developer run a group of Second Life islands. As virtual worlds get more popular and their business models more directly affect real-life finances, we can expect these legal issues to become more common as well.
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Can Avatars Make Contracts?

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  • ... (And yes, apparently the product in that particular case was for cybersex -- did you have to ask?) ...

    Wow! They've productized cybersex? I thought it was a service! Is it over-the-counter yet? Does it come in a gel or powder that I apply to my genitals? I have so many questions on how it works. Can I get it delivered to my house discretely? Brilliant move but the physics are still a little confusing to me.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Brilliant move but the physics are still a little confusing to me.

      Me too. Cybersex is easier to get than money. Apparenty retards stay that way, no matter how many lives you give them.

    • by ouimetch (1433125)
      I guess this is one way to think outside of the box in tough economic times...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      "product in that particular case was for cybersex"
      I thought the same thing at first...but the case was in regards to a product used for cybersex.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >Wow! They've productized cybersex?

      It was a product line with a variety of custom made animations, each of which represents dozens or hundreds of hours of work, and is by all means a tangible medium of expression and as such is subject to copyright law.

    • by davidsyes (765062)

      Can't those avatar contracts be called "avatracts"? It seems silly to regulate virtual contracts if there is no hidden real-world contracting going on inside these avatracts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Can I get it delivered to my house discretely?

      What, as in one at a time?

      I'll get my coat...

  • by Lordfly (590616) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:27AM (#27773467) Homepage Journal

    If you signed your name on an actual contract, you're liable for the contract. If, on the other hand, you're an idiot and sign it with your Second Life avatar (or Slashdot ID for that matter), I would imagine the contract is at least called into heavy question.

    I did contract work in SL for 3 years. I always signed my name on real, mailed-over contracts. I had to do work with other contractors, though, who in a fit of privacy histrionics, refused to divulge any part of their private life to these real-world companies they were working for, and thus "signed" a "contract" inside the virtual world.

    Not surprisingly, they either didn't last long doing contract work or got so heavily ostracized for their insanity they never got another call again.

    In short, don't be a moron. Get a real contract, in real paper, and sign it with your real name (and make sure they do too!)

    Anything else is just roleplay.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Reason58 (775044)

      IANAL, but I'm pretty sure a contract isn't valid, if it is for an illegal activity (e.g. you can't uphold a contract to be a slave, you can't uphold a contract for prostitution [cybersex], etc).

      • by Lordfly (590616)

        What does that have to do with anything? The summary is stupid; the lawsuit is over a product that enhances cybersex, not the cybersex itself.

        In short, virtual dildos. Yes, it's big money. Well, it was. Now the poor guy is fighting a ton of copyright infringement lawsuits as well.

        • by Reason58 (775044)

          Of course I didn't RTFA! Anyway, it seems like their just might be some prior art on this.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Are there THAT many people that use this thing, and actually spend REAL money on it???

          Whew...get a life in meatspace why don't ya?

          Seriously, while I've not every been to or used Second Life, as I understand it, it isn't even a game like the WoW type things, right? So, what do people do, just mull around in a virtual world, and spend real money to do it?

          I guess I don't see the appeal.

          • by GigG (887839)
            Apparently they have cybersex and need to enhance it.
          • So, what do people do, just mull around on the internet, and spend real money to do it?

            There fixed that for ya.
            And yes, lots of people spend lots of money on websites, consulting, webpage making and such, which all takes place within a browser (or skype, whatever). Why would an extension of internet into a 3D space be any different?

      • by PPH (736903) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:43AM (#27773721)

        a contract isn't valid, if it is for an illegal activity...you can't uphold a contract for prostitution

        Prostitution isn't illegal everywhere. Just try to renege on your obligation to pay for personal services in Amsterdam and see who the cops throw in jail.

        • by digitig (1056110)

          a contract isn't valid, if it is for an illegal activity...you can't uphold a contract for prostitution

          Prostitution isn't illegal everywhere. Just try to renege on your obligation to pay for personal services in Amsterdam and see who the cops throw in jail.

          Good luck getting as far as the cops.

        • by Inda (580031)
          You pay upfront though. 20 guilders in 1993. Um. So a friend told me.
      • by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:45AM (#27773739) Journal
        Be very careful about that assumption...

        Many (most?) state's laws regarding prostitution require actual physical contact (or the promise of same), so, since a digital being can't perform physical contact, an agreement to "I'll let you enter commands on Second life that will show animations where your avatar appears to be fucking mine and use poseballs to enhance the animation for 30 minutes for 1000 Linden" actually *might be* valid. (assuming all the other requirements for a contract are met)

        Regardless, though...the contract in question here wasn't actually *for* cybersex, it was for the creation and ownership of a digital thing *used in* Cybersex...and that sort of contract would almost certainly be enforceable, assuming all the other requirements were met.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        True but its not real sex, its really no different than phone sex which is legal.

        Unless there is some things that the operator isn't allowed to say that skirts the law, but as far as I know its legal
      • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @12:04PM (#27775051) Homepage

        "Cybersex" is not prostitution. It's more like writing erotic poetry (sans skill).

        • I don't agree with your "(sans skill)" assessment. Sure, most people couldn't write their way out of a wet paper bag (actually an interesting exercise), but that's true of most erotic poetry as wel.

          • Are you saying cybersex is skillful literary art? If so, I would be amused to see your examples which support this claim. My impression is that this particular form of writing goes something like "im taking off ur shirt. ur sooo hott."

            I mean, how well do you think a person could compose using one hand?

            • As the original poster said, it's akin to writing erotic literature. The main difference being that you have to be quick thinking.

              And as for "im taking off ur shirt. ur sooo hott." that IS what a lot of people write. But that's really not what I was talking about - I was objecting to the sans skills that was mentioned, as it's suggesting that noone can make something that doesn't make you want to gouge your eyes out. Learn to read what other people write before commenting.

              Aditionally, not everyone sees a ne

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by pyrote (151588)

              I'll be honest, I used to help run a virtual Cathouse. The girls involved were VERY talented and took their 'job' very seriously, and we never had an unsatisfied customer. For some of the women, it helped them in Reality get over intimacy issues, or escape some real life hardships, much like some escape into a good book.

              Those days are gone for numerous reasons, but not due to the lack of quality of the hired.

        • Also, if you're not paying taxes for such activities (income taxes or sales taxes, or at least declaring those amounts). Don't come crying to the authorities if you get ripped off. There are plenty of contracts in real life that are also not enforceable, either because the amount is too small to go after -- or simply because it's not in the interest of a government that has better things to do with its time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Ultimately for a contract to be valid, both sides have to agree to it. The signing a piece of paper isn't required. "Paint my house and I'll give you $100" is a contract (assuming it's a genuine offer). The only problem is it's hard to prove that I agreed.

      So, you can agree to a contract via your avatar, but considering the nature of Second Life, there's a decent argument that nobody believed it was a genuine agreement.

      In short, don't be a moron. Get a real contract, in real paper, and sign it wit
      • by Smidge207 (1278042) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:50AM (#27773807) Journal

        Ultimately for a contract to be valid, both sides have to agree to it.

        Exactly. Plus, the Statute of Frauds requires certain transactions to be documented in a signed "writing." But what is a "writing" under the law? Does this mean hard copy? Will the courts really enforce the Statute of Frauds strictly enough to avoid liability under electronic contracts as the Internet proliferates? Now that handwriting software and peripherals are an alternative to keyboard input, the signature requirement of the Statute of Frauds may no longer be an issue.

        And what about the three-day right of rescission afforded consumers in certain transactions in California? For example, home solicitation contracts may be rescinded within three days of formation of the contract. These agreements are the result of solicitations by vendors at the consumer's home. The consumer must be provided with a hard-copy form that simply requires his or her signature and mailing within the three day period to void the contract. This "change of mind" provision may or may not apply to solicitations on the Internet if received on a PC at home. But perhaps they should. Likewise, seminar sales solicitations also allow a three-day right of rescission under different provisions of the California Civil Code.

        And what about the Mailbox Rule? If contracts are accepted upon dispatch, does the sending of email cut off the right of an offeror to withdraw his or her offer notwithstanding the fact that the emailed acceptance has not yet been received? And what if the offeror sends his or her withdrawal of the offer before the acceptance is emailed, but the withdrawal is not received until after dispatch of the acceptance? Issues such as these must be addressed within the context of a technology that causes email delivery to be unpredictable and delivery records to be easily manipulated. The solution to these issues may be dealt with on a case-by-case basis as the specific fact patterns surface in the courts. However, a more efficient approach would be legislative committee research and formulation of a set of commercial statutes that will accommodate virtual contracts before litigation proliferates. Legislatures need not be visionaries to anticipate and resolve the inadequacy of present-day commercial law. The "Internet Commercial Code" would facilitate the free flow of commerce in the new medium and avoid the unnecessary burden of what is now foreseeable litigation. Indeed, an organization called the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws is already working on a revised Uniform Commercial Code that will accommodate the new legal issues created by virtual contracts.

        =Smidge=

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          Right of rescission applies only to physical products, not services. I suspect cybersex would be regarded as a service, even if software is transferred in order to perform that service. You can't rescind your contract with your housekeeper after he has already cleaned your house! I'm not sure about the enforcability of a contract to perform a service that was illegal in the first place.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            They weren't selling [virtual] sex, but software to assist with the act of virtual sex, so who cares? In any case, I can't wait until cyberprostitution is made illegal. Won't someone think of the cyberhookers?

    • But as I see it, there should be no problem signing contracts as $AVATAR - for strictly SL (or other virtual world) activity. As soon as RL enters the picture (including RL money), I agree, use your real identity.

      • by bughunter (10093)
        I think the point here is that now SL and RL currencies are linked by a transaction rate, blurring that distinction, and thus creating the legal squabble.
    • by jd (1658)

      In some cases, a digital signature (of the cryptographic kind, not the Slashdot ID kind) can be used as a legally-recognized signature. In some places. Not all places recognize such signatures, and not all places that do will recognize it for all types of contract. Your mileage WILL vary whether you like it or not.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:04AM (#27774007)

      The elements of a contract are mutual assent (offer, acceptance and meeting of the minds) consideration and absence of defects (such as lack of capacity or fraud). A signature is only one way of showing acceptance. Actions can also show acceptance. When you press "I accept" or something similar on an econtract, you accepted (though if someone who was not you accepted for you you could use a fraud defense assuming you can prove it was more likely than not someone else acted without your consent).

      The medium through which a contract is formed does not matter. EULAS and TOS stand regardless of the electronic format. Having an avatar act as an online electronic agent for your RL self is still binding, assuming you are in control of the avatar. It is unclear what happens if you get hacked. Personally, I disagree with the trend to try to make one liable for all misuses of ones accounts, and i think if the defendant can show fraud and unauthorized use, the contract should not stand.

      If avatars work in a virtual economy tied to real money, the contracts formed through avatar interaction are valid, whether you have a paper contract and real signature or not. However, given the logic of protecting yourself from a fraud defense of some sort, I can understand refusing to do business where significant amounts of money are involved unless you get confirmation of the other parties real identity. The contract can only be pure RP if no lindens are exchanged, because lindens are tied to real money. Think about the legal problems of gambling with lindens. It was arguably RP but if people won something that turned into money, various legal issues are triggered.

      Not legal advice, just a few definitions and general conversation. IAMYL.

      • Mod AC up please.

      • by averner (1341263)

        When you press "I accept" or something similar on an econtract, you accepted (though if someone who was not you accepted for you you could use a fraud defense assuming you can prove it was more likely than not someone else acted without your consent).

        So then you're going to sue my cat for walking on my keyboard?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          As it has been stated in an earlier story about luring a cat on the keyboard to press that the cat is considered an object for that purpose and cannot enter contracts. If the cat walked across the keyboard without your ability to interfere you're probably off the hook as long as your actions afterwards don't indicate that you accepted the terms anyway (e.g. for a software EULA that you proceed with the installation and use anyway instead of cancelling the install/uninstalling), if you consciously manipulate

          • by ultranova (717540)

            e.g. for a software EULA that you proceed with the installation and use anyway instead of cancelling the install/uninstalling),

            I already purchased the software (or the license to use it, or whatever). Me continuing with the install doesn't indicate that I accept the EULA; in fact, the EULA is likely not a valid contract anyway, since it doesn't include any consideration to me - it doesn't give me anything I wouldn't already be entitled to by an earlier contract, namely the purchase.

            Still, I recognize that

      • It was arguably RP but if people won something that turned into money, various legal issues are triggered.

        Almost anything can be monetized. Almost any MMOG currency has a reasonably stable market value, and you can operate with it without any tax hit, or any records being kept. I'm sure somewhere out there, people are using MMOG currency to evade taxes too.

        I think making a distinction between "virtual" anything and "real" anything is foolish. The concern I'd have with a virtual contract is how to hold the

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Can Avatars Make Contracts?

      No, and the unborn should not be given the right to vote or own handguns.

    • by plague3106 (71849)

      Interesting. So if I change my wireless service via the internet using an avatar (account) I created with them.. I'm not reall liable for the charges?

      • not really since ATT/Verizon/T-mobile would link you to the REAL WORLD att website before they would ship you a REAL WORLD phone (now selling you a SL "phone" is a different matter)

    • by pyrote (151588)

      I run a set of sims, and this is always on my mind.

      I don't ask Real life information because frankly, my customers don't want to give that up, and under Linden Labs TOS, that is a violation. With that contract between me and Linden Labs, I could not require RL information if I wanted to.

      monthly I clear the costs of 3 'islands' (295/mo ea) and have to wonder if one day everyone will just poof. I doubt it, but it's a risk I take.

      As for the client end (renters) they take the risk of me walking away and cance

  • Cyberlaw (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:28AM (#27773489)

    Trying to get the long arm of the law around cybersex cases could be a really sticky situation.

    You've got to hand it to them though.

  • Hey, if androids can dream of electric sheep, why shouldn't avatars get into the fun? ;)
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:42AM (#27773707)

    I'm not the biggest geek in the world but I consider myself to still be very geeky and I find this to be the most pointless waste of time and effort I've heard about since Twitter. Virtual lawsuits? Only if I can DM the lawyers.

    I don't think us geeks are going to be complaining about the music kids listen to these days or getting off the lawn, we'll just bitch about how the impractical and useless the latest techno-geek fad is. "Twitter? What, blogs with RSS updates aren't good enough for you, son? Back in my day--"

    "Back in your day your CPU only had one core and you liked it, right? Your polygons didn't even have textures, you had to customize your config.sys and autoexec.bat just to play--"

    "Aw, shut up. And get off my lawn."

    • by CHK6 (583097)
      If I had the mod points I would give them to you. What you said is not only funny, but insightful. And the metatag "getafirstlife" is so true to.
    • by jd (1658)

      I dunno. It would be kind of handy to be able to @toad lawyer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      As virtual worlds get more popular and their business models more directly affect real-life finances

      I think some people just take it for granted that virtual worlds will become more popular and business will become more and more active in them and even dependent on them. However, I think this remains to be seen.

      Anyone seen real numbers on Second Life recently? I always thought the whole thing was a bit silly and poorly thought-out. I know a couple years ago there was a period of months were lots of people were talking about Second Life and it was even in the news, but I don't hear much about it these

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        The idea that you could be sued in the real world for something you do while playing a computer game isn't going to appeal to most people.

      • by Reapy (688651)

        Yeah I feel like SL really dropped the ball, they are slow to introduce new tech. I think I started looking at it when it hit the news and still think the concept of it is fascinating and a great start to something, but it really just smells of wasted potential when you take a look at it now a days. Sure they put some new shaders in there and physics models, but everything still runs slow as hell, the avatars are primitave as hell (sure the 3d modelers/texture people have gotten WAY WAY better at hiding it)

      • by SnowDog74 (745848)

        Yes, I know people have real money in Second Life. People have real money in online poker, too, but that doesn't make it a valid economy.

        This is an important point. Gambling agreements are not enforceable according to The U.S. Code... and for good reason. In the case of virtual property, I would argue that verbal agreements are not enforceable. If a written agreement stood behind it, then I believe it would be enforceable to the extent that consideration, mutual assent, etc. were all present and to the e

    • by icebike (68054)

      > I find this to be the most pointless waste of time and effort I've heard about since Twitter.

      Actually Twitter has some valid uses, but spending our courts' time on imaginary problems of imaginary crimes against imaginary property in an imaginary world ought to be forbidden by congress.

      What further evidence do you need that there are way too many lawyers in the world?

      Its way past time for some people to get a life (a flesh and blood life) and grow the fuck up!

      There! I've vented on Slash dot. I feel b

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:45AM (#27773737)

    IAAL and the last thing--the very last thing--that I want to do in a computer game is form legally binding relationships. Today it's contracts and cybersex. Tomorrow its libel and "You wrongfully damaged the value of my avatar!"

    If I get in a contract dispute in a computer game, I don't want to end up in court--I want a virtual duel with swords or pistols! I want to be able to cheat somebody in a (virtual) contract and laugh at them down the barrel of a plasma blaster when they complain.

    Some MMOGs want to create a game environment that can get people sued in real life--all the while disclaiming ANY liability on their part for the social cost of such wasteful, stupid lawsuits. I'll run, screaming, away from such utter lunacy.

    But, hey, its good business for lawyers . . . what the hell!

    • by ubrgeek (679399)
      I want a virtual duel with swords or pistols!

      I'm sure there's a joke somewhere about "prior restraint" :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      So, I take it you play EVE Online.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      SL is not a "game", it is a virtual world. Some see it as a predecessor of a 3D Internet. Instead of websites, people have lands or stores or space where they create and display virtual goods and art. SL virtual objects can link to traditional websites where people can sell real world goods. Also, SL objects can give people information in more interesting ways than 2d websites and allow more engaging interaction and collaborations. Educators use SL (and not just for sex ed) and so do librarians. I won't bo

      • SL is not a "game", it is a virtual world.

        While Linden Labs would like us to believe that, it's just more crap to sort through to get the information I want. You say the "virtual objects" link to a traditional website? Why wouldn't I just head right to the website and skip the middleman?

        Also, SL objects can give people information in more interesting ways than 2d websites and allow more engaging interaction and collaborations.

        I'd love an example of how information is somehow "enhanced" by presenting it in a 3D format. Do you believe that applies to music? Even Duran Duran tried to get a concert going on SL and gave up. Works of art? Will seeing the Mona Lisa in a 3D representation someho

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dcollins (135727)

      IAAL... I want to be able to cheat somebody in a (virtual) contract and laugh at them down the barrel of a plasma blaster when they complain.

      Confirmed: That's definitely a lawyer.

  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    >>As virtual worlds get more popular and their business models more directly affect
    >>real-life finances, we can expect these legal issues to become more common as well.

    These things are becoming *more* popular? Have I been getting out *too* much?

    God save us all. Pretty soon the English language will consist only of the letters l,o, R, U, s, t, and f.

    -b

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geminidomino (614729) *

      Pretty soon the English language will consist only of the letters l,o, R, U, s, t, and f.

      -b

      I can solves puzzle?

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Sure, that covers ROFL and STFU, but you also need "B" and "W" for BFF, BRB, and WTF.
        'K bye.
  • Avatar Contract (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:54AM (#27773865)
    This is such a dumb question and here is the scenario: say I play a businesswoman online. Now say my little brother gets ahold of my account while I'm in the bathroom and decides that I'm going to prostitute myself and gets into a binding contract. Did my avatar make the contract or my little brother THROUGH the avatar? When I get back to the keyboard is my avatar to be punished because they were 'possessed' by the spirit of my little brother?

    Impossible to enforce. If there were an in game judicial system, it would be treated as temporary insanity. To which you would also NEED a judicial system for arbitration. This introduces lawyers. And now the game becomes a PVP free for all.
    • by debrain (29228)

      As a general rule you are not bound to contracts to which you did not agree. In this case, you likely wouldn't be bound to the contract because you didn't give your little brother authority to make the contract. Contracts are simply enforceable promises, a meeting of the mind, a quid-pro-quo as between two capable individuals.

      However, even if there is no contrat there are extra-contractual remedies available through the law in certain cases. For example, if the person on the other side was under the impress

      • by Foofoobar (318279)
        Precisely, it is for the reasons you listed that the party trying to enforce any contract would find it impossible. I think in terms of a 'contract' for online avatars, the 'quest' is the closest thing to a contract. The QUEST is already an agreement between an NPC and a PC for exchange of goods and services rendered.

        Should one be able to do this in game then we are talking not about contracts in game but about playing created content; the PC gets to create QUESTS for other PC's. They then enter into a c
      • by jonbryce (703250)

        There has also got to be an intention to form a contract. If you are playing a computer game, there probably isn't the expectation that such an intention exists.

    • and this is why you are supposed to log out before you step away from the computer No password No login

  • Sure. Why not? If you can do work and exchange value there, you're going to need contracts. Avatars are just remote connections of humans. Just as you can commit to a contract via telegram, phone, fax, and web page, you can commit to one through an avatar.

    It's possible to create works of art and music in Second Life. All the usual copyright issues apply. This will be more of an issue as the technology improves. We already have "Myspace bands." Bands have already played in Second Life, including a f

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Inanimate objects cannot sign anything! It's like asking if a sock-puppet can sign a contract. Try signing a real contract with a puppet on your hand and see if they sue you or the puppet.

      An avatar is not a sentient being and cannot sign for anything. It can, however, be your extension and you can sign through it.

      Now, as to whether a contract signed in a virtual reality world is a valid, binding contract or not is a different story. Personally, I feel it's as binding as the world's administration makes

      • by Animats (122034)

        (Yes, the admins running the servers are the government in this case.)

        No, they're not. They're just a provider of communications services. Your phone company and ISP have no role in dispute resolution in deals you make with other parties.

  • by mmalove (919245) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:17AM (#27774209)

    Selling's legal.
    Fucking's legal.

    Why isn't selling fucking legal?

    Thank you internets, for bringing this time old question back in yet a new way.

  • I played on secondlife for a while. It was the most irritating thing in the universe. My avatar would get in a zone, take three steps and BAM, lag. Nothing. But. Lag. It shocked the heck outta me when I learned how much people would pay to do business there. $1k for an island, when you can barely walk around without crashing your computer? Surely, you jest.

    I wonder if the item in question was the ping-pong-ball-in-the-butt popper. Now THAT was funny.

  • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:21AM (#27774301) Journal

    I cannot believe that people are interested in playing a GAME where you have to hire land developers and sort out legal contracts. What's next, Virtual Tax Filing and Online Toilet Sanitation?

  • Because Christians are betting that they can :)

  • This doesn't have anything to do with 'avatars making contracts' as if some intelligent agents were negotiating deals on their own behalf. This seems to resemble something like an electronic stock exchange. Where there are rules by which the participants (real life people) agree to abide by. And even if some 'intelligent agent' makes a decision to buy or sell, its just like program trading. Its done on behalf of the users standing behind those agents. Many of the transactions on such exchanges exist purely

  • IMHO, Eve Online is much more commerce oriented than Second Life. The makers, CCP, support a pseudo mechanism for real to virtual currency excahnge. A player can use real money to buy a game card, then sell the game code to another player for virutal money. So, there is market established exchange rate.

    CCP actually encourages all manner of double dealing, back stabbing, and fraud. Fruad is part of the game. The game's history is littered with scams where large groups of players will loose months of work b

    • IMHO, Eve Online is much more commerce oriented than Second Life. The makers, CCP, support a pseudo mechanism for real to virtual currency excahnge. A player can use real money to buy a game card, then sell the game code to another player for virutal money. So, there is market established exchange rate.

      But that only goes from real to virtual. There is no CCP-supported mechanism for virtual to real conversion afaict, which would change things, starting with this little thing called taxes.

      OG.

  • it's a game. If you're trying to make a living at it, you're a moron.

    it's barely a game.

    that being said, Linden labs only smiles on the way to the bank every time one of these lawsuits pops up.

    as well, wouldn't anything taking place in the "second life" also be subject to the laws of the "second life"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      it's a game ... it's barely a game.

      usually I let people continue to misunderstand.
      Second Life, poorly worded product as it is, is more akin to a web hosting service with a built in 3D interface.

      Some people make/play games, some socialize, and some conduct real business (just like they do via webpages, email, skype, webex...).

  • Don't blame the lawyers for this. The fault is entirely with the idiots hiring them. Some people are just too thick to realize that their actions lead to one inevitable outcome: taxes. Sooner or later (and in the current economic circumstances probably sooner) the government will realize that there is a whole lot of "real estate" and other "property" it forgot to tax. There will be an avatar tax, the Web site tax, the blog tax and so on.
  • Second Life (Score:3, Funny)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @01:33PM (#27776523)
    Second Life, the online environment that asks the age-old question, "Do androids dream of cybersex with electric sheep?"
  • Seriously, the only place I've ever heard Second Life mentioned is in news articles.

    I get the distinct impression that they have a good marketing team, and very very few Actual users.

  • "Can Avatars Make Contracts?" - come on guys, its fine to have an active fantasy life, but turn off the role play when you log out, please. There are perfectly good laws and precedents for dealing with unwritten/informal contracts - whether they are made over the phone or via a chat between avatars sitting on a flying penis should make no difference.

    For practical purposes, Second Life, WoW etc. are just chunks of teh interweb offering communications, data storage and application hosting facilities. OK, so

  • What some legal firms need to do is buy an island or two and then setup a branch office.

    There are a few ways to have a script in SL pull up a webpage im sure that some sort of real world contract could
    be signed by way of a special SL contracts page (which could require any needed SL >RL links)

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