Emerging Tech

Should a virtual world have real-world consequences?

I have never played <em>Second Life</em>, but the more I hear about it in the news, the more intrigued I am. For example, there's currently a lawsuit against <em>Second Life</em> users for copyright infringement. Okay, so that's not the interesting part. What turns on my intrigue is the fact that the copyrighted items include sex toys.

I have never played Second Life, but the more I hear about it in the news, the more intrigued I am. For example, there's currently a lawsuit against Second Life users for copyright infringement. Okay, so that's not the interesting part. What turns on my intrigue is the fact that the copyrighted items include sex toys. See the LinuxInsider article, "Second Life Sex Toys Spat Spurs Real-Life Lawsuit."

According to the article:

The suit was filed last week in Brooklyn federal court against New York resident Thomas Simon, who reportedly goes by the name "Rase Kenzo" in Second Life, as well as 10 other as-yet-unnamed defendants.

The plaintiffs in the case are Eros, an adult products business run by Kevin Alderman, who is known as "Stroker Serpentine" on the site.... Alderman's company makes a variety of furniture and toy items that include computer code to facilitate sex between avatars. "A multitude of products" were copied, Alderman says, including his best-selling SexGen bed.

Sex between avatars? A SexGen bed? Suddenly, Second Life has taken on a life of its own.

Do you think that this virtual world should have real-world consequences?

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

15 comments
dogknees
dogknees

To me, one of the great things about computers is the ability to simulate reality without the nasty consequences. I can crash my plane in a flight-sim without serious injury or death, I can drive at 200mph without being arrested, I can simulate chemical reactions without blowing myself up,... If there are consequences in the real world, it's not really a sim any more but some kind of hybrid. Ultimately, I'm more interested in doing things in virtual reality that are impossible or extremely difficult/expensive to do in the real world. Simulating our litigious society isn't something that appeals.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

My daughter was a regular on SL. So much so, she was a "bouncer"... someone who was charged with the task of keeping minors off the site. The task became virtually impossible (pun intended) and when the pedophilia investigation began, she decided it was time to give up her second life. She has not been back since. To put it in her words: "...a once perfect lil virtual world, is now full of the realities of real life. " Humans can be very ugly creatures without boundaries.... the virtual world in its present state is lacking those kinds of boundaries....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

People will assume they are anonymous and treat others in ways they'd never dream of behaving in real life. These news forums alone are a great example. Accountability is easily ignored and like the Crackberry zombies you see emailing during the walk to work; few are interested in demonstraiting any sort of gadget ettiquette.

dogknees
dogknees

If we're talking about things people might post, it's only words. It's up to the person recieving the message how they choose to react. You choose how you respond to things in life. We should also consider what people might do to expose themselves to a situation. Just as in the real world you (probably) wouldn't advise your daughter to hang out in strip clubs, you wouldn't hang out in a VW where you are offended by the posts. One more thing. If some people's behaviour is "ugly", and I know it is, then we should be addressing why they are acting this way and do something about the root causes rather than changing our behaviour. We should address their actions rather than changing our own. Same as we should (but seldom do) in the real world.

Canuckster
Canuckster

... and not a Second Life. While many companies spend millions to get product placement in movies and on TV and even some games, EROS appears to be shooting itself in the foot. Maybe the courts should award them virtual money in return!

Canuckster
Canuckster

I recently saw a documentary on Second Life and its "realities". What I didn't know before was that real monies can be used to buy virtual currency and then, what makes it all so special, is at any time you can convert the virtual currency back into real US dollars. In other words you can have a business in the virtual world that earns you a living in the first life. Thus the legal battle is not as superfluous as I originally thought. To give you an idea of the scale of the potential earnings, the documentary I saw focused on, in part, a developer who's avatar appeared on the cover of Business Week magazine because she has become a multi-millionaire for her work creating and selling "real estate" in the virtual world. She is living in Germany but employs other people from around the world. This is made possible by Second Life's owners allowing the developers to own the copyrights for what they create in Second life. Talk about a messy law suit, imagine the international aspect of the copyrights combined with the fact that the product is residing on a 3rd party server. And yes, they did cover behaviours such as rape, and hackers and other issues that are emerging in what was supposed to be a libertine paradise. Talking about inappropriate behaviour, I cannot believe the yank bashing on here. Did I mention that the real estate tycoon was a Canadian woman of Chinese descent living in Germany who has employees from other parts of the world?

alan
alan

I think your off the cuff comment is dead to rights. Eros should take the matter to the virtual court in Second Life and then get a virtual award for damages. I wonder if they could get virtual Judge Judy to preside?

JamesRL
JamesRL

....To get Eros some publicity. James

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Nah, too easy....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Acording to the media, that is the US governments speciality; bombing people that don't agree with you. ok, maybe that is a little over the top. I don't meant to offend the indavidual americans. You can't hold the whole accountable for the indavidual any more than holding the indavidual accountable for the whole. It's just unfortunate that, like FOSS, the loudest outspoken are rarely the best or most informed representatives. I wouldn't agree with the previous post claiming that all Americans are crazy but you gotta admin, the news doesn't paint a pretty picture. (Edit): I forgot to include the explenation for tone of my response. Simply, the "get off *our* internet" BS is getting so very very old. By that reasoning, please stop our refrigeration technology since it was not invented in the US (Ausie I believe actually). You may also want to give up that pesky computer programming stuff being that programming languages where originally invented by a woman outside the US.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I often make negative comments about the US. On an individual basis, most yanks are ok, it those that are screwed that cause the problems you have with bad press. [ G.W.B. being a good example ;) ] My wife is a yank, and if both Canadian and US immigration didn't discriminate against the other country, we would be living together instead of in different countries. [ US immigration says SHE has to make 80 grand US a year to sponsor me there, it isn't much better for me to bring her and her daughter* here. ] * her daughter from prior relationship, who is actually a good reason for me to move down to Colorado, so she has the stability in schooling that promotes good relationship skills.

D.I.Y.
D.I.Y.

Feel free to boycott us "screwed in the head" Yanks by staying off of our invention. You know, the internet.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

where a gang stormed a game players house at gunpoint and held him trying to get a game password? great that you don't want to come here. we have too many illegal immigrants anyway. the very fact that they come here illegally rather than working their way thru the system causes vast problems with unlicensed / uninsured drivers, involvement in crime as harder to get a legal job, etc. Please stay home, pop another shrimp on the barbie, and don't come here to stay. No problem if you want to come visit as a tourist. Toured Zion and Bryce with an Aussie fellow visiting the states. He even helped figure out why I was getting powerstall in my van on a high pass at 12,000', walked around without shoes on short trails 'to harden his feet' like abo's.

zatnktelaus
zatnktelaus

i have never seen a lot of crap like this you will sue over anything this is just plain crazy it is a virtual world not REAL this is so over the top total crap but i don't expect anything better from americans like microsoft helping sco to sue ibm and linux if i was a yank i would shot myself than to live in a country like that

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