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Second Life Lawsuit Heads to Federal Court 201

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the rubbed-the-wrong-way dept.
Conlaw writes "A former plumbing contractor who has made a new career selling virtual cyber sex toys in the virtual world of Second Life, has now brought suit against another player who is allegedly copying and selling a device called the Sex Gen. The plaintiff, whose avatar is known as 'Stroker Serpentine,' is seeking the real name of the copycat entrepreneur. The reporter describing the lawsuit included commentary from a cyber law professor whose university maintains a virtual Supreme Court in the Second Life world."
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Second Life Lawsuit Heads to Federal Court

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  • by Zarhan (415465) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:31PM (#19747009)
    Someone better start operating one...Then virtual cops can come and enforce the decision and virtual collectors agencies can come and take your virtual goods to pay any restitutions and then your virtual character can be locked up in virtual jail where you can escape with the virtual file to saw off the virtual bars. Then they can have a virtual chase of the prison escapee..
    • by Joebert (946227)
      Then I could make a fortune selling virtual soap on a rope.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:40PM (#19747097)
    What happened? People first took games too seriously because of violent content, now since MMORPGs, gamers also take it too seriously in general.

    What happened?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GigsVT (208848)
      Nothing happened. Second Life isn't a game, any more than the web is a game.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Since when is second life not a game?

        It's an MMORPG with no mobs, basically. A particularly slow/crappy one too.. never saw the attraction myself.

        There's not even any collision detection, so you can just fly everywhere.. there's nothing to achieve and nothing to do except maybe look at some geeks interpretation of a virtual starship enterprise.

        • SL is not a game, it's not even an MMORPG, though it's possible to play games within it.

          It's a virtual sandbox playtoy. There are no goals in SL, other than ones you place on yourself.

          Wanna have virtual sex? you can

          Want to use the scripting and building tools to create interesting toys? Yep.

          Want to play "Virtual dolls" and spend your time shopping? Yes, indeed.

          Want to hang out with others while listening to a music stream. Yes.

          SL is what one makes of it, no more, no less.
          • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
            not a game...It's a virtual sandbox playtoy

            So it's a game then?

            Nothing there you can't do in WoW with a bit of imagination (that's what the RP servers are for). The scripting is fine if you're a combination graphics artist/programmer with the money to afford the dev tools, but for us mere mortals, forget it.

            Except SL runs at 5fps on a Core 2 Duo with a top of the line graphics card, and Wow runs at 20fps on this old 1.4ghz mac mini.
        • It's a game? Please describe the plot/story. no? Okay, well how do you win. hrm?

          what's funny is that it fits the definition of RPG better than any MMORPG, except for the G part. but there is certainly lots and lots of Role-Playing in SL.

          It's an Massively Multiuser Holo-Deck then? .. let's leave the good old G-word out of it. Unless you consider running a business for profit on SL a "game" that's about the only sort of gaming there is that is in-grained into the fabric of the SL software.
    • by Bo'Bob'O (95398)
      This person was a content creator, even if one not working for Lindin Labs. I'm sure there are plenty of people at EA who don't enjoy their jobs.
  • by nanosquid (1074949) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:41PM (#19747105)
    a Sex Gen is kind of a machine that manipulates avatars into various positions. [...] Alderman said Volkov Catteneo is not the only avatar who has done him wrong. "A lot of people copy me, copy my work, copy my ideas," he said. "Because it's an anonymous platform where you're an avatar cartoon character, as opposed to a real-life person, people think they can operate with impunity."

    He's basically talking about animation files. Now, if people literally copy the bits in his animation files, that would be a copyright violation; he'd have a case. But SL makes it pretty hard to do that, and that doesn't sound like what he is complaining about.

    Sounds like he is complaining about that people create animations that are "like" his, not merely his. But that basically means that he claims a copyright on the missionary position and that's not right. Copyright doesn't protect ideas, it only protects specific expressions of those ideas. And generic, common expressions aren't copyrightable either, and it seems like the missionary position is pretty generic and common.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by syntaxglitch (889367)

      Sounds like he is complaining about that people create animations that are "like" his, not merely his. But that basically means that he claims a copyright on the missionary position and that's not right. Copyright doesn't protect ideas, it only protects specific expressions of those ideas. And generic, common expressions aren't copyrightable either, and it seems like the missionary position is pretty generic and common.

      Yes, but this is sex... on the INTERNET. That makes it novel and original, right? I bet he could get a patent on the idea. I'm sure some people would make noises about "prior art", and say it's "obvious" but let's be reasonable, if "sex on the internet" was that obvious why isn't everyone else doing it?

      • Close - it's sex on the internet with puppets. It's the same thing as a routine for lambada in 2Life. Of course, I can't see it being protected except by copyright.
        • Close - it's sex on the internet with puppets. It's the same thing as a routine for lambada in 2Life. Of course, I can't see it being protected except by copyright.
          I know. To be honest, I was just fishing for someone to start singing "The Internet Is For Porn". A quick musical interlude never hurts!
    • by merreborn (853723)

      He's basically talking about animation files. Now, if people literally copy the bits in his animation files, that would be a copyright violation; he'd have a case. But SL makes it pretty hard to do that, and that doesn't sound like what he is complaining about.

      Actually, while the unmodified client makes it difficult to copy objects without permission, there have been various hacks around for years. Now that the client's been open sourced, that cat's permanently out of the bag.

      If you can see it, there's *al

      • Actually, while the unmodified client makes it difficult to copy objects without permission, there have been various hacks around for years.

        We're not talking about copying objects, we're talking about copying animations. And while you can do it in principle, I'm not aware of any hacks that actually make it easy. More importantly, that does not seem to be what he is complaining about because he isn't talking about people copying his data, he is complaining about people copying his "ideas". Well, there is
        • by merreborn (853723)
          Copybot copies animations. The distinction between objects and animations is trivial, at anyrate -- again, if you can see it, there's already a copy of the object/animation/sound/whatever in memory.

          List of things copybot does here:
          http://forums.secondcitizen.com/showthread.php?t=5 063 [secondcitizen.com]

          You keep claiming that he's only upset about people stealing his "idea". The article does not support that:

          Eros claims the avatar has made unauthorized copies of the device and is selling it for a profit.

          In fact, here's an IR

          • You keep claiming that he's only upset about people stealing his "idea".

            No. I'm sure he is upset about many things. Those may include people copying his bits, which is clearly a copyright violation, and which he has a right to be upset about. He may also be victim of a copybot. But that is not what I'm addressing here.

            What I am objecting to is that among the many things that this guy is upset about, he is explicitly saying that copying his business model, his work (in a generic sense), and his ideas are
    • by starwed (735423)
      You can copyright choreography. That's really similar to the IP involved here, isn't it?
      • by Don_dumb (927108)
        But the moves he claims to have choreographed have some serious prior art, but then again if you can patent DNA then you can patent parts of the process that give rise to new DNA, I suppose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trauma (62841)
      I didn't see a specific claim in TFA regarding what exactly is being allegedly infringed, but SexGen is a lot more than animation files. It's a scripted system which combines selecting/applying animations and moving/rotating the avatars involved, all by way of a menu system built within the (rather primitive) GUI tools provided by Second Life.

      Now scripted devices which provide similar functions in SL are not in and of themselves particularly novel any more; in fact there is a rather popular open-source imp
    • by merreborn (853723)
      Nothing you said meshes with any of the facts of the case.

      Firstly, copybot copies animations: http://forums.secondcitizen.com/showthread.php?t=5 063 [secondcitizen.com]

      What's more, here's an IRC log of Stroker discussing copybot: http://forums.secondcitizen.com/showpost.php?p=851 [secondcitizen.com] 56&postcount=78

      I'm sure if you care to slog through Stroker's blog and/or message board posts, you'll find him specifically claiming copybot was used on his animations.

      You claim the article states he's only upset about people "stealing his idea",
    • On Tuesday, his company, Eros, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming the avatar known as Volkov Catteneo has violated the trademark on one of his devices called a Sex Gen. Eros claims the avatar has made unauthorized copies of the device and is selling it for a profit.

      So he is filing as Trademark infringement claim? Does he own the trademark for the "Sex Gen"? And what does unauthorized copies have to do with his trademark? I sure hope his disposition was better written than the article.

      -Rick

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Wouldn't you just love to be the judge dealing with THIS one? I'd put the odds highly in favor of the judge taking one look at this case, chewing out the plaintiff for wasting the court's time, and throwing the case out. But, then again, if that $45 million case over a pair of pants could make it as far as it did, who knows WHAT can happen these days in a "court."
  • Pinocchio (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joebert (946227) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:49PM (#19747183) Homepage

    "I'm a toy maker," Alderman explained. "I'm an erotic Geppetto."

    I bet anyone who read that will never look at Pinocchio the same.
    • by karnal (22275)
      My first thought was "Why you gonna go blame Pinocchio for this one?"

      But then I did a double take and thought "Maybe he just means the movie as a whole..."

      Yes, I'm sick.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tracy Reed (3563)
      Tell a lie! Tell a lie! Yes! Yes!
  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:56PM (#19747235)
    The Old World had:

    1. Lawsuits.
    2. Taxes.
    3. Life

    So what does the New World have?

    1. Virtual Lawsuits.
    2. Virtual Taxes.
    3. Virtual Life.

    Kinda makes you wonder if people are really as stupid and detached from reality as they act.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tygt (792974)
      You missed one, or maybe two:

      The Old World had:
      4. Death
      5. ???

      New (note, I only know WOW):
      4. Temporary death
      5. Ressurection

    • Lemme see:

      - Virtual lawsuits: nope, don't exist. This is a RL lawsuit, alleging that someone used a hacking tool to copy some copyrighted scripts and animations. The fact that those animations and scripts are used as, basically, a mod for a game, doesn't make it any less real.

      To put things into perspective, let's say you wrote a bunch of scripts for anything else: a mod for a game, an application server, whatever. It's your product. Then I come along and not only copy it, but put my name on it and sell it a
  • by pionzypher (886253) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @04:59PM (#19747265)
    The fact that this is happening in the first place, or that I actually knew Stroker from a few years back, or that he's a former plumber trying to make a living selling digimawhatsits to stuff in your digimalwhoosals.

    Either way, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep now.g
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @05:00PM (#19747271) Journal
    Somebody set us up the dildo!
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @05:07PM (#19747339)
    is that selling sex toys in Second Life apparently pays more than a unionized contracting gig like plumbing.
  • by phalse phace (454635) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @05:42PM (#19747653)
    So this guy is complaining about competition? As long as the sex toys are not exactly the same, then I see nothing wrong.

    Alderman said Volkov Catteneo is not the only avatar who has done him wrong. "A lot of people copy me, copy my work, copy my ideas," he said


    This is like HP complaining that Lexmark copied their work/idea about selling printers and expensive inkjet cartridges.

    Someone needs to go out a get a third life.
    • by Francis (5885)

      So this guy is complaining about competition? As long as the sex toys are not exactly the same, then I see nothing wrong.
      From what I can tell in the article, I think he's suing because someone copied his work, and is selling it. (ie. Piracy for profit) If it was me, other people reselling my work, for profit, without my permission, would drive me nuts too. More power to him.
  • Plumbing (Score:2, Funny)

    by coren2000 (788204)
    I guess he is selling plumbing services of another sort.
  • Doesn't that mean that the players have already got a (first) life?
  • by Stroker Serpentine (1123961) on Wednesday July 04, 2007 @08:16PM (#19748893)
    The articles that were being sold were digital duplicates. The plaintiff was selling them based on the popularity of our "SexGen" line. This is not a matter of competition, it is a matter of exploit and theft. All the scripts, animations and sounds were identical. We would not have brought this suit to court otherwise.
    • by HopeOS (74340)
      Given that Linden does not allow people to edit or copy scripts without your permission, how did this happen? I can understand how someone could duplicate your efforts, but I don't see how they could have gotten your exact scripts unless they had help from Linden Labs. By what means exactly, are you asserting that your work was stolen?
      • by armb (5151)
        > Given that Linden does not allow people to edit or copy scripts without your permission, how did this happen?

        And as all Slashdot posters know, all DRM systems designed to stop copying always work properly.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CopyBot [wikipedia.org]
        http://news.com.com/2100-1043_3-6135699.html [com.com]

        (I have no idea whether CopyBot is involved in this particular case, but it's relevent to the idea that no unauthorised copying could ever happen.)
        • by HopeOS (74340)
          This is very interesting. Apparently, the scripts are not merely server-side executables.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Slashcrap (869349)
      The articles that were being sold were digital duplicates.

      Look, here's how it goes. If your business model is based on the assumption that people can't make exact digital duplicates of your products, then you are fucked. No ifs, no buts, it is a bad business model. And for a business like that, profitability is a very, very temporary state. Using realworld legal action to try and protect a business model like this is the epitome of stupid. You made some money, the flaws in your plan were exposed and now you
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @09:03AM (#19753053) Homepage Journal

      The articles that were being sold were digital duplicates.
      "Digital duplicates" indeed... what, you were expecting analog duplicates in a digital environment? This quote alone is enough to lose you a ton of sincerity points, and brings your entire understainding of the world in which you're doing business into question.. but it's just the sort of meaningless phrase you can wave around in front of an average technophobic judge to influence the verdict.

      However this comes out, though, you win several billion Silly Points for the inevitable demonstrations of stilted, awkward 3D puppet-sex to a federal judge.
      • by armb (5151)
        > what, you were expecting analog duplicates in a digital environment?

        An analog duplicate would, presumably, be something that copied the look and feel of his product based on someone looking at how it behaved on screen and programming something similar themselves, instead of actually coping his code.
        • An analog duplicate would, presumably, be something that copied the look and feel of his product based on someone looking at how it behaved on screen and programming something similar themselves, instead of actually coping his code.
          Then it wouldn't be a duplicate, it'd be a similar item.

          Saying "digital duplicates" is just a needlessly redundant, repetitive designation that unnecessarily says the same thing over and over without a good reason.
  • working with a licensed plumber. When people asked if I was a full time plumber they would be dismayed and sometimes concerned when I told them I worked with computers mostly during the day. People generally want their plumbers to be plumbers.

    Just imagine his client's faces when he said he creates sex toys in a virtual world on the side. (I imagine he probably didn't tell them that or left plumbing before this but still, it would be funny to see.)

    (BTW, Plumbing is fun. Except when it involves feces.)
  • by dunstan (97493) <dvavasour.iee@org> on Thursday July 05, 2007 @05:42AM (#19752101) Homepage
    This all hinges on whether he has suffered financial loss. Linden Labs have turned this into a grey area.

    On the one hand, Linden Dollars are game tokens. They have absolutely no intrinsic worth in real life, nor does Second Life "property". This means that LL have no obligations to make their systems to "trading standards", and spurious losses are not uncommon.

    On the other hand, alongside third parties, LL operate and profit from a currency exchange between US and Linden dollars. They manage the market to try to maintain a stable exchange rate, meaning there is a de facto value for Linden Dollars in real life, even though it is not a currency.

    IMHO, the first carries more weight, and it means that the "financial loss" premise for this action is invalid. Whatever the actions taken by the defendant, the plaintiff cannot have suffered financial loss because the "currency" in which this loss has arisen has no statutory value.
  • personally.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by josepha48 (13953)
    .. I think these people need to get a first life before they can have a second life... I guess the reality of being a plumber sucks and his real fantasy is to be selling sex toys... dude f*** the lawsuit and start selling sex toys on line 4 real!

    ROFLOL

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