Saturday, July 14, 2007

Second Life Sex Bed Spawns Virtual Copyright Action

article by Jonathan Richards Tampa,Florida

Second Life sex bed spawns virtual copyright action

In the first known case of virtual copyright, a man is suing another for copying and then selling a piece of furniture that does not exist

A bed which allows residents of the virtual world Second Life to have sex is at the centre of the first known case to be brought in virtual copyright.

A Florida-based businessman who sells the bed inside Second Life claims another man has copied his creation, and is now bringing an action against his competitor in the real world, even though the bed is not real.

Kevin Alderman runs a company called Eros LLC, which makes adult entertainment goods.

One of Eros's most popular products is a piece of virtual furniture called the SexGen bed, which allows users of Second Life to have their online characters - known as avatars - interact intimately with one another.

Mr Alderman says his company has sold thousands of 'copies' of the bed - which enables more than 150 sex animations - in Second Life for just over $45 each.

Since April, however, another Second Life resident, going by the name Volkov Cattaneo, has been selling a bed which, Mr Alderman says, closely resembles his own creation, at a sharply reduced price ($15).

Mr Alderman, whose avatar is named Stroker Serpentine, has therefore brought a copyright action against his competitor, and requested that Linden Labs, the company which runs Second Life, release details of Catteneo's real identity.

Francis Taney, Mr Alderman's lawyer, said that his client is requesting financial information as well as internet address details of Catteneo from both Linden Labs and Pay Pal, which Catteneo has used to conduct transactions online.

"Eros products have built a reputation for performance, quality and value," the action, filed with a district court in Tampa, Florida, says.

"The company has been damaged, and continues to be irreparably damaged by diversion of sales."

Mr Alderman, who says he has sold 'thousands' of SexGen beds in the game since 2005, is seeking damages equivalent to three times the estimated profit Catteneo has made through sales of his rival sex bed.

"We're not going to sue him for a million dollars - I don't want to crucify the guy. I'm trying to protect my income and my family."

In an interview, Catteneo, who would not provide his real name, said he was not afraid of the subpoena. "I'm not some kind of noob," he told Reuters. "I don't even have a permanent address (in real life) either."

Second Life, which has just under 8 million residents, is home to many entrepreneurs who make a living selling virtual goods, for which residents pay in the world's own currency, the Linden Dollar. The Linden Dollar has a variable exchange rate with the US dollar.

Lawyers said there was no reason a virtual good - effectively a piece of code - could not attract the same property rights as items in the real world.

"If it's been created then someone has rights to it," Mark Owen, a partner at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said, adding that there were "lots of precedents" for copyright cases being brought in relation to software, such as computer games.

David Naylor, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse, a London-based firm which has set up an office in Second Life, said: "It's pretty indisputable that if you create an artistic work and it looks like a bed, then you have copyright in it.

"It may be more difficult to show there's been infringement, though, where the 'look and feel' of the two works are very similar, but there has not been direct copying of the graphics or underlying code" he said.

A spokesman for Second Life was not immediately available for comment.


To the person that wrote in, you are absolutely right , this has nothing to do with elder abuse, however weekends we try to distract ourselves and publish unique and unusual news thus changing the topic to keep from burning out on the constant stress of elder abuse that has become the crime 'de jour' an epidemic of unprecedented proportions.


Anonymous said...

This is a new area of law. Virtual suits, so to speak, will become more common as IP rights become more prevalent. Unfortunately, this involves a design consideration rather than an actual new design. Is this "product" substantially different than the designs on the virtual and physical markets available today, enough to warrant a patent on the methodology to create it? I doubt it. I've seen beds similar to this in the "real world," possibly never in the "virtual world," however, it does seem to have four posts, a blanket covering, and a similar sheen to other beds that I've seen. The question at heart is whether it remains substantially different to warrant some type of infringement, which I do not believe it does. It is a frivolous but interesting lawsuit nonetheless. Do not pass go, do not collect $400 dollars.

Ralph, Yonkers, NY,

Anonymous said...

In that case, can some body be sent for trial in the real world for committing a sexual offence in the cyber world such as sexually assaulting a virtual female character in a computer game?

Wing, Poole, UK


Anonymous said...

The saddest part of it is that there are those poor souls for whom time spent "in" that "bed" may be the only intimate interactions in their lives.

Siddhartha Vicious, DuBois, USA

Ray said...

This story is just too weird, I wouldn't know how to even begin to comment on it