Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lawsuit against Linden Lab

A Pennsylvania lawyer named Marc Bragg has filed suit against Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world Second Life, for "a virtual land deal gone sour." According to a press-release issued by Bragg, "Bragg learned of a way to purchase virtual land significantly below market values, and invested thousands of US dollars purchasing land in an attempt to resell the land at a profit. Bragg claims that employees of Linden Research, Inc., the company who creates, manages and maintains this online world, allowed the auction to be created, and after Bragg paid in US dollars for the land, terminated Bragg's account, without explanation, without citing any violation of community policy, and have since refused [to] offer a credit or a refund. Bragg's calls to customer service and Linden Lab's legal counsel have gone unanswered. Bragg's final option? Seek relief in a real world court."

Technically, the land does exist--both as data, and as a user experience--but not as terra firma.

This is the first lawsuit of its type to be filed against Linden Lab. It seems that Bragg lost thousands of real-world dollars because the company didn't like the way he exploited a glitch in their system. His ejection might be permissible according to the Terms of Service for Second Life, but Bragg seems to think there are real-world rules being broken here.

He is the first person in history to sue over a virtual land deal gone sour. He's demanding $8,000 in restitution.

Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled on May 30 that Linden’s Terms of Service constitute a “contract of adhesion”, allowing the suit to proceed.

Linden presents the TOS on a take-it-or-leave-it basis,” he wrote. “In effect, the TOS provide Linden with a variety of one-sided remedies to resolve disputes, while forcing its customers to arbitrate any disputes with Linden.”

“The arbitration clause is not designed to provide Second Life participants an effective means of resolving disputes with Linden. Rather, it is a one-sided means which tilts unfairly, in almost all cases, in Linden’s favor,” Robreno added. (REUTERS)

I am interested to know what Linden Lab will have to pay to Marc Bragg. Outcome this week.

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