Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Linden Lab Settles Property Rights Lawsuit Out of Court

By Bixyl Shuftan

While the residents of Second Life debate the new Terms of Service in regards to how exclusive are a content creator's rights are to his/her virtual property, a legal website stated Linden Lab has settled out of court a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs sued on the the basis of their rights to their property.

"Top Class Actions" reported that the lawsuit was initially filed in 2010 by four former residents whom were banned from Second Life by Linden Lab, thus being cut off from their cash and items online. In Feb 2012, they filed a second suit with a fifth resident. They accused Linden Lab of "making false representations about the ownership of virtual property and … that the company wrongly confiscated virtual property from them." Both sides agreed to talk, and in March 2012 agreed to settle. The agreement made a number of changes before it was approved by a California superior court judge on October 25.

The settlement covers, “all persons whose assets, including virtual items, virtual land, and/or currency in lindens and/or U.S. dollars, have been deliberately and intentionally converted by Defendant Linden’s suspension or closure of their Second Life accounts on or after April 16, 2008." Under it's terms, the Lab has agreed to repay all US dollar balances in their accounts in addition to the US dollar value of their Lindens, plus compensating them for the virtual property they had, provided a valid claim could be determined on each of the lost items in question.

With this development coming in the middle of Second Life's Terms of Service controversy, it's fair to say some might see some connection.  I happened to catch a little of a conversation in SLCC group chat about the settlement when someont brought it up. One member thought this court case might have something to do with why Linden Lab changing the Terms of Service the way it did. Others felt optimistic in that Linden Lab was willing to settle the case, "means LL can be backed into a corner, they don't want to fight." One commented, "I just think there are some big egos at the top that are out of touch with the SL customer base .... Rodvik is from EA and he is just not used to the fact that his customers are critical value suppliers to his cash cow.  ...  the TOS reflects this. But he is realizing that these content creators can cause a lot of grief to his expansion plans with horrid media PR."

 A hearing for the settlement's final approval is scheduled for Feb 27, 2014.

Source:  Top Class Actions

 Bixyl Shuftan

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