Trials and Tribulations of Virtual Property

Via the Smart Mobs blog comes word of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (Link) reporting that Chinese authorities have upheld a ruling supporting the real money value of virtual property. From the SMH article:

A court in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of China’s southern province of Guangdong, dismissed an appeal by Yan Yifan, 20, found guilty of selling stolen passwords and online equipment from 30 players of the online historical quest game, “Da Xihua Xiyou,” last year.

More and more virtual property disputes are being brought before China’s courts, prompting calls from intellectual property rights lawyers for more strongly defined virtual property laws, the China Daily reported.

Meanwhile, in the background over on the Second Life forum, the issue of virtual piracy has raised it’s ugly head … again. Apparently there are people selling avatar skins suspected to have been ripped from the Second Life client by residents using the OGLE tool; the same tool I’ve used for my 3D experiments (reLink). From the opening post (Link):

Recently, I was approached a by resident who told me another resident was selling my skins privately. While I admit I have once accused someone of stealing ingredients of my skin, (and wrongly so), this was something very different. It was an exact copy of an Exotica Fusion Skin right down to the two-pixel mole. Strange as it may seem, this wasn’t the first replica of my skins I’ve seen. Another was being sold through a vendor-machine in the middle of a shopping mall.

I have contacted Lindens several times regarding this matter and the answer is always the same, “Please approach the user and ask them to stop. Forward further issues to the DMA, blah, blah, blah.”

Custom-content, along with real-estate, is the backbone of this Meta-verse. It would be a shame to start seeing it disappear because the ‘powers-that-be’ did not take the initiative soon enough.

Welcome to the future of all product – real and virtual.