Our own Tateru Nino has been covering the Second Life case of Rase Kenzo very closely, but with the settlement yesterday, it seems the ruling might have effects on the concepts of virtual worlds at large. At issue is whether or not an avatar named Rase Kenzo could use an exploit to duplicate items created by Second Lifers-- does copyright and intellectual property matter when the items you're talking about are virtual? As Tateru herself noted, yes-- virtual theft matters.
And Raph Koster agrees. He points to the Rase Kenzo settlement as all the precendent any court would need to consider virtual goods "merchandise" in every sense of the word, with all the normal protections and inherent properties included.
Now, the Second Life items had some properties that most other virtual world items do not-- they were actually coded and created by the creators, and while you do hit a button to create, say, an Epic in WoW or a ship in EVE, the item you create wasn't actually created by you. So the intellectual property laws probably won't cross over-- whether you virtually "crafted" an item or not, you don't have a lot of claim on it when the design didn't come out of your head.
But we are another step closer to putting a real (and real-world) value on virtual items. This case took place in Second Life, but like many things in the Lindens' world, odds are it will have repercussions in lots of different virtual worlds.
What Rase Kenzo means for virtual property
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