An entrepreneur in SL, Kevin Alderman, avatar name of Stroker Serpentine, is suing another avatar, named Volkov Catteneo, for copyright infringement over a sex bed that made Stroker a lot of money. The SexGen bed contains over 150 animations to allow residents to sexually interact with each other, and is sold by Eros LLC for $12,000 Linden, or around $45 dollars, Stroker says that Volkov is copying and selling the bed for much less, $4,000 Linden or around $15 dollars. Stroker’s lawyer plans to subpoena Linden Labs to force them to disclose Volkov’s real identity, chat histories, and financial records from Linden Lab and PayPal.
Catteneo told Reuters in a Second Life interview that Alderman had never been in touch with him. Catteneo said he had sold about 50 of the beds on behalf of a third party who pocketed the proceeds.
Catteneo, who declined to provide his real name, said he doesn’t fear the subpoena. “I’m not some kind of noob,” Catteneo said. “My name isn’t on [Linden Lab’s] file. I don’t even have a permanent address [in real life] either.”
Alderman said he tried to report the copyright violation to Linden Lab in accordance with its Digital Millennium Copyright Act compliance policy, but that he was told to use the in-world “abuse reporting” system.
Linden Lab was not immediately available for comment. Source: SL business sues for copyright infringement
Stroker estimates that Volkov has sold about 100,000 of the beds, while Volkov says he sold about 50 of the beds on behalf of a third party, who kept the proceeds. Stroker says he is not really interested in damages or getting money from Volkov, he is just interested in protecting his income. Stroker is also the avatar who sold his Amsterdam sims to Dutch media firm Boom BV for US$50,000.
Stroker was contacted by the website GigaOM who asked him why he took it to trial instead of going in world and making sure the residents know so the can ostracize him. Stroker said he tried that route before,
Stroker tells me he did try that method in another case, but ironically, it backfired. “[T]he last time this happened I confronted the individual about it and requested that they cease and desist…,” he says, “I was made out to be a bully and dragged through the [SL community] forums.” Linden Lab has a system for letting users file DMCA suits against each other; Stroker tried that twice, but wasn’t happy with how Linden responded. So he found a law firm specializing in copyright/trademark disputes. “We weighed all alternatives and listened to a lot of advice. So here we are.” Source: Second Life Avatar Sued for Copyright Infringement
GigaOm also referred to the bed and avatar as not existing, something I’m sure most SL residents would disagree with, as well most software developers, I would think. They both exist at least in source code, they bed can be purchased and used by residents, and, residents can buy land to live on or resell, much in the same way you can buy a web server and resell it to others. The big issue will be whether they decide if it’s a knock off or a direct copy, but the biggest issue will be simply getting a jury to understand what is going on. Many residents will be following this one closely.
A copy of the filing is available here.
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