A company founded by an ex-plumber is suing for copyright
infringement over the “SexGen bed, a software application that allows two
characters to have sex in the game.” Eros, the firm that develops and sells the
software online, alleges that another character in Second Life found a
technical exploitation that allowed the object to be copied and resold at a
substantial discount over the price Eros was charging, even while retaining the
brand. The suit only names the defendant by his or her Second Life name. The
plaintiff will rely upon subpoenas to discern the defendant’s true identity.
Bottom Line: There have been surprisingly few copyright suits
arising out of matters related to social networking and networked gaming sites.
As these sites allow more and more third party extensions and add-ons, as
Second Life does, there are likely to be more and more copyright and trademark
disputes. Despite the likely rise in disputes, there is unlikely to be any
particularly unique law; principles of copyright and trademark apply equally to
books, online gaming or digital music. The greater interest on these types of
cases will be issues of identity and jurisdiction, particularly for sites that
are internationally based.