I have a fascinating job. Given the international scope of our company and the innovation we generate, there’s no shortage of unique issues I encounter every day. But, I think Marty Roberts just may have me beat in this area. He’s the new GC at Linden Lab the company behind Second Life. For those who are unfamiliar with Second Life, here’s a video that explains it.
Many “real world” companies have been using Second Life to open virtual store fronts, for marketing outreach or as an additional form of online education. Sun is one of these. After all, a virtual world is another form of network-enabled community. Helping to build these communities is at the core of what we do.
So far, we’ve had a positive experience with Second Life and have continued to use it as a forum for major announcements. And, last week, I was discussing with someone on my team how we might use Second Life for employee training. While these activities were once novel, they are becoming more accepted as traditional business models transition to the Internet. But, for attorneys, the virtual world remains unexplored. Here are just a few recent examples of what Mr. Robbins has had to deal with in his new job.
A case was recently filed against Second Life in a “real” courtroom in Pennsylvania. The dispute involves ownership of virtual property. While the ultimate issue may turn out to be a routine contract matter, it will still be interesting to watch.
Another litigation has been brought between two members of Second Life. In this case the claim is for copyright infringement in connection with virtual toys for adult entertainment.
And most recently, it appears that IBM employees in Italy held a strike against their employer in Second Life. Trying to determine what, if any, labor laws apply in connection with a virtual protest by employees will doubtlessly keep some attorney very busy.
Marty, I’m sure you have many more fascinating stories. I’d love to hear them. If you ever have time for a beer (a real one), I’m buying.