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The New Frontier in the Fight Against Online Economic Scams and Internet Threats to Children: Virtual Worlds and Second Life

John S. Grant, IV, NAAG Cybercrime Intern

John Grant, Intern
John Grant

Most Internet users are familiar with the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. These sites are a favorite Internet destination for many teens and young adults, many of whom post much of their lives on these sites for a wide audience to view. However, another type of Internet forum has been gaining ground on the popularity of these social networking sites. These fora are known as “virtual worlds,” one of the most popular of which is Second Life.

But what is a virtual world? It has been defined as “an interactive simulated environment accessed by multiple users” through the Internet.1 There are at least 30 virtual worlds in existence,2 and there are multiple types of virtual worlds, with one of the most popular becoming the “online community building” type, which includes Second Life (SL).3 Another type of virtual world is the gaming type, which includes the widely popular World of Warcraft.4 This virtual world is akin, in many ways, to traditional, pre-virtual world video and computer games but with much broader capability for interaction with other players.

However, it is fair to say that SL is much less of a game, and more closely resembles “real life.” Second Life users, unlike users of online games, have no set of objectives to complete.5 Rather, SL users primarily join SL to communicate and interact with other users and/or to market products.6 However, there are many problems that can occur in such an environment, including various types of online scams and children being exposed to harmful content or child predators. For this reason, SL and other similar virtual worlds present many new and unique challenges for policy makers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials.

This article will begin by providing an introduction to virtual worlds and SL. Discussion will then turn to two specific topics—SL monetary transactions and SL content that might be harmful to children (including sex, drugs, and violence). It concludes, in the last two sections, with thoughts on various legal and cyber crime issues pertaining to virtual worlds, with a focus primarily on SL.

Virtual Worlds v. Online Social Networks

First of all, what about virtual worlds and Second Life distinguishes them from online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace? There is a fundamental difference in the way that the two types of social phenomena operate and the options provided to users. Social networking sites allow users to post pictures of themselves online, create mini biographies of themselves, chronicle their daily lives, and instant message other users in real time. Although social networks allow for a great deal of social interaction, most of it is not done in real time. Also, aside from links to video clips, everything on social networking sites is two-dimensional.

In contrast, virtual worlds like Second Life—rather than allowing their users to tell about their actual lives—offer users the ability to “live” virtual lives in a three-dimensional online environment resembling the real world. Second Life users, who are known as “residents,”7 establish an online identity through a virtual character known as an “avatar,” which residents can use to explore SL’s world and to interact in real time with other SL residents.

To become a part of SL’s world, residents must first register, download SL software, and create an avatar. Residents are required to choose a unique name not chosen by any other SL user, which becomes their identity within SL. Creating a single basic account on SL is free,8 although SL residents can, and many do, spend money in order to have additional options within SL (more on this in the next section).

Residents can navigate through SL by maneuvering their avatars through the vast expanse of SL’s world, which encompasses many thousands of virtual acres that are lined with three-dimensional content largely paralleling the natural and man-made scenery found in the real world—trees, mountains, oceans, buildings, cities, etc.9 Residents can navigate through SL by having their avatars physically fly through the air or by teleporting directly to their desired locations.10

Residents are afforded many options for how they can spend time on SL. First, residents can interact socially by using their avatars as intermediaries to communicate and interact with other avatars logged in at that particular time.11 Second, residents may choose to have their avatars employed and may choose from almost any conceivable occupation—anything from tattooist to dancer, landscaper, gunsmith or architect.12 Many avatars own businesses and employ other avatars.13 Third, residents can have their avatars engage in almost any conceivable “real life” daily activity—anything from fixing their hair to organizing their closet.14 These activities are done primarily for enjoyment, and residents who consider these sorts of activities mundane really have no reason to do them. Fourth, residents can have their avatars participate in recreational activities such as shopping for virtual items, fishing for virtual fish, or visiting virtual nightclubs.15 Avatars can even get married in virtual wedding ceremonies.16

Virtual Economics

Second Life is owned by Linden Lab, a San Francisco-based company. The company was created in 1999 to create a three-dimensional online world where users would interact with each other and build the virtual landscape.17 Linden Lab released Second Life in 2003.18

Second Life has grown quickly since its release. By 2005, Linden Lab announced that Second Life had grown to more than 100,000 users; the figures had reached one million by October 2006 and eight million by July 2007.19 According to Second Life’s website, the number of SL user accounts as of July 2008 exceeded 14 million.20 However, these figures may be deceptively high as an indicator of the total number of users, as users are allowed to create more than one account.21 The total number of avatars that log in during a given week may be as many as 450,000,22 and the number of avatars logged in at any given time regularly exceeds 60,000.23 Linden Lab currently has more than 200 employees in the United States, Europe, and Asia.24

How does Linden Lab make money from Second Life? Second Life users may opt either to reside in SL for free on a “basic account,” or sign up for a “premium account,” which requires paying money to Linden Lab for an upgraded package. A premium account can be obtained for as little as $6.00 per month if the user is willing to pay for one year’s worth of SL’s services.25 Although the majority of Second Life users have basic accounts,26 a substantial amount of money is spent within Second Life daily.

Second Life has its own system of currency known as Linden dollars, which can be used to purchase virtual items within SL. If residents buy a premium account, they obtain a one-time grant of 1,000 Linden dollars, and they will receive a 300 Linden dollar per week allowance.27 If residents opt to enter Second Life for free on a basic account, they receive a one-time 250 Linden dollar lump sum.28 In order to own virtual land, however, residents must purchase a premium account.29

There are many resources outside of SL that provide the service of converting U.S. dollars to Linden dollars and vise versa, which can also be done through Linden Lab’s currency exchange service, called LindeX.30 Although the exchange rate between these two currencies fluctuates based upon economic principles, the exchange rate is typically about 250 Linden dollars to one U.S. dollar.31

Omitted from the list in the last section of what residents can do with their avatars is acquiring virtual property. Virtual property can include anything from virtual pairs of shoes, to virtual skin for avatars, to virtual real estate. Although it may seem odd to some that people are willing to spend money on items that are composed of computer pixels, virtual property is increasingly becoming a booming industry.

Many transactions for virtual property occur daily within Second Life. Residents can enter transactions directly with other residents in order to exchange U.S. currency for Linden dollars or virtual property. Such transactions typically involve one avatar finding another and proposing a transaction, the two avatars negotiating, and the deal being finalized through an instant message screen and an Internet payment system such as PayPal.32 Additionally, transactions for virtual property can happen on the Internet outside of SL,33 which has resulted in businesses forming to sell SL items.34 These items, once purchased, can then of course be brought into SL.

It has been estimated that more than $1.5 billion worth of user-to-user transactions take place per year within virtual worlds at large.35 During the month of June 2008, about $29 million in user-to-user transactions occurred just within SL.36 Linden Lab does not earn a commission from transactions that occur between SL residents.37

With real money to be made, many people have quit their real jobs in order to become virtual entrepreneurs on SL.38 At least one person has become a millionaire in such an endeavor.39 With this practice of earning a “virtual income” becoming more commonplace, the U.S. Congress has become involved in investigating how these incomes should be taxed.40

In addition, real-world businesses have ventured onto SL. Mainly, these companies establish a presence there in order to float new product ideas and to advertise products rather than to generate revenue.41 These businesses pay Linden Lab a small leasing fee for virtual land from which to run their headquarters within SL but pay tech companies large amounts to develop their virtual land—$100,000 to $5 million, according to one report.42 Among the corporate giants that have entered SL is Toyota, which has sold Scion cars to SL residents for about 300 Linden dollars, or a little more than one U.S. dollar.43 Other companies with SL accounts include Coca Cola, Nike, Dell and IBM.44 Furthermore, nonprofit and religious organizations, political campaigns and even educational institutions (which teach classes through SL) have established a presence on SL.45

Many have predicted that the upward trend in the creation of avatars will dramatically continue to rise in the coming years. For example, one Internet research firm has predicted that eighty percent of frequent web users and Fortune 500 companies will inhabit a virtual world such as SL by 2011.46

Sex, Drugs and Violence

Before getting into the specifics of content harmful to children that is on Second Life, there should first be an explanation of how the content on SL is created. Practically everything on SL is created by its residents, with Linden Lab only furnishing the landscape on which to build.47 Residents can create almost anything imaginable in building the appearance of their avatars or creating changes to the virtual landscape.48

Linden Lab provides the building tools to allow users to create content.49 These tools can be used to manipulate the primary building blocks of SL content, graphic primitives, or “prims,” by altering their shape, color or texture.50 All content creation can be done within SL,51 although separate programs such as Adobe Photoshop can also be used in the process.52 Second Life provides an added incentive for users to create content by allowing users to retain copyrights to their creations.53

Not only are the possibilities for creation nearly endless, but there is very little “red tape” to step through, as no pre-approval or submission process exists.54 Therefore, if someone can imagine something and is tech savvy enough to create it, the virtual item, whatever it may be, most likely can become part of SL.

As one might expect, with people from around the globe having this largely unencumbered freedom of possibility, there is a substantial amount of violence, drugs and sexually explicit content that is created. First, a great deal of cybersex takes place on SL, which essentially involves avatars providing their operators with a visual image of virtual humans engaging in various sexually explicit acts.55 The sexually explicit content that has been reported to be within SL includes virtual lap dances, orgies, sex clubs and sex slaves.56 Residents can create avatars that are of the opposite sex, and they can experiment with homosexuality.57 There are also escort services on SL that engage in virtual prostitution.58 Finally, residents can purchase virtual genitalia for their avatars from shops in SL.59

Second, the content on SL includes drugs and violence. A recent post on YouTube provides evidence of the various drug paraphernalia and drugs that are present on SL, including marijuana, cocaine, acid, mushrooms and heroine.60 Another YouTube video shows an avatar committing suicide within SL by jumping off of a building.61 YouTube searches also indicate that various weapons, including assault weapons, are present on SL.62

Second Life does contain some safeguards to protect minors from this potentially harmful content. There is a separate area of the Second Life’s virtual world for teens,63 and Second Life maintains “community standards” that participants in Teen Second Life agree to follow. These standards include that teen residents should not harass each other and that all teen activity on its site should be “PG,” which means free from offensive language, nudity and “strong violence.”64 Teen Second Life has an in-world mechanism for reporting abuses, and Second Life claims that reports of abuse will be individually investigated.65 Although generally violators of the community standards are given a warning, repeat violators may be suspended or expelled from Second Life.66 Additionally, teens are prohibited by Second Life’s Terms of Service from entering into the adult area.67

In order to join the adult SL, users must certify that they are at least 18 years old.68 Users who are over eighteen are prohibited by SL’s Terms of Service from accessing the teen area, and adults found in the teen area may face expulsion from SL.69 However, SL’s Terms of Service agreement explicitly states that SL makes no guarantees that residents remain in their respective age appropriate areas: “Linden Lab cannot absolutely control whether minors gain access to the Service other than the Teen Area . . . [or] whether adults gain access to the Teen Area.”

Second life has come under fire of late for the harm that it could cause to children who can potentially manage to access the adult areas of the site. According to Representative Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), who has called for a ban of SL from public schools and libraries, the content on SL that children could be exposed to include substantial violence, including the ability of avatars to purchase assault weapons and commit suicide.70 In addition, Kirk has stated that the sexual content available includes rape, and residents can choose for their avatar “to rape or be raped.”71 While acknowledging that some SL features require the user to provide credit card information, Kirk has stated that much of the sexually explicit content can be accessed for free and is “readily available.”72 In addition, he has expressed concern that there is no age verification software in place to prevent children from accessing the adult areas of the site.73

The CEO of Linden Lab, Philip Rosedale, who has recently announced that he is stepping down from his position,74 testified before a congressional committee, and received questions regarding minors’ ability to access harmful content.75 When asked how Linden Lab prevents adults from accessing Teen Second Life, Rosedale said that Linden encourages teens to warn Linden of any SL avatar whose behavior indicates that he or she is not a teen.76 He testified that Linden takes some precautions to verify age, including providing features that ask for credit card and telephone information and features that require users to verify that they are the appropriate age before being permitted to use SL software.77 However, he stated that Linden does not receive social security numbers or driver’s license numbers.78

Second Life also has been criticized for permitting adults to create child avatars on its site. As mentioned earlier, SL users can create almost any conceivable sort of character, and assuming the identity of a child is one available option. While some have defended child avatars as being merely an avenue for “role playing,” SL users have reported that cybersex involving virtual pre-pubescent children was once common on its site.79 However, Linden Lab has stated that “sexual ageplay,” which is sexual content appearing to involve children, violates its Community Standards,80 and has stepped in and begun shutting down “sexual ageplay” areas of its site.81 Nevertheless, SL seems to continue to allow adults to pose as children on its site.82

Consumer Protection and Intellectual Property Legal Issues

Although virtual property is a developing area with little established caselaw, it is an area that is likely to see much litigation in the near future. Second Life residents have sued each other and Linden Lab for many disputes that have arisen in-world through SL, ranging from copyright infringement actions over resident ideas and creations to disputes between residents over the ownership of virtual property.83 Without attempting to compile an exhaustive list of virtual property lawsuits that have been brought, the following are a couple of examples.

In 2006, Marc Bragg filed what was reportedly the first virtual property lawsuit against Linden Lab.84 Bragg alleged that directly after he acquired a parcel of land, the land was confiscated, and he was terminated from SL, which in effect confiscated all of his virtual assets.85 The complaint included allegations of fraud, conversion and violation of various consumer protection laws.86 Linden Lab claimed that Bragg had acquired his virtual land through an exploit in the system.87 According to one source, Bragg had prematurely initiated virtual land auctions within SL, allowing him to purchase the land for a substantially lower price.88 In a published opinion, the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Linden Lab’s motion to compel arbitration,89 but the parties eventually settled the lawsuit.90

In another lawsuit, Eros, LLC, which sells various sex products within SL, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit for copying and selling its products to SL residents without authorization.91 It took four months of investigation—which included hiring a private detective,92 and issuing subpoenas to Linden Lab, PayPal, and other companies to trace SL activity to the proper computer93 — to identify Robert Leatherwood, a 19-year-old year old, as the SL resident who controlled the SL avatar named Volkov Catteneo.94 Eros then amended its complaint to name Leatherwood as a defendant in the case.95

As mentioned earlier, users may retain intellectual property rights in their creations. As a result, Eros was able to sue Leatherwood for copying, and selling at a discounted price, one of its products—a virtual bed that allows SL avatars to have sex.96 Leatherwood did not respond to the complaint and a default judgment was entered.97 However, Leatherwood eventually conceded that he was in fact the owner of the avatar named Volkov Catteneo, and the parties reached a settlement, which provides that Leatherwood is to refrain from further copying.98

Unauthorized copying within SL has been made possible through various programs including the infamous CopyBot, which, in 2006, was released within SL by a third party.99 The program has allowed SL users to copy any in-world item at no cost.100

For its part, Linden Lab has announced that its Terms of Service ban the use of the CopyBot and other similar programs, and using such a program may result in user expulsion from SL.101 Also, Linden Lab has recently responded to users’ complaints that others have pirated their content by removing the content under the authority of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.102

Second Life has also seen at least one instance of an alleged large scale fraud. An in-world bank, known as Ginko Financial, promised in-world investors a return on their investments amounting to more than 40 percent annually.103 The bank was criticized as an illegal “Ponzi scheme,” which is an “investment vehicle that pays off old investors with money from new ones.”104 The bank eventually went bankrupt, owing investors more than 700,000 U.S. dollars.105 Although there were rumors floating of an impending lawsuit,106 no such lawsuit appears to have materialized.

Linden Lab’s CEO has claimed that Linden Lab attempts to prevent fraud by examining all transactions involving more than ten U.S. dollars.107 Since the Ginko Financial collapse, SL has banned in-world banks without “government registration statement or financial institution charter.”108

Currently, virtual property rights are defined by the end user license agreements (EULAs) to which virtual world members are required to agree in order to join most virtual worlds.109 These EULAs are primarily enforced at the discretion of the company owning the virtual world.110

Second Life is no different, as its EULA gives Linden Lab broad discretion to regulate virtual property. Its Terms of Service contains the following: “you understand and agree that Linden Lab has the right . . . to remove any content (including your content) in whole or in part at any time for any reason or no reason, with or without notice and with no liability of any kind.”111 This broad discretion to SL’s developer seems to be in tension with a section of SL’s Terms of Service that allows users to retain property rights in their creations,112 and Linden Lab has been criticized for profiting from the sale of virtual property without adequately protecting the interests of virtual property owners.113

The bottom line, though, is that further litigation will be necessary in order to determine to what extent virtual property rights will be protected, and to what extent Linden Lab can regulate virtual property under its EULA and Terms of Service notwithstanding SL users’ claims to such property.114 How a court would resolve almost any virtual property dispute is speculative at this point. As Benjamin Duranske, a lawyer who is the primary contributor to the blog Virtually Blind, has observed, even the simplest of questions, such as “whether currency in virtual worlds should be equated with real world currency” and “whether virtual land can be meaningfully equated with real property” are still without any real or helpful answers.115

Child Predators and Child Pornography Issues

There is relatively little to mention as to actual prosecutions for sexually-related crimes against children committed by way of virtual worlds or Second Life. Researching this article uncovered only scattered attempts to prosecute such crimes and, for the most part, only in foreign jurisdictions. For example, one investigation was undertaken by German authorities in an attempt to apprehend those responsible for sexually explicit content depicting virtual children within SL.116 Possession of virtual pornography is illegal under German law.117 Linden Lab has assisted German law enforcement in their investigation.118

Although the possibility in the U.S. for the prosecutions related to virtual child pornography has been questionable at best because of the First Amendment, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is worth discussing briefly on this point. The case of United States v. Williams, a 7-2 decision that was handed down this term, has implicated that prosecution for the “pandering or solicitation” of virtual child pornography may be possible.119

At issue in the case was a provision of the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (“the Act”).120 The provision prohibits, inter alia, knowingly pandering or soliciting material that “reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe” that the material contains an “obscene visual depiction” of a minor engaged in “sexually explicit conduct.”121 The Court held that this statute was not substantially overbroad.122

Congress passed the Act in response to the invalidation of the Child Pornography Protection Act of 1996 in the case of Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition.123 The statute at issue in that case, the Williams majority explained, had been invalidated in part because it extended beyond prohibiting “pandering,” and prohibited the possession of virtual child pornography.124

The Williams case created a notable distinction. It appears that offering to provide or requesting to obtain (i.e., pandering or soliciting) virtual child pornography receive no First Amendment protection, at least under certain circumstances.125 On the other hand, possessing virtual child pornography that was pandered by someone else appears to still be protected.126 Even though transfers of virtual child pornography may be proscribed, however, prosecutions for such transfers within SL will still be difficult under the First Amendment because “[a] crime is committed only when the speaker believes or intends the listener to believe that the subject of the proposed transaction depicts real children . . . [and virtual] child pornography will be as available as ever, so long as it is offered and sought as such, and not as real child pornography.”127

As to the issue of child predators, researching this article revealed no specific case involving the prosecution of a child predator for activity related to Second Life. However, the U.S. Congress has shown some concern on this issue. On April 1, 2008, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held the very first congressional hearing on virtual worlds, but its focus was primarily on SL.128

At the hearing, members asked the CEO of Linden Lab, Philip Rosedale, about the process for locating child predators within SL. Rosedale responded that Linden has the ability to review the history of “communication, transactions, and behavior generally” of SL users.129 However, according to Rosedale, Linden retains these records only for a period of several weeks.130

Rosedale emphasized that the site is “aggressively self-policed” and that Linden actively investigates suspect in-world activity.131 He stated that there has been little SL activity of concern thus far, but he asserted that Linden has been proactive about notifying the authorities of the supposedly infrequent cases of suspect activity.132 He also testified that Linden has actively involved the FBI in investigating cyber crimes that have occurred within SL.133

Although virtual worlds and Second Life provide many positive contributions to society today by allowing people to communicate and interact with each other in ways never before possible, these Internet fora have spawned many problems as well. Second Life, in particular, has completely changed the concept of property ownership in a matter of a few years, and it has created many risks to consumers never before encountered. In addition, SL poses an enormous threat to children—both in the potential for children to access adult content and in the potential for children to fall victim to online predators. What is troubling is that Linden Lab, however well intentioned, has determined what policies govern SL, and has “self policed” almost all aspects of SL with little outside intervention. Increased involvement by policy makers, prosecutors and law enforcement is needed in order to combat the very real injustices that are clearly occurring within this virtual world.

The author is a third-year law student at the University of Mississippi School of Law and interned with the National Association of Attorneys General Cybercrime Project in the summer of 2008.


[1] Virtual Worlds Review, What is a Virtual World?, http://www.virtualworldsreview.com/info/whatis.shtml.

[2] See id.

[3] See id.

[4] Mark Wallace, A Virtual Holiday in the Virtual Sun, N.Y. Times, Oct. 28, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/travel/escapes/28virtual.html.

[5] Bobby Glushko, Tales of the Virtual City: Governing Property Disputes in Virtual Worlds, 22 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 507, 524 (2007).

[6] Id.

[7] Second Life Wiki, Origin of the Term ‘Resident,’ http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/ (search for “resident”) (last accessed July 27, 2008).

[8] Official Second Life Site, Frequently Asked Questions, http://secondlife.com/whatis/faq.php.

[9] Matt Gross, It’s My (Virtual) World and Welcome to It!, N.Y. Times, Nov. 3, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/ (search for “it’s my virtual world”).

[10] Samantha Gross, Take a Virtual Vacation: Travel in Second Life, USA Today, May 11, 2007, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2007-05-11-virtual-vacation_N.htm.

[11] Marco R. della Cava, Utopia Goes Digital, USA Today, Aug. 21, 2005, http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2005-08-21-virtual-utopia_x.htm.

[12] Official Second Life Site, Business Opportunities, http://secondlife.com/whatis/businesses.php.

[13] Alexandra Alter, Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10, 2007, http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118670164592393622.html.

[14] Shira Boss, Even in a Virtual World, ‘Stuff’ Matters, N.Y. Times, Sep. 9, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/ (search for “virtual world stuff matters”).

[15] Wallace, supra note 4.

[16] Id.

[17] Linden Lab Home Page, http://lindenlab.com/ (hereinafter “Linden”).

[18] Second Life Grid, What is Linden Lab?, http://secondlifegrid.net/resources/fact_sheet/lindenoverview.

[19] Id.

[20] Official Second Life Site, Economic Statistics, http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php (last accessed July 27, 2008) (hereinafter “Economic Statistics”).

[21] See Official Second Life Site, Terms of Service, § 2.4, http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php (hereinafter “Terms of Service”).

[22] Economic Statistics, supra note 20.

[23] Posting of Mitch Wagner to Information Week’s Digital Life Weblog, http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/04/linden_lab_name.html (Apr 22, 2008, 7:35 p.m.).

[24] Linden, supra note 17.

[25] Official Second Life Site, Membership Plans, http://secondlife.com/whatis/plans.php (last accessed July 22, 2008) (hereinafter “Membership Plans”).

[26] Second Life Premium Growth Flat Over Past 12 Months, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/07/02/second-life-premium-growth-flat-over-past-12-months/ (July 2, 2008, 1:21 a.m. PDT).

[27] Membership Plans, supra note 25.

[28] Id.

[29] Id.

[30] Official Second Life Site, Currency Exchange, http://secondlife.com/whatis/currency.php.

[31] Id.

[32] Online Business Journal of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, The New New Economy: Earning Real Money in the Virtual World (Nov. 2, 2005), http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/ (search “virtual worlds”).

[33] Id.

[34] See Posting of Mitch Wagner to Information Week’s Digital Life Weblog, http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/hosted/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199701944 (May 26, 2007, 12:01 a.m.) (describing Second Life sex industry) (hereinafter “Wagner’s Blog Post”).

[35] Albert C. Lin, Virtual Consumption: A Second Life for Earth?, 2008 B.Y.U.L. Rev. 47, n.221.

[36] Second Life Sees Record Usage But Bleeds Paid Accounts, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/07/08/second-life-sees-record-usage-but-bleeds-paid-accounts/ (Jul 8, 2008, 2:10 p.m. PDT).

[37] Bob Tedeschi, Awaiting Real Sales From Virtual Shoppers, N.Y. Times, June 11, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/ (search for “virtual shoppers”).

[38] Kathleen Craig, Making a Living in Second Life, Wired, Feb. 8, 2006, http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/news/2006/02/70153.

[39] Posting by Roger Parloff to CNN’s Legal Pad Weblog, http://money.cnn.com/blogs/legalpad/2006/11/anshe-chung-first-virtual-millionaire.html (Nov. 27, 2006, 11:25 a.m.).

[40] US Congress Launches Probe into Virtual Economies, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2006/10/15/us-congress-launchs-probe-into-virtual-economies/ (Oct. 15, 2006, 10:43 p.m. PDT).

[41] See Reena Jana & Aili McConnon, Second Life Lessons: Real-world Businesses Face the Costs and Learn the Benefits of Setting up Shop in the Online Universe, Business Week, Oct. 30, 2006, http://www.businessweek.com/playbook/06/1030_1.htm.

[42] See Tedeschi, supra note 37.

[43] Peter Valdes-Dapena, Real Cars Drive into Second Life, CNN, Nov. 18, 2006, http://www.cnn.com/2006/AUTOS/11/17/2nd_life_cars/index.html.

[44] Consultaglobal, Corporations Now Present At Second Life,

http://consultaglobal.wordpress.com/2007/04/22/corporations-now-present-at-second-life/.

[45] Albert C. Lin, Virtual Consumption: A Second Life for Earth?, 2008 B.Y.U.L. Rev. 47, 85-86.

[46] Id.

[47] Wallace, supra note 4.

[48] Todd David Marcus, Note: Fostering Creativity in Virtual Worlds: Easing the Restrictiveness of Copyright for User-Created Content, 52 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 67, 73 (2007).

[49] Id. at 87.

[50] Id. at 73.

[51] Id. at 87.

[52] Id. at 73.

[53] Id. at 68.

[54] Id. at 87.

[55] Yvonne K. Fulbright, FOXSexpert: Cybersex--Taking on a Whole New ‘Life,’ FoxNews, Mar. 3, 2008, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334681,00.html.

[56] Id.

[57] Wagner’s Blog Post, supra note 34.

[58] Having Sex, Wired, October 2006, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/slentertainment.html.

[59] Id.

[60] Youtube.com, Drugs Dope Weed Acid Shrooms Heroin Cocaine Bongs & More, http://Youtube.com/watch?v=LWq8aG7UC8s (warning: this video contains visual depictions of many user created virtual drugs).

[61] Youtube.com, Death of and [sic] Avatar-Second Life, Youtube.com/watch?v=UJLyTB3KRSw (warning: this video shows an avatar committing suicide).

[62] Youtube.com (search for “second life weapons”) (warning: some of these results contain graphic violence).

[63] Official Teen Second Life Site, What is Teen Second Life?, http://teen.secondlife.com/whatis.

[64] See Official Teen Second Life Site, Community Standards, http://teen.secondlife.com/footer/cs.

[65] Id.

[66] Id.

[67] Terms of Service, supra note 21, at § 2.2.

[68] Id.

[69] Id.

[70] Posting by Walter Alarkon to Briefing Room Weblog, http://briefingroom.thehill.com/tag/second-life/ (May 15, 2008, 12:02 p.m.).

[71] Id.

[72] Posting to Virtual World News Weblog, http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/05/representative.html (May 7, 2008, 09:37 a.m.).

[73] Id.

[74] Posting by Adam Reuters to Second Life News Center Weblog, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/03/14/exclusive-rosedale-to-step-down-as-linden-lab-ceo/ (Mar. 14, 2008, 9:29a.m. PDT).

[75] Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium (webcast of congressional hearing from April 1, 2008), http://energycommerce.house.gov/cmte_mtgs/110-ti-hrg.040108.VirtualWorlds.shtml (hereinafter “Virtual Worlds Hearing”).

[76] Id.

[77] Id.

[78] Id.

[79] Wagner’s Blog Post, supra note 34.

[80] Posting of Ken D. Linden to Second Life Weblog, http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/11/13/clarification-of-policy-disallowing-ageplay/ (Nov. 13, 2007, 5:10 p.m.).

[81] Wagner’s Blog Post, supra note 34.

[82] Second Life Wiki, http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/User:Marianne_McCann/Child_Avatars (last accessed July 27, 2008).

[83] Alter, supra note 13.

[84] Aili McConnon, Virtual World, Real Courtroom, Business Week, October 16, 2006,

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_42/c4005010.htm.

[85] Bragg v. Linden Research, Inc., 487 F.Supp.2d 593, 597 (E.D. Pa. 2007).

[86] Id. at 597 n.8.

[87] See id. at 597.

[88] Glushko, supra note 5, at 525.

[89] Bragg v. Linden Research, Inc., 487 F.Supp.2d 593, 612-13 (E.D. Pa. 2007).

[90] Linden Lab Settles Bragg Lawsuit, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2007/10/04/linden-lab-settles-bragg-lawsuit/ (Oct 4, 2007, 4:06 p.m. PDT).

[91] Citizens Media Law Project, http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/eros-llc-v-doe (July 27, 2008) (link to complaint available by clicking on PDF document at bottom of webpage).

[92] Volkov Catteneo: Yes, I am Robert Leatherwood, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/03/06/volkov-catteneo-yes-i-am-robert-leatherwood/ (Mar 6, 2008, 12:37 p.m. PDT) (hereinafter “Volkov Catteneo”).

[93] Posting by Benjamin Duranske to Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2007/11/29/eros-leatherwood-default/ (Nov. 29, 2007).

[94] Volkov Catteneo, supra note 92.

[95] Posting by Benjamin Duranske to Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2007/10/25/robert-leatherwood-identified-eros/ (Oct. 25, 2007).

[96] Jonathan Richards, Second Life Sex Bed Spawns Virtual Copyright Action, Times Online, July 4, 2007, http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article2025713.ece.

[97] Citizens Media Law Project, http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/eros-llc-v-doe (July 27, 2008) (link to Order for Judgment by Consent available by clicking on PDF document at bottom of webpage).

[98] Posting by Benjamin Duranske to Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2008/03/14/leatherwood-settlement/ (Mar. 14, 2008).

[99] Kurt Hunt, Note: This Land Is Not Your Land: Second Life, CopyBot, and the Looming Question of Virtual Property Rights, 9 Tex. Rev. Ent. & Sports L. 141, 143-44 (2007).

[100] Id.

[101] Id. at 148.

[102] Pirated Content Deleted from Second Life, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/06/17/pirated-content-deleted-from-second-life/ (June 17, 2008 2:01p.m. PDT).

[103] The Illinois Business Law Journal, Virtual Bank, Real Scam?, (Feb. 12, 2007) http://iblsjournal.typepad.com/illinois_business_law_soc/2007/02/virtual_bank_re.html.

[104] Unable to Pay Depositors, Ginko Ceases Banking Operations, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2007/08/09/unable-to-pay-depositors-ginko-ceases-banking-operations/ (Aug 9, 2007, 7:27 a.m. PDT).

[105] Posting by Benjamin Duranske on Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2008/01/21/ginko-financial-selling-server-on-ebay/ (Jan. 21, 2008).

[106] Id.

[107] Eric Reuters, http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/04/01/rosedale-discloses-fbi-griefing-probe-to-congress/ (Apr 1, 2008, 2:05 p.m. PDT).

[108] Posting of Ken D. Linden to Second Life Weblog, http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/01/08/new-policy-regarding-in-world-banks/ (Jan. 8, 2008, 10:43 a.m.).

[109] Glushko, supra note 5, at 514.

[110] Id. at 517.

[111] Terms of Service, supra note 21, at § 5.3 (capital letters changed to lowercase).

[112] See id. at § 3.2.

[113] Hunt, supra note 99, at 149.

[114] See Posting by Benjamin Duranske to Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2007/08/23/vb-commentary-active-suits-unsettled-issues/ (Aug. 23, 2007).

[115] Id.

[116] Second Life ‘Child Abuse’ Claim, BBC, May 9, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6638331.stm.

[117] Id.

[118] Id.

[119] Cf. United States v. Williams, 128 S. Ct. 1830, 1836-37, 1842 (2008).

[120] Id. at 1836.

[121] Id. at 1836-37 (citing 18 U.S.C. §2252A(a)(3)(B)).

[122] Id. at 1841.

[123] Id. at 1842 (citing Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)).

[124] Id. at 1836.

[125] See id. at 1842-43.

[126] See id. at 1836.

[127] Id. at 1844.

[128] Posting by Benjamin Duranske to Virtually Blind Weblog, http://virtuallyblind.com/2008/04/01/congress-virtual-worlds/ (Apr. 1, 2008).

[129] Virtual Worlds Hearing, supra note 75.

[130] Id.

[131] Id.

[132] Id.

[133] Id.

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