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Is This Legal?


Melita Magic
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If you figure out which merchant I am talking about here, please don't drop in hints or names. Let's abide by the forum TOS.

There is currently a huge game within Second Life which threatens to confiscate everything someone owns, that is to do with the game, if the person has rezzed a certain game booster after a certain date.

People are spending hundreds or thousands of real dollars on products and/or accessories and secondary market items for this game.

Is it legal for a Second Life merchant to for ANY reason, cause everything someone has paid for, not just from their store but from other players, to vanish? For ANY reason. 

Please, let's discuss and remain civil.

Thanks.

Signed,

Not a Kool Aid Drinker

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I have no clue what game this is you are writing about.  I assume there is an agreement between game provider and one who purchases the game booster.  Even if someone falls into arrears in tier, the land holder has no right to confiscate the objects owned by that person.  The most that will happen is that all of their objects are returned and the land is sold/rented to someone else.

I do not see why a game provider would have the ability to 'confiscate' more than what they themselves own.

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Thank you.

I don't either.

I see nothing in SL TOS to provide for that ability - in fact it would seem to label it theft. (As for literal ability, it ties into their server, so they can disappear everyone's game stuff in one poof.)

This game within a game said the booster was made using one of their scripts; the booster creator denies it hotly. Players are caught in the middle.

I do not know of any precedent within SL that would allow any merchant to destroy or disable a customer's past purchases. I believe it would be illegal in real life as well, since we're talking about real money.

The booster has been on the grid for months, and Linden Lab has made no public statements nor have they pulled it from the grid. 

Something smells fishy to me.

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I don't know all the details so I hestitate to comment, but here's something to consider.

If you use cheating software in many online games you can find your account suspended or your ability to access  online servers cut off.

If you buy a Nintendo 3DS game console, a physical object you own in real life, then put an R4 cartridge, a device that can be used for playing illegally downloaded games, into it Nintendo can send a command over the internet to turn your 3DS into an expensive paperweight. This is entirely legal.

Food for thought.

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Yes I know, if they were a standalone game, and forbid something, they could disable the game.

But they are not.

They are a Second Life resident like the rest of us.

Also, illegal downloads are not the same as something that's not been proven to have been hacked/in violation of copyright, IMO. So far we have just two people's word on whether that is the case or not.

 

PS, I knew there was a reason I chose to stick with my old DS Lite. And I don't even download games. Something in it just seems wrong, to me, i.e. two wrongs /= a right. But, at least in that case it's more clear cut to me.

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May I ask , in what way is it"stolen" is it like a card game, and the winner gets a version of the card, and then makes the scripted card the user used, maybe invalid or unable to be used? Like a game of jacks or marbles and someone gets a digital copy of what they knock out of the circle?

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No it was not a copybot or dupe, but the accusation is that the booster's creator used the game creator's script in part and changed it, to make their product. 

They deny this and also pointed out the script was given out freely.

I do not know what percentage of something has to be changed to fall within copyright legality.

And no it isn't me. I couldn't script to save my life. And I don't know either person myself.

 

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Whether or not being a game inside SL affects the issue or not depends entirely on the Second Life ToS and whether or not it addresses the issue. Beyond that, being a product in SL has no bearing on the matter. For issues like this you really can't think of SL as a game, it's more like a platform.

 You're right about illegal downloads, but R4 cards are not just used for illegally downloaded games. They're also used for playing indpendantly made "homebrew" games, which is much more like user created content in SL. I agree that this still isn't a perfect analogy, but there's not really anything quite like SL out there to really make a 100% analogous comparison.

 

 I think the issue of cheats used in online games was pretty spot on for this particular issue, tho. At least with the information I have.

 

 Now, as for the issue of whether or not the "Booster" was made with the original game creator's scripts and LL's lack of action on the matter...not sure how these really impact the situation at all. Linden Lab has a general policy of not getting involved.

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Does it? I've seen stolen content vanish from the entire grid. The instances I'm thinking of it was very fast - I haven't heard of a case where stolen content is allowed to linger. I could be wrong.

I don't think anything in SL TOS allows a merchant to disable or destroy products a customer has already paid for. Which are in their inventory, or rezzed on their land. For any reason, but to also include "you used something we disapprove of." Isn't what is on a person's land between that person and LL?

Just the same, isn't whether or not an item involves hacked/stolen content between those two creators and Linden Lab? 

Interesting info and perspectives, though.

 

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Penny Patton wrote:

I don't know all the details so I hestitate to comment, but here's something to consider.

If you use cheating software in many online games you can find your account suspended or your ability to access  online servers cut off.

If you buy a Nintendo 3DS game console, a physical object you own in real life, then put an R4 cartridge, a device that can be used for playing illegally downloaded games, into it Nintendo can send a command over the internet to turn your 3DS into an expensive paperweight. This is entirely legal.

Food for thought.

This ^^ Second Life is another example. If Linden Lab find that a resident has violated the terms of service, they terminate accounts and seize all assets (L$ balance, inventory, virtual land etc).

Which can be be fought in court of course. Someone did this in the past and won (see Bragg v. LL). More or less anyway. LL's ToS was ruled unconscionable and LL chose to settle out of court, which counts as a win I guess. The same might be possible in this case. The question is, are we talking amounts here that people are prepared to sue over?

Another point: How does this merchant get his or her customers to agree to these terms of service? Are they visible at all prior to the purchase, perhaps in the Marketplace listings? If not, their ToS or end user license might be null and void to begin with. In any case, the customers would have to take this to court. Perhaps a class action lawsuit?

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I don't know about this either.

Imo, it doesn't sound right.

If I purchased a product that may be deleted by the creator/seller at anytime for any reason, I would want sufficient Notice from the seller/creator before Purchasing their product.

A Resident created policy does not supercede the terms of service or community standards.

The sale was final. The product policy at the time should be reviewed and then weighed against the TOS. (as should any current policy)

If the seller/creator policy, at the time of the sale, does not allow the seller/creator to delete the items. The seller/creator would not have the right to delete the items, without Refunding the L$. You cannot have the L$ and the product, that is not commerce. I think it's illegal. Is this legal? wait.... did somebody already asked that question?

Hello Melita:smileyhappy: 

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Penny Patton wrote:

I don't know all the details so I hestitate to comment, but here's something to consider.

If you use cheating software in many online games you can find your account suspended or your ability to access  online servers cut off.

If you buy a Nintendo 3DS game console, a physical object you own in real life, then put an R4 cartridge, a device that can be used for playing illegally downloaded games, into it Nintendo can send a command over the internet to turn your 3DS into an expensive paperweight. This is entirely legal.

Food for thought.

This ^^ Second Life is another example. If Linden Lab find that a resident has violated the terms of service, they terminate accounts and seize all assets (L$ balance, inventory, virtual land etc).

Which can be be fought in court of course. Someone did this in the past and won (see
). More or less anyway. LL's ToS was ruled unconscionable and LL chose to settle out of court, which counts as a win I guess. The same might be possible in this case. The question is, are we talking amounts here that people are prepared to sue over?

Another point: How does this merchant get his or her customers to agree to these terms of service? Are they visible at all prior to the purchase, perhaps in the Marketplace listings? If not, their ToS or end user license might be null and void to begin with. In any case, the customers would have to take this to court. Perhaps a class action lawsuit?

That's the thing.

It wasn't in the agreement. 

They are planning to update the agreement.

I don't know if it would be kosher under TOS even then.

They want to be a standalone game but they are not Linden Lab. These things should be dealt with by LL for that reason IMO. If the item is illegal, remove it from the grid. End of story.

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Knowl Paine wrote:

I don't know about this either.

Imo, it doesn't sound right.

If I purchased a product that may be deleted by the creator/seller at anytime for any reason, I would want sufficient Notice from the seller/creator before Purchasing their product.

A Resident created
policy
does not supercede the terms of service or community standards.

The sale was final. The product policy at the time should be reviewed and then weighed against the TOS. (as should any current policy)

If the seller/creator policy, at the time of the sale, does not allow the seller/creator to delete the items. The seller/creator would not have the right to delete the items, without Refunding the L$. You cannot have the L$ and the product, that is not commerce. I think it's illegal. Is this legal? wait.... did somebody already asked that question?

Hello Melita:smileyhappy: 

Hi! :D

And thanks. That is my own feeling on the matter. it seems punitive and ego-driven, to be frank.

Not that I'd want to be Frank. I don't even know him.

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If you're going to discuss the topic here, it helps to offer a bit more information. You don' t have to name names to do this.

(I'm not a fan girl, on either side, but it does help to have more information than you have given here, I won't give my opinion, but I will expand on the actual issue, so people know what it is you're actually talking about-without getting specific. Your OP is extremely one sided and doesn't actually expand on the issue enough to allow people to make an informed answer)

What happened, without getting specific, is this. A game(ie, product) is created within SL. There are certain things one can do, within this game, to enhance their own game(not required, just something that one can choose do). This is a function of part of the equipment we are given to play this game. Another creator(multiple at this point, but it started with one)took it upon themselves to take this piece of equipment to a place that does not permit scripts in order to bypass the security measures within it, so they could safely remove it's scripts without sending a warning to the system that they've done just this. They did this to create their own product, using these scripts, to enhance the game for themselves and others purchasing their new product. They did so successfully and sold it to thousands of other game players-some ignorant of it's actual origin and some not. Normally the security measures built in would prevent us from removing these scripts, as this equipment self deletes when we rez rather than wear it, and the system gets flagged when we attempte to tamper. In a no script zone, this can't happen, or well, it *didn't happen.

Now this event is what began the entire issue Melita is talking about. This act caused the creators of the game to have to go in and rethink their TOS and change it. Mind you the changes coming, we have not seen yet, however we HAVE had ample warning that they are coming. It's been a topic of discussion for almost two months now within this game community. It's taken the creators this long to find a way to get around what was done, with minimal damage done to the remainder of the community and their investment in the game(whatever ir may be, lindens, time, emotional, etc..) They've come to a conclusion that they will make this product-created by taking apart equipment, and anything that functions like it that is created by others, useless, within their own coding. They've also decided that they will adjust their TOS to now reflect the very specific spelling out of products like this one are prohibited and will cause you the loss of your ability to play/own/partake, etc.... They've given us ample warning that we will all need to sign, aka agree, to this new TOS. If we do not, then, we cannot partake, play, own, whatever else have you their products.

This is the part Melita is asking about. Whether or not it is legal for them to *not* allow customers to own, partake, play, etc... their game, if they refuse to adhere to the TOS set forth. Also, I am guessing, since it's not spelled out in the OP...whether or not this company is legally allowed to change their TOS if the need arises. This is the are some people are having difficulty understanding, the real life legalities of such a thing as well as whether or not such policies break LL TOS.

Like I said, I won't offer my personal opinion, as it wouldn't be fair to offer my own opinion while explaining. I just wanted to actually give you the scenario with a bit more information so it makes sense when you try to answer.

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Knowl Paine wrote:

The sale was final. 

Yes and no. Technically, customers who buy digital products in SL don't purchase ownership rights, but merely a software license. The content of this license is up to the creator / merchant. There might also be a service involved, such as the use of a server outside of SL that the product exchanges data with.

Both the user license and the right to connect to third party servers with the product can be terminated if the customer violates a license agreement or ToS that s/he accepted by purchasing the item. The question is, did the customers accept such an agreement in this case? A notecard hidden in the sales box is probably not legally binding (but IANAL, so I'm not entirely sure. Some software licenses also pop up after the software package has already been bought and installed).

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Also I should probably tell you that the person who took the item to a no script zone, to remove it's contents ADMITTED to the community, on their own, that they did this. They specifically spelled out exactly HOW they did it. There is absolutely NO denial on their part of how it was created. So there's no reason to say there are "two sides" to that part of the matter. There actually are not two sides, lol. The person simply believes what they did was not wrong because the product they created is something the community wants. They've never once denied how it was created.

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It has to do with their actually deleting products already purchased. 

That goes beyond the actual disabling of content (which would also force people to stop using their products eventually.)

As it stands the items just vanish completely if someone is banned. It's automatic.

It seems they wish to write their own rules within SL but everyone else has to be on their Ps and Qs.

I do question this.

Please, do not drop too many hints as to who or what this might be. I don't want a firestorm. I feel this question applies to SL in a broader sense.

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Tari Landar wrote:

Also I should probably tell you that the person who took the item to a no script zone, to remove it's contents ADMITTED to the community, on their own, that they did this. They specifically spelled out exactly HOW they did it. There is absolutely NO denial on their part of how it was created. So there's no reason to say there are "two sides" to that part of the matter. There actually are not two sides, lol. The person simply believes what they did was not wrong because the product they created is something the community wants. They've never once denied how it was created.

Hi Tari;

Let's remain civil.

One of my fellowship talked to this person and they denied doing any of that.

There was more than one booster of this type.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

Another point: How does this merchant get his or her customers to agree to these terms of service? Are they visible at all prior to the purchase, perhaps in the Marketplace listings? If not, their ToS or end user license might be null and void to begin with. In any case, the customers would have to take this to court. Perhaps a class action lawsuit?

 

Yes you get the TOS they have beforehand. It's also on their website for all to read, at their leisure if they so choose. But before you can play their game, you have to agree to the TOS(via the menu that drops down, after you're given the TOS to read).

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I know of an analogous situation. I purchased a non-copyable item that comes with an agreement that if it is modified or copied in anyway, either the physical shape or the scripting, the original will be deleted. The agreement came with the item & allowed the owner to return it within 48 hours if they didn't agree to the terms.

I think there are a few items in SL, particularity those that can be updated, in which it is possible for the creator to delete them from a buyer's inventory at will.

(Edit to add)

I think that in the case of the product's TOS being updated to allow the creator to delete said product, the customers should be given the option to get their money back if they do not want to agree to the new product TOS. (Note I have no idea what game or product this discussion is about. I'm only discussing the situation hypothetically.)

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