Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions (feline_phantasy) wrote,
Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions
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Can people actually 'own' virtual land?

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(CNN) -- Zed Drebin has a pretty fantastical life.

He owns a house on the beach, which he's styled to be part Barbie castle and part medieval lair. In addition, he is the landlord of two island colonies, both of which feature spaceships, amusement parks and all kinds of futuristic buildings. About 80 renters pay to live in themed condos at his getaway resorts.

For all of this, Drebin pays only $390 a month, he said.

But there's one big flaw in this space-themed paradise: None of it is real. Zed Drebin is an avatar in the virtual world of Second Life. He's controlled by Arthur, a 44-year-old who lives in New York City, and who didn't want his full name used for fear it would hurt his business.

Despite the fact that Arthur pays U.S. dollars to "own" virtual land in Second Life, and that his renters also pay him in real money, it's unclear whether he, or any of Second Life's "residents," have lasting rights to these virtual tracts.

That worries him.

"We've invested a great deal of money and an even greater amount of time; literally hundreds of people have contributed to creating our regions," he said.

Now, in a sign that virtual issues increasingly are bleeding into the real world, some "residents" of Second Life are taking virtual property rights to real-world court, citing California consumer protection laws to make their case.

On April 15, four Second Life property owners filed a class-action suit against Linden Lab, the online world's creator, alleging the company misled players into thinking they owned their virtual lands. People pay real dollars to Linden Lab for access to virtual land.

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More on this:

Real Legal Rights To Virtual Property On Second Life?
Virtual Property Rights Are No Game
Virual Land Dispute Class Action
Tags: second life, sl, virtual land
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