Op/Ed: Escorts OK – If SL Is Like Phone Sex

by Alphaville Herald on 09/08/07 at 12:16 am

Simulated prostitution and stripping are legal – Robin Linden

by Jessica Holyoke

HeadI went to Robin Linden’s office hours today to find out if Escorts or Strippers are on their way out of SL. Many residents feel that with gambling gone, escorting is next to be hit with the banstick. When asked about the reasons for the gambling ban, Robin Linden stated that simulated prostitution and stripping were legal acts and that the gambling ban was placed into effect for legal compliance reasons. The gambling ban was not instituted as a means for There-ing up SL.

But once again today, I was told by a commentator that SL Escorts and Strippers are engaging in illegal acts. That somehow, somewhere there might be a law making escorting in SL illegal according to at least one commentator. There is no evidence to back up his assertion. There is no law against SL Escorting and Stripping. But in talking about whether there could be a legal ban against escorting, I decided to see how I would legislate against it. And looking for the answer raised the bigger issue, what are we doing?

All of our activities in Second Life could fall under two categories, behavior or content. When I click on a pose ball and dance, am I dancing or am I creating a video of someone dancing? When I sit in an office hour, am I part of an event or due to the intellectual property aspects, am I helping to create a movie of an event? The implication of what we are doing goes to how the act could be banned.

If our actions are behavior, then reality-based prostitution laws may apply. You pay for sexual intercourse, you are partaking in prostitution. Except that prostitution requires touching. The best behavior description of what residents do when they have sex is that they are mutually masturbating. But an SL escort is not being paid to touch, they are being paid to help someone touch themselves, which is not prostitution.

I remember in Atlanta there were a number of places called Lingerie studios. A friend of mine worked there and she told me how men would come in, and essentially masturbate in the presence of a naked girl. I’m not naïve enough to believe that there was never prostitution there, but the actual, advertised service was not found to be prostitution in Georgia. The relevance is that here we have escorts far removed from their clients, but engaging in similar activity. Under a behavior theory, escorting is legal in SL.

If our actions are content, then you would look to obscenity laws to see if the actions are legal. And if all you do is have sex, then possibly there’s obscenity. But there’s a problem with looking at solely the sex act. The Miller test of obscenity requires looking at the work as a whole. And the least amount of “whole” in SL would be from log on to log off. If a sex act is content, then everything following and everything preceding that act would be included in “the work.” Because people would not just have sex in SL, they would at least sign on, go to the sex club, make the offers, have the sex act, get dressed and leave. The work as a whole would not be solely sex. Therefore, escorting would not be obscene.

There’s also the in-between concept of phone sex. It can be considered a combination of behavior and content. Phone sex shares many of the same qualities of SL escorting, such as providing context for someone to be aroused. And again, phone sex is legal activity. Therefore, SL escorting is also legal under a phone sex theory.

So people worried about escorts, take a breath. There is still a vibrant industry in SL revolving around adult content, the escorts themselves and the club owners, clothiers, animators, builders and skin/hair designers. Check out Vociferous in Purple to see how residents are adapting to the new changes in SL with voice. Until age verification comes and everything changes again. But also keep in mind, the actual escorting happens behind closed doors, and not in public view, another point in its favor for staying in SL.

50 Responses to “Op/Ed: Escorts OK – If SL Is Like Phone Sex”

  1. dandellion Kimban

    Aug 9th, 2007

    “The best behavior description of what residents do when they have sex is that they are mutually masturbating. ”

    Nope. Mutual masturbation includes mutual touching, which is in SL impossible. (damn! I know I am missing something on the internet) Residents are consentualy engaging in colective producing of erotic art.

  2. Anonymous

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Add this to the sentence: “Because people would not just have [ageplay] sex in SL”

    And you’ve just proved that neither is sexual ageplay obscene.

  3. Anonymous

    Aug 9th, 2007

    What Robin Linden should have answered is what specific law ageplay sex violates, what specific law simulated rape violates, etc etc, then all can be reminded that laws don’t necessarily dictate what Linden Labs allows. Rather, perceived potential profit margin after considering cost/tradeoffs of keeping something around that a supposed “broad” consensus complain about dictates what is allowed. Legality is irrelevant. Was it a different Robin Linden who said two verified adults privately ageplaying would not have their behavior intervened by Linden Labs, before the new policy was implemented? Or perhaps are policies in place today not necessarily relevant tommorrow? ………..

    Minutes before the casino ban, there was a vibrant industry in SL revolving around casinos, game makers, promoters, players.


  4. JOe

    Aug 9th, 2007

    wow, could anyone care less? *goes back to mutually not touching other avatars*

  5. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Curious that no transcript or direct quotes are provided.

    And uh, no “commentator said that strippers engage in illegal acts”.

    I’ve raised the question of whether it is legal in all jurisdictions, countries, and even the U.S. And that’s a legitimate question to ask. There isn’t a determination about this!

    Both Jessica Holyoke and Benjaman Duranske have this curious notion that if they make an in interpretation of law, that’s all there is to it, nothing else can challenge it, by lawyers or non-lawers.

    But…they are not practicing law when they do this, their opinions are not official, and even if they were, they are open to be challenged by other lawyers. Everyone knows that.

    The escort business indeed will be regulated. It will be regulated by age verification to determine whether adult parcels have over-18 adults. That *is* regulation. You can’t wish that away and claim that isn’t regulation. It is. And once that’s in place, there may be some authorities who begin to find more problems with it, and you can’t know that in advance.

  6. Victorria Paine

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Beyond the age verification scheme, I can’t see anything further being done about strippers and escorts. The activity is perfectly legal — by far the best analogy is phone sex because essentially people are paying (a small amount of) money for text-based sexual interaction with a little bit of graphical enhancement on the side, as it were. It’s not really “obscenity” because it is an act between two people rather than a work created for viewing by others. While it’s possible that some states could try to attack it on these kinds of grounds, given the overall context of independent interactivity and the highly textual nature of the interaction, it seems such challenges would have a very tough time succeeding.

    Casinos are different because there is specific US federal legislation that deals with online gambling.

  7. Nicholaz Beresford

    Aug 9th, 2007

    )) Add this to the sentence: “Because people would not just have [ageplay] sex in SL” And you’ve just proved that neither is sexual ageplay obscene. ((

    In some European countries even the creation of content (pictures, etc.) is illegal, so this may apply to obscenity or prostitution in the U.S. but no way you turn (content or experience) it will it become legal in Europe.

  8. blueball

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Prokovy Neva, do you have a specific US law in mind, as you say “even in the US”?

  9. janeforyou Barbara

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Go to Google, type in “porn in california” and “prostitution in california”
    and “escorts in california”
    Its leagal, 90% of porn movies in the world are made in USA-moust in CA.

    BDSM are legal, There are a own org in Santa Barbara. There are a few tousend Mistress that offer there service in CA.
    So if Secondlife use CA law neer any are leagal, but not Child Porn.

    In CA sex industri are a billion dollar business.

  10. Johnny P. Walters, esq.

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Don’t forget to include that homosexuality laws may come into play here. Since the overwhelming majority of “female” prostitutes and strippers in SL are actually men in RL, some countries (particularly those that are Islamic) might see this as not only illegal, but punishable by death.

  11. shockwave yareach

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Only two possible descriptions: Behavior and Content?

    No, there is a third. It merges the two and it’s called Creation of Content. Or in this case, Collaborative Storytelling (with pictures) or Interactive Writing. If two people are writing back and forth, creating their text based on what the other does, that’s interactive writing. Cybering (as it is commonly called) is nothing more than interactive writing with a focus on sexual fantasy. So no, you can’t boil it all down to one or the other, because sometimes your behavior creates the content itself, or the behavior IS the content.

    LL needs to start telling all these goody goody lawnicks that if they think one of their citizens is breaking a law in SL, they are welcome to come into SL and go after them. Otherwise, it’s not LL’s job to be Universal Cop Enforcing All Laws for $yourstatehere. I no more answer to the laws of Utah than I do the laws of Iran, and I’m getting tired of hearing about “the lawman” coming to get us. Let the attorney general of Michigin charge me with a crime. I’ll have it thrown out for being out of his jurisdiction so fast his lakes will shake.

  12. Anonymous

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Nicholaz, I thought this was the same Jessica Holyoke who always makes sure to mention that SL sexual ageplay may be obscene (US law). Yet to argue here that virtual prostitution is not obscene, Jessica uses logic that could well be applied to sexual ageplay. Does this mean that Jessica doesn’t think sexual ageplay can be obscene any more or is this seeming contradiction is explainable somehow? (And I’m not interested in other ways it could be illegal for this question)

    Foreign laws again don’t appear to matter on what is and is not allowed. The ban on sexual ageplay came about after a German news hit piece. The ban on virtual rape came about after a Belgian news story. The casino ban came after…well nothing that I remember so perhaps a preemptive strike. But what we do know is that it was a reinterpretation of at least one law (US) and explicit change in policy (before, a specific knowledgebase entry detailing why it wasn’t illegal), and a policy of “being careful” for lack of a better phrase which describes this:

    “And, because there are a variety of conflicting gambling regulations around the world we have chosen to restrict gambling in Second Life as described in a revised policy”

    The “being careful” part comes in at least one fact: that the prohibition is also on “Linden Dollars” wagering, and while it’s safe to bet there is not a single law in the world banning gambling of (claimed to be) valueless “Linden Dollars”, this restriction was still included.

    So there will be bans on content and behavior based on at least a combination of: bad PR, which is bad for business, and a law somewhere from which business comes (you don’t see Tiananmen Square Massacre censorship policies, do you? because major business is not coming from China).

    The common theme here is…. you guessed it: business. Not foreign laws.

    So unlike the message in this article, anyone part of this industry SHOULD be worried. And not just this industry. Any industry. The appropriate level of anxiousness and fear should not primarily be based on legal interpretations as implied here, but rather on Linden Lab cost-benefit analyses, profit potential outlooks, and the demographics of the various resident population influxes (whose collective voices and capital pressures become appropriately stronger).

  13. Loloz Oh

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Prok, everyone on the main grid is 18+. The youngins have teen SL. *wink wink*

  14. Max

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Then I guess all those people who do “live webcam” shows are all felons.. Bunch of morons are who think this might be illegal and might be stopped. LL knows where their bread and butter comes from and the US government wouldnt try touching this with a 10 foot pole. Also, in regards to ageplay, that is perfectly legal, and computer simulations of minors engaged in sexual acts are also federally legal and only banned in some states.

  15. Anonymous

    Aug 9th, 2007

    Just so you know… Linden Lab do not set any laws in SL.. Linden Lab do not have any Goverment in SL.. Linden Lab do not got a police in SL.
    Liden Lab got a set of rules you need to agree on.Follow the rules and you are ok.

    As SIM owner i can make and set my own rules in my land.But i cant brake the rules i agreed to follow in the “game” I can forbidd Escorting at my land even if its allowed in SL. I can forbidd wepons on my land even if its allowed in SL.

    I govern my own land, i set the rules and the laws.

  16. Brent C

    Aug 9th, 2007

    I kept on telling people this, Prositution is more like Phone Sex/Cyber Sex.

  17. Benjamin Duranske

    Aug 9th, 2007

    I like this, but I think it lets the debate be framed as “Is it legal?” which puts the burden on the side that says it is — the question should actually be, “Is it illegal?” Based on an admittedly cursory review, I don’t see any law that says it is.

    I run the analysis from that perspective here:


  18. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 9th, 2007

    I want to join in the discussion, but I’m only going to address everything except for Prokofy’s comments and the sexualized ageplay comment. And the only reason why I’m holding off on commenting back on those two things is that I have to look back over what was said.

    dandelion, I chose “mutual masturbation” knowing that it can mean one person touching another’s genitalia because simultaneous masturbation, if that was indeed going on, just doesn’t sound as fun. Maybe I should have used synchronized masturbation, but that’s too weird.

    To the SIM owner commenter,

    Just so we’re clear, I’m not suggesting that you have to do anything on your land. You can do just about anything you want, including banning escorts from your land. But my concern is that people may have this underlying fear and move out of the escort business, or malign it, based on nothing.

    The broadly offensive blogpost,

    In simplest terms, the broadly offensive blogpost was routed in some legal concerns due to Robin talking about jurisdications being concerned about activity such as sexualized ageplay. On the other side of it, the broadly offensive blogpost came out after a Belgian piece about Rape in SL and a German piece about ageplay in SL. My concern with the rumors of escorts being next to go wasn’t that it fell under either “broadly offensive” or that some other jurisdiction was concerned about it. The concern was that the gambling ban was first, the escort ban would be next. The initial thought was There-ing Up SL (c). Which Robin stated was not the case, that the ban was instituted as a legal compliance measure. If the gambling ban was a legal compliance issue in the US and escorting was not against US law,then the two activities are not related.

    On the Linden’s as guardians,

    I think the Linden’s do have some responsibility when the grid doesn’t work or I can’t make a transaction. I also think its too easy to pray to the game gods to fix our problems when we should rely on ourselves.

    On is it legal vs is it illegal?
    Because of a certain commentator’s position, (Shout out to Ben Shapiro) I decided to take the “is it legal” argument. Just because.

    Johnny P. Walker’s comment

    I have worked with men who are female escorts/strippers in SL. Let’s call one of them Stacy, who looks like an average SL female stripper. If Stacy feels that having sex with a male avatar is homosexual, how is having sex with a female avatar heterosexual? Because it wouldn’t look heterosexual. And honestly, I believe the adultry aspects would be more worrisome to Islamic countries than who is on the other side of the keyboard.

  19. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 9th, 2007

    To get it started, here’s the quote from Robin Linden preceded by my statement opening up discussion;

    You: now some owners of Escort/strip clubs feel that if the gambling ban was There-ing up SL (c) then they would be the next to go
    You: but if its legal compliance, then they are being fearful for no reason
    Robin Linden: We made the decision to ban gambling because of the online gambling laws in the US, which outlaw gambling. We felt the risk to our business was too high.
    Robin Linden: So yes, it is legal compliance.
    Robin Linden: Simulating prostitution, or stripping, is not illegal.

    And yes, you did not specifically state “stripping is illegal.” But let’s look at your logic. You are stating that the escort business will be regulated with the use of age verification on adult parcels to ensure that only residents over 18 are allowed. But won’t all adult content be regulated in such a manner, including stripping? Indeed, if anyone at anytime engaged in adult content, such as free sex, Gor, Yiffing, mature violence, BDSM or stripping, in front of a minor, then that is illegal under laws regarding corruption of a minor. Under your logic though, all of these things could be considered illegal at some point because of the regulation of access.

    Additionally, you state that being regulated means that sometime in the unforeseeable future, there might be a law criminalizing a certain activity. By your logic though, smoking in a bar in a city that allows it should be illegal now because it may be made illegal in the future.

    And, depending on the actual implementation, Age Verification is a good process to have. It is important for those in the adult industry in SL to know how old the typist is in the audience and more importantly how old is the typist on stage. And that goes for all sexual areas of SL, not just the ones you find distasteful this week.

    This article is not a legal opinion. I wrote an opinion-editorial. There is no attorney/client relationship being created and what I wrote doesn’t apply in every country and situation. But in general terms, there is no US law suggesting that SL escorting is illegal.

    And if you want to challenge me on the law, you need to start providing some proof of what you are arguing. Everyone is welcome to challenge my views. Its part of the reason why I do this. However, on this issue, you provided no proof except some potential future you see.

  20. Anonymous

    Aug 9th, 2007

    One quick addendum to the Prokofy response
    August 09, 2007 at 06:30 PM Prokofy Neva wrote: “Something is illegal if you can PROVE that it is so” in relation to the Ginko End Game. I wonder why that’s not the case in my thread.

  21. Mark

    Aug 10th, 2007

    “I wonder why that’s not the case in my thread.”

    Beause you’re dealing with a an unreasonable person who is many times contrary for the sake of being contrary. She just can’t stand anyone else having an idea or a strong opinion about anything to do with SL, because she sees that as her territory, and only hers, so she guards it like a vicious junkyard dog.

    You should also know that she used to heap praise on two of the earlier lawyers who came to SL, who were regularly proffering legal opinions on the old forums AND ON Prok’s blog. But then those two bought into her FIC crap and that she was being persecuted, so it’s no small wonder. I even seem to remember Prok calling for one of them to come offer advice on occasion.

    Go figure huh?

  22. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 10th, 2007

    What I find profoundly hypocritical is that Benjamin Duranske can hurry and scurry to pronounce prostitution legal (and it may well be in its virtual forums), and he can look for every leeway and broad interpretation, and never countenance and consideration of a Miller test being flunked or an obscene phone call law being invoked, etc. etc. — yet when it comes to Ginko, he falls on Nicholas’ neck like the Axe of the Leviathan thundering ILLEGAL and shouting that it must be stopped.

    Lawyers are tricky that way; they don’t defend the law; they defend their clients. The trick on our part then is always to figure out: who are their clients? The public interest? This or that crony? Their own ego?

    Duranske’s defending his own ego, of course, but it’s also part-and-parcel of a general tendency in SL to be incredibly laissez-faire and hedonistic about all things sexual, but to be a terrible brude, and a fundamalistic Puritan about the economy. These economic church ladies either hate commerce and capitalism and are socialists at heart, or else they despise the concept of these “other people” in Latin America getting a piece of the economy; they want the economy to be reserved for themselves, their class, their clan.

    I’d like to believe that the motivation here is consumer protection. But it’s not at all. Duranske found someone to bully, step on, and crack, and he did. Five second later, another bank sprang up, OurBank, by the WSE people, with .15 percent daily compounded interest, just as flawed a concept as Ginko’s if you’re going to put it that way, and yet Duranske has no comment, no consideration, he’s looking the other way. It’s not the sector, the consumer, the principles. It’s just finding facile cases to beat on, not only to garner his 15 minutes of SL fame, but to make damn sure that people stay out of the economy and that only the old boys’ network and their rules prevail.


    Why can’t the entire transcript be cited?! That’s pretty wierd.

    Here’s what Robin *actually said* — two can play at nit-picking legalist assholery.

    “Simulating prostitution, or stripping, is not illegal.” Simulating. Playing at. Pretending that the spacebux collected are real. Using them to buy lingerie. Never leaving the system. Not cashing out.

    Robin chose her words carefully. As long as someone can show it is simulation, that may be enough to keep prosecutors at bay. But if real money is paid for it as a service that might change how it is looked at in some jurisdictions.

    We CANNOT KNOW if some state, some zealous DA, like Duranske, only obsessed with sex instead of obsessed with keeping people out of the economy, could decide that some of the really gross extreme stuff in SL (Bukakke anyone?) could fall under the Miller test. Or some disgruntled boyfriend calling his ex-girlfriend and using dirty words could suddenly be characterized with charges of obscene phone-calling. We don’t know how it will go.

    We can’t know that once SL’s seemy side gets a lot more scrutiny now that the eye don’t have gambling to fall on that various congressional committees, mothers’ groups, who the hell knows, will try to bring about lawsuits. One such attempt by a French right-wing group was tried. The idea that this will NOT happen again, or will NOT have a chilling effect on the Lindens, and cause them to take pre-emptive action is NAIVE to the EXTREME. Of course it will!

    Especially because people *use Second Life to make contacts in Real Life*. And all it takes is one such incident of SL used to pay for a call girl that someone decides is underage, or even of age, but engaging in illegal solicitation — and that’s it, they will crack down.

    Our Lindens have proven themselves to be more nervous than a pregnant fox when it comes to pre-anticipating how the legal axe might fall on them and to pre-over-comply.

    So the blase attitude that people are adopting about sex is as much in la-la land as the casino la-land land. To be sure, sex is the new Calvinist born-again religion, and free economic activity is the old taboo sex, but even with those shifts in online morality, we have to figure the Lindens are sensitive to pressure from the public.

    We don’t know that all adult content may be regulated. Sex clubs and brothels and such may get special attention. The Lindens may try to go after them first, pre-emptively.

    To sit in Second Life now, after Bragg, Stroker, German Prosecutors, the gambling ban, Ginko’s, and think that your sex club isn’t going to be next is the apex of retardation. It *will* be next because if there’s one thing the Lindens hate, it’s the popular places list with their obvious sex palaces that are a turn-off to their corporate friends.

    Was there an accident, comrade, in Stroker’s sale of Amsterdam when the selling was good? Before age verification?

    Indeed, if any one club messes up, especially one with a furry element or some extreme thing like capture role play that makes for lurid wire copy, and this gets publicity as being related to a minor, the media and the public may not at all make the distinction that such activity should be protected as long as minors aren’t involved.

    After all, we saw how hysterical Duranske got over Ginko’s, for which there was no federal warrant or Linden sanction, characterizing it as illegal and even helping to be *making it so by causing rank panic*. People can get terribly wound up and emotional over their sense of self-righteousness, and logic won’t stop them.

    I don’t need to PROVE that escorts are illegal. Because I haven’t SAID they are illegal. I don’t see that it’s proven they are legal, however, and I will keep raising that issue. I don’t see that Robin’s very carefully worded phrase provides any comfort.

    Ginko’s is legal. Like OurBank, it’s a fictional game to teach people about banking and credit unions *cough*. Until you cash out the proceeds. Only it’s the Lindens who cash out the proceeds. They are on the hook for this, no one else, really. And by the same token, as they are on the hook, they might decide they just don’t want to deal with the awesome responsibility of running a giant brothel and helping people monetarize their whoring online. It may not have anything to do with legality in the end, but morality. The Lindens have shown themselves to be moral time and again when it fits their belief system.

  23. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Prokofy you are not very good at this.

    “I didn’t say that they were illegal, I don’t think its proven that it is legal” is double speak worthy of all the Orwellian dystopia’s that you spout off against. Especially after being quoted that you have to prove something is illegal. For Ginko, your standard is that it must be shown to be illegal. For escorts, you have to prove that it is legal. Which I did in this article. Something you and everyone else are open to prove me wroong. But you haven’t. Again your only proof is that it may not be legal now because someone in the future may decide that its illegal. That’s not good thinking.

  24. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Sorry about the last post. I thought the webpage retained my information.

    Which is sort of lucky because I would have missed talking about Prokofy’s statement about if a call girl uses Second Life to solicit real life clients than SL escorting could be banned. Which is mostly more “that doesn’t make sense Prokofy” material. Did Craig’s list get shut down on RL prostitutes use it to solicit clients? Do the phone companies get in trouble when RL prostitutes use it to solicit clients? Your arguments mostly don’t tie in together Prokofy.

  25. blueball

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Prokofy Neva, do you want to ban these things from SL?

  26. Vitorria Paine

    Aug 10th, 2007

    There are two issues: (1) legality and (2) LL’s business sense.

    On the first, I agree with Jessica Holyoke. It’s a way stretch to legally *ban* the kind of virtual sexual interaction that takes place in SL. In theory could a zealous prosecutor try to make a case? Surely. But they have better things to do. If they’re not going to prosecute websites like Craig’s List or even the eros line of websites (which are skirting very close to the edge of technical “solicitation”), believe me, the likelihood of attacking text sex in SL is pretty darned low. Why is it different from ageplay or rape roleplay? Because more folks are offended by these things than “plain vanilla” sex, that’s why. And in any case the likelihood of someone getting upset about this in terms of prosecution is directly related to something bad happening — like an underage person being involved ( for which LL’s defense would be the age verification system that is coming ) or someone engaged in real life solicitation through SL. But even in the latter case, if they’re really interested in attacking someone for that, why not try to shut down the eros sites? They really *are* engaged in solicitation, even if not technically. I just don’t see much of an appetite among prosecutors to get into this stuff, really.

    Now on the business side of things, clearly the Lindens hate the fact that the sex trade provides the most popular places in SL by visit count and dominates the “Popular” tab on the search function. But that’s a two-edged sword really. For all the corporate types who are put off by that, there are of course many individual users who come to SL to engage in virtual sex, and those people go away (together with the people who are engaged in supplying the virtual sex) if SL no longer provides what they want. It’s very tricky, from the business perspective, to simply do away with the sex trade completely unless there is a compelling legal reason, as there was with gambling. I think it’s much more likely that LL simply integrates the age verification system they have proposed on a more robust level, and leaves the virtual sex trade the way it is, than it would be for LL to ban all strip clubs, escorts and call girls from the grid. There is such a thing as shooting onself in the face, and to be honest while Nike and Reuters and all have interesting sites, noone will see them if they aren’t in SL to begin with, and if we are being honest it isn’t Nike and Reuters that are drawing people into SL, its the fantasy world where they can create and do what they like, and a large part of that for human adults is sex. So honestly I don’t agree that LL will take a draconian approach to the sex trade — far more likely from my perspective would be a middle ground apporoach using zoning/age verification methods.

  27. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Jessica Holyoke is such an unworthy interlocutor, because other than rote learning of static legal memes from law school, she is incapable of analytical “what if” sort of thought. She imagines the law is a blunt axe that you wield against other people, and bend to your will.

    “I didn’t say that they were illegal, I don’t think its proven that it is legal” is double speak worthy of all the Orwellian dystopia’s that you spout off against.

    Yes, it’s good for you folks to get a bitter taste of your own medicine, and I flagged it as such — it’s how you talk, and the game you play now. But the fact is, it’s a simple statement. I did NOT say it was “illegal”; I said that it wasn’t proven as legal. It’s not. Nobody succeeded in pulling it off forever, safely. It’s tolerated *now* but…next week? Everybody thought ageplay was ok, then we got German TV.

    >Especially after being quoted that you have to prove something is illegal.

    You do. And you also have to prove it’s legal if you’re going to spout legal certification to people and lead them down the garden path. There is an interpretation — not worth much, coming from you or Duranske — tht this is “legal”. It might well be. Yet, we don’t know how it will get read. We don’t know how it will play out.

    Tell you what — Duranske had only one interest — closing down Ginko, and he didn’t care that he had to see thousands of depositors bilked on the way to proving himself right. That lets me know he doesn’t care about the world itself, and about public safety and individual people whatsoever, despite his fake populism. And that tells me that he will not be trying to defend people on this either, to make sure they don’t wind up in trouble — he won’t *care*. And that’s because his ultimate purpose, like with Jessica’s warmed-over Marixm — is to defend an ideology — a morality — a tribal rule — that says “nobody can be in the economy except me and my friends who play by rules we think are sane and prudent for us”.

    There’s an assumption that hey, SL is like a telephone and this is like phone sex. Except, add video cams, real-life money, real-life money, and real-life moms somewhere having a fit and calling their congressmen — and you might have something more.

    Everyone just assumes that the Lindens are going to just be *there* and always be available to serve as legal punching bags and hang around and be slapped with probes and nuisance suits and attempts to drag them into the mud like the French case. And…what if they decide they’re “done”? They could be “done” for “business reasons” and all the spouting in the world will not make it *more legal for this world*. It’s their game. I can talk about the First Amendment til the cows come home; on their blog, they don’t have to apply it.

    >For Ginko, your standard is that it must be shown to be illegal.

    Oh, absolutely, Since no federal force, no real life journalist, even came forward, but only the vapourous wannabees re-living some imagined glory of real life they didn’t get enough of. Unlike ageplay and casinos, where Lindens acted, this time they didn’t. They didn’t feel any liability. They didn’t get skittish. If anything, they were even positive about it, spinning it as creative and innovtive. People jumped up and down on the forums — the Lindens ignored them. As they should go on doing. So it really becomes incumbent on those getting hysterical and swinging billy clubs to prove a crime took place.

    You surely do have to prove something is illegal if you believe this so strongly you’re willing to cause a stampede and be *responsible for* the loss of people’s savings. That’s appalling. I just bug my eyes out at that.

    >For escorts, you have to prove that it is legal. Which I did in this article.

    1. I didn’t posit that “you have to prove its legal”. This is a false apposition, and a false statement.

    2. It’s not proven in this article. What’s proven is that some laws were referenced, and some spin on those laws were given. Some counterspin could well be given; the Miller test is the Miller test, and Jessica Holyoke’s version of what passes it may bear no resemblance to its real jurisprudence.

    >Something you and everyone else are open to prove me wroong. But you haven’t. Again your only proof is that it may not be legal now because someone in the future may decide that its illegal. That’s not good thinking.

    Yeah. That’s how law works. If you don’t *like* how that works, then you’d lie back, and roll over and accept Ashcroft. See, that’s what is so fucking hypocritical about legal whores using the law for their own agenda. When they don’t like it, it’s fine not to accept a law as law, to appeal it, to contest its Constitutionality. Can’t put a crimp in the right to enjoy simulated child porn now, can we! A full-court press to overturn THAT law is then required.

    But…a law defining telephone sex as not an issue unless it’s obscene under a test…that’s fine. That will stay put just like that. Um, no one will ever challenge it! Because…you say so! lol

    SL is something more than Craig’s list and more than a telephone. This constant swaggering around about making SL a common carrier and then defending this or that interpretation of law around that stripped-down notion is really lame. It doesn’t get to be a common carrier only when you need it to be, and stop being it when you don’t. Imagine, *this* from the same person who sat in an office hour with Robin Linden and said “but I don’t live my life on PayPal” in argumentation against the right of LL to answer subpoena’s about identity for lawsuits, as in Stroker’s case, as PayPay did!

    Then…whoops! 180 degree turnaround! When we need to have prostitution in SL — whoops! I don’t live my life here! Why, it’s just a phone! my phone company doesn’t get sued for phone sex so why blah blah blah. SO convenient and so blatantly hypocritical!!!

    It’s so abundantly clear: all Jessica wants to do is do what she wants — and bend the law to whatever that is.

    BTW, I’m uninterested in having any further debate with Jessica on this, as it will be redundant and stupid. She’s accused me of libel (say, how’s that case coming along!), she’s banned from my blog, under Rule No. 2 for inciting harm to me. so I’m not interested in slugging it out on the Herald as some kind of placebo.

    Rather, I’m simply defending myself when attacked so that I don’t have to constantly hear the VOICE OF PIXELEEN in every bad-faith, hostile post that appears here, and that my good name is defended.

  28. Loloz Oh

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Prokofy Said…

    “People can get terribly wound up and emotional over their sense of self-righteousness, and logic won’t stop them.”


  29. Bullshit Caller

    Aug 10th, 2007

    LOL Prok has a good name? XD ROFLMFAO

  30. Reality

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Dearie? Ginko falls under the category termed “Resident disputes” – something Linden Lab stays out of.

    Now then – where is your degree and license to practice or opine on legal matters?

  31. Reality

    Aug 10th, 2007

    “Rather, I’m simply defending myself when attacked so that I don’t have to constantly hear the VOICE OF PIXELEEN in every bad-faith, hostile post that appears here, and that my good name is defended.”

    No Dearie – you’re not ‘defending yourself’ …. You are making excuses to return here an comment after stating that you are done with this place.

    Oh – and once again, there is no ‘Voice of Pixeleen’ Dearie: There is however the Voice of Reality, the Voice of Prokofy, The Voice of (insert Name Here That Has Actually Commented).

    I do often wonder how long it will take you to realize just how distanced you really are from the real world.

  32. Mark

    Aug 10th, 2007

    “Like OurBank, it’s a fictional game to teach people about banking and credit unions *cough*”

    This IS NOT how it was presented and you know it. It was never billed as an educational tool.

    Nice try. Not.

    Repeating shit until you’re blue in the face does not make it true.

  33. Mark

    Aug 10th, 2007

    “like the Axe of the Leviathan thundering ILLEGAL and shouting that it must be stopped.”

    Why is it A-OK for you to do just this in the majority of your screeds? AND YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A LAW DEGREE.

    Fucking transparent asshole.

  34. Mark

    Aug 10th, 2007

    “BTW, I’m uninterested in having any further debate with Jessica on this, as it will be redundant and stupid. She’s accused me of libel (say, how’s that case coming along!), she’s banned from my blog, under Rule No. 2 for inciting harm to me. so I’m not interested in slugging it out on the Herald as some kind of placebo.”

    See you in a few hours then, asshole.

    There doesn’t have to be a court case filed for there to be libel. After all, you’ve accused people of libeling (and other crimes ranging from “threatening you with RL harm” to “blackmail”) you in the past without suing them, so STFU. Who is being the tekkie wiki literalist asshole now, hmmm?

    All you DO is strut around SL and sites related to it, accusing people of crimes, while playing victim, lawyer, judge, and jury.

  35. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 10th, 2007

    An argument with Prokofy is stupid and redundant due to Prokofy’s stupidity, not anyone else’s. Also, if you’ll notice I never mentioned Prok’s name in the original post, but he was here 3 hours later posting a response to it.

    Other then the standard Prokofy practice of “I will answer your legal argument by responding with another truthful legal argument that has absolutely nothing to do with what you say.” There is something I do want to clear up.

    After being accused of wrong doing by not posting the office hours transcript, prok decides to do the exact same thing but in bad faith by taking a few words, twisting them around and taking them out of context in order to proclaim how it is he that is the better person.

    Here’s the relevant part

    Prokofy Neva: Robin, can you tell us of the ramifications of Stroker’s request for RL information being honoured? Does this mean that anybody who doesn’t like your blog can get a lawyer to write you on stationery and you’ll turn over RL info? Are you meeting any test against misuse of this for frivolous suits or harassment?
    Ciaran Laval: No I agree, I just want to clarify that unless it’s absolutely neccessary, there will be a notice period and I accept that in this case it was absolutely neccessary
    Robin Linden: Certainly it was notice that we are concerned about legality.
    Robin Linden: Child pornography is a similar situation.
    Robin Linden: Prokofy – you sure know how to phrase a question!
    Prokofy Neva: Also have you made a determination yet that Linden Lab can be defined as a “common carrier”?
    Prokofy Neva: Yes I do, given that you are likely to dump “disclosure” as a TOS offense period — Daniel has expressed that wish.
    Robin Linden: We are honoring the subpoena.
    Saijanai Kuhn: subpoena… eeps
    Robin Linden: That doesn’t mean that anyone who wants to subpoena records for frivolous reasons can assume we would go along.
    Robin Linden: I don’t know what you mean, Prok.
    Rex Cronon: hello everybody, and sorry for the bump
    Prokofy Neva: There can be narrow or broad uses of subpoenas and you can reject them if overbroad
    Robin Linden: As far as common carrier status, we have always believed that status applies to us.
    Robin Linden: Exactly.
    Prokofy Neva: Robin, common carrier meaning that you are not liable for content of users, the way ISPs aren’t
    Prokofy Neva: or are you a private club because there are subscriptions?
    Robin Linden: No, that part I get. I don’t know what you mean about the ‘disclosure’
    You: I think he is worried if say I don’t like what he has to say, i file suit just to get his RL identity into my hands without looking at the basis of my suit
    Prokofy Neva: well Daniel has expressed the opinion on the Stanford tape that ‘disclosure” should be retired as a CS/TOS offense, that it will no longer be something you can uphold.
    Prokofy Neva: given the “realifiization” of Second Life
    You: like I would make up a sexual harassment suit just ot get his ID, will that ID be protected? will you look at the merits if possible?
    Robin Linden: I can’t speak to that. I don’t know what Daniel was referring to.
    McCabe Maxsted: he was referring to outing someone’s rl identity
    Prokofy Neva: yes will you look to the merits and make a separate determination that it is frivolous or not?
    Prokofy Neva: which thing will override, the desire to limit liability for litigation, or the upholding of the TOS/CS against disclosure?
    Robin Linden: I believe that we will look at the merits of any case and any request for information, and not blindly respond to requests.
    You: does the ToS require Linden labs to keep safe personal information?
    Prokofy Neva: if anything, LL’s action here will spawn a new activist legal movement to try to prevent virtual world operators and games from doing this
    Robin Linden: Prok, you need to ask the lawyers that one. It’s a questions of the facts of each instance.
    Prokofy Neva: I’ll have to send you the links about this
    Robin Linden: Prokofy, PayPal also responded to a subpoena.
    McCabe Maxsted: the ToS makes it a violation for a user to do it
    Prokofy Neva: Like…that’s the gold standard?
    You: but paypal isn’t Sl though, I don’t have a life on Paypal
    Robin Linden: No, but in this particular case they apparently came to a similar conclusion.
    Rex Cronon: what if somebody can trace packets? and use that info to determine the rl id of an avatar?
    Prokofy Neva: What about the common carrier determination? anything on that?
    Robin Linden: OK – we’ve wandered away from gambling. **next comments deleted**

    See above, I was agreeing with Prokofy and expressing concern that it shouldn’t be too easy to obtain personal information from SL. Because you do much more on SL than just pay bills and purchase things on eBay. If you obtain my RL information from Paypal, its not the same damage if you obtain my RL information from SL and link it to my avatar. I’m not saying that the Linden’s shouldn’t comply with the law. And some people are trying to get the law changed so its not as easy for RL information to be handed over.

    And the only one bringing up Common carrier is you Prokofy. Every damn time you come to an office hour. That’s not the point of anything I’ve written here today. The point is that is SL escorting illegal. There’s no direct law and the only laws that it could be pigeonholed under don’t fit the activity. Therefore, its legal activity. Now, at this moment, it is legal.

    and “simulated prostitution” is the actual escorting, not the spacebuxs paying of it.

  36. blueball

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Prokofy Neva, do you want to ban these things from SL?

  37. Tenshi Vielle

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Hey Prok… wanna go comment on my piece over there so it gets more comments too? That’d be awesome.

  38. Anonymous

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Jessica, nice editorial. I really enjoyed hearing your take on the situation. While I didn’t agree with every single word you said, I honor and respect your views.

    The topic is a confusing one for nearly all of us, myself included, especially because when we start citing laws in SL its difficult to say which jurisdiction could make a play at exercising its powers.

    In my humble opinion, if I were Linden Lab, I would pay attention to the laws of the United States, California and their local governments. Frankly worrying about how some judge in Wisconsin or Pakistan feels about behavior and/or content in SL is probably wasted effort.

    The US is not going to extradite anyone to another country for anything like what we’ve discussed here. Among adults, everything here is at worst a misdemeanor. (I’ll stay away from the RL children in SL proper because frankly I am not happy with LL’s laxness on this problem and I HOPE someone slams the door on them for that. NOTE: Calm down ageplayers. I really do mean RL children, not you.)

    And as for states in the US other than California, yes, it is true that some judge could call up LL on a Miller v. California decision for harboring something seen as obscene in that jurisdiction — that was one of the big points in Miller, it threw part of what a U.S. court must consider in determining if a work is obscene to local jurisdictions.

    Here’s a thumbnail. Miller V. California. To be obscene:

    The average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the purient interest.
    The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct of excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law
    The work, taken as a whoke, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

    All three must apply locally, and that is possible if the guy just logs in and does his biz then leaves… unless there is some kind of literary (does cyber count? :D ), artistic (there’s often porn on the wall!) political (wear a Jimbo for President T-shirt?) or scientific (I’m at a loss) value while he plays hide the trouser sausage with someone in SL.

    So some legislator in Wisconsin (or other US state) could (and may have, for all I know) pass a law defining something done in SL as being obscene. A prosecutor could then go after LL in their state court… except, and I’m not a lawyer but please run this past your “twelve reasonable men” test, everyone in SL pays for connectivity and a computer, actively sought out SL, agreed to its terms — and presumably engages in online activities in the privacy of their own home. (If not, and you don’t get fired, your boss is a really nice person… but that’s his/her call.)

    Now, as for gambling, LL is in the USA and under their jurisdiction and they should VERY MUCH pay attention to any U.S. law. And last year Congress (wrongly, IMHO) passed the Safe Port Act, and in our legislators nested a version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act that some lawmakers had been pushing since 1999 to protect us from ourselves. (again, a bad call, I think… but it IS the law).

    A couple days after the law passed I got on the phone and called former New Jersey Assistant Attorney General and Division of Gaming Enforcement, Frank Catania (I did some searching on the web, saw that he has a gaming consultancy now, also that he had been interviewed by some big time media types.. and figured he liked to talk to reporters. I was right, so I put on my rarely used SL reporter hat.)

    I explained to Catania what was going on in SL. He had never heard of SL, but seemed a sharp cookie and cought on right away. He was intrigued by the idea of Linden Dollars being used instead of real cash, but when I talked about the actual exchange rate and market tying Linden Bucks with real Dollars he told me that in his well informed opinion if LL didn’t move their servers off shore and incorporate in some other country there would eventually be trouble for them.

    Of course I contacted a couple Linden employees in world to get their take on it, to no avail. They ref’d me to LL’s public relations representatives who were typically obfuscatory, dismissive and non-commital. (Read: worthless). I tried like hell to get in touch with LL’s in house legal counsel.. I forget his name but I think it was asian or something.. but never got a returned call or email. And the PR flacks were singularly useless (not that THAT was unexpected!)

    Anyway, at the time no California authorities I talked with were actively investigating LL for violating the anti-gambling law… so I dropped the story and went to work on my advice column and goof off in SL. I honestly figured that anyone involved in SL gambling would have heard of the gambling prohibition and would see the end coming. The story I was looking for was LL being nailed for breaking the law. When LL finally did change its policies to get rid of gaming I was surprised at the shock it elicited. Maybe if I had hung out in SL gambling establishments more (I have been to one briefly while visiting a friend), or talked with a few casino owners, I wouldn’t have dismissed this story. In retrospect it was a bad call. I know Pix was anxious for me to do something on it last year, but she loves it when I put on my reporter hat instead of just trying to entertain, so to me that interest was not indicative of a need to expose LL’s potential legal problems to readers of the Herald. That’s why she is the editrix, I should have listened to her more.

    Finally, and I’m sorry I’m putting out so many words on this.. but this addresses several very complicated issues I’m interested in, there’s LL’s policy switch to get rid of ageplay. I think it was a bad call. I think they did it to avoid bad press in expanding markets in Europe. I think they should work harder at protecting real children from SL, and protecting us from having to be around real children instead of going after adult role players of any kind — no matter how many people are offended by said role play.

    But unlike the gambling issue, where they are bowing to actual law, the age play decision was a policy move on LL’s part for what is in essence their sand box. I doubt there is much to be done about that, and I suspect that LL will target others if they get bad press about a given sub group. I don’t know if they can be challenged in court on this, or on what grounds a case might be made that they are acting in descriminatory fashion, but I shure would love to read about THAT court case.

  39. Heartun Breaker

    Aug 10th, 2007

    The comment that began with “Jessica, nice editorial” was mine, but for some reason my name didn’t show up after “posted by”.

    ~Heartun Breaker

  40. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 10th, 2007

    Thank you whoever posted above, it sounds like Wendell. Plus you provided a nice seque into sexualized ageplay.

    I’ve always referenced 18 USC 1466A in relation to sexualized ageplay in the US which states;
    (a) In general. Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (d), knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that–
    (1) (A) depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and
    (B) is obscene; or
    (2) (A) depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; and
    (B) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value;or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be subject to the penalties provided in section 2252A(b)(1) [18 USCS § 2252A(b)(1)], including the penalties provided for cases involving a prior conviction.

    The second half of the statute doesn’t provide for looking at a work as a whole, just if an image lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

    There’s only one case mentioned on Lexis concerning this statute. US v. Whorley. Whorley was convicted under that statute and received 20 years in prison for having both real life child pornography and hentai type child pornography. (Granted, Whorley was on release for his previous RL child pornography conviction and the past conviction and the actual RL child pornography involved in this trial may have gave the jury the chance to put him away longer.) But he was not acquitted for the 1446A charges.

    Now I forget who, and I don’t have time to look it up, stated that the constitutionality of this section is in questionable and I can agree with that. If a case contesting this law goes up to the Supreme Court, the law may very well be overturned. However, the legality of the law is not disputed. The law is valid and it is enforceable.

    Honestly, I don’t believe that all sexualized ageplay is bad and that the law should be overturned. But until that time, I won’t be taking part in ageplay.

    Before I get a number of comments about flip flopping, lets be clear. There is no specific law against SL escorting. SL escorting doesn’t fit under prostitution laws due to the lack of contact. While the attempt can be made to fit SL escorting under obscenity, the community standards are much higher on a national basis than previously.

    Also, and I guess I should have mentioned this in the main editorial, I was reviewing the US code sections and I remembered something funny about obscenity. You can make and privately possess obscene materials, you can’t transfer obscene materials. Why do I bring that up? Because I’ve always considered SL escorting “improvisational erotica” and something you create for a person with their help. So if *both* parties are creating the work, or the act, then how am I transferring the material? Under California obscenity law, there is production with the intent to distribute or exhibit to others, but if both SL parties are needed to create the act, then it loses that display to others nature. (but if you look back at 1446A, solely producing the image of child sex is illegal.)

  41. Victorria Paine

    Aug 11th, 2007

    Jessica –

    It’s the way I read the law as well: child-related sexual images and depictions are much more strictly controlled and regulated than those pertaining to adults. Leaving the constitutionality of the federal statute aside, it makes some intuitive sense for the law to be so, in my view.

    On the general “obscenity” issue, my view is the same as yours, namely: cybersex text with the accompanying animation use (if any) is not being “produced to distribute to others”, if anything it is a collaborative work of interactive erotica that is to be enjoyed by those creating it. Now if people were performing cyber in front of a crowd for money (sort of a cybersex “show” in text), or selling the text log of their cybersex encounters for money, that could be closer to what could be considered “obscene material” — but that isn’t escorting, because SL escorting is typically done in private. And as we all know, the appetite for prosecutors pursuing people for textual erotica is nearly zero (it would in most cases pass the literary merits test, and a prosecutor would have a very hard time surmounting that, I think), I just don’t see much of a risk here.

    Of course the moral to the story: have erudite, literate cybersex! It’s both more fun and more protected under the Constitution!

  42. The Grid Live

    Aug 11th, 2007

    Escorts for your Avatar in SecondLife

    Been reading some interesting articles today about escorts in Second Life, how its legal since its mostly like phone sex, how much money they make, what types there are, etc. The first stop here is the Second Life Herald where Jessica Hol…

  43. Anonymous

    Aug 11th, 2007

    Jessica Holyoke wrote:

    “The other point is that child pornography can be considered obscene material if not child pornography itself. If it can be found to violate the Miller test under US law, then it would still be illegal. This would be if roleplay can be considered content. Also because it is mostly about a pruient interest, it could fall under anti-obscenity laws.”


    One assumes you meant “virtual” child pornography at the beginning of the first sentence, as it would make the most sense.

    Jessica Holyoke wrote:
    “One thing though, if the content is considered obscene, its still illegal.”

    In a virtual child pornography context.

    Jessica Holyoke, so while I don’t know if “always” is necessarily the right word because I do see obscenity references in those previous comments, I do see now that those they were made presupposing content, not behavior. So that specific seeming contradiction was explainable after all.

    In either furtherance of the behavior theory or a Linden Lab non-liability for distribution theory, possibly consider the thread this is part of:

    “Of course the moral to the story: have erudite, literate cybersex! It’s both more fun and more protected under the Constitution!”

  44. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 11th, 2007

    Thank you whoever posted the reference tags for the very well done analysis. I feel bad that you were not identified if you meant to be.

  45. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 11th, 2007

    If the Lindens can make a policy judgement about “ageplay” based on the law and community standards in European countries, they can do the exact same thing over escorts and obscenity. Sooner or later, they will be fighting off these lawsuits. And it’s enough already to make some workplace networks block it.

    Jessica is just nattering and nattering about proving that I claimed that escorting is “illegal”. I’m saying that given all the factors of LL’s behaviour, it must be proved that it’s legal. And I’d like to hear this not from a law student, or others with vested interest in being right and being glorious in SL, but some disinterested party. I definitely do not have any stake in criminalizing prostitution. If anything, just the opposite, as I have an adult hotel and I don’t want to see any of my tenants anywhere face any interference with their privacy over some zealous attempt to regulate what some may find immoral.

    But I think if you’re going to run an article like this, you need a direct transcript quote; you need also to admit that Robin didn’t give any carte blanche; she’s not in the business of doing this. She will default to protecting Linden Lab every time, not people’s desire to indemnify themselves.

  46. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 12th, 2007

    Prok, what happened to not coming back here and arguing with me? It won’t work too well against you. Especially when you say things like “I definitely do not have any stake in criminalizing prostitution. If anything, just the opposite, as I have an adult hotel and I don’t want to see any of my tenants anywhere face any interference with their privacy over some zealous attempt to regulate what some may find immoral.” And then you don’t think I would post this;

    “Holyoke: While I’m not personally whoring, I do promote and support the legal adult industry in Second Life through my writing and through SexyWorks. (And preemptively, Prokofy, you can’t prove that the industry is illegal.)

    Neva:I have no certification that it *is* legal, and I think radicals trying to legalize sex work can do their thing, but one of those things then might be that they can’t expect to pass the bar in their state, nor be accepted in good company. That’s not my doing nor my problem.” http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2007/08/virtual-law-is-.html#comment-78667182 (Last names added for clarity)

    Over on SecondThoughts, Prokofy also posted a good bit about me questioning whether or not I have the requisites to be a lawyer because I engaged in illegal activity. The direct quote relates as to why my being an escort places my character in doubt, but Anshe Chung’s time as an escort does not affect her reputation. Prok’s response was “Anshe isn’t trying to pass the bar in any state; real estate doesn’t have the same high regard for morals and legality as the bar.” http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2007/08/virtual-law-is-.html#comment-78772820

    So in Prokofy’s own posts he suggest, but doesn’t prove, that SL escorting is illegal, and then he attempts to distance himself from that statement in this forum. Or else he’s trying to create a third option from legal and illegal.

    Prokofy tries to link escorting and obscenity, but forgets to mention that if escorting is obscene, which he hasn’t proven that it could be, then all SL sex is obscene.

    And yes, we can’t expect Robin to give perpetual carte blanche because the Labs can change its mind, similar to the ageplay situation. But the panic I saw going on was because commentators, like Prokofy, were specifically saying that Prostitution (which I believe he means to apply to SL escorting, the two aren’t the same act) is the next to go in the wake of the gambling ban. And he doesn’t state the facts to back that up.

    Now, and this is important, there is one way that escorting, and all sexual activity, could be banned based on what happened with the gambling ban. I only thought of this after hearing SL under the radar yesterday. IF the gambling ban was due to pressure from credit card companies for their compliance with the gambling law and IF PayPal would care that residents could use Lindens purchased for “digital sexual goods” against PayPal’s own policy and then applied pressure to the Lindens to halt that activity, then yes the Lindens could ban sexual activity. But PayPal is not under legal pressue to make their “digital sexual goods” policy like the credit card companies are for the gambling policy and PayPal may not be as concerned about what else the Lindens purchased could be used for. And if PayPal did apply pressure to Linden Labs for “digital sexual goods” to be halted, then there would be no more Stroker Serpentine,no more pleasure kajira, no more sex at all in SL.

    Prokofy also stated that Second Life is being blocked on workplace networks and that it was the sexuality that was the reason for it. How about people shouldn’t be on Second Life at work at all? If the business that you are working for is not on Second Life, why should you be on it during working hours?

    Also, while many European countries may have harsher laws relating to ageplay, those same countries have legal, or at least non-prosecuted, prostitution. So I have a harder time believing that SL escorting would be illegal under either a content or behavior theory in a country where you can actually hire a RL prostitute legally.

  47. Victorria Paine

    Aug 12th, 2007

    But Prok, I think what you’re missing is that there is a difference between “vanilla sex” and “edgy sex” in terms of the “offensive” standard. There’s a lot more tolerance generally for vanilla sex, particularly in the context of the internet, even if it involves “virtual prostitution”, whatever that means. There’s a lot LESS tolerance for edgy things like ageplay because it veers close to the highly regulated area of child pornography.

    The internet is full of *real* prostitution and solicitation, and even this gets only limited law enforcement attention because, to be honest, unless there are substantial amounts of money involved (as in the case of Heidi Fleiss or the more recent case of Pamela Martin in DC), law enforcement doesn’t care much about independent (i.e., smalltime) call girls in the real world, never mind the virtual call girls in SL who are making less money per hour than they would working for McDonald’s in the material world. In an internet with sites like Craigslist and eros, which are clearly platforms for RL solicitation and yet persist and are not shut down, frankly I don’t see prosecutors getting all antsy about text sex in Second Life. Again, it’s different from ageplay in that it doesn’t involve something that could be viewed in some ways as being close to child pornography (which as I note is highly regulated), and it’s not like gambling in that online gambling is, again, specifically regulated by some detailed federal statutes. I just don’t read the risk the way you do, not for “generic” strippers and escorts operating in SL.

    Now, I do think there is some risk for some areas of the “edgier” sexually-tinged roleplaying communities, like the Goreans for example. I can imagine someone in the material world getting much more upset about virtual human slave trading than they would about text sex on the internet, to be honest.

    And finally don’t shout down the lawyers here. If you don’t know the law, don’t go speculating about it and trying to shout down the lawyers who are giving their opinion and judgment about the application of law in this area. Lawyers are trained experts not only in explaining what the law is, but in judging what a more likely (or less likely) legal interpretation and/or potential prosecutorial intervention might be. It’s what they do for a living. They’re far more qualified to make such judgments than you are, and your continuing insistence on shouting them down only serves to undermine severely everything you write about the legal situation relating to these issues, frankly.

  48. jumpman lane

    Aug 15th, 2007

    LL isnt concerned with what is leagal in all and sundry jurisdictions around the world. Only the U.S. and not even all the laws, just the relatively easily prosecutible ones which could land them behind fences in khakis in federal prison. Hence, the age play and gambling bans. Call it what you want, but age play avis screwing child avatars, is easily presented as created kiddie porn as soon as you make a video of it and show it to a jury. 60 months , next case!.
    Gambling, another slam dunk. The techno-illiterate grannys too bored or stupid to avoid jury duty, will say oh they are gambling on a computer, connected to the the internet. That is illegal! guilty! Where’s Phil? Aint no mo Phil. He locked the fuck up! Escorting, sex in general..a little harder to prove to a jury as in violation of American Law. Too many other well established examples of similar activities all over the internet…So, phil can say in comfort, hearing th ca-ching of the sex trade tier payments ringin in his ears the whole time, SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT THAT LL WILL NEVER “CLEAN UP ” SECOND LIFE BY BANNING THE SEX INDUSTRIES as we want SL to be a free space for sliprocks to create what they will…when the sanctimonius berg from The McArthur Foundation broached the subject…and ol dirt face Phil could feel smug while he muttered it! Safe in the knowledge that “them boys” won’t comin for him!

  49. Verena Vuckovic

    Aug 26th, 2007

    The issue of whether ‘prostitution’ on SL is actually legal surely boils down to the question of whether that is even what is occuring.

    My avatar my be controlled by me, but it is not actually me. There is no sense in which ‘I’ am having sex on SL. Neither is any partner actually having sex with ‘me’. If you leave out things like phone sex and other more RL aspects, and bear in mind that anyone can pretend to be playing with themselves, it is entirely possible to ‘have sex’ on SL while fully clothed and munching a bowl of cornflakes for breakfast…..and I’m quite sure sitting at my PC with a bowl of cornflakes is not illegal.

    So where, exactly, would any illegality lie ? Consider this :

    In the UK it is illegal to smoke in a public place. Now if I go into a public place in SL and smoke a virtual cigarette….have I broken the law ? If someone hands me some virtual heroin in SL and I use it…..have I broken the RL drugs laws ? Here you have examples of the absurdity of RL laws being applied to a virtual world.

    So if someone wants to give me L$xxx to watch their avatar engage in up and down motions with mine….while I sit there fully clothed and munch on my cornflakes for breakfast…..can someone please tell me where is the ‘prostitute’ in all this ?

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