by Pixeleen Mistral on 23/04/10 at 11:26 am
Intlibber Brautigan notified the Herald today that he has applied to join a virtual land class action lawsuit against Linden Lab and Philip Rosedale which was filed April 15th. The complaint alleges that after inducing players to join Second life with claims they "would receive and retain all right, title, interest, copyright and intellectual property rights to the land, objects and virtual property", unilateral changes to the Second Life Terms of Service and other action on the part of Linden Lab – including banning players from the virtual world – have deprived the plaintiffs of their property without compensation. The complaint claims that at least $5,000,000 USD in damages are possible.
Attorney Jason Archinaco, of Pribanic, Pribanic, and Archinaco LLC of Pittsburgh has set up VirtualLandDispute.com to help locate other members of the class. While Herald staff continue to digest the 64 page complaint Marc Bragg provides some interesting analysis here.
Meawhile, Intlibber Brautigan tell the Herald he hopes to join the class and claims losses of $500,000 USD. Mr. Brautigan’s letter to the Herald is reproduced below:
On behalf of myself, my partners, and my customers, in Brautigan & Tuck Holdings, its sims, content, and other intellectual property, as well as, M2B LLC and Ancapistan Capital Exchange, I have today applied to join the above class action lawsuit currently before Judge Robreno. We began BNT in late 2006, seeking to build a new world with our vision of a positive, forward looking, pro-business community in Second Life, we did so with the understanding that Linden Lab recognised the property rights of land owners to their virtual land, currency, and content, as well as to their avatar virtual personhood. It was clear as day in the terms of service. With that understanding, we proceeded to invest, in sim purchases, tier payments, and in capitalizing the development of content for our businesses and helping to capitalize the businesses of many others across Second Life, sums in excess of a half million dollars, US.
We have over the past three years seen an increasing attitude by Linden Lab against the property rights of its users, in violation of its agreement with them. We’ve seen them continually amend that agreement unilaterally by adhesion, and with no recourse for objection by the residents. We have also seen the Lab continuously violate the property, speech, and other Constitutional rights of its residents which are protected under Marsh vs Alabama.
Furthermore, Linden Lab engaged in anticompetitive pricing schemes, charging bulk resellers of virtual land, like myself, more for our private sims than they charged their small retail customers, and charging us likewise more in monthly tier fees than mainland landowners paid. They also unilaterally increased monthly fees on some sims, engaged in bait and switch actions, and lied about their justifications for the price increases.
Despite their actions, we have continuously attempted to negotiate in good faith, to deter them from proceeding down this road they have pursued. We have helped organize and led peaceful SOS protests and other civil disobedience actions to publicize the illegal actions of Linden Lab and its staff. My account was once suspended for protesting the right of other residents to engage in the advertising business in Second Life. The Lab has repeatedly suspended my accounts for standing up for the rights of myself, my employees, customers, residents, and business associates, only to release them again when faced with potential legal action, until they finally, permanently, suspended my accounts after a long campaign by Linden Lab staff and their friends to defame, slander, and libel myself, my business, and my associates. They contacted my customers to drive them away from my business, causing me to suffer a collapse of revenues, and seizure of all of my virtual land, including land held in other estate owners sims.
It has become clear, with the recent seizure of the virtual campus of Woodbury University, one of our largest customers, and a University that was engaged in the process of taking over BNT Holdings, that Linden Lab is a predatory, corrupt, racketeering organization engaging in massive fraud against its user base. Linden Lab has promoted the investment by thousands of its customers of millions of dollars into the virtual economy which they rigged and manipulated so that their biggest customers, who stood to compete the most strongly against Linden Lab, would be forced out of business or otherwise see their assets seized by the corrupt activities of Linden Lab.
For this reason, I have decided to apply to join the class action lawsuit now before Judge Robreno in http://www.virtuallanddispute.com/pleadings/evan_spencer_carter_v_linden_labs_virtual_land_property_rights_class_action_lawsuit.pdf. We will be seeking the recovery of over $500,000 US dollars in damages. If this suit is successful, these funds will be dispersed fairly and properly among the partners of my company based on their percent interest in the company.
It is truly sad that a virtual economy that once promised so much both explicitly, and intrinsically, to so many, for the future of online business and the expansion of the information economy, has come to such a situation. We once saw Second Life as the next phase of the internet. However, like AOL, they have rapaciously and predatorily preyed upon their user base and destroyed the economy they once helped foster, and as a result are sealing their own eventual doom as an evolutionary dead end in the history of technology and business.
M2B LLC, dba BNT Holdings / ACE-exchange.com