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Thorny -- and Racy -- Web Law Case: 'Second Life' User Sues over Virtual 'Theft'

An amorous entrepreneur who created a "virtual bed" featured in Second Life, a Web site in which users can build their own Internet lives, is suing an unknown user for allegedly "stealing" the bed for his or her own virtual sexual fantasies. The lawsuit for copyright infringement is "inappropriate and unfair," said Andrew Langsam, an intellectual property lawyer at Pryor Cashman. He joined "Power Lunch" to talk about the nature of cyber-play.

"The point of going onto a virtual fantasy world is to play out your fantasies," Langsam said. "I don't think anyone, including the accused defendant here -- wherever and whoever he may be, in another country for example -- joined that fantasy world with an expectation of being liable or having guilt or any recrimination."

Francis Taney, the unnamed plaintiff's attorney, believes the creator of the virtual bed -- who calls himself "the Hugh Hefner of the digital millennium" -- has a legitimate case, as the content was trademarked.

Taney said that when Second Life owner Linden Research launched the site in 2003, it made it clear that creators of virtual content for the site gain intellectual property rights to their materials.

As far as Langsam is concerned, however, this lawsuit should only belong "in a virtual court, before a virtual judge, with virtual attorneys rendering a virtual judgement," as the unknown user may be from another country where entirely different legislation may exist.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

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