Welcome to the Real Life!

Gwyn in front of the FBI buildingSecond Life Residents woke up on Wednesday, July 25th, to the sudden (but not wholly unexpected) change of Linden Lab’s policy regarding gambling in Second Life. After advertising casinos was removed from all Linden-supported advertisement systems, this move should not have come as a huge surprise. We all knew that Linden Lab has been closely working with the FBI and other regulatory authorities to make sure that LL is never to be held liable for residents eventually breaking Californian law.

There is really not much to be said and done about the (wholly predictable) conclusion to this process. We can pretend that Second Life is “a country of its own” — like Philip Rosedale was so proudly presenting to Wired in May, 2004 — and do a few things in SL that are simply not possible (or illegal) in the real world. But, ultimately, Linden Lab is a Californian company, and subject to Californian law. And no matter what we do and say, no matter where we live in or pay our taxes, we all have agreed to subscribe to the Terms of Service that places our relationship with Linden Lab’s Second Life under the jurisdiction of Californian Law.


Gambling Protest 001There have always been attempts to create utopias inside a country’s own jurisdiction — an utopian enclave, so to speak. They all failed — ultimately, like it or not, you cannot escape your country’s own laws. And the more you fight to break them, the more likely it is that you’re forced to shut down, go to jail, and forget about your “utopia”. For us residents, what is now happening is simply a “waking up” to reality: it’s not a game, it’s not a country, it’s real life under real laws.

The only real “unregulated” community in the world is the Internet — since no single entity or single country “owns” it — and in spite of many countries’ attempts to close it, filter it, or censor it (China being often quoted as the most successful example so far), it’s still “there”. There will always be a country where a silly law in another country is disregarded or disrespected, and you can set your own server there, and have the freedom to do whatever you wish.

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