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eBay Virtual World Delisting Skips Second Life

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the selective-process dept.

Role Playing (Games) 42

As a follow-up to last week's eBay delisting story, CNET has the word that Second Life content is exempt from this decision. Mr. Durzy, speaking with CNET, specifically cited Second Life content as exempt because of the uncertain role of the virtual world. As the company (and the rest of us) are uncertain whether to label Second Life as a game in the first place, player-created content is still sellable via eBay auction. A perfectly fine explanation, but GigaGamez takes things a step further, pointing out that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar became a major investor in Linden Labs in 2004. It's uncertain if this constitutes a conflict of interest, because confusion about what exactly Second Life is persists pretty much everywhere. Just the same, it's interesting to note. Their article on the subject also has a few words of commentary from Edward Castronova, the well-known commentator on all things RMT.

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It's not a game.... (4, Interesting)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812984)'s a thingie.

In all seriousness, I'm kinda glad they skipped SL. Yes, it's a program where many, many (many) people derive a ton of entertainment from, but it's also being used by an increasing amount of huge companies to do business and advertise their products. So it's not so much of a game as it's a platform, I guess.

Kinda like how some people derive tons of pleasure from compiling C++ programs. Doesn't make it a game to be placed next to Doom and WoW...

Disclaimer: I make a living designing spaces for those companies, so sure, I'm a smidge biased.

Re:It's not a game.... (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813104)

I'm reading Snow Crash for the first time, and I'm only through the first four chapters. Second Life sounds remarkably like the Street.

Re:It's not a game.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17813526)

Except that Street in the book doesn't suck and that everyone that connects to the Internets uses it. Linden Labs could only hope for that kind of success.

Re:It's not a game.... (3, Informative)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816734)

"Snow Crash" is a bible around Linden Labs. They've explicitly said things like "we're trying to create the Metaverse" in the past.

Re:It's not a game.... (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813754)

There is actually a good case for leaving second life on EBay, regardless of confusion. IIRC, Second life allows you to buy and sell ingame currency with real money, so the "virtual" property of second life has an actual "real life" value.

Also, since users of second life also hold copyright on their own content, said content should be able to be sold like any computer program. This is different from gold for other MMORPG, since the developers officially "own" your characters and their gold and there is no official exchange rate for their gold... not to mention the selling of the characters and accounts and other items are usually forbidden by the EULA as a bannable offense. Of course, there are still websites dedicated to selling ingame gold even if it can't be done over EBay anymore... but if they actually got rid of those auctions it would certainly hurt the gold sellers.

Re:It's not a game.... (1)

Bob Gelumph (715872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815052)

But the point of the de-listing was surely not to exclude game items, so much as to exclude items that are not real.
This itself is a grey area anyway, because there are plenty of people selling data without even burning to a CD.
I would have thought that a decent rule (from their perspective) is no data that doesn't exist on a device which the seller controls can be sold. This would also exclude Second Life, I would think, so it leads me towards believing that this has been done specifically to promote Second Life relative to other online environments.

Re:It's not a game.... (1)

Bob Gelumph (715872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815356)

Actually, I disagree with myself.
I think the copyright ownership is the biggest issue, and as the players in SL own the copyright and are allowed to sell the stuff, according to the terms of use, then eBay has done the right thing by not making it a blanket ban.
My opinion is subject to change again, however, if eBay bans another "game's" items from being sold if the same terms of use are used.

Re:It's not a game.... (3, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816260)

No, it is just a scam. All this thing does is generate press allowing a few people to make some money while taking advantage of suckers. I am really tired of all the articles about it (it seems there are at least 3 a week minimum...far more than any other game). I've had enough of Slashdot advertizing this boring, poorly written "thingie".

Please, just make it stop.

The Big Difference... (4, Insightful)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813058)

WoW and the other mmorpgs discourage (and even prohibit through EULAs) the resale of ingame assets.

Second Life encourages the sale of ingame assets and the secondary market that has sprung up around it.

If Blizzard said it was OK to sell the Sword of a Thousand Truths on ebay for real cash dollars, I'm sure Ebay would allow it to be sold.

Re:The Big Difference... (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813318)

Another thing to note is that Linden Labs (Second Life producers) explicitly stated the users own copyright of their own in-game creations.

As for a description of Second Life; I think it's more of an operating system then anything else. A very limited and specialized OS perhaps, but in essence it provides the same basic functions. Technically, Second Life is probably closer to a game engine than an actual game.

Re:The Big Difference... (2, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813454)

Another thing to note is that Linden Labs (Second Life producers) explicitly stated the users own copyright of their own in-game creations.
bingo. IIRC, eBay justified the delisting by pointing to the already-existing section in their terms of use that said something to the effect of "If it's not clear you own the copyright of the item you're selling, you cant sell it."

Re:The Big Difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814458)

IIRC, eBay justified the delisting by pointing to the already-existing section in their terms of use that said something to the effect of "If it's not clear you own the copyright of the item you're selling, you cant sell it."
More like "if it's not clear you have resale rights" since using your definition, you couldn't sell books online that you didn't write yourself.

Re:The Big Difference... (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814722)

i think it only applied to intellectual property.

this may be what i was thinking of, but i'm not sure:

If you have any questions, contact the intellectual property rights owner before listing

It is the responsibility of all sellers to make sure that their items are not infringing before listing them on eBay. If you are unsure, we encourage you to contact the intellectual property rights owner with any questions.
from tml#5 []

Re:The Big Difference... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17813654)

As for a description of Second Life; I think it's more of an operating system then anything else.
Finally! An operating system crappier than Windows!

Re:The Big Difference... (2, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816578)

OS/2 has been out for ages.

Re:The Big Difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17813740)

As for a description of Second Life; I think it's more of an operating system then anything else.

Sigh. And what features of an operating system does Second Life have, exactly? What file systems does it support? Does it have good hardware support? Think it might support my printer?

At the very most, Second Life *might* be considered a window manager. And that's stretching it. A lot.

Oh wait, I get it, it's an "operating system" like those retarded "WebOSes" are operating systems, right? So, in other words, it's nothing like an operating system at all.

Re:The Big Difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17813854)

What a narrow definition of an "operating system." How about "software that allows you to OPERATE a SYSTEM." A layer between you and some other electronic mechanism, that you use to interact with said mechanism. The system is this virtual world, which extends beyond the code btw. The client allows you to operate it, or at least within it. Also, you're a pompous ass, and your printer is an antiquated piece of junk.

Re:The Big Difference... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814344)

Gee, I'd always considered this the definition of operating system:

From the ever-popular Wikipedia:
An operating system (OS) is a computer program that manages the hardware and software resources of a computer. At the foundation of all system software, the OS performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating networking, and managing files. It also may provide a graphical user interface for higher level functions. It forms a platform for other software.

Now, other than an optional GUI, just how does SL rate as an OS??

{Note: If you even THINK about mentioning a Deep Thought 2 {Earth} scenario, you're getting either dragged to Traal or read Vogon poetry.}

Pretty Simple (5, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813070)

Unlike the average MMO, where all assets virtual and physical belong to the company and not the end user, stuff that players create within Second Life is their own intellectual property. It's not a matter of SL being a game or not at all, but rather a function of licence agreements and design philosophy.

Re:Pretty Simple (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818624)

Let's assume that I'm Joe Schmoe. Let's presume that I build something in Second Life for profit. Now, let's also say that Joe Schmoe violates the rules of Second Life and is banned. What happens to his intellectual property now?

Re:Pretty Simple (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820084)

That's the part that they'd rather not have you think about, because under the banner of copyright and intellectual property that they wave, things become rather... murky. Murkier still than LL data-mining in-game instant messages and conversations, and somehow even murkier than them handing out summary bans for suspicion of L$ laundering or anything else that puts a bug up a Linden's ass.

In a word? Joe Schmoe is fucked. If he has the script code, the textures and the other components of whatever he made in SL on his hard drive, then there's nothing stopping him from translating it into another program or medium... aside from the lack of similar environments, that is. If he didn't cash his virtual earnings out before being banned, then they're stuck in limbo-- on a similar note, Linden Labs doesn't give refunds for prepaid in-service land (read: server storage) fees either.

Ideally though, Joe Schmoe is a good Second Citizen who doesn't perpetrate Grey Goo attacks, sim crashes or other antisocial acts. On the same tack, Joe's neighbors are not inclined to press the complaint button at the slightest nudge, or frame him for any of the numerous things that the Lindens don't care for. Joe had better take care that he doesn't attract the attention of a Linden while he's at it, because several of their live support team members (read: GMs) have proven to be less than ethical when it comes to people that they take a dislike to. And on the off chance that Joe is banned, he'll need to find himself the phone number of Philip Linden or one of the high-ups in support, because Linden Labs has a history of ignoring e-mails from banned persons and their phone-drone support leaves much to be desired as well.

Re:Pretty Simple (1)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17828808)

If you've licensed your IP to someone else (ie, you sold a virtual item to them), it persists.

If you haven't, it will go away eventually or you can ask for it to be removed.

loophole? (1, Interesting)

the dark hero (971268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813228)

its like the pachinko machines in japan. you're not actually gambling, but if you take the balls the pachinko machine gives you to the counter they give you a ticket which in turn gives you a voucher for more pachinko balls that the nice people conveniently located around the corner will "trade" for money.

whos going to stop people from doing the same thing through second life?

Re:loophole? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814504)

The major difference is the fake currency from Second Life is openly exchangeable for cash, both through Linden's own site as well as third-party currency exchanges that have sprung up. There is nothing shady or underground about it.

Re:loophole? (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818774)

Yes there is. []

* You can earn a lot of Linden dollars in SL, in fact fairly rapidly sometimes, but...

* If you can actually collect your SLLs from your counterparty - which turns out to be an enormous problem - you can't cash them out for USD easily or profitably.

It turns out that inside the game, counterparty risk is tremendous. In fact, entire banks will suddenly disappear. Or banks will simply renege on obligations without recourse. Worse yet, the very people who provide the source of nearly all demand-liquidity within Second Life, those guys at the top of the virtual playpen pyramid, are the same ones who effectively set the SLL/USD exchange rate. Mid-2006, they even owned the only practical exchange market, a fact which I believe is even more true today. (The company run exchange turns out to be impractical for real trades of any volume. It is more of an open currency auction than a spot market.)

What should have been a relatively small SLL/USD exchange trades given media claims about millions of dollars flying around per week in 2006, in reality caused the exchange markets to distort tremendously. We could not effectively move sums of more than a couple thousand dollars out of SL without the exchange market confiscating most of our returns (through rate reflectivity). Example: in July 2006 USD/SLL was 293.0/279.2 bid/ask on the primary open exchange. Our attempts to trade resulted in settlement bids of more than 350. Interestingly, these trades tended to net returns of right around 4%, which was the prevailing dollar deposit rate.

Second Life is making people money...the people at Linden Labs, who happen to be the ones who set the USD/SLL exchange rate. Then there are a handfull of virtual millionares, (in which it's debatable if they can actually cash out). And then there is you, the sucker who pays $10 for a pair of virtual sunglasses.

Oh, and the most famous "virtual millionare" of all, Anshe Chung? She started her Second Life career as a virtual prostitute, and previously made her living goldfarming other MMO's.

Hopefully the opening the source to Second Life's client can result in a standalone Second Life server, so people who would rather just create things can figure out a way to escape from the rapidly escallating stupidity that is the main grid.

Why? Pierre, of course. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17813358)

Second Life is created by Linden Labs.

Linden Labs is funded by Pierre Omidyar.

Many years ago, Pierre Omidyar founded Ebay.

RMT?!?! (5, Insightful)

biovoid (785377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813952)

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (UK)
Radiomagnetotelluric (Method, Measurements)
Random Matrix Theory
Rasch Measurement Transaction (education)
Rate My
Raw Magnetic Tape
Real Money Transfer (role playing games)
Real-Money Trading
Recognition Memory Test
Records Management Taskforce (Australian Computer Society)
Reed-Muller Transform
Registered Massage Therapist
Registered Music Therapist
Registre Morphologique des Tumeurs au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
Reiki Master Teacher (alternative health)
Reliability, Maintainability, Testability
Reliable Multicast Transport (IETF)
Remedial Military Training
Remote Management Testing (Ciena)
Required Monthly Test
Resource Management Team
Return Material Tag (authorization reference number used when returning goods to the manufacturer)
Reverse Mold Technology (L.A. Spas)
Rigid Muffin-Tin
Ring Management (FDDI, IBM)
Risk Management Team
Risk Management Technologies
Royal Milk Tea

Ok, so after searching Google for acronyms matching RMT, I worked out that in this context it means "Real Money Transfer" or "Real Money Trading", but seriously... and I normally can't stand posts that bitch about the editors... but seriously... and I'm usually happy to look up any acronym that I SHOULD know about, unless it is really FUCKING obscure... but SERIOUSLY... WOULD IT FUCKING TAKE YOU SLASHDOT EDITORS TWO SECONDS TO EXPLAIN WHAT THE FUCK RMT MEANS?!?!?

Mod parent up (1)

Howzer (580315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814646)

Seriously, it's basic style-guide for pretty much all journalism everywhere to DAFU (define at first use). After you've gone to the trouble to DAFU, you can go ahead and use those acronyms all you like. C'mon, it's an acronym-heavy industry, and it ain't that hard to DAFU.

In the case of slashdot, if the article you're linking to is a heavy user, then you could DAFU for the people who will (presumably!) click through and read the article.

Even if they don't RTFA (read the funky article) then the DAFU will help them pretend they did RTFA.

In either case, everyone wins.

Re:RMT?!?! (2, Informative)

rrhal (88665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814660)

OK - you have a point that RMT is not in your current list of accronyms but if you read the article that this article is a follow up to you will see RMT defined for you in the first paragraph.

They did link to an article that was posted 4 days ago here on slashdot that was all about RMT. Perhaps they gave us credit for being able to remember that far back.

Re:RMT?!?! (1)

amosh (109566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814676)

Chill, dude. This is an incredibly common acronym when talking about this stuff... and it's explained half a paragraph into the article. I know it's /., and all y'all like being shrill... but rtfa.

Re:RMT?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814848)

Why should they? They've got you to do it for them.

Re:RMT?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818582)

the second coming of stalman. rmu is next.

Just a policy? (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814666)

I don't actually see any effect this is having on virtual auctions. Is this delisting actually being enforced or is it just a policy?

This is business (2, Interesting)

nooglide (669468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815008)

And while this is a conspiracy theory, Ebay is losing in the order of probably hundreds of thousands if not millions in commissions every year from these auctions. They're getting paid something for proactively removing the auctions.

Re:This is business (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833818)

I'll bite!

Alright, if gold farmers have to resort to secondary channels to peddle their warez they might see a decrease in revenue. Seeking additional methods of revenue generation, they will flock to Second Life to make their stake in the virtual gold rush!

Second Life will surge with life? Um, no wait!

It's a trap... every gold farmer that logs onto Second Life will be trapped and slaughtered in the world's newest virtual roach motel!

It's all I got..

It IS a conflict of interest! (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818208)

Its very simple. If the founder of Ebay made a big investment towards Linden Labs and then rights up new policy that bars people from selling items from WoW, etc, except for Second Life, that is a conflict of interest. Period.

Re:It IS a conflict of interest! (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820896)

And we all know shallow bullshit arguments are made good by putting the fucking word "period" on the end of it. Period motherfucker!

Re:It IS a conflict of interest! (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17823570)

Find out when the term "conflict of interest" applies and when it doesn't, or you may embarrass yourself in front of a large audience some day.

In a word: (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822370)

...confusion about what exactly Second Life is persists pretty much everywhere.


Now that we've cleared that up...

Its got nothing to do with "uncertain status". (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832958)

Trading virtual goods for real money is against the TOS for most MMORPGs.

It's not against the TOS for Second Life.

Therefore eBay has no grounds for action against trading SL goods on eBay.

where's the conflict? (1)

idlake (850372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833220)

It's uncertain if this constitutes a conflict of interest, because confusion about what exactly Second Life is persists pretty much everywhere.

This is no more of a "conflict of interest" than when your cafeteria decides to serve only Coca Cola company products. It may suck, but until they are a near-monopoly, they can favor each other in whatever way they want.
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