Second Life Virtual Pets Copyright Dispute

virtual horseIf you aren’t into having a virtual  Second Life then you most likely have not heard of Ozimals or Amaretto Ranch Breedables. The former make and sell breedable virtual bunnies.  The latter are newcomers who make and sell virtual horses. Well, the two have wound up in the courts over a copyright dispute.

The concept of raising artificial creatures in a video game originated with Puppy Love by Tom Snyder Productions, released for Macintosh in 1986. Digital pets were a massive fad in Japan, and to a lesser extent in the United States and United Kingdom during the late 1990s. The popularity of virtual pets in the United States, and the constant need for attention the pets required, led to them being banned from schools across the country, a move that hastened the virtual pet’s decline from popularity.  wikipedia

Here’s a copy of the Amaretto complaint document (PDF). On 21 Dec 2010 Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for Northern California issued a temporary restraining order to Linden Lab (PDF) and “all persons in active concert or participation with Linden Research” from filing DMCA notices against Amaretto or otherwise removing its content from Second Life.

“The gist of the copyright dispute between the parties is whether Plaintiff’s virtual horses infringe on copyrights associated with Defendant’s virtual bunnies.” This reminded me a little of that great line from Ghostbusters: “dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

virtual bunniesThe underlying dispute involves rival sellers of virtual animals that require the users to keep purchasing food to keep the animals alive.

Read the details > Second Life Ordered to Stop Honoring a Copyright Owner’s Takedown Notices–Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals

Virtual living is huge and we are talking about millions of bucks to fake farm or and/or own fake pets.

  1. Do you have a virtual “second life” somehwere online?
  2. Are you a virual farmer and/or virtual pet or livestock owner?
  3. What can we take away from this?

30 thoughts on “Second Life Virtual Pets Copyright Dispute

  1. I’ve stumbled onto your blog through a few different search terms I was using. After reading a few of the comments I would like to put in an opinion from a Second Life user.

    I personally use Second Life as my creative outlet. I do make a few things and sell them in a virtual world. I can cash out my Lindens (Second Life currency) for real USD. It costs very little to nothing to actually create something in that ‘world’.

    It’s not a game but more a metaverse. A big chat room with 3-D characters and virtual living spaces.

    I work there, I also keep in contact with quite a few of my close friends from Real Life there.

    I was interviewed not long ago about the virtual pets I care for in Second Life. It gives an outlet and a way for people to have something a lot more inexpensively than owning something ( a real life pet) that requires all of their attention and cash. I also own two cats in real life (they actually own me, but I try not to let others know it). They are very expensive to feed, vaccinate, etc… Virtual pets are a a fraction of the cost. They won’t keep your toes warm and I get that too.. that it’s not real. (Unless of course you place the laptop on your feet, I suppose that might count)

    We buy sell and trade in a virtual world. I choose to do this with my spare time. Some choose to blog for hours at a time. I choose to write creatively in an ongoing story line (Roleplay) and build items in and for the metaverse… and breed virtual bunnies. My husband also writes in LSL (scripting code) for this world. Coding to make the items I make do certain things. We spend time together this way.

    Someone asked why don’t we volunteer at a shelter? Do something productive? I’m a stay at home mother and homemaker who lives 26 miles from the nearest animal shelter. Gas money prevents me from going reliably. We do from time to time take trips and volunteer at a homeless shelter. But every single day… it wouldn’t work for me or my family.

    To some, this is a real life business. To the owners of Amaretto and Ozimals, I’m sure it’s a source of income to them. In honesty, if it weren’t for the people who run virtual worlds… who’s blog would you post on then? Someone has to spend time making all of these things. It’s just a different to ‘you’. I’m sure there are those who think that blogging is ridiculous. A waste of time. Who puts that kind of money into…

    To each their own though :)

  2. This is a classic example of why intellectual property does more harm than good. Why should our society grant anyone a monopoly on virtual bunnies? Why should our society grant these “idea owners” a privileged stream of income? Why should anyone have the right to hold any idea as a hostage for ransom? Does this make your (first) life better? I don’t think so.

  3. I think people are spending too much time in the Internet to care about real pets with real issues. Just reading the figures of the money involved saddens me. What’s next? Virtual husbands or wives?

    • Although I didn’t have one, I do recall pet rocks. They were cheap and one didn’t need to purchase a club membership fee or pay for anything else to “enjoy” their non-companionship. ;)

  4. I have a terrible suspicion that if I’d not moved out of the urban environment in which I’d been living with my health being affected by it, to a rural environment in which my husband and I now care for a lot of (very friendly) wild birds, I might have succumbed to looking after virtual bunnies too… as I have allergies to far too many furry creatures and haven’t been able to have the sorts of pets that most people have. (I’m probably still allergic to birds, but they aren’t allowed to come indoors). I can see why people might want to have virtual pets – allergies to real ones, can’t afford real ones (though do realise how much they are spending on non-existent creatures?), can’t keep real pets where they live, or whatever, but this is just ridiculous!

    For a long time I had a hankering for a robot pet… but then my sister gave me an electronic teddy bear (I believe I have a pic of it somewhere on my blog, but not sure where) and… it’s… er… well. Strange.

    I’ll stick with the birdies and their constant need for wormblies and birdseed, they’re much more fun and while they do cost us money, they are never gonna break the bank!

    Thanks for this TT, you’ve made me smile.

    • I have never been in danger of adopting fake pets or becoming a fake farmer. Just saying those words makes me lol :D

      Electronic teddy bear — eeuuuuu! You made me smile. :) I make little teddy bears and bunnies and none are equipped with electronics. I also feed songbirds.

      It will most likely take me 2 more days to get the data reconstruction project done so I can focus on blogging agin.

      P.S. I admit I did take some time out to paint 3 small abstracts.

  5. I find it hard to believe that the plaintiff thinks they are the first one to come up with this sort of ‘business.’ There are so many games out there that utilize the concept of raising animals. It’s like McDonald’s suing Burger King for also selling burgers.

    As for me having a virtual life? Unless you count my blogger presence (joke!), I’ve yet to enter that arena. I am, however, a singularity junkie who feels that life will one day continue after death in a virtual world. It is plum scary how close technology is already.

    • You are 100% correct. Many other creators of virual pets have been around for a long time ie. since the mid-1980’s . From what I read I believe the dispute may be over the “code” used to produce the images of the virtual pets.

  6. “Dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria,” did it for me :) No virtual world for me. I spend enough time on here writing my blog and reading others, if I was doing a virtual life I’d never have time to go out and live my real life, which would leave me with nothing to write about.

  7. I like what you said about judgment / discernment / wisdom about sharing, the distinctions between the three. I can think of a few people who make me feel ill because “they are too judgmental” – but you put it better – it’s not their judgment I hate (though I may disagree, they are entitled, as am I), but the business of trying to impose their judgment on others, as if there is only one right way to be, that really rubs my fur the wrong way.

    Back to virtual life – to me, it’s bizarre, I really cannot conceive of spending time or money – money, for pete’s sake! – on a parallel not-even-reality. But… shrug… puzzlement… Like you, I’ve lived in rural areas and have friends who have gone boom and bust with livestock. I don’t know what it costs to feed a virtual dog on one of these sites, but I know if only the supermarkets would have been willing to pay tuppence more at the wholesale level for a litre of milk in England, my friends wouldn’t have had to give up the dairy herd.

    I hadn’t realised computer issues had reached the point of lost data… huge outpouring of sympathy – it’s my worst nightmare these days, wholehearted best wishes on the recovery process – recovering data and train of thought and guarding your health through it all. Good luck!

    • @Cynthia,
      It’s good to hear someone agrees with my POV. When people say they are striving not to judge others, I seriously question what the heck they are talking about. If you are struggling with prejudices then just say so in plain English please. We have become so politically correct that some actually think they aren’t exercising judgment at every turn when clearly they are. Without the ability to exercise judgment the species would have been extinct in no time flat.

      To me a virtual life is bizarre, creepy and dangerous. These games are as addictive as online gambling is. Imagine purchasing a membership in a fake world and purchasing genitals for your avatar so it can have sex with your fake spouse, who lives with you in a fake house, along with your fake pets. It’s craziness!

      The computer castrophe was extensive. I’m still reconsructing data. :(

    • The numbers of people and the money involved are astounding.One can purchase a membership and create a second life complete with real estate, business, another spouse and virtual pets. I have always been judgmental Sandra. We all are. I’m an INFJ and I wrestle against being judgmental but not on this. It’s crazy stuff.

      P.S. Please read my comment to David below. :)

        • Hi David,
          It’s my opinion based on a lot of life experience that we are all judgmental. We had to be judgemental in order to survive and thrive not only as individuals but also as a species.

          I silently snicker when I hear New Agers proclaiming their lack of judgmentalness. BAH! I assume they don’t hear the hypocrisy and/or irony that I hear when they say that. Being non-judgmental defined is refraining from making judgments especially ones based on personal opinions or standards. The lauded role for the New Agers is one of being “sympathetic and non-judgmental” and I believe it’s off-base.

          Choosing not to be judgmental on the basis of race, color, age, etc. is a worthy goal. Choosing to be informed by others from all backgrounds, culturestec. and with other standards is a worthy pursuit. But choosing to be “sympathetic” rather than choosing to be “empathetic” is making a poor choice and this is why.

          When we sympathize with someone else we get drawn into their life drama and we become inclined to take on an active role in sorting their messes out and that leads to being judgmental. Doing that is a denial of the reality that lasting change comes from within and not from without. When we empathize we don’t take on the burdens of others; we acknowledge their suffering and express loving kindness and support. This encourages them to make changes within that manifest without.

          Suspending judgment when making any choices in your life at any time in your life is not wise and for intelligent people it’s impossible to do. Discernment is the ability to judge well. Wisdom is knowing when to share what we have discerned, and who will benefit from that sharing.

          Hmmm … now I consider my comment to Sandra Lee above to be one that needs amendment. I do not wrestle with choosing to be sympathetic and non-judgdmental. I aim to express empathy and discernment and sometimes fall short of achieving that goal.

  8. It is hard not to giggle… saw the headline and first thought maybe it was kind of like dawn of the dead, roadkill getting a second life and coming back to haunt us. Had absolutely no idea that virtual life thing had gotten so … complex, moneyspinning and silly. Think this post could get a life of its own like Raincoaster’s fairy mummy? Haven’t been in your blog for a little while, was taking a break, but this was a lulu to come back to! Thanks Timethief! And happy new year – hope it’s a good one.

    • @Cynthia,
      Virtual living is huge and we are talking about millions of bucks. Here I am in the countryside where people have actual farms with real livestock. I cannot help but laugh out loud at the notion that people play with virtual pets and virtual farms. Good gawd! You made me laugh and I needed to do that. I have been reconstructing lost data from my latest computer catastrophe and my eyes are strained.

      All my best to you in 2011. :)

  9. Kind of hard to believe …. I have enough to do to take care of my furry, living, breathing, purring, tail-wagging animals. I guess I missed the whole concept of online games, so I don’t get this one either.


    • Hi Dave,
      I find it hard to take this virtual life and virtual pets issue seriously, but apparently there’s a lot of money involved. I’m trying not to make light of this but punch drunk from reconstructing the data that was lost from my computer during the last catastrophe. It’s boring work and people where I live have real bunnies and horses, who need actual food, so maybe that’s why the virtual dispute made me lol :D

    • Oh its so sad, everyone is after the money and no one is caring for the animals!


      How did the world become such an uncaring wasteland, this makes me sad, they should be petting the bunnies, not fighting over them =(

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