Though its developer Linden Lab says it's not technically a game, Second Life gets plenty of attention as one from the mainstream press. The latest Reuters story to emerge from the PC life sim is more prurient than previous tales of political candidates' virtual hustings and in-game businesses' real-world profits.
In 2003, Kevin Alderman launched SexGen Platinum, an applet that equips Second Life avatars with realistic genitalia and allows them to engage in virtual sex via X-rated animations. Since then, the 46-year-old digital Larry Flynt has done brisk business by selling the applet for $45 a pop--so brisk, in fact, that he is now suing a Second Life subscriber who he claims illegally distributed the applet.
"It's a piece of software and software is copyrightable," said Alderman's lawyer, Francis X. Taney. "It's also expressed in graphics, which also are copyrightable. There is some sizzle. People like to say it's really far out there, but at the end of the day I equate it to basic intellectual property principles."