Second Life: I recommend a boycott of Anshe Chung

I’ll admit two things up front:

  1. I don’t use Second Life.  (I would say play, but IMO Second Life is a social experience and not a game.)
  2. I’ve really resisted writing about anything Second Life related.  (Although I did briefly mention it and Anshe Chung once.)

Now, on to the good stuff.  There have been a ton of recent articles about Second Life, largely started by a set of articles / press releases about an avatar named Anshe Chung (in real life she is Ailin Graef) becoming the first real world millionaire from Second Life.  Uhm, I’m not sure I said that right, but you get the point.  If not, well you can find it.

So this spat of Second Life press took a turn for the worse (well from Second Life’s perspective anyway) a week or so ago when Clay Shirky questioned their numbers.   That’s an interesting story and relevant to any high profile web company – numbers are important.  Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that either, I’m just catching you up in case you haven’t read the billion Second Life stories that are all over the place.

In Second Life users can own property.  This is different from other MMORPGs where the game company claims ownership of everything (which creates a ton of issues, but again that’s another story).   So Anshe Chung owns property in Second Life and, in a sense, has become something of a celebrity.  Possibly the first real celebrity avatar….

So, she has some press conference in a digital theater in Second Life.  I don’t know what it was about.  (But I’m going to guess she was talking about how rich she has become or how great she is based on all the stories I’ve seen.  Oh wait, disregard that.  I’m a respectable blogger and I’m not supposed to start rumors.)   During this event a group “sabotaged” the even with giant animated penises.  LOL.  She didn’t like this.   I say, hey if you want to be famous, well you can’t expect everyone to love you.

So this really isn’t that interesting.  Celebrities and politicians face protests, hecklers, etc. all the time.  Right?   Right.   How is this any different.

I got this from News.comThe legal rights to your ‘Second Life’ avatar

So this is what makes it interesting (from the article):

Afterward, a video of the attack was posted on YouTube. When Anshe Chung Studios filed a complaint with the popular video service claiming that Graef’s copyrights had been infringed because images of her avatar were used without her permission, YouTube promptly removed the video.

A quote from the Guntram Graef (her husband), also from the article:

“I have to point out to you that you, most likely by accident, posted an image that contains artwork copyrighted by my wife Ailin Graef and by Anshe Chung Studios, Ltd. and without obtaining our permission to do so,”

Uhm, well, I disagree.  I’m no lawyer, but if Anshe Chung is famous, well she can be stalked and her unflattering pictures can be posted everywhere.  Or at least that is what my understanding the law through analogy logic says.  I’m sure Britney Spears doesn’t like having all those pictures of her with no panties on floating around either.  (Well maybe she does, but that’s beside the point.)  It’s news.  Just like the “sabotage” was news.   So hey fair use and all.

So I say boycott Anshe Chung for being Second Life’s biggest hypocrite.   Anshe:  You can’t have your cake and eat it too. 

  • If you want Second Life to be like reality – which I assume you do since you are bragging about making millions of real dollars in it
  • And you want to be famous – which I assume you do with all the heavy self-promotion, even if it is just to drive up virtual real estate prices to make you more money
  • Then you have to accept being famous with all the goood and the bad that brings. 

So to Anshe Chung, perhaps the world’s most famous avatar, I say welcome to reality.

Oh, and I respect Linden Lab for saying this (from the article):

“Copyright law is applicable to works created in Second Life. Copyright law includes fair use and it includes provisions regarding infringement,” Linden Lab wrote to CNET in a statement Friday.

So I recommend that everyone that cares about these issue avoid transactions with Anshe Chung and her affiliates.  Let the boycott begin!

So, what do you think ?