Second Life Gets Out of Dispute Between Virtual Bunnies & Virtual Horses

By Eric Goldman

Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals, 3:10-cv-05696-CRB (N.D. Cal.). The Justia page. The case library:

* Linden Lab’s opposition to the preliminary injunction

* Ozimals’ non-opposition to the preliminary injunction

* Amaretto’s preliminary injunction motion

* The preliminary injunction

* The TRO against Linden Labs/Second Life

* The complaint with exhibits.

* Ozimals’ C&D to Amaretto and its blogged statement on the case.

This case involves an IP dispute between virtual bunnies and virtual horses in Second Life. My previous blog post. The bunnies assert that the horses copy too much of the bunnies, so the virtual bunnies sent two DMCA takedown notices to Second Life. In a relatively rare move, the horses sued under 512(f) to enjoin further takedown notices, but in a bizarre twist, the court ordered Second Life–not a party to the lawsuit–from taking down the horses. The court’s order raised both procedural and substantive issues: procedurally, how the court could enjoin a non-litigant, and substantively, how the court could restrict Second Life’s editorial discretion.

Everything has turned out OK for Second Life. The bunnies acquiesced to the horses’ requested injunction against sending more DMCA takedown notices to Second Life. The horses didn’t directly back off of their interest in handcuffing Second Life, but the court granted an injunction that only applies to Ozimals’ sending of takedown notices and makes no reference to restrictions on Second Life.

Although this ends the most interesting angle of the dispute, the bunnies vs. horses dispute remains pretty interesting on its own. Normally, I would expect a dispute like that to get resolved quickly. I’m a little baffled how the revenue streams from these virtual animals can profitably support full-scale litigation warfare. Unfortunately, the parties seem to be going down that path.