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Wut Oh, Part One

As commented on by Raph Koster and Matt Mihaly, a ruling came through in the Bragg v. Linden lawsuit: Linden Labs gets spanked hard, and the concept of click-through Terms of Service along with it. To quote Matt:

Agreeing to arbitration is part of the Terms of Service for using Second Life, and Bragg admits he clicked ‘accept’ on the ToS screen before accessing SL. The judge launches into an attack on multiple parts of Linden’s ToS, saying that they represent a contract of adhesion by virtue of the one-sidedness, the inability to negotiate an alternative with Linden Labs, and the fact that Linden’s ToS says arbitration only for the customer, but that Linden can ban people at any time, for any reason (that is effectively what virtually every ToS for every MMO says).

And, to quote Raph:

What it boils down to, though, is that the court is saying that some pretty common elements of TOS agreements may be considered unfair by law — and in this case, the fact that Linden deals in real money makes this point especially acute. Ironically, the fact that Bragg is a lawyer himself actually hurts his case (since it can be deduced that he of all people should have been able to parse the TOS before agreeing to it).

I’m not a lawyer – I don’t even play one on TV. But in my admittedly heavily biased view, knocking out the legal standing of TOS agreements may well make it difficult, if not impossible, to actually regulate — and thus to actually, you know, operate an MMO.