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  Obey ‘Second Life’ Republic Or Be Shunned  
Posted 2007-07-17 by Tony Walsh
I would rather have no justice at all in Second Life than to subscribe to the half-baked, self-appointed Metaverse Republic, a group trying to establish an independent virtual-world legal system "with real powers of enforcement originating in user-created tools, and a democratic parliament." Introduced to me by the Metaversed podcast, and made the subject of a round-table by Virtually Blind, the group's system relies on voluntary, widespread adoption to work properly.

There are a limited number of actions one avatar can take against another without permission in Second Life. The most effective of these, available only to virtual-land owners, is to ban an avatar from entering one's land. It's a good, old-fashioned shunning, and it's how Metaverse Republic plans to "enforce" its laws: Obey the Republic's rules, or face banishment. The good news is that the system only works with a high level of participation, but the bad news is that single avatars sometimes own vast acreage of virtual land. The Republic could be a serious annoyance to those it disagrees with, but it's highly unlikely compliance with its system will reach critical mass.

I'll leave the legal analysis up to Virtually Blind's author and readership. From where I'm standing, the Metaverse Republic seems like a self-righteous answer to a question nobody asked. Not only is it extremely unlikely the group could stay corruption-free, its planned system seems to invite corruption and exploitation, if said system is even sustainable. According to the Republic's constitutional summary, it will be "staffed by qualified professional judges possessing security of tenure..." Are the Republic's judges pro bono or paid? Paid by whom? Overlooking the salary issues, the entire Republic is officiated by whoever happens to be controlling the official avatars at the time. One's shunning could hinge on whether it's really Judge Judy behind the avatar, or her mischievous ten year-old son.

One wonders how the group will operate within real-world laws, Linden Lab's terms of service, and co-exist with related organizations such as the Second Life Bar Association. I don't doubt Metaverse Republic will fail, but it sure will be interesting to see how it goes down. Will it fester slowly, or implode in a tangy burst of The Best Intentions?
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Comment posted by Tony Walsh
July 18, 2007 @ 12:09 am
I was looking for this bit of SL history earlier but didn't find it until now: Second Life Superior Court is Now in Session. Some similarities in this predecessor to the Metaverse Republic, except with less available information about an enforcement system. Where's the Second Life Superior Court today? Nowhere I could find.
Comment posted by Ace Albion
July 18, 2007 @ 5:53 am
These guys are worse than the jokers going around roleplaying the police in SL.

Least blogged, soonest mended.
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