Okay, let's pause a bit and take a look at the Bragg vs Linden Lab/Rosedale case. Let's look at where it started and what's gone on since.
Our Dramatis Personae are Marc Bragg (a Pennsylvania Attorney and former Second Life land developer known then as Marc Woebegone) and Linden Lab (who should need little introduction at this point).
Marc Bragg allegedly gained unfair advantage by accessing the land auction pages for property that had not yet been released for auction, enabling him to acquire land in Second Life below Linden Lab's cost for that land (Marc paid only $300USD for an entire region). Some of that property may have been subdivided and sold to other residents before Linden Lab suspended Marc Bragg's account for investigation, and then closed the account for violation of the Terms of Service -- dissolving his virtual assets (Linden Lab's usual procedure for closed accounts). Bragg declares that his actual losses were between $4000 USD and $6000 USD.
On May 1st 2006, Marc Bragg filed a civil suit against Linden Lab for breach of contract, and unfair trade practices, in the local district justice court in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Bragg declared that the case was ineligible for the court's mandatory arbitration program, citing that the damages sought were in excess of $50,000USD. Proceedings moved towards a trial, and then Bragg withdrew his suit without prejudice (meaning that he could file it again), apparently the day before the appearance in court.
Bragg then retained the services of Jason Archinaco, a lawyer who has stated that he is very keen to see certain matters of virtual property settled in court precedent -- obviously an interested stakeholder. The case was greatly expanded to ten assorted claims, included Philip Rosedale as a separate defendant and sought actual damages (treble damages in some cases), punitive damages, costs, fees, and assorted injunctions including preventing Linden Lab from denying residents the right to access Second Life (suspensions, bans, account cancellations). The claims were only partially about property, but mostly about fraud.
The new claims were filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Pennsylvania on October 4. Again, Bragg declared that the expanded case and claims were ineligible for the state court's mandatory arbitration program, being in excess of $50,000 USD.
On November 7, Linden Lab responded with a Notice of Removal to bring the matter from the state court to federal court on jurisdictional grounds (amount of damages, and that the plaintiff and defendants were in multiple state jurisdictions). Additionally, Linden Lab filed a Motion to Dismiss Rosedale as a defendant, citing the court's lack of personal jurisdiction over Rosedale.
Lastly, Linden Lab added a Motion to Compel Arbitration, as the Terms of Service specify arbitration in San Francisco for any disputes about the service.
Bragg argued strongly for the case to be remanded back to the state court. Linden Lab opposed the remand firmly on the 7th of December, and the federal judge assigned to the case, Judge Eduardo Robreno agreed with Linden Lab. Accordingly the case remains in federal court.
On the 9th of January, Linden Lab asked for a second attorney (not presently admitted to the Pennsylvania bar) from California (Scott Baker) to appear pro hac vice. At present, we at SLI have no information as to whether this request was granted.
On the 16th of January, Bragg began to systematically discard the virtual land position and increase backing on the notion that the case is a matter of fraud rather than property, and that the Terms of Service have no bearing or force (if he is correct, then neither do the Terms of Service of other MMOs, and perhaps not those of ISPs either). Additionally, Bragg uses grounds of misrepresentation and fraud to back his opposition to the removal of Rosedale as a defendant.
Bragg has made a new filing available to us. It's very large, however, and it may take a day or two to give it a proper treatment. Join us again soon for that.