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Virtual Auctions

My name is Shane and I am that guy who had the brainstorm that is now www.playerauctions.com. Let me be clear by first stating I am no longer a part of Player Auctions nor do I represent them in any shape or form, anything I say is my own opinion.

Author: Shanepa

Zynga vs Player Auctions - Could this define virtual property?

Posted by Shanepa Monday May 3 2010 at 4:01AM
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I realize I'm a bit late with this news, but social game developer Zynga has filed a lawsuit against Player Auctions, claiming that PA is violating Zynga's Terms of Service and unlawfully using materials copyrighted by Zynga.

I have been reading various blogs and opinion pieces about this lawsuit and for the most part the consensus has been that Zynga will win the suit and this could be a defining moment for virtual property.

I have my doubts....

I do think this will be an interesting story to follow and I will be looking for a few key points as this all unfolds.

1. How will PA respond if at all? Keep in mind this could be a defining moment for virtual sales, PA has to be aware of the long term impact of a settlement or any type of acknowledgement that they are in the wrong. It has been a long standing view that PA is only a platform to provide buyers and sellers a marketplace to buy and sell virtual goods, the same as Ebay, a view I do happen to share.

2. Jurisdiction – The lawsuit has been filed in the state of California, Player Auctions parent company does have an office in the state, but its main offices are outside the United States. If I were in the driver’s seat of Player Auctions and I thought we would lose this lawsuit I would shut down all our U.S. operations to avoid further legal action in the U.S.  Any legal action against Player Auctions outside the U.S. would be near impossible and costly to pursue.

3. Judgment – Again any judgment could have a large impact on the world of virtual sales as well as any settlement and admission of guilt, giving precedent for any future actions.

4. Enforcement – Even if the lawsuit is successful, I have a hard time seeing Zynga actually enforcing, let alone collecting any judgment.

There has been a battle brewing for legal definition of virtual property for over a decade now, each passing year the argument has gotten weaker for game publishers and this has the slight possibility of opening that whole can of worms. I have my doubts that anything will come of this in Zynga’s favor, but it will be interesting to follow to say the least!

There has currently been no word from Player Auctions about this lawsuit, nor any change in their operations as their site is still listing Zynga related auctions.