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Since the termination, Ludlow has railed against EA for its censorship.That is not unusual; many disgruntled customers have found a soapbox in cyberspace.In both cases, the online provider can choose, but we're tempted to side with AOL on spam and side against virtual world providers on everything else.It's that inconsistency that I'm trying to address here. Millions of users participate in such complex interactive spaces as Ever Quest, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and The Sims Online.Where they intersect, confusing legal doctrines usually emerge.In the offline world, we've seen this intersection in (among other situations) U. Supreme Court cases addressing private speech at privately owned company towns and shopping centers.How should we balance the rights of game providers to protect their systems against the rights of players who invest significant hours and dollars in their characters?Eric Goldman explains why he thinks the balance tips in favor of the providers.
But how do we distinguish between AOL's response to spam (which seems right) and a virtual world's decision to kick off a user?
The Sims Online is a for-profit subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) operated by Electronic Arts ("EA").
EA responded that Ludlow violated EA's rules by linking from his in-game profile to his newspaper site.
Some commentators, most prominently Professor Jack Balkin of Yale Law School, believe that virtual worlds are different from the physical world, and have argued for limits to a virtual world provider's ability to regulate speech by its participants. I believe that virtual worlds are not distinguishable from other online providers and that we should not create special speech rules for virtual worlds.
Using a recent incident involving The Sims Online and Peter Ludlow, let me explain why.
It could be something as simple as a run away script or learning how to better use E-utilities, for more efficient work such that your work does not impact the ability of other researchers to also use our site.