Just like Torley warned at the Community Round Table, the justice system will be coming creeping out of the alleyways. What will it be like? I really don't know. I know they are fascinated with covenants; they are fascinated with the idea of all this local home rule -- that I guess they'll be able to brag to the other game companies about when they go on the conference circuit.
Back on April 14, 2006, I wrote a letter to Robin. I believe it came after
an inworld meeting, I remember she even contacted me herself first -- a rare
thing for a Linden
I never got an answer; I never will. The ideas are too abstract, too sophisticated -- that is, taken from real-life, practical experience lol. No doubt I ensured myself no answer by my comment about destruction of civilization -- but guess what, I'm absolutely convinced of that, and I think I have ample evidence of it. You will too, soon enough.
I've thought about and blogged about justice in SL a whole lot, I suppose because of all
my RL experience in this area.
The bottom line here is that all attempts at "justice" and "dispute
resolution" have failed in SL to date because they are all run by egoists who not
only wish to place themselves above other players, they wish to place themselves above the
law. Any person will have that tendency, as we can see with the ResMods and the forums -- and the only solution is to make sure there are *executive branch* and *legislative
branch* checks and balances against the *judicial branch*.
So before you get busy creating a system hinging on future justice you didn't work out the details for yet (!), it really seems to me that you first have to have a very clear
understanding of the difference between *justice* and *dispute resolution*.
They are very, very different.
Justice is when an impartial judge views a complaint from a plaintiff claiming injury or
criminal violence of the law, against a respondent, who is charged with violation of the
law, and interpretation of that law, which is a body of statements and past precedent
*against which* the judge will rule.
The object of this exercise is to:
o find the truth -- the facts of the matter
o determine if those truths constitute a violation of the law
o *application of* that law
o administration of punishment to the offender
o determination of remedy or compensation for the victim.
o therefore victim and perpetrator are not equals; one is found either guilty or wrong,
and one prevails in the trial.
o in interpreting the law and *applying it* the judge creates a precedent, which all
others may refer to as an helpful to their own case
That exercise is VERY MUCH NEEDED in SL, and it's the thing most people want when they
think about what's wrong with SL -- land dealers, builders, designers, scammers, griefers
who rip them off, violate a sense of what they think is law, and do so with no punishment
A different exercise -- and many people confuse this! is dispute resolution:
o all parties are presumed equal, none are to be found "wrong" or "in
violation" or "to be punished"
o all parties are supposed to cooperate and themselves present facts, rather than allow
other impartial figures like the judge, or the plaintiff to find the facts, or for
plaintiffs to present his version
o the goal of the exercise is not to apply law, but to work toward an end of the conflict,
and a solution
o parties are expected to compromise
o the solution doesn't significantly add to the body of precedent because the particulars
of what two subjective parties found as useful for their subjective resolution of their
conflict may not apply to others.
Many people like to impose "dispute resolution" on situations that in fact cry
out for *justice and application of law*. They do this in the belief it will help conflict
and create harmony. It seldom does.
In RL, you don't take a thief and the victim from whom they stole, and sit them down, and
tell them to 'work out their differences' with a compromise at the end, where the victim
agrees to stop calling the perpetrator a thief and the thief agrees to give back what he
didn't spend yet from what he stole. Instead, the judge finds the fact, he determines
theft took place, and he applies the law and sanctions to that thief. This is the basis of
I realize that Linden Lab wants to overthrow Judeo-Christian civilization, and that's fine
I suppose, but do think of the consequences: rampant impunity for people who do wrong,
coercion against their victims, further covering up of the crimes, etc. -- it's always
been a killer in societies that didn't value finding the truth, punishing the wrong-doer,
and compensating the victim.
In SL, someone who gives you a crappy prefab that splinters into pieces when you rez it,
or who blatantly copies your dress design and sells it, is committing a wrong. They need
to be punished if the facts are found, and the victim needs to be compensated. Maybe all
that happens is the judge determines that yes, a crime took place so that henceforth, all
consumers can decide whether they want to risk buying the crappy prefab, and all mall
owners can decide whether they want to rent to a design-stealer. That's all! And that's a
What people don't want is for some "compromise" to be found that *steps on* the
facts or glosses over the real harm done to the person who suffered -- do that enough
times, and all you do is fuel terrorism.
What kinds of cases would start as justice cases but end as dispute resolution?
o A neighbour files suit against a grief builder, claiming loss of rental income due to
griefing. The judge determines that the grief builder is just a newbie who rezzed out a
bunch of junk in inventory and didn't realize it bothered people before he logged off for
2 weeks. He agrees to remove or mitigate the build. The neighbour withdraws the charges.
Dispute resolved -- but not because it began with any concept that "we are all here
to have a compromise". The neighbour wasn't told to shut up and that he has no right
to complain about actual material loss of his property value. The griefer wasn't told that
he has a pass to do that all the time, either.
What kinds of cases would be appropriate for dispute resolution versus justice?
o A long-established jazz cafe with high but not laggy traffic in a mixed-use sim asks to
resolve a dispute with a new neighbour, a radio/video/DJ store that has laggy scripts,
flashing lights, ugly bright textures, etc. Both entities may be objectively found to
"lag the sim". Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- some people like jazz
clubs, some like DJ stores. The mediator could work to get both parties to mitigate -- the
store might take out its worst laggy greeter scripts, the jazz club could put up trees
without the store speciously bitching that trees wave on to its property, etc.
Many people wish that third-world developing situations ilke SL could be solved by dispute
resolution, not justice because they HATE to think about either enforcement or
compensation! But they must, or they will get terrorism down the road! They'd also like to
have peace first, then justice. But stepping on victims and the violation of the law that
everyone can see never helps create a stable peace.
In short, I think SL needs the following:
o an established resident-based Metaverse Court
and makes rulings that will have rhetorical value, applying the TOS, Ralph Koster's avatar
law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- whatever. The Lindens should simply
leave this alone
o local disputes resolution/citizens' help bureaus/groups that help people solve their
problems beyond the Live Help/Mentor game working problems. This shouldn't be blessed by
the Lindens like the Mentor
called Consumer Advocacy which has attempted this just with the notorious crappy video
players and rental videos, but there are thousands of such groups needed
o when a critical mass is reached of enough rhetorical-value rulings from the judge of
this court (or courts, there is room for more than one!), and enough actual cases to be
studied emerged from the mediators, then the Lindens might put to a referendum the concept
of a Linden-based superior court function to enforce decisions.
o If Lindens do this, like the European Court of Human Rights, they should insist that all
remedies available locally should be exhausted first -- i.e. unless you case went first
through local disputes mediators, then the resident-based court, it cannot even be
reviewed by LL. In a population of 100 million people, you will still get tens of
thousands of cases like the RL court, of course, and even then weeding them out for
failure to exhaust remedies, you will still be left with several thousand to really
resolve and that will take five years, but it's better than nothing.
Some of my ideas of a "judiciary" in SL I put in this blog piece:
A lot of my critique is here too:
A critique I did some time ago of "SL Mediators" about which I've been hugely
critical -- and BTW they finally did publicize their members, but as far as I can tell,
they didn't solve -- or even take on! -- a single case.
My response to Hamlet's uncritical celebration of the Notary:
I don't know if you at last may be able to hear the point I'm making about the problem of
Lindens dispensing justice, and somebody making a vital part of a justice system (the
notary service authenticating documents) then going and
*becoming* a Linden
I think this about sums up my feelings about this:
"We should have a life, we should have a world, that is so inherent, so coherent,
that they cannot take it away from us, even if they crash all their servers tomorrow, even
if they go out of business, even if their competitors overtake them. Do you see what kind
of world I mean, Zarf?"
An old discussion in the Herald based on SOPII
Nannies with Badges
* Legal Issues
* news from Second Life
— Urizenus @ 7:06 am
"During the State of Play
resolution with Robin, Cory, and Phillip Linden attending, in addition to a number of
anthropologists, lawyers, and industry types (eBay) that were experts in dispute
resolution. What the concensus of the experts seemed to be was that the Lindens should
take a hands off approach and let user-developed dispute resolutions systems evolve
organically. Having Lindens take the role of dispute mediators, babysitters, and nannies
was a bad idea and would not scale in any case. But what the Lindens seem to have come
away with is that they should create an army of uber-nannies to police the slightest of
The army of uber-nannies you've created, that have even taken the alarming title
"GOV" (!!!) for "Gathering of Volunteers" is really one of the greater
horrors of Second Life. These people have no accountability, and a good number of them use
this position of power to gain personal or economic advantage over others.