Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend


[1] See, e.g., Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946); Amalgamated Food Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc., 391 U.S. 308 (1968); Lloyd Corp v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972); Hudgens v. National Labor Relations Bd., 424 U.S. 507 (1976); PruneYard Shopping Ctr. v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980).

[2] See, e.g., CompuServe, Inc. v. Cyber Promotions, Inc., 962 F. Supp. 1015 (S.D. Ohio 1997); Am. Online, Inc. v. Cyber Promotions, Inc., 948 F. Supp. 436 (E.D. Pa. 1996); Name.Space, Inc. v. Network Solutions, Inc., 202 F.3d 573 (2d Cir. 2000); Island Online, Inc. v. Network Solutions, Inc. 119 F. Supp. 2d 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2000); Nat'l A-1 Adver. v. Network Solutions, Inc., 121 F. Supp. 2d 156 (D. N.H. 2000).

[3] See Jack M. Balkin, "Virtual Liberty: Freedom To Design and Freedom To Play in Virtual Worlds," 90 Virginia Law Review 2043 (2004).

[4] See generally F. Gregory Lastowka & Dan Hunter, "The Laws of the Virtual Worlds," 92 California Law Review 1 (2004), discussing The Sims Online extensively.

[5] Peter Ludlow's university website is located here.

[6] The newspaper, really a blog, is located here. It has been renamed the Second Life Herald.

[7] See Amy Harmon, "A Real-Life Debate on Free Expression in a Cyberspace City," New York Times, Jan. 15, 2004, at A1; Farhad Manjoo, "Raking Muck in 'The Sims Online,'" Salon.com, Dec. 12, 2003.

[8] See Harmon, supra note [7].

[9] See id.; Manjoo, supra note [7].

[10] See Manjoo, supra note [7].

[11] See Harmon, supra note [7].

[12] See Manjoo, supra note [7].

[13] It's virtually impossible to determine the exact terms of the EA-Ludlow user agreement. However, many (maybe all?) EA user agreements contain the following language: "EA and you both have the right to terminate or cancel your Account or a particular subscription at any time." See EA Online Terms of Service (last visited Mar. 20, 2005).

[14] See Harmon, supra note [7]; Curt Feldman, "Q&A: Banned Sims Blogger Bites Back," GameSpot.com, Dec. 17, 2003.

[15] See Harmon, supra note [7].

[16] See Hiawatha Bray, "Justice Has Its Price in Sim World," Boston Globe, Jan. 14, 2004.

[17] See CNN: Paula Zahn Now (CNN television broadcast Feb. 19, 2004), available at 2004 WL 72847478.

[18] See Mark Ward, "The Dark Side of Digital Utopia," BBC News, Dec. 22, 2003.

[19] See Manjoo supra note [7].

[20] See Balkin, supra note [3], at 2075–76.

[21] See, e.g., Don Peppers & Martha Rogers, The One to One Fieldbook (1999) (discussing the value of firing a company's least profitable customers, called "below zero customers"); Gary McWilliams, "Minding the Store: Analyzing Customers, Best Buy Decides Not All Are Welcome," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2004, at A1 (describing an initiative by the Best Buy retail chain to get rid of unprofitable customers).

[22] James Grimmelmann, "Sims Online Censors Online Journalist," LawMeme, Dec. 14, 2003.

[23] See, e.g., Jim Hu, "AOL Error Underscores Spam Filter Challenge," May 22, 2000. ("Many of AOL's subscribers have applauded the company for installing email filters that can drastically cut down on the junk email that bombards their in-boxes.")

[24] See Lastowka & Hunter, supra note [4], at 9.

[25] See Andrew Weiner, "Wanted: Homeland for 300 Webheads," Nov. 22, 2000.

[26] See Balkin, supra note [3], at 2047. This value, in turn, may create flourishing in-game economies, in some cases expressly encouraged by the provider. See Noah Shachtman, "Will Gamers Buy What Game Sells?," Wired News, May 24, 2002, (discussing Project Entropia, which encourages entrepreneurship within the game).

[27] See Lastowka & Hunter, supra note [4], at 10–11, 37–39. However, some providers (most prominently EverQuest) actively discourage these out-of-game transactions. See Greg Sandoval, "Sony To Ban Sale of Online Characters from Its Popular Gaming Sites," CNET News.com, Apr. 10, 2000.

[28] See Points.com (last visited Mar. 20, 2005).

[29] See Balkin, supra note [3] (emphasizing, in particular, the role of consumer protection laws).

[30] See Eric Goldman, "Termination of Accounts in Virtual Worlds," Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Feb. 13, 2005.

In Hall v. EarthLink Network, Inc., 396 F.3d 500 (2d Cir. 2005), an EarthLink subscriber used a personal email account for business purposes. EarthLink terminated the account based on a mistaken belief that Hall was a spammer. The Second Circuit rejected all of Hall's claims for legal redress.

[31] See Lastowka & Hunter, supra note [4], at 61–62; see also Balkin, supra note [3], at 2051, 2077; Neal Stewart, "Editorial: Simulating Free Speech in Virtual Lives," Second Life Herald, Mar. 4, 2005.

[32] Edward Castronova has proposed some techniques that competitors can use to overcome their potential customers' switching costs. See Castronova, "Switching Costs Fall," Terra Nova, July 24, 2004.

[33] See Bray, supra note [16] (discussing the disengagement of The Sims Online players in response to EA's perceived abdication of control).

[34] Indeed, there is some evidence that The Sims Online has suffered in the marketplace for these very reasons. See id.

[35] See John Markoff, "Home-Computer Network Criticized for Limiting Users," New York Times, Nov. 27, 1990, at D1, D5. The users were upset over a new surcharge Prodigy imposed on high-volume email users, and some irate subscribers went so far as to complain to Prodigy's advertisers. See Peter H. Lewis, "On Electronic Bulletin Boards, What Rights Are at Stake?," New York Times, Dec. 23, 1990, at F8.

[36] See Geoffrey Moore, "The 1st Amendment Is Safe at Prodigy," New York Times, Dec. 16, 1990, at F13.

[37] Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., 1995 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 229 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995).

[38] Communications Decency Act of 1996, [ss] 509, 47 U.S.C. [ss] 230 (2005).

[39] The major exception being, of course, intellectual property claims. See 47 U.S.C. [ss] 230(e)(2). In 1998, Congress attempted to provide some protection for intellectual property claims via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, codified at 17 U.S.C. [ss] 512, but [ss] 512 has proven significantly less useful for online providers than 47 U.S.C. [ss] 230.

[40] See Bray, supra note [16] (discussing Sociolotron, an adults-only game that allows players to engage in illicit behavior that isn't permitted in The Sims Online).

[41] For a general policy argument in favor of letting online providers exercise discretion over their community spaces, see Eugene Volokh, "Freedom of Speech in Cyberspace from the Listener's Perspective: Private Speech Restrictions, Libel, State Action, Harassment, and Sex," 1996 U. Chi. Legal F. 377.

Castronova and Balkin have proposed "interration" statutes to give virtual world providers a safe harbor from liability if they agree to protect participant interests. See Edward Castronova, "The Right To Play," 49 New York Law School Law Review 185 (2004–2005); Balkin, supra note [3], at 2090–97 (endorsing and extending Castronova's proposal). Of course, 47 U.S.C. [ss] 230 already insulates providers for participants' actions and words, although it excludes coverage for intellectual property claims. Therefore, the only reasons to consider interration are to plug the intellectual property hole in [ss] 230 or to give new substantive rights to participants at providers' expense.

[42] See Ward, supra note [18] (discussing how The Sims Online was touted as a virtual utopia but has never fulfilled that promise).

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020