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Comment Has Linden Labs gone mad and started attacking the very journos who satisfy its dependence on hype? A couple of recent headlines would suggest so, but readers needn't be alarmed.

The ZDNet headline got it a bit wrong: "Virtual land owner challenges press freedom in Second Life", suggesting that freedom of the press to operate or publish within the virtual world is being restricted. It's not.

Slashdot got it more wrong: "Second Life mogul challenges press freedom", implying that the Lindens have gone off the rails and started biting the hand that feeds them. They're not.

What actually happened is this: When CNET decided recently to interview SL character and imaginary landlady Anshe Chung (Ailin Graef in meatspace), someone thought it would be enormously funny to enhance the audience's experience with a barrage of flying pink penises. And indeed it was funny, illustrating exactly how seriously Sadville ought to be taken.

But the humouristically-challenged Graef didn't quite see the joke. Instead of working with the penises, or off them - perhaps using them as an illustration of just how much control SL permits - she huffed off to another virtual space to continue the interview, only to be set upon again by the intruding appendages.

Screen shots and even video clips of the virtual press conference surfaced on the internet, as, inevitably, they would. But Graef's determination to be taken seriously has given her the bizarre notion that online images of an open press conference might possibly be suppressed with help from the dreaded Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Or at least with help from the widespread fear of it.

And so, according to ZDNet, Graef has threatened websites hosting fond memories of her penis encounter with some very unpleasant DMCA action. Of course this is utter rubbish; when one volunteers to become a "newsmaker", one inevitably "solicits fame at the hazard of disgrace", as Samuel Johnson once wrote. Furthermore, images and video of open, public events fall under fair use, although ZDNet reports that YouTube has removed at least one clip of the incident to avoid being bothered by frivolous DMCA lawsuits.

Still, there are other clips on YouTube right now, and even if these, too, should be removed promptly, still others will be popping up on the web whack-a-mole-wise for weeks to come. Because Graef has attempted to suppress what she considers unflattering news, she has ensured its future popularity.

She could have laughed it off during the virtual news conference and after, and few of us would have given it a second thought. But with this ham-fisted move, she's just made herself a minor celebrity - surrounded by flying pink wangs. ®

Related link

Reg reader Josh offers us this NSFW link to screenies and the video via Something Awful.

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