Second Life's Real-World Problems

As this virtual colony grows, lawyers, tax men and troublemakers are crashing the party

Illustration by Francisco Caceres for TIME

Reality is catching up with Second Life, the much hyped 3-D website that lets users create alter egos called avatars who can walk, chat, fly, have sex and buy and sell virtual stuff for real money. The ballyhoo surrounding this online community has led multinational brands from Reebok to Toyota to establish beachheads on Second Life to interact with consumers and be a part of the next wave in social networking. In April market-research firm Gartner predicted that by the end of 2011, 80% of active Internet users will have some sort of presence in a virtual world, with Second Life...

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