Now, this one will push a few legal doctrines to their limit. Amy Taylor, 28, is seeking a divorce from husband David Pollard, 40, after finding him with another woman — sort of. Pollard was allegedly having a virtual affair with an animated prostitute. The once happy couple first met in a chat room online, but the computer now has brought another woman into Pollard’s virtual life.
Taylor is outraged: “I went mad — I was so hurt. I just couldn’t believe what he’d done. It may have started online, but it existed entirely in the real world and it hurts just as much now it is over.”
The Second Life site allows the avatars of users to create relationship and have families. Taylor walked in on her husband’s avatar having sex with a virtual prostitute. Taylor insisted: “It’s cheating as far as I’m concerned.” Lord only knows what viruses that he might have brought into the house after having sex with a virtual prostitute. If he had simply kept his zip drive closed and his browser on his real wife, he would not be facing financial ruin.
Yet, one wonders whether Taylor missed those telltale signs of virtual affairs, the avatar versions of lipstick on the collar. He references to her improving her pixels, problems with his floppy, and lack of Ram.
The question is whether Taylor can also sue the other players for loss of consortium. After all, we have seen recent cases where the cuckolded spouse successfully sued. Then there is the problem of alimony, patrimony, and child support in virtual families. Then there is the real arrest of a woman who killed off her virtual husband.
Notably, Congress and various states have tried to make virtual child pornography the same crime as the possession of pictures of real children, here and here. In this case, there would be a question of whether taking a prostitute over state lines on the Internet is a Mann Act violation.
[Thanks to Patty C for the link to the murder of the virtual husband story]