Every Ozimal digirabbit in the venerable virtual world Second Life will starve to death (well, permanent hibernation) this week because a legal threat has shut down their food-server, and the virtual pets are designed so that they can only eat DRM-locked food, so the official food server's shutdown has doomed them all.
Ozimals LLC, the company that created the digipets, shut down last year, and Malkavyn Eldritch, a volunteer, kept their food-server online. Edward Distelhurst and Akimeta Ltd say that Ozimals shut down owing him a lot of money. The case has dragged out at great length, with court orders and reported bad faith from the owners of Ozimals.
Edward Distelhurst and Akimeta Ltd sent a cease-and-desist to Eldritch, demanding that he "cease all use of Ozimals intellectual property." This means that he's shut down the server, which immediately killed every virtual puffin in Second Life — the virtual rabbits will take longer to die, because they can retain some virtual, DRM-locked food in their bellies before they starve to death.
The 'breedables' craze, which Ozimals played a big role in, may have peaked a while back but a lot of virtual animals still exist. Well, for now. If digirabbits can't eat, they enter 'hibernation' after 72 hours and will only wake up when fed again. Ozimals need to check in with servers but these shut down on Wednesday, so no rabbits can be fed. Even players who've bought a big supply of food will find their rabbits, er, very still forever. I've read that some are already gone.
At least the Ozimals' birdy cousins, the Pufflings, had a swift death. They shut down instantly on Wednesday when the servers went down, while rabbits hold on with the food in their cyberbellies.
Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food – and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you're welcome to.
In Virtual Animal Copyright Suit, Judge Grants Injunction Against Ozimals' DMCA Notices (But Horse Breeders Still Not Immune From Protest)
[Wagner James Au/New World Notes]
Many pet rabbits will die in Second Life on Saturday
[Alice O'Connor/Rock Paper Shotgun]