Virtual Property Disputes Landing in Real Courts

Illustration for article titled Virtual Property Disputes Landing in Real Courts

Ok, so virtual property disputes aren't exactly new, but there's a little wrap up on some of the current issues over at a Canadian website. Most of the issues discussed revolve around Second Life, but the questions of virtual property and other virtual issues are getting increasing attention:

[Entertainment lawyer Susan] Abramovitch said the virtual economy has opened the door to new legal issues that are only starting to be addressed around the world.

"The original question is, do we actually need to specifically regulate the virtual economy?" Abramovitch said. "Is it different enough to create challenges or do the regulations that exist in our physical world apply?"

The answer, she said, is gaining importance because private companies currently dictate the "rules" of the virtual world through their end user licence agreements.


Concerns regarding EULAs have gotten a fair bit of (academic) attention in the past couple of months, but the fact that these "virtual" cases are getting real world settlements raises a lot of interesting questions.

Virtual world disputes landing in real-world courts []

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I think of it this, using the analogy of a patent lawyer I saw in a video a week or so ago. He said (to the same effect of saying), "If you carve a statue out of your neighbor's block of marble, you don't own the work you've created".

This should apply to anything made in a videogame, or any computer application for that matter that outputs some kind of work made by the user, where whatever license (if any) in use for the user should add onto the analogy of saying "unless otherwise granted by the owner of the block of marble, under their specified terms."

For the most part, most software allows the user to do as they wish with their work, and this is where I think a lot of people gather the assumption that it's only natural this should be granted onto the user by default, and it's not (or shouldn't be, should I be wrong). So the question of who owns the work of a user in a computer game such as Second Life, is left to the owners of the software.