Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds

SXSW hosted what sounds like a very interesting panel on the issue of personal property rights in virtual worlds: this is becoming an ever more important issue, with lawsuits a-flyin' and people getting arrested for virtual property theft. So, how is this issue going to get nailed down? And when? And by whom? The panel consisted of GoPets CEO Erik Bethke, Live Gamer co-founder Andrew Schneider and attorney Greg Boyd, with Charles River Ventures' Susan Wu moderating.

Wu began by discussing the recent Bragg v. Linden Labs court case — in brief, a legal battle between a Second Life user and the world's parent company over land that Bragg apparently improperly acquired, resulting in a ban from the world by Linden. That case, Wu says, was a landmark in that it demonstrated that virtual property rights have tangible value in the court system ....

"What are the prevailing customs that should apply?" Wu asked. "Is it the country where the company is based? Is it the country where the customer lives? We don't even know what the basic virtual property rights are that we should be concerned with."

These sorts of issues will get nailed down eventually (maybe?), it's a serious balancing act in a lot of ways. And once you mix in the reasonably global nature of many MMOs? Well ....

Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds [Worlds In Motion]


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