pacergh writes: A number of legal commentaries on virtual worlds argue that property laws should extend to the accounts, characters, and virtual stuff in these worlds. The rational is that these virtual resources are valuable and should be protected.
Yet none of these legal commentaries step out of the virtual world metaphor. Each pre-supposes that a property-centric view is the only way to look at these resources.
In a follow-up to The Virtual Property Problem, the article A Virtual Property Solution steps out of the property-metaphor for virtual worlds and examines them for what they are – playgrounds of the mind where harms are not visited upon a gamer’s waller, but rather on a gamer’s mind.
From the abstract, “Privacy laws can protect virtual worlds and their users where property law cannot.” The article goes on to argue that “[t]he very foundation of the virtual is the imagination of each individual player” and that “[v]iewing these harms through the lens of privacy will help lay a framework for the creation of future laws that will work alongside the imagination of the virtual rather than forcing themselves into a virtual world and destroying that world’s very value—the ability to pretend, to imagine, and to escape the real.”
From the abstract, "'Virtual property' is a solution looking for a problem." The article explains the "failure of property rights to benefit the users, developers, and virtual resources of virtual worlds."
pacergh writes: "A new legal paper argues against extending property rights to virtual stuff.
"Extending the common law of property to virtual objects and virtual worlds deprives the people who own the hardware running virtual worlds the right to control their own property. Such an extension results in conversion through conversion — the property interests of the virtual world's creator, the hardware and intellectual property supporting the world, become subject to a new virtual commons. This removes the freedom of virtual world creators to design worlds of their own imaginings. In addition, it will have a chilling effect on the creation of new virtual worlds."
People buy and sell World of Warcraft gold and accounts. Before WoW, people bought and sold Ultima Online gold, weapons, and accounts. Heck, I know I've maybe bought some WoW gold in my day. But the question is what kind of rights do we gamers have in the stuff we use in the online games we play? And what kind of rights do the developers have, or should have?"