Title: Legal and policy issues of virtual property

Authors: Nikolaos Volanis

Addresses: Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Sint-Michielsstraat 6, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: This article aims to underline the importance of End User Licence Agreements (EULAs) in the context of virtual worlds known as Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). By examining the issue of virtual property in several virtual worlds, the article ascertains the failure of some EULAs to acknowledge and respect the importance of players| contribution to the perpetual development of the virtual environment; a failure which, in turn, undermines the players| drive for creativity and collaboration. However, assigning virtual property rights to the players should not be considered as a mandatory legal obligation but rather as a policy decision. Within this context, the EULA acts as a sort of virtual |social contract|, which sets the degree of permeability between the real and the virtual.

Keywords: virtual worlds; end user license agreements; EULAs; intellectual property; virtual property; web based communities; massive multiplayer online role-playing games; MMORPGs; property rights; policy; virtual social contract.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2007.014242

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2007 Vol.3 No.3, pp.332 - 344

Available online: 27 Jun 2007 *

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