Legal Issues Seeping Into Virtual Worlds

from the can't-keep-up dept

Just in dealing with websites there have been all sorts of legal questions about jurisdictions and do offline laws apply in an online world. Now the issue is becoming even more complex as more and more "virtual world" games are showing up - and actions in those virtual worlds may seem very much like actions in the offline world. So the question is whether or not those actions are just "part of the game" or are they real actions with legal consequences. It's a very fine line. We had mentioned this issue a couple months ago, but now some folks are holding an entire conference focused on the legal questions presented by online gaming. Some think that the virtual worlds will be a good "testing ground" for new laws and rules that could be applied in the real world. However, others are simply focused on how offline laws carry over into the online virtual worlds. If someone steals from you, is it theft? If someone defames you, can you sue? The biggest issue, it seems, is when real world money crosses over into the virtual worlds. Once money gets involved, so does the law - which could present problems for the crop of new games focused on bringing in real money. In many cases, it seems that the company creating the virtual world really is that world's government - and they make the laws that apply within the sandbox of the virtual world. Still, many people will undoubtedly try to pull things out of that sandbox and into the very real world court system.
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  1. identicon
    Dak Kordestani, 16 Nov 2003 @ 12:20pm

    Criminalization of life

    Why are you surprised at attempts to criminalize every aspect of life?

    Here in San Diego, California, it is a crime for poor people to eat hot food (only cold food is legal), to eliminate body wastes between the hours of 4:30pm and 9:00am, and to sleep at all. (I am not making this up.) In other words, biological necessities of life itself have become crimes, but only if you're poor.

    Someone defined technology as "the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it." What else is a "virtual world" but one that we do no experience? Without experience of the real world as criterion of truth, then how can any thoughts (including laws) be distinguished from the ravings of madmen?

    Welcome to technological society.

    Dak

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