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.