Copyright, Culture, and Community in Virtual Worlds
Dan L. Burk
University of California, Irvine School of Law
October 11, 2012
EIGHTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CULTURAL ATTITUDES TOWARD TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATION, pp. 469, Fay Sudaweeks, Herbert Hrachovec, Charles Ess, eds., 2012
UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-74
Communities that interact on-line through computer games and other virtual worlds are mediated by the audiovisual content of the game interface. Much of this content is subject to copyright law, which confers on the copyright owner the legal right to prevent certain unauthorized uses of the content. Such exclusive rights impose a limiting factor on the development of communities that are situated around the interface content, as the rights, privileges, and exceptions associated with copyright generally tend to disregard the cultural significance of copyrighted content. This limiting effect of copyright is well illustrated by examination of the copying of content by virtual diaspora communities such as that formed around the game Uru: Ages of Myst, Thus, the opportunity for on-line communities to legally access the graphical elements on which those communities are built is frought with potential legal liability. Reconsideration of current copyright law would be required in order to accommodate the cohesion of on-line communities and related cultural uses of copyrighted content.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: copyright, virtual worlds, fair use, intellectual property, computer games
JEL Classification: O32,O33,O34Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 12, 2012 ; Last revised: November 16, 2012
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