On Virtual Worlds: Copyright and Contract at the Dawn of the Virtual Age
48 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2008
This Article argues that copyright law can and should apply to artistic and literary creations occurring entirely in virtual worlds. First, the Article introduces the concept of virtual worlds as places millions of people visit not only for entertainment but also for life and work. Second, the Article reviews the philosophical justifications for copyright, examines objections to applying copyright to virtual, rather than real, creative works, and concludes that neither precludes copyright for virtual creations. Third, the Article articulates how copyright law would function within virtual spaces and reviews copyrightable creations from the perspective of both game developers and players. The Article also examines the validity of licensing agreements requiring players to waive their intellectual property rights as a condition of access to virtual spaces. Finally, the Article demonstrates that because virtual worlds are more than just games, courts and legislators will have to apply laws to virtual worlds as to protect the interests of developers and players alike.
Keywords: Virtual world, internet law, virtual property, virtual goods, authorship, second life, clickwrap, EULA, copyright, preemption, avatar, MMORPG, virtual law, internet law
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