The Virtual Property Problem: What Property Rights in Virtual Resources Might Look Like, How They Might Work, and Why They are a Bad Idea
29 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2009 Last revised: 26 Jan 2011
Date Written: August 15, 2009
“Virtual property” is a solution looking for a problem. Arguments justifying “virtual property” lie among three common themes—Lockean labor theory, theft protection and deterrence, and market efficiency. This Article goes beyond those who advocate for or against the creation of “virtual property” by first dismissing Locke’s labor theory as a justification. Then, this Article explores two models of what property rights may look like when applied to virtual resources. These models are then applied to six different virtual world scenarios in order to see the effects of “virtual property.” Finally, this Article explains the failure of property rights to benefit the users, developers, and virtual resources of virtual worlds.
Keywords: property, virtual property, virtual worlds, computers, information technology, economics, philosophy
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