Virtual Worlds Players – Consumers or Citizens?
Internet Policy Review, 3(4), 2014
12 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 15, 2014
This article questions the preconceived notions that participants in virtual worlds are essentially consumers. Building on the existing scholarship around virtual worlds and notwithstanding the current character of virtual worlds, this paper explores aspects of End User License Agreements and notes the unfairness of their provisions, particularly the imbalance between user and developer interests governed by such contracts. It argues that the contracts cannot be regulated with consumer protection legislation, as interests such as property or intellectual property are beyond the scope of consumer protection regimes. Finally, recognising the phenomenon of constitutionalisation of virtual worlds, the article argues for stronger regulatory solutions in this domain, in order to strike a more appropriate balance between competing interests in virtual worlds.
Keywords: Virtual worlds, End User Licence Agreements, Consumer protection, Multi-User Dungeon (MUD), Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMOPG), Terms of service, Virtual asset
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