Virtual Property

57 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2005 Last revised: 12 May 2014

See all articles by Joshua Fairfield

Joshua Fairfield

Washington and Lee University - School of Law


This article explores three new concepts in property law. First, the article defines an emerging property form - virtual property - which is not intellectual property, but that more efficiently governs rivalrous, persistent, and interconnected online resources. Second, the article demonstrates that the threat to high-value uses of internet resources is not the traditional tragedy of the commons that results in overuse. Rather, the naturally layered nature of the internet leads to overlapping rights of exclusion that cause underuse of internet resources: a tragedy of the anticommons. And finally, the article shows that the common law of property can act to limit the costs of this internet anticommons.

Keywords: Virtual, property, digital, internet, cyberlaw, intellectual, anticommons, cybertrespass, video game, world of warcraft, world

Suggested Citation

Fairfield, Joshua, Virtual Property. Boston University Law Review, Vol. 85, page 1047, 2005, Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 35, Available at SSRN:

Joshua Fairfield (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States

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