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Competing Lockean Claims to Virtual Property

Steven J. Horowitz

Sidley Austin LLP

May 31, 2012

Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 20, 2007

Virtual products in virtual worlds can have real-world consequences, but one wonders whether the property rights that might attach to them are secure. Between users, property disputes can be settled by determining which user has the greater right without addressing property theory more broadly. But when users wish to assert property rights against virtual world operators, one must consider normative justifications for user property when deciding whether to ignore the terms of an End User License Agreement. This paper compares the competing claims of users and operators to virtual world property by using Lockean labor-desert. I argue that the operators' initial labor-based claims to their worlds severely limit user property rights.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: Locke, property theory, virtual worlds, virtual property, Second Life, Bragg

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Date posted: April 23, 2007 ; Last revised: May 31, 2012

Suggested Citation

Horowitz, Steven J., Competing Lockean Claims to Virtual Property (May 31, 2012). Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 20, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=981755

Contact Information

Steven J. Horowitz (Contact Author)
Sidley Austin LLP ( email )
One First National Plaza
Chicago, IL 60603
United States
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