Monday, August 10, 2009

Digital Law Conference - September 23, San Jose (CA)

Digital Law Conference provides a detailed examination of the legal issues raised by games, social media, virtual goods and virtual worlds and offers key insight into where the industry is headed and what the associated legal implications are. 7 credit hours of CLE accreditation has been applied for in MCLE states.

Detailed schedule available here.

This is just a part of Engage! Expo which is taking place September 23-24 at the San Jose Convention Center and provides insight into the best practices, current trends, and effective strategies of social media and user engagement.

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Rights of virtual communities - presentation

Presentation - Leipzig GCO2009: Gods, Democracies, and Dictators: roles and rights of virtual communities

Available on Nic Suzor's blog

(I recommend *.odp format)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Economy of Virtual Worlds by Edward Castronova

Edward Castronova (PhD, Economics, Wisconsin, 1991) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the father of economic analysis of virtual worlds and has numerous publications on that topic, including Synthetic Worlds and Exodus to the Virtual World. He delivered the keynote address for the Washington and Lee School of Law symposium Protecting Virtual Playgrounds: Children, Law and Play Online.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gold Farming illegal in China?

According to the official news release of Ministry of Commerce the People's Republic of China:

China has unveiled the first official rule on the use of virtual currency in the trade of real goods and services to limit its possible impact on the real financial system.

The government also spelled out the definition of "virtual currency" for the first time, which includes prepaid cards of cyber-games, according to a joint circular from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce Friday.

"The virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services." it said.

More references and comments:



Virtual goods news

Law of the game



Play no evil

and CNBC video:

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Friday, May 22, 2009

MacArthur Foundation enters the Metaverse

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Virtual Worlds and the Law at Metanomics

How emerging case law and legislation will affect the future of virtual worlds?

Discussion with the participation of prof. Robert Bloomfield and James Gatto took place yesterday on Metanomics islands.

you can also watch the video here

to read the transcript click here

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Notes on the State of Cyberspace

Quite interesting interview with David Post, one of the most original thinkers about the Internet and digital culture, the author of the widely acclaimed new book "In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace".

The example of fraud in Second Life starts at 05:30.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taser International, Inc. v Linden Research Inc.

On April 17, 2009 Taser International Inc. filed a lawsuit against Linden Research Inc. and others containing various trademark infringements. Taser claims unauthorized sell of virtual versions of its electric stun guns. The company seeks damages in excess of $75,000. The list of defendants is strictly related to Linden Lab and covers not only entities like Virtuatrade, LLC (the former owner of XStreet SL) but also individuals (generally Linden Lab's management).

The complaint alleges that Linden Lab and others are engaging in conduct which is damaging to Taser’s reputation and hurting its sales. Taser also claims that its brand will be damaged via association with virtual sex and virtual drug use occuring within Second Life. One of the businesses that makes Taser replicas (The Newman Group) does a trade in an urban role-play called The Crack Den.

The suit is entitled Taser International Inc. v. Linden Research Inc., 2:09-cv-00811, and is venued in the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix). The case will be heard by the federal judge Roslyn O. Silver.

It is the first time a major company has sued Linden Lab for infringement which occurred in Second Life.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't be an outlaw

With a reference to the previous post...

...It has been hailed as the art form of the 21st century.
...It is redefining music videos.
...And reinventing the videogame.
...It might be the future of cinema.

But there's a catch: if you make machinima, you might be breaking the law.

Register now at

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Machinima Law Conference

Play Machinima Law is a two-day conference that will explore a series of key issues relating to what is often called "player-generated" or "user-created" content based on digital games or created in game and virtual worlds. Experts from the major players in the digital game arena, lawyers, practitioners, and academics will convene at Stanford to discuss the legal issues associated with gameplay in regards to user-generated content, machinima, and game-related practices.

date: April 24 - 25, 2009, 8:00am - 5:00pm

location: Stanford Law School

sesions: link here

agenda: link here

speakers: link here


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The end of the Polish Republic

After eight months the Polish Republic ended its existence cause of financial reasons. This great machimina made by Ayumi Cassini shows the history of that unique self-governmental community of Polish residents.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gaza protest


Monday, March 23, 2009

The feudal world of Second Life

It would be difficult to deny the claim that the closest real life analogy to the "land ownership system" in Second Life is the old-fashioned feudalism.

Second Life even sports a parallel to feudalism’s hierarchical chains of subinfeudation. Several large commercial operations purchase entire Regions from Linden, landscape and subdivide them, and then rent or sell plots to users. Like feudal lords, these “land barons” play a major role in dispensing justice related to landownership. Many of them impose “covenants” on their land, such as a prohibition against running businesses from virtual homes. Tellingly, users upset at a neighbor’s violation of the covenant must look to the land baron for recourse; Linden Labs has no involvement in these local disputes. Similarly, Linden stays out of seignorial disputes between these (land)lords and their tenants. Whereas offline landlords are expected to rely on the state when evicting recalcitrant tenants rather than self-help, Second Life land barons have no recourse but self-help.

Written by: James Grimmelmann, Virtual World Feudalism, 118 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 126 (2009),

Image by Torley



A few words on issues of privacy in the context of virtual worlds with an excellent comparison to the prison.

The essential irony of virtual worlds is that populations seeking to build new lives away from the public eye are moving into an environment that is subject to constant surveillance. Virtual worlds currently operate like Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison. The Panopticon permitted a single guard in the center of the prison to monitor all of the prisoners. The same degree of surveillance exists in virtual worlds. The denizens of virtual worlds are constantly under surveillance by “game gods,” the private companies that design, maintain, and administer virtual worlds. The game gods then must comply with government requests for call details, wiretaps, stored chatlogs, and other business records. The result: game gods’ cameras are on all the time and the footage reaches law enforcement and the intelligence community.

Written by Joshua Fairfield, Escape into the Panopticon: Virtual Worlds and the Surveillance Society, 118 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 131 (2009),


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Real banking coming to virtual worlds

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) has granted a license to conduct banking activities to Entropia Universe developer MindArk PE AB's wholly owned subsidiary Mind Bank AB.

According to the company's official statement:

Mind Bank AB will be the first bank that fully incorporates real money transactions with activities in a virtual world. Milions of transactions can be processed by the bank for further transer to MindArk and the virtual universe. Mind Bank will also offer selected bank services to customers on the conventional market

More info: link here


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The rule of law

Participation in virtual communities is said to be governed by the contractual documents written by the proprietors and 'agreed' to by the participants. In a system where governance is controlled by contract, then the limits of contract are essentially constitutional principles. Where, then, can we find the limits that we will impose on contractual governance?

Very interesting analysis by Nic Suzor.

Full post: link here


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Understanding Islam

Some of Metaverse Law's readers may remember in-wolrd presentation of self-govermental project called Al Andalus Caliphate. Here is great machimina about Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds and some similar initiatives including Al Andalus.

More info about the project:

Full video: link here

Paper: link here


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cross-world IP rights infringements

Two interesting articles was published recently:

1. Trust Revisited: Content Creation Theft and Open Source Grids:

Very detailed story of legal issues related to transfering work form Second Life grid to Openlife grid.

2. IMVU Avatars “stole” my eyes (textures):

Vint Falken's story of Creative Commons licensed pictures published on Flickr and used in IMVU.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Security of Virtual Worlds

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) released an interesting position paper on some of the concerns associated with virtual worlds. The report published in November 2008 is entitled:

"Virtual Worlds, Real Money: Security and Privacy in Massively-Multiplayer Online Games and Social and Corporate Virtual Worlds"

Link here

ENISA an EU agency created to advance the functioning of the internalmarket. The agency is a centre of expertise for the European Member States and European institutions in network and information security, giving advice and recommendations and acting as a switchboard of information for good practices. Moreover, the agency facilitates contacts between the European institutions, the Member States and private business and industry actors.

The report identifies 12 recommendations to tackle some of problems:

To the European Commission and National Governments (Government Policy Recommendations)

1. Support the setting up of an industry wide forum for MMO/VW service providers to share information and best practice on security vulnerabilities. In such a competitive sector there is a clear need for a neutral forum to exchange information on security incidents for the benefit of all concerned. Given its mandate to foster a culture of information security and bring together stakeholders in Europe, ENISA would be in a good position to stimulate such an initiative.

2. Fund work on legal clarification of key issues, such as the status of intellectual property, acceptable risk and personal information in MMO/VWs. Although this is not an information security issue per se, a lack of legal clarity is at the root of many information security problems identified in this report and therefore an effort to address this issue by appropriate bodies should be part of the solution. NB: This is not a call for extra legislation but only a call for clarification and interpretation of existing legislation.

3. Encourage and fund independent dispute resolution for player-to-player disputes.

4. Create financial procedures appropriate to MMO/VWs in order to prevent virtual asset theft using chargebacks. Again, this is not an information security issue per se, but it is a root cause of the information security problems identified in this report. This should be in partnership with MMO/VW providers, banks, credit companies and online payment services.

5. Investigate and address MMO/VW provider concerns about conflicting obligations brought about by legislation on common-carrier status.

To MMO/VW providers

6. The five most important technical issues to be highlighted in this area (see full report for more details) include item-duping, end-to-end security and MMO/VW specific denial of service. In general, providers should create an appropriate balance between security measures aimed at detection and response and those aimed at prevention.Detection and response is often a more effective means of addressing security issues in MMO/VWs than prevention.

7. Privacy policies should clearly specify data collected as part of anti-cheating measures and data available to other users (eg, via eavesdropping), including any information which might identify a user uniquely.

8. Providers should consider charging a token, returnable lodgement fee for all ODR complaints to prevent false complaints (eg,€50).

9. Any initiative which increases the strength of user authentication (while maintaining an appropriate balance between usability and cost) should be encouraged.

10. We recommend a standard set of governing documents and terminology, a single point of reference where governing documents may be obtained, and the input and participation of end-user groups in their design and development.

11. As an option formore security-conscious users, in certain MMO/VWs, a bootable CD image (LiveCD) containing necessary software can be made available; this is already a well-known measure to improve security in critical online operations such as online banking.

Awareness raising and research

12. Awareness raising: We describe issues to be highlighted in awareness raising campaigns, such as how to detect account theft, how to deal with inappropriate behaviour, privacy risks, in-world property risks, etc.

Research: The group has identified some future trends emerging in MMO/VWs which have important security implications, including effective content filtering for MMO/VWs, security and reliability issues of open world formats, and security vulnerabilities in corporate worlds.



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