"With the adoption of the 3D Internet comes new legal issues—and we’re just beginning to see what they are. For instance, do items of virtual 'property' constitute legally recognizable property, with rights and obligations that go along with property law? What happens when conduct in games or virtual worlds infringe—or at least appear to infringe—intellectual property rights? What governments or sets of courts have jurisdiction over behavior in 3D Internet applications? All of these legal questions, and many more still await definitive answers. In the meantime, we have only limited legal precedents, statutory law, and regulations to guide companies hosting 3D applications, businesses establishing presences in virtual worlds, and users. The hosting companies have created their own private law by way of contract through their online 'terms of service,' which they hope will be enforced in court. Public and private law, however, still leave many gaps, and many legal questions remain unanswered. This blog will address the legal issues involved in virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games and answer some of those unanswered questions."
Author: Stephen S. Wu practices at Cooke Kobrick & Wu in Los Altos, Calif., and is president of the SL Bar Association in the Second Life virtual world, where his avatar is “Legal Writer.” Wu also serves as chair-elect of the American Bar Association Section of Science and Technology Law and co-authors eDiscovery, Digital Evidence and Cybersecurity Law.