U.K. website bitrealty.com (which appears, primarily, to resell real-estate domains) is running a bizarre, but oddly compelling, futuristic virtual property law hypothetical set in “Third Life.”
Once you get past the Guy Noir-ish purple prose (the real estate attorney is “highly intelligent and powerful,” and her avatar is “beautiful and shapely”), you’ll find that the post raises some good virtual law questions in a fairly accessible way. I’d not be surprised if it attracts some interesting comments.
Here are a few excerpts from the post to get you started:
It is the year 2030 and the laws regarding virtual real estate are up for grabs. Fred is a 26 year old human male living alone within the secure confines of New York City. Like most young people in 2030, in order to escape reality, Fred spends a large part of his real life plugged into the electronic grid, immersed in massive multiplayer virtual environments and economies, and inhabiting a virtual character with a separate identity….
…Another aggressive virtual land speculator was a highly intelligent and powerful real estate attorney named Aria, who lived in San Diego. Through alter ego in Third Life, a beautiful and shapely female avatar named “Athena”, she had been acquiring land in 100 acre parcels for over 15 years. As a legal scholar, skilled programmer and seasoned technology intellectual, Aria had realized early on that, while the laws and rules governing virtual land ownership in Third Life, and elsewhere online, were still being defined, they were clearly taking the shape of centuries-old real property laws that had been created in England, but that had been widely adopted and practiced in the U.S. and elsewhere….
…If the implications and rights in the title and/or deed to virtual property reasonably resembled that of a real property title, why then should virtual real estate ownership be any different than in the real world? To some extent this was a rhetorical question: she was confident that, in the end, there would be no difference at all.
At the end, the post poses some good questions, including: “Do you believe that virtual property matters should be played out in a virtual court as opposed to a real world scenario?” and “Should real property law concepts such as adverse possession apply in virtual property environments?”
I think these questions are going to be answered much sooner than 23 years from now, but in my book, you get a little artistic license when your protagonist is a “legal scholar, skilled programmer and seasoned technology intellectual” named Aria, who has “pictures of her beautiful avatar Athena sunbathing in different areas of the parcel in question.”
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