January 1st, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
Welcome to 2008! I’m not sure if it’s my inner litigator telling me to avoid going on the record with things that can make me look foolish, my inner philosopher telling me that the calendar change from December to January is a pretty arbitrary construct, or my inner skeptic telling me that predictions are just parlor tricks, but for whatever reason, I’ve been reluctant to do the traditional blogger’s New Year’s predictions, so I put it off until now. That all said, I’m pretty immersed in this stuff at the moment, as I’m doing a comprehensive editing pass on Virtual Law (slated for publication in April) so predictions are dancing through my head like last week’s visions of sugar plums. Besides, I’ve got a mountain of paper here, and I want to put off working on New Year’s Day for a few more minutes.
Toward that end, here are ten predictions for virtual law over the next year.
1. A major virtual world or game provider will be named in a class action lawsuit for failing to enforce its terms of service.
2. At least one country will block access to Second Life, citing content that violates local law.
3. The SEC or a foreign securities enforcement group will declare the sale of shares of virtual world companies for virtual currency an act covered by securities laws.
4. A virtual world featuring gambling will go online, with servers based in a gambling-friendly jurisdiction.
5. A state bar association will issue an ethics opinion on virtual world activity.
6. A congressional committee will investigate money laundering and terrorism-related activity in virtual worlds.
7. A virtual world’s chat log retention policy will spark resident protests.
8. The IRS or a foreign tax collection entity will issue a bulletin, notice, or written determination that income made in virtual worlds is taxable.
9. There will be a lawsuit between virtual world users claiming breach of contract and fraud.
10. A free-form virtual world featuring a true currency (e.g. the provider accepts liability for outstanding currency) will be announced.
Agree? Disagree? Think I’m completely nuts? Add your own to the comments, and I’ll credit any that you nail in posts next year.
I’ll look back at 2007 and wax nostalgic later in January, when VB celebrates its first year anniversary, but for now, I do want to briefly thank all of VB’s readers for giving me and the other VB writers your attention over the last year. Editing VB has been a lot of work — much more than I imagined — but also an enormous amount of fun. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
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