February 4th, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
There is a notable new paper on virtual law from Farnaz Alemi running in the current issue of UCLA’s Journal of Law and Technology. The article, An Avatar’s Day in Court: A Proposal for Obtaining Relief and Resolving Disputes in Virtual World Games, reviews a number of in-world incidents which will be familiar to VB readers, ranging from the Anshe Chung animated genitalia attack to the EVE Online EIB scam, and then outlines a proposal for an in-world dispute resolution system. Alemi, a 2007 graduate of Northwestern, is with the law firm of Latham & Watkins.
From the article:
Game developers, then, should also incorporate into their EULAs and game design relief system that will temper avatar deviance and increase overall player satisfaction. After all, almost every other facet of the real world is playing out in virtual worlds. As such, this paper introduces a virtual court system for virtual game worlds. The system is not a policing mechanism, but more of a discretionary forum for avatars to actively seek justice and equity when they have been wronged.
Though I don’t agree with everything here (particularly, I don’t view scams in EVE online as “crimes,” nor do I view the defacing of John Edwards’ in-world fan-site campaign office as “terrorism”) the main point is a good one, and the article is thought provoking. It is well worth your click.
Alemi gave me a heads-up on this last week, but recent gold farming lawsuit developments (I wonder if the system she proposes would work against them…) took precedence this weekend. Dan Hunter’s post on the article at Terra Nova this morning reminded me, so a hat tip is in order.
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