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Second Life Land MapThis edition of VB’s Reading Room features a new, notable paper on virtual property by recent Columbia Law School graduate Daniel Gould. The paper is entitled Virtual Property in MMOGs (.pdf).

In the paper, Gould argues that recognition of a limited set of virtual property rights would benefit both users and virtual world companies, and sets forth both legislative and case law-based paths to that recognition.

From Virtual Property in MMOGs:

For a statutory solution, a dual sovereignty approach modeled on the Indian Civil Rights Act is advanced, in which most disputes would be adjudicated in-world. For common-law expansion with respect to virtual land in particular, it is advised to adapt a model from existing real property forms, such as a fee simple with reversion, a long-term lease, or a housing cooperative.

Gould covers the key arguments for the existence of virtual property in the first half of the paper with particular focus on the Bragg case, but it is the latter half, where he looks at various paths toward legal recognition of virtual property, that really jumps out as innovative.

The paper is a working draft, and Gould would very much appreciate constructive feedback.

On a personal note, I have to say that I’m really pleased to see that the paper footnotes the first paper hosted in VB’s Reading Room, Kevin Deenihan’s “Leave Those Orcs Alone” (now also available at SSRN). VB’s Reading Room is designed for exactly this purpose — to make new papers, particularly papers that haven’t yet been widely distributed, broadly available to the growing field of attorneys and scholars interested in virtual law. If you have a published or unpublished paper you’d like to have hosted here, drop me a note.

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