Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


virtual property, virtual economies


This article considers property created and used in the virtual realm of video games, which is often given real- T world value. From the unauthorized copying of designer clothes sold on Second Life for in-game cash, to real court damages awarded against game operators’ deletion of player-earned swords on Mir 3, a bridge has been taking shape from video gaming’s virtual economies to real-world economies. However, virtual property created in virtual worlds has yet to be formally recognized by North American courts or legislatures. This article attempts to touch on some of the legal considerations paramount in determining how such property can or should be governed. Virtual property shares many of the characteristics found in tangible property, and it is possible that it could be treated, at least in a legal sense, similar to tangible real-world property. Moreover, virtual property can carry both physical and intellectual property rights. While video game developers generally retain these rights via online agreements, policy reasons may have emerged for lawmakers to consider when deciding how to treat virtual property under these agreements. Property rights in virtual property are currently being recognized by some foreign legal bodies and North American courts and legislatures have also begun to deal with this novel issue. In response, some video game developers are taking new approaches to the rights granted to players in respect of the use of virtual property.