November 10, 2009
Can the Rule of Law Exist in Virtual Worlds?
West Virginia law prof Michael Risch's Virtual Rule of Law, 112 West Virginia Law Review 1 (2009) [SSRN] is the first article to consider whether virtual worlds provide a rule of law that sets expectations for virtual business. From the abstract:
The article finds – unsurprisingly – that virtual worlds now lack many of the elements of the rule of law. Which aspects fail is more surprising, however. Provider agreements and computer software, the sources of regulation that are most often criticized as “anti-user,” provide the best theoretical hope for achieving the rule of law, even if they currently fail in practice. On the contrary, widely proposed “reforms,” such as community norms, self-regulation, and importation of real-world law face both theoretical and practical barriers to implementation of the rule of law in virtual worlds.