Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Regulating the Virtual World Without External Assistance

Brendan James Gilbert, University at Buffalo Law School, SUNY, & SUNY at Buffalo School of Management, has published Getting to Conscionable: Negotiating Virtual Worlds' End User License Agreements Without Getting Externally Regulated. Here is the abstract.

Currently, virtual world governance is the product of end user license agreements, contracts which attempt to provide a complete legal and enforcement system to the virtual world. This method of governance is flawed, however, and results in participant frustration. Alternative approaches that have been advanced so far include governmental regulation, which has begun in some countries. However, numerous pressures and precedent resist such an application in the United States. The following argues against keeping just the license agreements as the body of law, and also against a wholesale shift toward governmental regulation.

Instead, a compromise -- establishing a standards-setting body of developers, referred to here as a virtual world council -- is the most efficient solution. This is a daunting task; however, numerous examples exist for the developers of virtual worlds to follow and they are explained below. The final proposed result is a two-tier system that retains EULAs with modifications as appropriate, and supports a common law approach rooted in standardization for resolving what EULAs cannot.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

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