Who Owns the Virtual Items?

By: Leah Shen

Do you WoW? Because millions of people around the world do! Due to this increased traffic, virtual wealth amassed in MMORPGs are intersecting in our real world in unexpected ways. Virtual goods have real-life values and are traded in real-life markets. However, the market for trading in virtual items is highly inefficient because society has not created property rights for virtual items. This lack of regulation has a detrimental effect not just the market for virtual items, but actually the market for MMORPGs. Assuming we want to promote the production of MMORPGs as a market, society requires a set of distinct property rules to decrease the inefficiencies in the virtual market. In creating these regulation, we may be able to take cues from intellectual property laws, as many of the problems surrounding virtual goods are akin to intellectual property.

Cite: 2010 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 011

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