[MUD-Dev] BIZ: Who owns my sword?

Ren Reynolds ren at aldermangroup.com
Thu Oct 2 10:57:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

26 September 2003 02:41 Jeff Cole wrote

> Actually, most important is how valuable are the objects of
> concern.

Great post Jeff !

I almost agree with everything you said. I certainly agree that we
need to get judges to understand what is going on in virtual
worlds. In respect of property I think they should largely cast
ideas of 'play' from their minds and think about value.

However, and this is where I would like to bring some other
considerations into it. I happen to think that in respect of avatars
they should look at values rather than value. This is because I
think that law (especially US law) has an over emphasis on
commoditisation - and to a degree this whole conversation is driven
by the same 'if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail'
assumptions i.e. we have economic value as the hammer and virtual
items as the nail.

I think that this line of argument causes problems. A lot of what I
write here is about what I think happens when you try to squeeze
virtual items into current IPR law. I don't think that many of the
consequences are necessary anything that anyone wants, I just think
that they are the correct interpretations of current law.

With avatars (and to a lesser degree virtual items) I'd rather work
from the ground up. I think this is the line Raph was taking in his
declaration of rights. While I don't agree with all of it, I think
it's the right direction to travel.

On thing I've been musing on what would happen if we incorporated
avatars. Make them legal entities very like companies. They could be
owned and they could own things. They could be bought, sold,
inherited and stolen.

Though I'd really like to take the more radical step and say what
the bundle of values that we (that's companies and players and
society generally) have about avatars - bundle this up in rights and
remedies - and that's what avatars would be. Forget IPR, copyright,
works etc - let's just legally call them avatars.

But until enough people ascribe enough value (economic) and values
(social, civil etc) I don't think we have a hope of this.

Ren www.renreynolds.com
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