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Legal Issues in Virtual Worlds: intellectual property, content regulation and governance

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  1. Legal Issues in Virtual Worlds: intellectual property, content regulation and governance Dr Melissa de Zwart School of Law University of South Australia

  2. Should public policy frameworks be adapted to support use of virtual worlds? If so, how? Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  3. Key issues: • Intellectual property • Content regulation  • Governance • Service provider as ‘manager of communities’ (Humphreys) Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  4. Governancethree key stakeholders: • Government • Service provider • Users/players/residents Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  5. Problems: • Regulation via intellectual property model • Tendency (at least in Australia) to over-regulate • Lack of understanding/ perception that not all vws are alike: intellectual property, privacy, content, rmt, ethics … Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  6. Potential governance mechanisms: • General law (common law, statute) • EULA • Rules • Code • Norms Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  7. Complex relationships between various aspects of governance: • Blizzard v MDY (US District Court, 2009) licence to use the game software subject to the user’s compliance with the EULA and ToU • EVE: destruction of the Band of Brothers alliance Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  8. Classification wrangle in Australia: • Classified as a computer game: Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 • Classified as Internet content: Broadcasting Services Act 1992 • Distinction between content and communication • Self-regulation eg social networking Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  9. Regulation must: • Be sensitive to the particular needs of the relevant vw community • Recognise that not all vws are alike • Reflect importance of community norms and enforcement mechanisms • Reflect diversity of users/individual experiences • Reflect importance of network as an organising agency Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  10. National governments should: • Support the development of vws by creating consistent, supportive frameworks • Avoid fragmentation of the user’s experience • Require the service provider to have an accessible, transparent ToU • Govt  service provider  citizen Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA

  11. Melissa.dezwart@unisa.edu.au Dr Melissa de Zwart, UniSA