Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Making the Case That Virtual Property Is a Bad Idea

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the contrarians-just-can't-get-along dept.

Role Playing (Games) 184

pacergh writes "Many legal commentaries on virtual property argue that it should exist. Others argue why it can exist. None seem to explicitly spell out what virtual property will look like or how it will affect online worlds. Lost in the technology love-fest are the problems virtual property might bring. The Virtual Property Problem lays out a model for what virtual property might look like and then applies it to various scenarios. This highlights the problems of carving virtual property out of a game developer's rights in his creation. From the abstract: '"Virtual property" is a solution looking for a problem.' The article explains the 'failure of property rights to benefit the users, developers, and virtual resources of virtual worlds.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056011)

Whether or not you 'own' anything in a game or on a server is already defined on a per game or site basis. Slashdot says I own my comments. Star Wars Galaxies' Terms of Service says Sony owns my items and characters. I have an account but I don't 'own' the virtual things that Sony puts in the game.

The paper starts out with two real world analogies:

Imagine owning Fenway Park. You sell tickets to Red Sox games. These tickets allocate seats in Fenway to individual spectators. Some of these tickets are sold by the entire season â" guaranteeing the same seat to the buyer for each game of the season.
Season ticket holders are able to renew their purchase each year. Some have done so for years and years and years. Others have had their tickets passed down amongst family members. The tickets once owned by a grandfather are now owned by the grandson.
These season ticket holders have put tremendous time and money into being able to sit in these same seats each year for each game. Should these fans be granted a property right in their seats?

If the people who sold them to you signed a contract saying you were building some sort of equity by buying those seats year after year, then you have that. That's not the case and they could probably drop your right to them for next year when they decide to resell everything in a lottery or auction. Tough luck for you if they get greedy. If you don't like it, stop buying Fenway Park tickets. Americans love to have a sense of undeserved entitlement and this is no different. Next analogy:

Now imagine living near a city park. You and a number of residents have taken it upon yourselves to help beautify the park. You plant grass, replenish flower gardens, and repair jungle gyms. The park is now a jewel in your city because of your effort.
The city, however, has decided to sell the land to a property developer. Despite your wishes, and the wishes of your friends who helped beautify the park, there is nothing you can do to stop the sale. Should you have a property right in the park you spent so much time restoring?

Again, you don't have anything in writing so you're out of luck. If you didn't realize what you were doing to begin with, you're a moron. You didn't own the park in the first place and sprucing it up doesn't give you any ownership of it. Cleaning my neighbor's yard doesn't entitle me to it; cleaning public property doesn't entitle you to it. Get a petition or run for election to change things. You don't own it because you cleaned it. Unfortunate how things played out but there it is.

In World of Warcraft, I feel I 'own' Ampere on Thunderlord server but Blizzard's Terms of Use [worldofwarcraft.com] sets me straight:

Ownership. All rights and title in and to the Service (including without limitation any user accounts, titles, computer code, themes, objects, characters, character names, stories, dialogue, catch phrases, locations, concepts, artwork, animations, sounds, musical compositions, audio-visual effects, methods of operation, moral rights, any related documentation, "applets" incorporated into the Game Client, transcripts of the chat rooms, character profile information, recordings of games played using the Game Client, and the Game Client and server software) are owned by Blizzard or its licensors. The Game and the Service are protected by United States and international laws, and may contain certain licensed materials in which Blizzard's licensors may enforce their rights in the event of any violation of this Agreement.

(emphasis mine) I know I feel the right to him but Blizzard owns it. This has always been laid out for me and this paper is pointless in arguing for virtual property rights or against them. If you own them, they will say (like Slashdot). If you don't own them and you want to, find another game or site. I don't understand how the paper mentions EULAs (specifically Blizzard's) and then goes on to ignore them being a governing contract. The issue ends there, folks. The paper seems more concerned with the markets that have popped up to satisfy users who want to buy gold or accounts. Again, the EULA states that you aren't buying anything. You're paying money to someone else in order to access something that is Blizzard's. How this author went on a 33 page 'analysis' about this, I'll never know.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056039)

Slashdot says I own my comments. Star Wars Galaxies' Terms of Service says Sony owns my items and characters.

Personally, I find the entire concept of someone saying they own your stuff to be strange. Or, indeed, someone else saying they don't own your stuff.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (4, Informative)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056087)

Slashdot says I own my comments. Star Wars Galaxies' Terms of Service says Sony owns my items and characters.

Personally, I find the entire concept of someone saying they own your stuff to be strange. Or, indeed, someone else saying they don't own your stuff.

It's called a rental. Why do you think you have to send them money on a monthly basis.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057107)

I think you have Sony's work on their game in mind. We're talking about PLAYER'S contribution to games in general, and USER's contributions to websites in general.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (2, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056393)

Personally, I find the entire concept of someone saying they own your stuff to be strange. Or, indeed, someone else saying they don't own your stuff.

Personally, I find the entire concept of unconditional ownership strange.
Where there is a scarcity of objects to be "owned", ownership should follow usage -- if you don't use it, you should lose it. Society isn't enriched by hoarding.
In a digitial world, however, there is no scarcity of resources as such, and anything can be duplicated effortlessly and for almost free. What does ownership matter then?

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (0, Troll)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056639)

Human civilization has a long and ignoble history of the "entitled class" creating artificial scarcity even where there is no scarcity of resources as such, in order to further enrich themselves and to consolidate power. Why would you expect the digital world be any different?

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056713)

In virtual worlds, "game economics" apply. The rules of soccer could, for instance, state that "Each team shall automatically receive infinite points and be declared 'King of all Cosmos and Universal Omniwinner." If that actually were the case, though, the game wouldn't be worth playing. In the virtual context, scarcity is artificially created(for that matter, every property of an object is artificially created) for the purpose of making the virtual environment more entertaining, interesting, or pedagogically useful.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057489)

In virtual worlds, "game economics" apply. The rules of soccer could, for instance, state that "Each team shall automatically receive infinite points and be declared 'King of all Cosmos and Universal Omniwinner." If that actually were the case, though, the game wouldn't be worth playing.

That's nonsense, though. I know that this is how many people feel who grew up in capitalist economies, me sometimes included, but it's still nonsense that won't make you happy. See, the game would be still worth playing because for the actual players it's about playing first and foremost, not winning or making money.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057021)

Problem with this:

I don't actively use my electronics in my basement. It's been years since the Atari 2600 has been hooked up, but I'll likely be hooking it up in the next couple of months now that I have moved to a bigger place.

When, exactly, does my ownership of those objects suddenly end due to lack of use, and who comes to take them away from me (and how do they know to take them from my home? What if they take the wrong things?). Absolute ownership is the only thing that works... See: American Indian concept of not owning land versus settlers concept of ownership... American Indians didn't believe anyone owned any land, so when it became difficult to keep others off their hunting grounds, they moved to keep the peace. The settlers ended up pushing them into a corner (yes, oversimplified and missing the gory details, I know!).

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057519)

Seems to me that the Indian system worked better and the settlers' system is the broken one, but that's me.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056103)

Honestly: Thank you for explaining to me exactly WTF the article was trying to say.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056131)

What if the EULA stated they had the right to harvest your kidneys? Do you think that make it legal? It's still an issue for the courts to decide if that clause is legal and therefore enforceable or not.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

Pechkin000 (1304249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056235)

What if the EULA stated they had the right to harvest your kidneys? Do you think that make it legal? It's still an issue for the courts to decide if that clause is legal and therefore enforceable or not.

If you enter in a legal contract that stipulates that someone has the right to harvest your kidneys, then they have that right. Notice I said Legal contract... meaning it has to satisfy the law, therefore if its a legal to sell your kidneys under the conditions stipulated in the contract, then its invalid and yeah it would ultimately be up to the court to decide, otherwise, yeah they can harvest it

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056343)

If you enter in a legal contract that stipulates that someone has the right to harvest your kidneys, then they have that right. Notice I said Legal contract... meaning it has to satisfy the law, therefore if its a legal to sell your kidneys under the conditions stipulated in the contract, then its invalid and yeah it would ultimately be up to the court to decide, otherwise, yeah they can harvest it

So you're saying its legal to havest someones kidneys if its legal? I never would have guessed.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056697)

This was all covered quite some time ago by Monty Python [youtube.com]

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056231)

"Again, you don't have anything in writing so you're out of luck. If you didn't realize what you were doing to begin with, you're a moron. You didn't own the park in the first place and sprucing it up doesn't give you any ownership of it. Cleaning my neighbor's yard doesn't entitle me to it; cleaning public property doesn't entitle you to it. Get a petition or run for election to change things. You don't own it because you cleaned it. Unfortunate how things played out but there it is."

In this case, or in the case of similar analogies, you are correct. However, it is worth noting that in a fair variety of times and legal systems, there has actually been explicit legal recognition of a form of property rights transfer that does occur along these lines.

Adverse possession is perhaps the most notable example, various flavors of homesteading are also similar, as are(in some jurisdictions) laws pertaining to squatters. The case you give seems fairly clear cut; but the broader issue to which it is related has, historically, not been so, nor has it always been decided along the lines you propose.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

babywhiz (781786) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056241)

Well, what if I pass away, and I want my account/toon to be maintained by someone else...such as a close friend.

Are you saying that in my will I can't say that 'x friend' has full access and can do as they please with my toon? (As opposed to my kids, who will just delete the character and cancel the account)

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 5 years ago | (#29058127)

Thats what the Character Transfer Service is for, now you can even transfer your houses in your datapad!

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

MaerD (954222) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056273)

Interesting about the ownership in WoW.. Aren't you a licensor by agreeing to the license?

I don't have any real illusions about who owns things, but it is an interesting legal question...

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056443)

you would be a licensee, as one to whom use of a license is given. a licensor is one to whom the right of distributing licensing is given. Of course, this could be all smoke and mirrors as the spell checker doesnt recognize licensor as even being a real word

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (4, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056301)

Actually... There is something called "squatters rights" or Squatting [wikipedia.org] . So in the case of the residents taking care of the park for years, they would have a legal claim of ownership, at least in some states. There are also property laws in regards to "right of way" or Easement. [wikipedia.org]

The important quote from the article:

In common law, through the legally recognized concept of adverse possession, a squatter can become a bona fide owner of property without compensation to the owner. Adverse possession is the process by which one acquires the title to a piece of land by occupying it for the number of years necessary, dictated differently by each state. A necessary component of this transfer of ownership requires that the landowner is aware of the land occupation and does nothing to put an end to it. If the land use by the new occupant goes unchecked for the said number of years, the new occupant can claim legal rights to the title of the land. The occupant must show that the "possession is actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, under cover of claim or right, and continuous and uninterrupted for the statutory period."[53]As Erin Wiegand notes, the most difficult part of claiming adverse possession on the part of squatters is the continuous part. Squatting is a very transient lifestyle and many are evicted on a frequent basis. [54] In an article regarding recent foreclosures in the United States, a current squatter in Miami stated of her housing, "It's a beautiful castle and it's temporary for me, if I can be here twenty-four hours, I'm thankful."[55] Thus, while adverse possession allows for the legality of a squatter's situation, it is not easy to win a case of adverse possession.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056425)

Wonder where the 'original' ownership came from; the first 'owner' of a particular piece of the world ...

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (-1, Redundant)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057351)

"Obama will EAT your BABIES ! It's true, because it was on FOX !"

Carrying on more Bush policies I see.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056839)

So in the case of the residents taking care of the park for years, they would have a legal claim of ownership, at least in some states.

No, I don't think so. They don't appear to be excluding the city from the park, nor do they seem to have ever claimed the park as their own until the very end; they're just donating caretaking services to the city.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

mrisaacs (59875) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056843)

Squatters' rights are not universal and vary from place to place. In some locales the test is harder than others. In most squatters' rights can be challenged. None of the examples in the article clearly indicated a case where squatter was involved.

In the case of season tickets - you're essentially a leasee, and subject to the terms of whatever rental contract you have with the actual property owner - you can be "evicted" w/o refund and have privileges revoked for a variety of causes. Read the fine print on the tickets.

In the case of "beautifying" a park - there have been cases where such actions have lead to charges of vandalism and destruction from the property owners - in my home town such unsanctioned beatification has often lead to removal of the modifications or even chain link around the property in order to avoid event the whiff of a squatter case. Even in the event where changes are sanctioned by a locality there is no guarantee the local authorities won't decide to sell or alter the property after you've invested considerable time and effort.. There are usually caveats when the permissions are given. They may allow you to use the property or even alter it, but will not relinquish ownership and disposition rights.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056895)

Of course squatters are evicted on a regular basis. If they weren't, they'd end up owning the property!

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29057003)

IANALY - Here's my take, you need to show "adverse" possession. I would argue that giving someone an effective 20-year license to the seats (for example if they had continued to purchase seasons tickets for 20 years) would not meet the "hostile" requirement that the occupant must show.

I'm sure there are also many other counters to the "Squatters Rights" argument at common law.

I love bending the interpretation of the law as much as I think you might, but I don't think this one will work.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057061)

You aren't countering his point. He was saying you don't own something unless you have something in writing that legally says you do. You stated a law that might give some squatters rights in some states. Therefore, they have it in writing that they have some legal rights (just as the GP said). So you are just nitpicking something dumb without adding anything to the conversation.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

themib (315187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056319)

I think that the World of Warcraft example really hits home for many people. (Partially due to it's market saturation.) We don't have to like it, but this sort of things is routinely included in EULAs and has been for a long time. Maybe people should learn to read them, and maybe companies should make them less legalese and more readable by the common folk. :)

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056571)

just because it's written in a EULA or TOS, doesn't mean it is legal, or that it would hold up in court...

don't believe everything you read, especially from people trying to make money offa you.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056575)

Now imagine living near a city park. You and a number of residents have taken it upon yourselves to help beautify the park. You plant grass, replenish flower gardens, and repair jungle gyms. The park is now a jewel in your city because of your effort.
The city, however, has decided to sell the land to a property developer. Despite your wishes, and the wishes of your friends who helped beautify the park, there is nothing you can do to stop the sale. Should you have a property right in the park you spent so much time restoring?

Again, you don't have anything in writing so you're out of luck. If you didn't realize what you were doing to begin with, you're a moron. You didn't own the park in the first place and sprucing it up doesn't give you any ownership of it. Cleaning my neighbor's yard doesn't entitle me to it; cleaning public property doesn't entitle you to it. Get a petition or run for election to change things. You don't own it because you cleaned it. Unfortunate how things played out but there it is.

I find this part funny. A while ago, the city I live in had a strike by union city workers, and it went on for a while, so the local residents of a neighborhood got together and cleaned up a small patch of earth in a local park with some flowers (pulled weeds, removed dead plants, replaced them with live plants). When the union heard about it, some of their members went there and destroyed that area, and the union claimed it was done because the 'workers' that performed the work were non-union.

Then, after a whole batch of negative press over them doing this, some of their members went back on (supposedly on their own time), and re-planted the area.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056589)

It should be pointed out that some of the WoW terms of use aren't enforceable: "transcripts of the chat rooms" "character names" "applets incorporated into the Game Client" "recordings of games played"

Transcripts of the chat rooms seems the easiest to strike down. The argument I'd use is that it's not material to the service, it disproportionately disadvantages the client party for no good technical or business reason, and Blizzard offers no compensation for what may be something of considerable value. It seems especially promising that, unlike the character/game aspect that could fairly be covered by similar terms, chat -basic text communication- is extensively protected by various communication acts.

Character names is ludicrous. You can't own a word, unless you register it as a trademark, which is restricted to actually trading under it.

"applets incorporated into the Game Client" is none of their business. If someone writes a Lua addon and drops that text file into a WoW directory, it doesn't automatically become blizzard's property. This is one of those fine-print contract clauses like "any paint cans you bring into the garage we're building you automatically become ours", which is just ridiculous.

Recording of games played.. hm well they might have a claim to the game's art (maybe even the interface if they really stretch it) but that's a copyright claim (i.e. you can't distribute), it doesn't mean they literally own the video file on your hard drive.

I like this sentence from wikipedia:

Typically, such a contract is held to be unenforceable because the consideration offered is lacking or is so obviously inadequate that to enforce the contract would be unfair to the party seeking to escape the contract

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29057167)

If the people who sold them to you signed a contract saying you were building some sort of equity by buying those seats year after year, then you have that. That's not the case and they could probably drop your right to them for next year when they decide to resell everything in a lottery or auction. Tough luck for you if they get greedy. If you don't like it, stop buying Fenway Park tickets. Americans love to have a sense of undeserved entitlement and this is no different. Next analogy:

Not next, your last point is stupid. If ballpark owners screwed season ticket holders there would be outrage and rightly so. Few would dispute ownership of the seats. The issue would be pissing off your biggest fans and power brokers in a city that may not only support but also directly subsidize your existence. I can go downstairs at fart at someone's desk LOUDLY. That is my right. Doing such is universally stupid, like your "point". This is a "should not do" issue not a "can not do" issue.

Re:It's Already Legally Governed, Drop It (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057293)

cleaning public property doesn't entitle you to it.

Actually, in some states this isn't true. The process is called "Homesteading [wikipedia.org] ."

In my home state, when property is laid out it is common to leave a "right of way" area to make sure public works can get to things like coulées to maintain them. This "right of way" area is technically owned by the local government, but they usually don't bother to maintain it unless someone complains. If a home-owner cares for the land, after a certain period of time they can extend their property line onto it legally, as long as some allowance was still made to ensure the work crews could still reach the area they needed to. For my grandfather, this meant he mowed the grass there for a few years, then he moved his fence back onto that property and just installed a gate big enough for a truck to drive through.

Now, other than that, I agree with you. It's Blizzard's ball, they can decide to take it and go home, no matter how much effort you put into playing with it or making it "better". It's all spelled out in contract and honestly should be common sense.

The only case I might disagree is if someone like Blizzard started laying claim to creative works that came out of your playing of the game... For instance, some really cool fantasy stories have come out of people's home-grown D&D campaigns. It'd be a real shame if someone took their character concepts from an MMO, developed a storyline [lfgcomic.com] from it that obviously took influences from the original work, but didn't actually infringe upon its copyright, and then found said company claiming that they now owned this "derivative" work because of some silliness in the EULA. Luckily for those guys, Blizzard doesn't seem interested in doing that... But I wouldn't put it past SOE, for instance...

Here's the case: (0, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056023)

Paying meatspace cash for items in virtual worlds is illogical and stupid.

I bet the increasing number of women and homosexuals playing online is what's fueling the sales of shit like capes and sofas. Instead of a sense of urgency and action killing monsters and going on raids, players are instead Jewishly hoarding and collecting fashion accessories. Don't forget to give week's allowance to Blizzard so you can buy one of the fabled turds of NecroNegro(tm)...each one is unique!

Now you have 20 virtual handbags and 100 virtual pairs of shoes. Good for you, you little snowballs!

Re:Here's the case: (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056173)

I see what you did there. Have trouble keeping the lint off your black shirt?

B b b but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056041)

...it's only a copy

IP (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056059)

What about "intellectual property" (an unusual choice of words given that most discussion of it these days seems to involve Hollywood movies or the audio output of the likes of Britney Spears).

Re:IP (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056491)

What about "intellectual property" (an unusual choice of words given that most discussion of it these days seems to involve Hollywood movies or the audio output of the likes of Britney Spears).

It's a disingenuous choice of words in the US, where you don't OWN the work you have copyrighted. You merely have a "limied time" monopoly on its distribution before it goes into the public domain, which is the reason put forth for giving Congress the power to grant patents and copyrights.

It also says "authors and inventors", meaning that the copyright laws that say that recorded musical performances are "works for hire" are unconstitutional. John Lee Hooker was the author of "House Rent Blues", not his record label. And nowhere does it say congress has the power to pass a law saying that copyright can be passed on to his heirs.

Copyright is an incentive for authors and inventors to come up with original works that will benefit society. Art, like science, is built on what came before, and the insane copyright lengths and idea that these works are somehow "property" stifle creativity.

It's existed for a long time (3, Insightful)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056063)

All software everywhere is virtual property. All databases are virtual property. All the information on a database is virtual property. Your WOW charatcer is an entry in a database. It belongs to someone. This is not a new idea. There's just a lot of argueing over who owns what.

Re:It's existed for a long time (4, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056483)

Your bank account's balance is an entry in a database.

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056603)

Paper money is a collective delusion (it is a useful one, but money is only worth anything if you can exchange it for something with intrinsic value).

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056731)

Intrinsic value is an individual delusion. Value varies from person to person, food is more valuable than shiny gems to somebody who is starving.

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056803)

That's clever, but there is a difference: if I have $5 and you decide that it isn't worth anything anymore, I don't have anything. If I have 5 pounds of grain and you decide that it isn't worth anything anymore, I can still eat it.

(said comparison takes place on a desert island or something, where there aren't a bunch of other people involved. Put down that knife, I am not a tasty meal.)

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056641)

exactly....
and if the bank goes out of business tomorrow, guess what.... "your" money is *poof* gone...

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056735)

Not in the U.S. (under certain limits anyway, large accounts can substantially disappear), all U.S. banks are required to participate in the FDIC, usually the accounts are simply transferred to another institution (under some arrangement with the FDIC).

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057657)

Not in Germany, it would take the state to go bankrupt to void a savings account.

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056545)

My medical record is under my control despite being in others' databases, but I suppose that's a specially legislated 'virtual property' right.

Re:It's existed for a long time (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056615)

It'll be trickier than that, though. A virtual object's value is derived, more or less, from its "scarcity context": that is, within the confines of a given virtual environment(swords in WoW are not worth less just because CoD2 has guns), how many copies of the item exist, how hard it is to make new ones, what percentage of the population has one, or has something better, or has something worse, how likely it is that you will lose your copy, etc.

This isn't too different from real property, which is also affected by scarcity, complementary and substitute goods, etc., except for one crucial detail: In a virtual world, basically all elements of the "scarcity context" are purely matters of choice and under the complete control of somebody. In the real world, the scarcity context can change; but it is possible to make reasonable inferences about how it will change(because changes require scientific advances, political changes, market movements, or the like). In virtual environments, the scarcity context is entirely dictated by the whim and pleasure of whoever controls the virtual environment.

This makes "ownership" more complicated. If, for instance, Ford could change the color, passenger capacity, cargo room, and gas mileage of any car, by any amount, at any time, what it means to "own" a car would be quite different. In the virtual world, every single item is like that.

Re:It's existed for a long time (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056673)

All software everywhere is virtual property.

Well yes, in a sense, all intellectual property is virtual property, but then look what's happening to intellectual property. It's having to fight to keep its value high by creating artificial scarcity of copies of that IP. There's no natural scarcity anymore, at least not for creating new copies once the first copy is created.

Your WOW character may technically belong to someone, but there's no natural limit to how many times he could be replicated. On the other hand, insofar as scarcity is maintained artificially, there's no assurance that your character won't just evaporate one day and complete cease to exist. How much value do you want to assign to an asset like that?

Metaverse from Snow Crash (2, Interesting)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056089)

Of course the value in virtual property by itself is not worth much. It's trivial to add another server to expand the property available. What is more valuable is the property's relation to other properties. In Snow Crash there was the Metaverse with a virtual city. It was mentioned that the most expensive property was at the center where all the hip places to hang out (as well as the geek/wealthy neighborhoods). At the other side of the world there was lots of emptiness - suggesting that the property value, while in supply, was not in demand.

Re:Metaverse from Snow Crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29057089)

Good example.

Here's another one. Take a site like Google. "Real estate" in high demand/value would be an advertisement on their main search page. It's not so much due to scarcity of resources, but relative position in regards to where people traffic. It bears a lot of similarity to real property, as in the business motto "location, location, location". The big difference is that with virtual property, the ONLY part that matters is its "location", where in real life property has value in of itself.

It's not a failure of property rights (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056141)

It's that traditional property rights law and jurisprudence is overkill. The companies that run these services are more than competent at adjudicating disputes between users, and should be the ones doing it since the "goods and services" neither really leave their company property, nor can exist outside of their property/products.

One of the reasons the law is so fubared is because everyone wants everything laid out in advance, in exacting detail. Well, between that and the unwillingness to accept the arbitration of mediators, elders, family, neighbors, etc. is why society is so litigious. It is now de rigueur to immediately start lawyering up because the only authority that most people will truly accept is the government and its courts.

Re:It's not a failure of property rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056201)

It's not that people won't accept the authority of anything else, it's that if they don't like the "ruling", they can keep going up the food chain and asking a "higher" authority to settle it. Since the Federal government is the supreme law of the land in the US, it should come as no surprise that things eventually end up at that level. Now, one might argue that people "jump" right to an end-game scenario rather than "try" the more local authorities, but is it truly an unwillingness to deal with them or simply an acknowledgment that the likelihood is that whoever loses will simply up the ante anyway?

Virtual Property is an old concept (4, Insightful)

popo (107611) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056185)

Stocks, Pension plans, Intellectual property rights, Bank accounts -- all of these things are virtual.

We can try to pretend that they represent something tangible -- but that tangible thing is only a piece of paper which in turn, represents the intangible.

When we talk about "virtual property" today, we're talking about something very similar: a right or access to something intangible which you control.

This is a very old concept. Some might say, "yes, but this property has no bearing on the 'real' world". But this is a shortsighted argument, and one that any insightful person can see will become increasingly blurry with time.

The only thing that makes "in game" property different is that the "right" or "access" exists within a framework and/or platform which in turn is the intellectual property of another/larger entity.

But virtual property has always been a "good" idea, and it isn't anything new.

Wait, stock is real property (4, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056363)

When you buy stock in a company, as a stock owner, you are a partial owner of all land, factories, office buildings (and any other facilities owned by the corporation), furniture, equipment (vehicles, manufacturing machines, etc) that company owns. All that stuff is quite tangible. I can go touch a building, and if I own stock in the company that owns the building, then I (in part), own that building.

As to your main point, virtual property in the 'game world' sense is different. How? You might theoretically 'own' a particular instance of a building in a game, but you most likely do not own the artwork which represents that building (models, textures, shaders, etc), nor the game server in whose memory it resides, nor even the client running on your machine (remember kids, you *license* software copies, you don't *own* software unless you wrote it or payed someone else to right it for you as an employee or contract work-for-hire and have the paperwork to document that fact).

I have a hard time saying you own *anything* if everyone else owns the stuff it's made up of. That's like saying you own your house, but someone else owns the land under your house which you rent, and the materials your house was constructed from (so they could take back the 'materials' any time they wanted).

Do you really own your house if someone else owns the land and materials?

Re:Wait, stock is real property (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056679)

That's like saying you own your house, but someone else owns the land under your house which you rent,

Try this: stop paying your property taxes.
You'll find out very quickly just who owns the land under your house.

There's also the matter of mineral rights, which you more than likely don't own.

Re:Wait, stock is real property (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057145)

Well, the government, in effect, owns the land, and if you don't pony up the dough, they can take it away from you. Also, "eminent domain" = they can take it if they want to. But trust me, I still own my house. If you try to take my stuff from my house, or try to live in my house, I will call the cops and have you arrested for trespassing.

Re:Wait, stock is real property (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057683)

"but you most likely do not own the artwork which represents that building (models, textures, shaders, etc), "

Not entirely true in the context of SecondLife type setups

You can in Photoshop/Gimp/whatever create your textures (and in some cases in some programs like Blender or AC3D create the models)
and then upload to the SL server and build an in game item.

You most definitely "own" those items created and the assests used to build them (and could file DMCA takedowns over them).

Holder in fee simple (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057853)

That's like saying you own your house, but someone else owns the land under your house which you rent

In common law countries, the government owns all land. People who hold real estate in fee simple [wikipedia.org] in the United States, for example, pay a rent called "property tax" to the county.

Re:Virtual Property is an old concept (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056591)

But virtual property has always been a "good" idea, and it isn't anything new.

Yes, but in the past, virtual property was generally some kind of representation of real property somehow. Stocks are "virtual property" except that they represent ownership in a real company. If that company goes out of business and they liquidate all their assets, your stocks will still be worth some non-zero amount of money, which represents the value of your share of those liquidated assets. We could shut down the stock exchange and, insofar as you still own shares of ownership of various companies, those stocks are still worth something. If, on the other hand, one of these games shuts down their servers, there's nothing.

Now I'm not saying it's as simple as that. As long as people are perceiving value in "virtual property" and are willing to pay for it, there's going to be some kind of economy about it. But still, it's not quite exactly the same as the "virtual property" that we're used to.

Re:Virtual Property is an old concept (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057059)

Some might say, "yes, but this property has no bearing on the 'real' world". But this is a shortsighted argument, and one that any insightful person can see will become increasingly blurry with time.

Could somebody mod me insightful so that I will understand?

Alternatively, I will settle for an explanation.

Re:Virtual Property is an old concept (2, Informative)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057081)

The simplest example of this is money or check, which is virtual in the sense that it represents a promise.

Re:Virtual Property is an old concept (2, Interesting)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057197)

Umm, my bank account doesn't pretend to represent something tangible. It does represent something tangible. I can go in and get stacks of $100 bills any time I want.

When we are talking virtual property, one example is your MMORPG characters. I can't withdraw anything from Blizzard without violating the ToS since it belongs to them as is clearly stated. In this instance, this property has no bearing on the real world (at least in the sense that I have no rights to it). If it did, then I would be taxed on my loot from Ulduar. That would be stupid. And unless a game is set up to do real world money trade with its consumers, it should stay that way.

It annoys me that you state your arguments as "any insightful person can see". Virtual property is only blurry when you talk about it in a general sense. When you are talking about a specific instance, it shouldn't be blurry. It should be stated in the legal documents what rights you do and don't have.

Re:Virtual Property is an old concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29057443)

Nope. Let's throw out the one that's not like the others 'intellectual property rights". Stocks, pension plans, bank accounts all have a defined monetary worth at any period in time and although they are represented by a number on a screen or a piece of paper, they can all be consistently transferred to cash. Even though the title to a car is "virtual", I still own something tangible, the car.

As far as 'intellectual property rights" go you only "own" those because our government defends you ability to make money off of them based on exclusivity. Can you stop me from using your intellectual property rights? Nope. Not if I use it under fair use. There is no "fair use" clause for pension plans (although unions would argue that point).

All I want is one or the other. You want it to be property; you pay taxes on it like everyone else. That's right. You want your "sword of 1000 truths" or "second life" island to be property, expect to claim it for tax season.

Wrong kind of properties to explore here. (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056249)

Virtual property may have a tangible value in a few circumstances, which are mostly tech-dependent; But rather than list hard rules, let's give some examples where there's a real cost;

The Domain Name System (DNS). The system has the constraint that only certain combinations of words or letters are easily remembered. For example, "www.fjoi323r9023vvnd.com" fails the test, while "www.buy-my-cheap-useless-crap.com" is not. The limits are mostly due to limitations of language, human memory, and legal considerations (ex. trademark and copyright law). As a result of this -- a domain name can have a real, material cost.

IP Address space. ipv4 doesn't have enough available addresses to account for every device that can/will be/is connected to the internet. It's a finite resource. This is a technical constraint caused by early planning decisions and the cost of infrastructure upgrades. Once that limit is met, the laws of supply and demand state that a price-point will be established. The infrastructure won't be upgraded until the cost of those IP addresses exceeds the cost of the upgrade to a different protocol (ipv6) -- despite the fact that most equipment today is capable of transitioning. The real cost is administrative, not technical.

Examples where "virtual property" is entirely or largely artificial; MP3s. Videos. Multimedia. The cost here is in terms of licensing -- the cost of storing and using such intangibles has almost no economic cost. Examples where "virtual property" is explicitly limited to create a cost point; Comcast, bandwidth restrictions, etc.

The problem isn't whether virtual property exists, or if it should exist (or not). The problem is that technical limitations are often used to justify the creation of an artificial market -- and in many cases this isn't due to entrenched infrastructure costs or a marginal need to upgrade or change it to remove those limitations, but rather is rather a deliberate act in order to monetize something that otherwise would have a marginal cost of near zero.

I would argue that virtual property is valid and needs some legal controls; But that laws should be carefully crafted to disallow constraints being intentionally created to create artificial markets. Changes in copyright law would address most of this problem. Changes in how our utilities operate and forcing businesses to set aside a portion of their profits for infrastucture upgrades (and then do so!) would solve most of the rest.

Virtual property is no bad idea. (2, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056251)

Because it *doesn't exist*!

There. I killed the whole discussion. ;)

Re:Virtual property is no bad idea. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056447)

There. I killed the whole discussion. ;)

It was a virtual discussion to begin with.

Why Virtual Property is a bad idea (3, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056283)

Any time you have good that is infinitely reproducible at negligible cost, it inevitably leads to a bubble, followed by a meltdown. The global economic meltdown just demonstrated that this principle was true for Credit Default Swaps; it was just as true for the Tulip Bubble and Internet Bubble. Any attempt to monetize virtual property will inevitably result in this same boom/bust cycle. That's good if your one of the first to cash out, but very bad if you wait until later in the cycle...

Re:Why Virtual Property is a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056405)

So it's a ponzi scheme.

Re:Why Virtual Property is a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29057139)

Money and stocks are infinitely reproducible at negligible cost. That's why these things are regulated.

Re:Why Virtual Property is a bad idea (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057613)

I am now eager awaiting the Project Gutenberg bubble, since it is easy to reproduce a good (like an electronic copy of Pride and Prejudice) indefinitely at a negligible cost. The meltdown should be interesting also.

Virtual Property and Online Games (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056295)

I've often wondered what would become of online multiplayer games if Player A were allowed to sue Player B for stealing his items while playing "in character" according to the rules of the game. It occurs to me such a thing would be very bad for the viability of online role-playing. As far as online games are concerned, I feel it's better if disputes over virtual property are left to be resolved within the virtual world itself, according to its own rules.

Re:Virtual Property and Online Games (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056799)

I want a virtual lawyer! Or a long, sharp virtual sword.

Sue crazy culture... (1)

space_jake (687452) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056313)

Last thing we need in a game is real world laws of ownership. Griefing, poaching kills, pvp, or whatever gets you subpoenaed because you destroyed someone's property.

If you support virtual copyright. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056325)

If software companies can copyright software, or images, or 3D models, then I should be able to copyright a game character. Just because one was designed in a 3D Object Designer software, and the other via a game system, does not make one more copyrightable than the other. Of course, I make that as a case-and-point to say that modern copyright needs an overhaul.

actually.. (1)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056629)

It does if one of those tools had a licensing agreement that said that it extends to derivative works... I know, becuase I wrote such a tool, and our companies attorneys made sure that I was explicit in the licensing who owned derivative works created with said tool. (This is especially important because of patent issues, etc)

What nonsense (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056329)

Imagine owning Fenway Park.

Virtual resources, however, do not exist in a state of nature.

At this point, I realized there would be no insight offered here. Just hype.

The idea of "property" is what people seem to completely ignore, choosing to focus on arbitrary topics that have basis in what their concept of ownership is built upon. The ownership of something as imaginary as invisible lines on a map should be broken down and examined, not serve as a starting point, not presented as a black box of assumptions to build baseless conclusions.

"Property" has a number of attributes (none of which conflict with "virtual property")

Property is defined.
Ownership is defined.
Ownership is enforced.
Property Ownership is validated.

The design and implementation of these aspects (the "how") is the only thing that is required to achieve "ownership" of a specific resource.

In the case of such imaginary/transient concepts as physical property lines, there are mechanisms for each. Same with patents. There is a strong case that the mechanisms are essentially subjective and ineffective for "virtual property" like ideas, but this runs contrary to commerical and institutional (laziness and incompetence?) interests, so it is unlikely to change.

Re:What nonsense (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057417)

Property relies on scarcity. Heck, our entire economy relies on scarcity. Ownership can only be effectively enforced when there is only one copy. For example, if I have a watch, it is going to be distinct and different in some ways than another watch, each watch is unique. On the other hand, virtual "property" lacks this quality. For example, you can define a entire virtual character in the following lines:

name: SomeName

attack: 5

defense: 3

hp: 200

level: 40

equipped: sword

Cloak

Staff

Duplicating that character is as simple as copying and pasting those lines, there is no scarcity. Any change to the "property" is simply typing in a new word or number. It is not unique and lacks scarcity and is therefore worthless.

A paste from a linden lab email (2, Insightful)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056331)

My account in second life was terminated due to billing issue.

That email states:
"What happens to your Second Life account holdings? When terminating Second Life accounts, we remove all associated holdings. There will be no refunds or exchanges for any unused time on your subscription, Island purchases, Linden Dollars, or inworld objects, items, or content."

The slightly longer explanation is was that my CC expired, which in turn forced me to "basic" membership with virtually no support rights.
If i'd owned virtual land then hundreds if not thousands could have been lost.
I know of one direct example. 6 sims x $195/month. Gone bill to billing dispute, and people see the tier(land tax) quickly exceed their saleable land value so just walk away.

I consider this article [wordpress.com] the definitive summary of how things can turn to custard very quickly.

Being a pioneer in a 3d world is risky and unfeasible.

Some games seek to simulate "real" life. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056357)

Some games try to simulate Reality, or a version of something not entirely dissimilar (wizards and such aside). Real life is characterized by objects that can only exist one place at a time. There is not an infinite supply of these objects. Insofar as a game attempts to simulate real life, then the notion of "virtual property" is not entirely devoid of meaning.

On the other hand, it's certainly overrated in some places. "Second Life" comes to mind. The objective of virtual property there, however, is not so much to simulate life as it is to aid in the enrichment of Linden Labs. The state of property there is pretty sad, and suffers from overcommercialization.

Just Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056373)

Great. People are not satisfied with the limits of traditional capitalism, so they have to expand it to the virtual world.
Is this were this is coming. People fighting for their virtual 'rights' while governments continue to fuck us in the ass on the real rights issues.

Real money is virtual (2, Insightful)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056467)

If you have direct deposit and a debit / credit card linked to your checking account, all your money if virtual property.
Not to mention the fact that the Federal Reserve System can create it out of thin air... it might as well be completely virtual.

Re:Real money is virtual (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056781)

it has been completely virtual ever since we left the gold standard....

Wife Thanks You All (2, Funny)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056513)

I was supposed to cancel WOW but I kept forgetting. This article reminded me and now my wife deeply appreciates the existence of /. (feel free to mod me OffTopic).

Property is theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056549)

that's all there is to it

Devaluation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29056621)

What happens when a arbitrary change in the game mechanics renders your property worthless?

Granted, similar sorts of things can happen to real property, but I have some legal recourse as well.

Whats the court going to do in a virtual world? Tell the developers that they can't make a game merchant accept orc teeth for services because it will render another players boar tusks useless?

It should exist, but... (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056623)

Punishment for violating virtual property rights must be domain-specific. If I got too clever in a game and ended up taking or damaging someone else's stuff, it's all right to forfeit my items (fine), suspend my account for a certain time (incarceration) or terminate my character and ban me from the game for life (death penalty). However people playing games shouldn't end up in real-world jail for getting caught up in the moment.

The only exception would be virtual systems specialized for tracking real-life assets such as banks and brokerages. In other words, something which is obviously not a game or social interaction medium.

Complete misunderstanding of the law (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056779)

Second Life grants its users the right to copyright their creations.

This is neither true nor relevant to the situation described in SL.

* In US law, you have a copyright in your creations when you create them, unless you grant that copyright to another. The Terms of Service in Sony's "Little Big World" state that to access the service you have to give up your rights in what you create, YOU grant YOUR rights TO Sony. The terms of Service in SL grant Linden Labs a right to your creations... Linden Labs isn't granting you anything... they are merely limiting the rights you grant them in the Terms of Service.

* The grant allows Linden Lab to use your works within the SL service. What they do with those rights is to set up a mini-economy based on a permissions model that controls the copying and transfer of objects in the game. The mechanism of duplicating objects in SL does not depend on a bug in the permissions system, but on the realities of copy protection in the real world... what you're doing is the equivalent of taping a song from the radio and selling copies of that tape out of the back of your car. The applicability of the law in this situation is clear, and it doesn't matter whether the so-called virtual property consists of two minutes of music or two megabytes of texture files.

This paper's analysis only applies to a situation where either (a) the content of the virtual world is only created by the game developer, or (b) where the terms of service require a transfer of copyright to the game developer. It's completely irrelevant to content in SL where real-life copyright laws are in play.

There is an analogy in SL, ownership of virtual land, but the existing case law is at best unsettled (Bragg vs Linden Lab [wikipedia.org] ).

Tax, insurance etc. (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056793)

Think of the taxes...insurance, what about ADA access. These are all things that can impact property of all sorts.

Virtual property not uniquely invaluable (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056821)

To those who say that digital property is meaningless and nothing but bytes in a computer, I ask this:

What is the money in your wallet but paper? What is the money in your bank account but bytes? What is the real world property you own but words on a deed?

It all comes down to how much you and others value it. There is no objective value to it.

Why virtual propert is not real property (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056873)

1. SQL*Plus: Release 10.2.0.1.0 - Production on Thu Aug 13 16:07:13 2009
Copyright (c) 1982, 2005, Oracle. All rights reserved.

Connected to: wow_prod_001
Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition Release 10.2.0.1.0 - Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP and Data Mining options

SQL> DELETE FROM player_inventory;
where oh shit!!!!1!!

2. Virtual property cannot be reconciled. With real property, there is a house, a dead a title, a MCO. There are physical things which exist beyond these paper instruments, or the paper is alt least redeemable for physical things. Your virtual property is an arrangement of bits on a platter or on a wire. Your transactions aren't logged and you don't get monthly statements.

3. The creation of real property involves the splitting or effort coming from an economy in order to make it. If you want a tire, there is an economy around the production of the tire. The tire is set at a market value, which is relative to its importance in the economy. Again, your virtual goods are nothing more than an arrangement of bits.
INSERT INTO player_inventory (itemname) value ('heavy_mithril_axe');

4. We can make virual goods into the real one, but that would actually cost something. Documenting all those statements and transactions would impose a real cost on conducting business on virtual goods, which would ironically give them a real-world cost. But his would also cause the operators to comply with laws of equity.

More Keesha from Big Brother pics. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056923)

Personally, I don't care if there becomes a legal definition of "virtual property", so long as I only have to pay virtual taxes on it.

Virtual vs physical Property (2, Insightful)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 5 years ago | (#29056935)

I can't help but think of the say "Possession is nine tenths of the law" or something like that. If the property is virtual then who has it in their hands? who can lick to get first dibs?

In the end, virtual property is neither good nor bad - it's ugly.

Unlimited supply, arbitrary value, abuse (2, Insightful)

Fearan (600696) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057045)

What I've always wondered about relating to virtual property is how its value will is decided on a large scale, and the potential risks for abuse. Virtual property has these 2 issues:

1. Unlimited supply -> Basically anything with unlimited supply should be a price point close to 0. Assigning an arbitrary value goes against the basic rules of an economy, where demand here will not dictate price. In some economies like WoW's gold economy, there is the appearance of limited supply, and value was derived according to this supply. This is fine as long as no one acts in greed and abuses the system.

2. Which brings me to my 2nd issue, abuse. The WoW gold economy is only good until an admin gives himself millions and starts selling it, now it's in Blizzard's best interest not to let this happen, but eventually some virtual property owner will be greedy and game their own system for profit.

What has been done in the past, and what is planned for the future to overcome these 2 issues with virtual property?

Everyone already deals with virtual property now (1)

Ravensign (134410) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057229)

How real is the money in your bank account?

The money that customers virtually paid your employer with a credit card, that was then virtually direct deposited to your bank account, that you will then use to pay your ISP for internet with by automatic monthly deduction, that they will direct deposit in their employees bank accounts...

How real is money really in a system like this?

Re:Everyone already deals with virtual property no (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 5 years ago | (#29058165)

You do not own the money in your bank account. The bank owns that money. What you own is a right to demand the bank honor its obligation to pay you that money. This is why people will make runs on the bank when deposits are not insured (such as FDIC insurance in the US).

This is a common misconception. People confuse 'ownership' with 'obligation.' What you really own in a bank account is a contractual right that allows you to demand your money.

IF Virtual Property THEN Virtual Damages (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057637)

Equating virtual property to real property is insanely stupid.

(a) Whose law is going to apply? You must remember that the law of the USA is not the law of the world. I don't think that any game host would want to touch that issue with a ten foot pole (at the risk of losing Korean, Chinese, Indian, or British players). I also don't think that most hosts would want people in their enviroments bartering with thirty page contracts. Making a Himalayan game player liable to a Chilean game player under Chilean law is beyond absurd.

(b) Which nation will pay to host these stupid lawsuits? I can see them lining up now--in the opposite direction.

(c) Property law is extremely evolutionary and very culture-oriented. The property law of one nation is often very different from that of another.

(d) Law is expensive--very expensive for both the public and the participants. It takes forever, in many countries, to get a civil case resolved. I think most people in a democracy or a republic would be quite upset if their tax dollars were used to resolve a dispute over whether your avatar defamed my avatar.

Think about the complex international problems involved in creating a virtual property law legal construct--and then engrafting that onto the widely varied property laws of all the nations on Earth. The cost would be ASTOUNDING!

And for what? So litigious, angry nerds can take their stupidity to another dimension (that somebody else is paying for)?

If you really want a resolution of your virtual disputes--set up a virtual forum witin the environment where the virtual dispute arose and take the (enormous) time and effort to administer that virtual legal system. It will be boring and stupid, but you will get a hell of an education about the legal process.

Me, I want to reserve the right to resolve my virtual contract disputes with a virtual six-gun on a virtual dusty street, somewhere in the virtual Wild West. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Patents are virtual property (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 5 years ago | (#29057951)

Patents are virtual property and already exist. So are derivatives and many other things people trade that don't really exist.

It's just a game! (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29058109)

It is not reality.
If you think it is, come out of your parents basement and get a job!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?