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What rights should we have to our virtual goods?

Shawn Schuster

Are you aware of your property rights as they pertain to the virtual goods in your favorite MMO? Are you aware of the laws in your country as they pertain to virtual goods? Heck, do you even read the EULA?

It seems like these lawyer-speak agreements are becoming more prevalent lately, as we impatiently click the 'agree' button in anticipation of playing the latest MMO. In fact, even older games are reinstating their EULA on the loading screens, forcing players to click through before entering their world. The reason for this basically boils down to inevitable litigation as gaming grows in popularity.

We've all heard the story about the guy in China who got his virtual sword stolen, then proceeded to stab the thief when the Chinese government did nothing about it. This prompted China to enact new laws concerning player rights concerning virtual goods, based on the time and effort put into earning these virtual goods. The United States has kept their distance from anything like this, but when (take note, we didn't say if) someone gets shot irl over their WoW Raid gear, you can bet that something will be done about it. Sure, plenty of cases have come to court over virtual goods, for example the now-infamous Bragg vs Linden case, but when violence comes into play, it changes the rules a bit.

So what should our rights, as players actually be? Should we simply say that the developers own all virtual property and we have no claim to any of it, or should our invested time and effort actually have a concrete value? Let us know what you think!

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