Virtual Property and Virtual Currency

Authored by: Brandon J. Huffman

The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999251
eBook ISBN: 9781315658445
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315658445-33

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Abstract

Video gamers spend hours playing games, finding and sometimes purchasing items (sometimes rare), designing custom items, architecture, and cities for virtual people to live in, but seldom question what rights they have to the items they find, create, or purchase. This essay explores the labyrinth of law surrounding virtual property, gamer’s rights, and the risks that game developers and publishers face when they include transactions that allow in-game purchases. It addresses what happens when gamers use real-world money to buy in-game resources; who owns the intellectual property rights to when property created in-game has copyright or trademark implications; and rights of publicity. It looks at real-world situations whereby criminals use in-game currency to launder real-world money; when real-world bank securities or consumer protection agencies may be interested in in-game activities. Finally, it considers when in-game loot boxes may be considered gambling and real-world laws apply.

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