Copyrighting an Imagination: Why Reforming Laws in a Virtual World is Critical Today


Second Life has attracted millions of users and dollars. It has created a new economy. A new breed of business people are conversing and exchange dollars over software code. Second Life is just one example where people in the “real world” are finding new ways to interact with one another. Yet, these interactions are not all positive. Cases of copyright and trademark infringement have appeared within the game. There has been more than one major lawsuit that unfortunately settled. The virtual world law is still unsettled and Congress and the courts must act. Like the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the stock market in the real world, Congress may need to find a solution for those infringements that will cost businesses millions of dollars.

This article explores solutions Congress or courts could fashion to prevent major losses of money and intellectual property. The law has not kept pace with the technological advances that occur on a daily basis. Virtual worlds are an area that needs reform. The antiquated titles fifteen and seventeen of the United States Code may need be enough to protect someone from acting freely and protecting their own property. This needs to change. Courts are unlikely to decide anything because cases will settle due the enormous impact any decision would have on the game makers. Therefore, Congress should step in and begin the process of finding a way to regulate the economy.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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