MMORPGing - The Legalities of Game Play

Kim Barker

Abstract


MMORPGs[1] are big business; large numbers of people engage in some form of online gaming experience. Given the prevalence of such virtual spaces there is an increasing awareness that disputes can, and often, do arise about property and rights in online games.

 

Online games and MMORPGs are governed by EULAs. Each user is required to consent to the EULA of the particular game or world they seek to use. EULAs are not the only problem for the users of MMORPGs. Contractual allocation of copyright prevents users selling their in‐game property, game accounts and avatars to other users. Users had sought to sell game accounts and in‐game assets on online auction sites until developers prevented gamers from doing so.

 

Gaming and MMORPG disputes are appearing before courts in the real world; Bragg v Linden Labs, BlackSnow v Mythic and Hernandez v IGE are just three examples concerning property rights and contractual issues in Virtual Worlds and MMORPGs. There are a host of legal issues raised in relation to properties and rights in cyber spaces, although the most interesting concern the contractual nature of restricted rights and the limitations on intellectual property granted to users. This paper seeks to explore some of these, and briefly outline the potential options for alternative mechanisms, including consideration of the intellectual property rights of both users and developers in light of the recent US judgement in MDY Industries v Blizzard Entertainment concerning copyright infringement.


[1] Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games 


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