Virtual Justice

Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds (Yale University Press 2010)

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This is my book on virtual property, virtual community regulation, and various other aspects of avatar-based technologies.  While much of the book is specific to virtual communities, much of it is applicable to Internet-based communities generally. 

Here’s the publisher’s promotional summary:

Tens of millions of people today are living part of their life in a virtual world. In places like World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Free Realms, people are making friends, building communities, creating art, and making real money. Business is booming on the virtual frontier, as billions of dollars are paid in exchange for pixels on screens. But sometimes things go wrong. Virtual criminals defraud online communities in pursuit of real-world profits. People feel cheated when their avatars lose virtual property to wrongdoers. Increasingly, they turn to legal systems for solutions. But when your avatar has been robbed, what law is there to assist you?

In Virtual Justice, Greg Lastowka illustrates the real legal dilemmas posed by virtual worlds. Presenting the most recent lawsuits and controversies, he explains how governments are responding to the chaos on the cyberspace frontier. After an engaging overview of the history and business models of today’s virtual worlds, he explores how laws of property, jurisdiction, crime, and copyright are being adapted to pave the path of virtual law.

Virtual worlds are becoming more important to society with each passing year. This pioneering study will be an invaluable guide to scholars of online communities for years to come.

And here’s the table of contents:

CHAPTER 1 Law
CHAPTER 2 History
CHAPTER 3 Landscape
CHAPTER 4 Regulation
CHAPTER 5 Jurisdiction
CHAPTER 6 Games
CHAPTER 7 Property
CHAPTER 8 Hackers
CHAPTER 9 Copyright

Please note that I wrote this book for lay readers, not legal academics.  Hopefully, it will be accessible to readers without legal training and informative to lawyers that don’t know much about virtual technologies.  It has an extensive bibliography with cites to more traditional legal materials, which may be helpful to lawyers practicing in this area.