I never gave licensing much thought, but after reading Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds I now understand how serious and unfair content creators act in creating their own licensing terms and agreements. The author of this blog, Shenlei Winkler, points out that those who develop SecondLife are changing their own terms of agreement for their users who originally agreed to other terms. This is not okay because the original terms were the one’s that were not only accepted by the user, but those original terms were the ones legally licensed whereas the new terms were not. Also, in more situations than not, licenses are created by the content creators, not lawyers who are the ones truly responsible in the creation of legally acceptable terms and licenses. Content creators are acting out of their boundaries. Winkler goes on to discuss about a group of American Bar Association lawyers who are creating a set of legal templates for content creators to start their own agreements. This will be incredibly important and beneficial for all as appropriate and correct terms will be agreed upon.
In the next article, The Laws of the Virtual World, it discusses the virtual world and how it is almost an extension of real life. It talks about the virtual world as being another world anyone can escape to with their family and friends and practically have another life online. In your virtual world you can do the same things with your avatar you can do in real life – socialize, interact, have a job, ski, etc. The article then goes into two issue brought up with the environment of virtual worlds. First, do people actually own their property in virtual worlds or is it more of a virtual object? The authors, Dan Hunter and Greg Lastowka, say that when comparing objects in the real world to the virtual world, they are indistinguishable in terms of value. This I found extremely interesting because I do not have the most serious view of virtual worlds and view them as merely an activity or hobby and not necessarily another life, but I suppose there are people out there who take their virtual life just as serious as their real one. Second, was the issue of avatar and their moral rights. Since avatars are truly an extension of a human being, then avatars rights should be the same as human rights. I now see how these two issues raise legal awareness for online usage. With the increased use of online life, the law is now taken into account since people are increasingly interacting with one another.
All in all, the legal complications with virtual worlds is really opening up my eyes to how serious the virtual world is becoming. It is no longer a place just for fun and games, but a place some people are investing their life in and their rights must be extended to their virtual environment.