Stephen S. Wu-- SL: Legal Writer,, (408) 573-5737, 50 W. San Fernando St., Ste. 750, San Jose, CA 95113

Presentation at Suffolk Law School

On February 12, 2009, I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting a program entitled “Virtual Worlds and Real Life Legal Issues” at Suffolk Law School. I was attending the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting in Boston that week. Attorney Stephen Hollman, an alumnus of Suffolk, arranged a series of talks at Suffolk by members of the American Bar Association Section of Science & Technology Law. I was one of those members having an opportunity to address the students at Suffolk. I hope that more law schools will create programs and classes to discuss virtual worlds legal issues.
During the program, I touched on many of the themes expressed on this blog and website. For instance, I discussed on the impact of the 3D Internet on work, the legal system, the practice of law, and legal issues. Developments on the 3D Internet are taking place at a time of advancements in the technology of computing, interfaces, and the power of computers. We are moving towards more and immersive virtual environments, and during our lifetimes, we are likely to have fully immersive synthetic environments.

All of these technology developments will lead to changes in the law concerning virtual property, intellectual property rights relating to virtual worlds, governance of virtual worlds, the sovereignty of virtual spaces, and abuse and torts taking place in virtual worlds. In the Bragg v. Linden Research case, the court stated that the “case is about virtual property maintained on a virtual world on the Internet.” The court recognized and assumed that property rights could exist relative to virtual objects. In the fullness of time, we are likely to see more cases fleshing out the contours of virtual property rights. In the meantime, commentators make educated guesses as to developments in the law we are likely to see.