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

Welcome to the 3D Internet Law Blog

It’s inevitable. We’re in the process of moving from a 2D Internet -- one like magazine pages, with maybe some video, audio, and animation -- to an immersive 3D Internet. You may have heard of the Second Life® virtual world, a service of Linden Lab in San Francisco. It’s the most prominent virtual world in use, but there are others -- There(sm) and Entropia Universe®. All of these virtual world Internet applications let users control on-screen characters, called “avatars,” that walk in and around what seem to be buildings, stroll by the lakeshore, fly through the air, and ride virtual vehicles. The technology powering these virtual worlds has a lot in common with multiuser online games, such as World of Warcraft®, EverQuest®, and City of Heroes/City of Villains®. Regardless, it is just a matter of time before business 3D Internet “sites” or applications are just as common as 2D websites.

With the adoption of the 3D Internet comes new legal issues -- and we’re just beginning to see what they are. For instance, do items of virtual “property” constitute legally-recognizable property, with rights and obligations that go along with property law? What happens when conduct in games or virtual worlds infringe -- or at least appear to infringe -- intellectual property rights? What governments or sets of courts have jurisdiction over behavior in 3D Internet applications? All of these legal questions, and many more still await definitive answers.

In the meantime, we have only limited legal precedents, statutory law, and regulations to guide companies hosting 3D applications, businesses establishing presences in virtual worlds, and users. The hosting companies have created their own private law by way of contract through their online “terms of service,” which they hope will be enforced in court. Public and private law, however, still leave many gaps, and many legal questions remain unanswered.

I welcome you to this website and blog. In these pages, I hope to fill in the gaps in the law, and provide some information and thoughts concerning the direction of the law.

Before I close my first blog here, I would like to thank Benjamin Duranske, the author of a terrific new book entitled Virtual Law, for his foresight in creating his blog, Virtually Blind, and essentially pioneering a new practice area for lawyers -- virtual law. In fact, he wrote a fantastic book on the subject, called Virtual Law. He also had a forceful op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal recently, calling on the mainstream media to recognize the advent of the 3D Internet. Ben, and two other pioneers, Sean Kane and Cristina Burbach are doing a great job with their Virtual Worlds and Multiuser Online Games Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Science and Technology Law. I thank them all for their enthusiasm and service to the Section.

Steve Wu
August 31, 2008