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American Bar Association Virtual Worlds and Multi-User Online Games Committee Starts Its New Year

This month, the Virtual Worlds and Multi-User Online Games Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Science & Technology Law is starting its new year. If you are not familiar with the VWMOG Committee, its mission is “To provide legal analysis, discussion, and education of issues presented by virtual world environments and multi-user online games.” ABA bar groups have an annual calendar revolving around the ABA Annual Meeting in early August or late July each year. Accordingly, the VWMOG’s new “bar year” is just underway.
The VWMOG Committee has created publications, such as Benjamin Duranske’s pathbreaking book Virtual Law. Stay tuned for a new edition of the book. In addition, the Section of Science & Technology Law’s quarterly magazine, The SciTech Lawyer, published a couple of issues focused on the Committee’s virtual worlds articles. Also, the Committee has held joint continuing legal education programs with the ABA IP Law Section’s Committee on Computer Games and Virtual Worlds and the SL Bar Association. Finally, the Committee’s speakers have given talks at conferences such as the Engage! (Virtual Worlds) Conference and Expo.

For the new bar year, the Committee will focus on intellectual property issues involved with virtual worlds and multi-user online games, contract issues, and consumer protection issues. Copyright litigation is increasingly common in this field, and some suits involve trademark issues as well. The Committee may focus on contract issues arising from the drafting and interpretation of providers’ terms of service. Finally, consumer protection issues may arise from providers’ conduct in terminating or suspending accounts, or fraudulent schemes in virtual worlds.

The Committee hopes to collaborate more this year with the International Game Developers Association, the International Bar Association, and the SL Bar Association. Possible areas of collaboration include a live continuing education program or teleconference, as well as possible new articles for The SciTech Lawyer.

If you are interested in learning more about the Committee, contact its chair Mark Methenitis. More information about the Committee is available at its website, where you can join the Committee, as well as the ABA, if you are not already a member.