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

Washington Lawyer Article on Virtual Worlds and MMOGs

Recently, writer Thai Phi Le wrote a Washington Lawyer magazine article entitled “Virtual Reality Meets Real-Life Law.” She interviewed me and other lawyers who practice in the area to write a thorough article on different real-life legal issues surrounding virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games. I commend her article to you, which you can view here. Read More...

The 3D Internet is Coming

I read an interesting article entitled “Intel Guru Predicts a 3D Internet in Five Years.” The article talks about some of what I have said here, which is that the true 3D Internet will couple 3D online spaces with 3D interface technology. For a copy of the article, click here. Read More...

Bar Leadership Call to Action

Two weeks ago, I spoke at the Bar Leadership Institute at the American Bar Association. The BLI is an annual meeting that brings together presidents-elect of state and local bar associations from around the U.S.

I had an opportunity to present to these bar leaders about changes to come in the kind of law we as lawyers will practice in upcoming years. I left the group with a call to action to start a national dialogue concerning science and technology law issues. I will, as part of this effort, education bar leaders about virtual worlds and the legal issues surrounding them.

For a copy of my letter to the bar leaders attending the conference, click here. Read More...

Arizona State Program on Governance in Virtual Worlds - March 26, 2010

On March 26, 2010, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University will hold a half-day symposium on the governance of virtual worlds. The program will discuss issues arising from businesses and governments using virtual worlds. The program is available live, on the web, and on Second Life. Click here for more information about the program. Read More...

Teaching Virtual Worlds Law Again

Last summer, I had the privilege of teaching Virtual Worlds Law with Benjamin Duranske at Santa Clara University Law School. I am excited to announce that I am in the process of setting up another summer session with the law school to teach the course again. We have seen a number of developments in the area since last summer, most notably the Eros v. Linden case. And I believe that Ben and I will be honing the course offering to make it even better this year. Read More...

SL Bar Association Holds Mini-Conference on "Practicing Law in a Virtual World"

On Saturday, November 14, 2009, the SL Bar Association held a mini-conference entitled "Practicing Law in a Virtual World" hosted by the University of Florida's Fredric G. Levin College of Law on Gator Island in the Second Life® virtual world The speakers included leaders within the SL Bar Association. The purpose of the confefrence was to introduce both practice issues and substantivie issues of practicing law in a virtual world, in the context of discussing career paths for law students. For more information about the conference, click here. The SLBA will soon post a video of the conference. Read More...

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. Read More...

Applause for Benjamin Duranske

From January 21, 2007 until December 2, 2008, writer Benjamin Duranske served the 3D Internet legal world with his blog Virtually Blind with dedication and energy. On December 2, Ben made his final post on his pathbreaking blog, and announced his new position as an attorney with the Silcon Valley office of Pillsbury. I applaud Ben for his hard work and sharing of legal information concerning legal issues in virtual worlds and multiuser online games. We will miss his blog, but look forward to his future publications. Read More...

American Bar Association Journal Article on Virtual Worlds

I am pleased to announce that the American Bar Association Journal’s October 2008 issue contains an article about virtual worlds. The issue should be arriving in people’s mailboxes soon. I am one of the attorneys quoted in the article. The article talks about:

Insurance for Virtual Worlds Businesses

I received an email the other day that contained a very interesting question. The person asked my opinion as to whether it would be a good idea for virtual worlds businesses to obtain insurance. The person had in mind companies like The Electric Sheep Company. I wrote back to say that obtaining insurance is a good idea, and there may be some general insurance products out there that virtual worlds businesses can consider. Unfortunately, however, I don’t believe the market for insuring virtual worlds risks is mature enough yet to have virtual world-specific coverages. A number of factors are barriers to carriers rolling out virtual world-specific coverages today. Read More...

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