Virtual Law: Gaining Ground in Both Real and Virtual Worlds

While researching articles discussing virtual worlds (including both Internet-based games and social networking spaces) I came across an upcoming conference on virtual law. The Virtual Law 2008 Conference is being held April 3 – 4, 2008 in New York City in conjunction with Virtual Worlds 2008 which is running concurrently.


You would think by now these things don’t surprise me, but I have to admit being a bit “gob-smacked” when I came across this conference. Are there really enough lawyers practising in this area to build a whole conference to address it?

Digging a bit further, I learn that the American Bar Association Section of Science and Technology Law has even created a new committee on Virtual Worlds and Multiuser Online Games.

In addition to multiuser online games such as World of Warcraft and casual immersive worlds such as Second Life and Club Penguin, there are also numerous virtual interfaces being created by companies to help build networks/communities around businesses and products, both publicly from their websites and privately.

I suppose, then, that I should not be that surprised. Again, I am interested to see how this develops. I hope some of the attendees blog about the conference so we may learn more!

Some related links:

Virtually Blind – blog on “virtual law/legal issues that impact virtual worlds” – edited by writer and IP lawyer Benjamin Duranske

Video Game Law Blog – from Davis LLP in Vancouver

Canadian Firm Opens New Office in Second Life
– Slaw report on Davis LLP

Second Life Bar Association

Virtual Worlds – The New Legal Frontier – Practising Law Institute – Audio Program from November 2007

Virtual Worlds News – from Virtual World Management


  1. It may be the flavour of the month, but there are some interesting legal questions raised by virtual worlds – whether they are novel in principle or just in application remains to be seen.

    The Cyberspace Law Committee of the ABA’s Section of Business Law also has a group working on this area, along with the SciTech committee that Connie mentions. That group has published an article in Business Law Today (the less academic, non-footnoted publication of the Section) giving an overview of some of the legal issues, with a further article coming soon.

    IT.Can has an ad hoc committee on interactive media, whose mandate covers social networking, virtual worlds, and the like. Jason Kee of Toronto chairs it.

    I expect the conference that Connie mentions will do well, if only because people who want to be involved will come. They may outnumber those who are involved now. OTOH Second Life is said to have over 10 million members, so some of them have got to have legal problems and some can afford lawyers … so who are they going to call?

  2. Thanks so much for the added information, John. It sounds like this is an area that has piqued your interest as well!