Virtual world activities can lead to disputes that end up in real-world court rooms. Ownership of property rights is one issue that has been litigated with respect to Second Life, for example. U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, who presided over the settlement of a class action case, said last year that “Second Life users own copyrights in the virtual land and items that they purchase or create.”
Millions of people have created avatars that live in Internet virtual worlds. Those virtual worlds include Second Life and Maple Story, as well as video games.
Although these virtual worlds and games are used regularly by individuals around the world, few consider the ownership and other legal rights associated with their virtual activities. There has been some interesting litigation, particularly with Second Life, that sheds some light on those rights, and brings these issues out of the virtual world and into the real world.