Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Tiffany Day


Courts will face novel issues in constitutional law when the virtual world begins to resemble the real world. Virtual world platforms, such as Second Life, offer a glimpse into the problems that online players face, as well as a look at how some of these problems can be handled in real life. While courts have largely ignored in-game legal issues and have left game creators with the power to decide punishment and distribution of rights, as online commerce and business models begin to grow these issues become more relevant to today's society.

This Note examines the various theories of player regulation, including in-game regulation through terms of service contracts or state action theory, and offers a tentative proposal to employ a corporate framework to approach the issue of the legal rights of avatars. It also briefly considers issues such as torts, crime regulation, and intellectual property rights. The corporate framework applies existing corporate law, compares corporations to avatars, and weighs the costs and benefits of such a framework.