Virtual Justice


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The New Laws of Online Worlds

Greg Lastowka

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What happens in the virtual world doesn't always stay in the virtual world

Tens of millions of people today are living part of their life in a virtual world. In places like World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Free Realms, people are making friends, building communities, creating art, and making real money. Business is booming on the virtual frontier, as billions of dollars are paid in exchange for pixels on screens. But sometimes things go wrong. Virtual criminals defraud online communities in pursuit of real-world profits. People feel cheated when their avatars lose virtual property to wrongdoers. Increasingly, they turn to legal systems for solutions. But when your avatar has been robbed, what law is there to assist you?

In Virtual Justice, Greg Lastowka illustrates the real legal dilemmas posed by virtual worlds. Presenting the most recent lawsuits and controversies, he explains how governments are responding to the chaos on the cyberspace frontier. After an engaging overview of the history and business models of today's virtual worlds, he explores how laws of property, jurisdiction, crime, and copyright are being adapted to pave the path of virtual law.

Virtual worlds are becoming more important to society with each passing year. This pioneering study will be an invaluable guide to scholars of online communities for years to come.

Greg Lastowka is a professor of law at Rutgers University.

"Greg Lastowka shows how blurry the line can be between private and public, between a customer base and a polity. He makes a compelling and impassioned case for why what happens in online worlds matters to us all—and how what is unfolding there now is determining how free we will be."—Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It

“With humor, exhaustive research, and precise, moderated analysis, Lastowka has written a foundational text that must necessarily undergird all that will certainly follow. As he set out to do, Lastowka has not finished the debate. Rather, he has crafted a solid foundation on which the field can now build.”—Joshua A.T. Fairfield, Associate Professor of Law, Washington & Lee University School of Law, Director, Frances Lewis Law Center

"As the virtual goods economy explodes, Lastowka's well-reasoned and well-written arguments will acquire ever more importance. Courts and governments have much to decide, and—if they are wise—they will look here for much guidance."—Edward Castronova, author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games

'Virtual Justice is the definitive book on the law of virtual worlds. Illuminating as well as entertaining, from castles of bits and hijacked avatars to stolen virtual swords it is what every digital native ought to read."—Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Associate Professor and Director, Information + Innovation Policy Research Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

"Virtual Justice provides a great overview and discussion of some of the trickiest issues facing virtual worlds. It’s an important and timely contribution to the field – well worth a read by academics, designers, and users alike."—T.L. Taylor, author of Play Between Worlds

"For anyone interested in virtual worlds or massively multiplayer online games, this book will be fascinating on so many levels. Appealing, beautifully-written and chock-full of insight, Virtual Justice sets out the laws for brand new territories, creating the maps that we need to navigate these remarkable places. Of value to everyone—lawyers, laypeople, regulators, thinkers—Lastowka gives us the definitive account of the laws of the virtual worlds."—Dan Hunter, Professor of Law & Director, Institute for Information Law & Policy, New York Law School and Co-founder of Terra Nova blog:

". . . a wonderful . . . thought-provoking, insightful, and often humorous book. . . . With humor, exhaustive research, and precise, moderated analysis, he has written a foundational text."—Joshua A.T. Fairfield, Jurimetrics

"Rare is the book that so artfully animates, engages, and provokes the creative and legal imagination as does Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds."—Heidi Boghosian, The Federal Lawyer

Lastowska – Virtual Justice “Among the steadily building collections of academic work dedicated to the regulation of virtual worlds, Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds represents an excellent addition, offering a broad overview of the subject…a great narrative…Virtual Justice is an intellectually stimulating read, a much- welcome addition to the body of literature on virtual worlds, and comes highly recommended.”—Michael Wixen, C.T.L.R The Journal of e-commerce, Technology & Communications Issue: 2

ISBN: 9780300177749
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
240 pages, 5 7/8" x 9 1/16"
9 b/w illus.