Communications of the IIMA


Ownership in virtual worlds is somewhat of an enigma. (If it is not clear that you "exist," how can you have property? If it is not clear that things "exist" how can you own them?) Still, the interconnectedness between real and virtual worlds creates real legal and ethical quandaries about virtual ownership, similar to the issues that have been addressed regarding intellectual property in the real world. While the relationship between virtual world activities and real-world laws has yet to be clearly defined, we identify three categories of intellectual property violations that can take place in virtual worlds : in-world cloning, between-world cloning and trademark violations. In an attempt to discover the extent to which these occur, this paper represents an indepth exploration of the apparent prevalence of intellectual property violation in Second Life.