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Welcome! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University and engaged in legal practice with the international law firm Dentons. Major part of my research is connected to virtual worlds and massive multiplayer online games (a broad field which includes Internet law, video game law, virtual law and game studies). My legal practice is focused on providing support to computer game companies. This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. Please note that this blog conveys my private opinion which is not necessarily shared by any organisations I am associated with. For more formal and detailed introduction please visit my website arkhipov.info which serves more as a 'business card'.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Should We Have A Right To Play?

I received an official answer from EA support that High Seas Booster for Ultima Online is not available for Russian players and it is not planned to be available.

This is a great disappointment for Russian Ultima Online players (the few of them who remained) for two reasons. First, we, unlike other civilized nations, will not have legitimate access to nice fishing content. Second, it is clearly unfair, because earlier it was possible to buy it through UO Accounts store.

This raises a topical question: do (and should) virtual worlds users have any fair rights to access content, or we are just poor deprived beings who are totally dependent on service providers? 

The legal aspect of this issue may imply the question whether constitutional rights securing access to cultural heritage/objects may be extrapolated on modern virtual environments.

5 comments:

  1. Good evening, I've had a similar problem recently. I wanted to buy a copy of Borderlands 2, but right before buying it I saw a message that warned me about NOT being able to play this game in english if I buy it in Russia. The problem is that I wanted to hear english voices and read english text because I really hate most of the translations. Most of the time they simply ruin the atmosphere of the game with horrible voices. Luckily, only the text was translated, so it doesn't really matter after all. And I'm really looking forward to hear what you think about this situation. I've bought this game via STEAM service btw, so I'm actually surprised this happened since STEAM is a very decent service.

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    1. Greetings! Thank you for the input. I understand you perfectly, and my position is the same. I faced the very same situation many times, but I usually end not playing at all. My prima facie thoughts are that legally this relates to consumer rights and, maybe, even to human/constitutional rights relating to the right of access to the original work. This is a widespread problem, because, businesswise, publishing companies often limit the sales of original versions in 'localized' regions because they fear to lose profit - people may come to Russia e.g. from Finland to buy bulk English disks for lower prices. I adore companies who do not impose language limitations. Online example currently is Blizzard, offline - Bethsezda / ZeniMax (Fallout 3 or Skyrim come with all language packs). In summary, this problem relates to rights of players, and we need to do something about it. U.S. citizens could use class-action suits in such cases. What to do in our case is a good topic for our discussion club (my guess is that you are an Anonymous from this emerging community).

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    2. And where can I find the discussion club?

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    3. Please write me by e-mail (check Google profile) or contact me through Facebook.

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  2. The post reminded me about Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/kirtsaeng-v-john-wiley-sons-inc/

    Very similar situation. I hope that someday such cases will be subject of trials in Russia.

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