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Hello! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University. 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). This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Published Cases Involving Social Media Evidence

I have been browsing Internet on the topic of social networks and law, and stumbled upon a comprehensive list of published cases involving social media evidence for the first half of 2012 prepared by X1 Discovery.

Here is the link to this list.

It is definitely a useful piece of information which covers not only the issues of e-discovery itself, but also many other areas of law and technology intersection at the point of court practice. 
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Theft Of Virtual Objects In RuneScape

Many thanks to colleague from Denmark who shared the information on decision of Dutch Supreme Court concerning theft of virtual objects in popular RuneScape MMORPG.

The summary:

The Court of Appeal convicted the defendant of, briefly stated, the theft with violence, together with another person, of a virtual amulet and mask belonging to another person in the online game RuneScape.

From the evidence adduced at the appeal, it may be concluded that the defendant and his co-accused coerced the victim, using violence and the threat of violence, to surrender virtual objects in the game of RuneScape that had cost him time and effort to obtain. He was made to log into his RuneScape account and 'drop' the objects in the virtual game environment. The defendant was then able to use his own RuneScape account to appropriate the items dropped by the victim.

The appeal court held that this constituted a criminal offence under article 310 in conjunction with article 312 of the Criminal Code.

And the link to full text at official website.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Video Game-Based Methodology For Business Research

To continue with structuring of the material, I include a new headline keyword 'Review' for posts related to short summaries and links to mostly academic articles which I read in course of my research.

I would like to begin with the article 'Video Game-Based Methodology for Business Research' by Larry L. Lawson (professor of finance in the Steven L. Craig School of Business at Missouri Western State University) and Catherine L. Lawson (professor of economics at Missouri Western State University) originally published in Simulation Gaming 2010, vol. 41, PP. 360-373.

I accessed my copy at SAGE Journals repository, but most likely it requires some form of authorisation or subscription my University probably has.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Judge Richard Posner In Second Life

While preparing an article on virtual law I revealed an interesting fact about Judge Richard Posner. In 2006 he appeared in an event hosted by Creative Commons which took place nowhere but in Second Life!

Participation of the most prominent modern American legal theorist and judge in a virtual world can be a striking reference point for any virtual law article. Feel free to use this fact if you have not found it already.

My credit to Benjamin T. Duranske and Sean F. Kane who mentioned it in their article 'Virtual Worlds, Real World Issues'.

See full account of the event in Wagner James Au blog.

Screenshot cited (oh, can it?) in academic purposes from
http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2006/12/the_second_life.html
All rights reserved by respective copyright holders

 

Russian Customs Won't Inspect Your Software

Adding a short reference in addition to considerations on customs control of software.

There is an official Letter by Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation of 17 March 2006 No. 15-14/8524 "On Customs Clearance of Information Transmitted by Internet" which explicitly states that software transferred by Internet are expemt from customs control as they fall out of the definition of an 'informational product' which refers to anything recorded on tangible medium.

Still, it is not a final legislative answer as official letters are not a source of law.

As a side note, the position state in the Letter of 17 March 2006 No. 15-14/8524 somehow resembles the funniest (albeit deadly correct) provision of Item 2 Article 336 the Customs Code of the Customs Union which states that when you declare electrical energy, you are not obligated to actually show it to customs authority in charge.  

 

A Good Article On Virtual Tax

A little bit earlier I referred to a problem of 'virtual tax' - whether proceeds (at least in real money) from virtual transactions should be taxed in real world.

A good overview of this issue is given by vanguard tax lawyers in the article "Taxing the Virtual World... And Beyond" (by Stephen P. Kranz, Lisbeth A. Freeman, and Mark W. Yopp).

An interesting aspect is that authors show certain similarity between virtual worlds, social networks and some other similar phenomena in terms of taxation. The article focuses on the U.S. tax system, but the perspective is global.

In any case, it is a real pleasure to see terms linke 'team deathmatch' in an article on legal topic.

Coursera And Lord of the Rings Online

Yesterday a colleague of mine shared a useful link to Coursera project. This resource offers a variety of free online courses (distant learning) hosted by various academics and institutions most of which result in a certificate. Although the practical significance of such certificates, in terms of career, will vary from situation to situation, this appears to be an interesting opportunity.

Looking through the courses available I noticed one directly related to game studies: "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative" by Jay Clayton from Vanderbilt University. It is great that online games are gaining more and more academic attention. The syllabus of the course presents a good mix of game studies and literature, and as the prospect says, the coolest thing about the course is an opportunity to meet the instructor and classmates in Lord of the Rings Online!


Screenshot cited (oh, can it?) in academic purposes from
 http://www.lotro.com/sites/default/files/gallery_images/RohanEpic.jpg 
All rights reserved by respective copyright holders stated at LotRO website:
 http://www.lotro.com/en/content/screenshots