Virtual Jurisdictions

From The Theme

What if we could learn how the use of virtual world technology influences individual communication and interaction, and explore the development of legal regimes to govern virtual communities?

We set out to explore how the physics and community of virtual worlds influences the legal regimes that govern them. Stanford law students participated as residents in the virtual world Second Life, hearing legal disputes between residents and studying how the use of the virtual world technology influences interaction and the development of legal regimes. Decisions were made with the goal of developing a body of law that could be applied in any virtual environment.

The Virtual Jurisdictions project identified issues and legal problems such as governance; taxation; virtual property; interpretation of intellectual property concerning fair use, remix and product placement; identity and reputation; and scams. As residents in Second Life, students developed a shared language for what makes people angry and upset in virtual worlds, articulated the legal problems identified by other Second Life residents, and tested methods of governance in addressing those problems.

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Lauren Gelman is an experienced attorney, frequent speaker and start-up advisor who has worked in the field of Internet law and policy since 1995. She is the founder of BlurryEdge Strategies, a legal and strategy consulting firm located in San Francisco that advises technology companies and investors on cutting-edge legal issues. Lauren previously led the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and taught at the Law School and the Department of Engineering. Prior to that she worked in Washington DC on policy issues for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACM Public Policy Committee, and at RealNames in Silicon Valley.

Dan Siciliano is a legal scholar and entrepreneur with expertise in corporate governance, corporate finance, and immigration law. He assumes a variety of leadership roles at the law school, including Faculty Director of the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Associate Dean for Executive Education and Special Programs and Co-Director of Stanford’s Directors’ College.