Public lives and private communities: The terms of service agreement and life in virtual worlds

Debora J. Halbert


This paper argues that the terms of service (TOS) agreements, also sometimes referred to as end user license agreements (EULAs), governing virtual worlds have important implications for the political and legal structures under which our virtual selves will function. This essay will focus on four key political concepts central to all TOS agreements studied. These concepts include contract language governing speech codes, intellectual property rights, privacy, and the relationship of the gaming world to the real world. If indeed these agreements offer governing constraints for people functioning in virtual spaces, then not only should their anti–democratic construction be considered, but as people spend more time in virtual worlds, these structures will become increasingly important to many aspects of our virtual identities.


TOS; EULA; privacy; intellectual property; virtual worlds

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