Virtual borders: The interdependence of real and virtual worlds

James Grimmelmann


The flourishing trade of virtual items for real–life money suggests that virtual worlds will sometimes welcome the intervention of real–life law. At first glance, this possibility seems to undermine the Law and Borders thesis that online spaces should enjoy independence from real–life law. These ideas are compatible, however, because they start from a common premise: that these new communities are developing their own distinctive values. The lesson of the real–money trade is that preserving those values requires recognizing the interdependence of virtual worlds and the real world.

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