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

  • Debora J. Halbert University of Hawaii at Manoa
Keywords: TOS, EULA, privacy, intellectual property, virtual worlds

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Debora J. Halbert, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Debora Halbert is author of Intellectual property in the information age (Westport, Conn.: Quorum, 1999) and Resisting intellectual property law (New York: Routledge, 2005). She has published extensively on issues of intellectual property, cyberspace, and technology. She is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Published
2009-12-06
How to Cite
Halbert, D. J. (2009). Public lives and private communities: The terms of service agreement and life in virtual worlds. First Monday, 14(12). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i12.2601