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Title: The case for virtual property
Author: MacDonald, Michaela
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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Virtual assets should be treated as a species of property. Users of virtual environments have legitimate expectations about acquiring legal interests in virtual assets as they would in their physical counterparts under similar circumstances. There are two sources of these expectations. Firstly, it is the architecture of virtual environments, the existence of virtual economies, and the property-like characteristics of virtual assets that frame users' expectations. Secondly, providers' representations and conduct either explicitly authorise or tolerate virtual asset transactions. As a result, issues of title and ownership arise. The existing legal framework fails to deal properly with these issues. Currently applicable laws, such as contract, intellectual property or consumer protection law, do not recognise users' expectations as legitimate. However, property law could provide the necessary answers by treating virtual assets as part of the law of property. The theoretical foundations of property law inform us about the origins, justifications and consequences of property rights, as well as their role in allocating valuable resources and resolving social conflict. The concept of virtual property entails property rights in virtual assets, which as durable, separable things of independent value. In consequence, a new category of virtual property would resolve the different and unjustified treatment of virtual assets. Virtual property recognizes and protects users' legal interest in virtual assets, based on their legitimate expectations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Virtual assets ; Virtual property