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A free book about the laws governing virtual worlds

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Rutgers University law professor Greg Lastowka has directed us to a free PDF copy of his new book, Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds. The book covers the increasingly bizarre legal framework that's encompassing virtual worlds like Warcraft.

Here's how Lastowska describes his book:

Tens of millions of people today are living part of their life in a virtual world. In places like World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Free Realms, people are making friends, building communities, creating art, and making real money. Business is booming on the virtual frontier, as billions of dollars are paid in exchange for pixels on screens. But sometimes things go wrong. Virtual criminals defraud online communities in pursuit of real-world profits. People feel cheated when their avatars lose virtual property to wrongdoers. Increasingly, they turn to legal systems for solutions. But when your avatar has been robbed, what law is there to assist you?


The book also delves into fictional portrayals of virtual worlds in fiction and, as Lastowska told us, "gold farming, exploits & hacking, user-generated content, avatar gender-bending, [...] sci-fi, video games, [and] MUDs." You can download the full PDF for free here.

You can learn more about Lastowska's research at his site, and the book is available from Yale University Press.