Saturday, October 08, 2005

Law and digital vs flesh-world geography

Line before the microphone to ask questions or address the issues brought up by the panel at "The Great Debate". The guy in the blue shirt is currently speaking.

The Great Debate, they call it, and I guess at this conference, it is. Should gamers obey laws made particularly for virtual worlds, or should they obey national laws?

The debate is moving back and forth, each side stating different points with more or less conviction and grade of seriousness. It is hard to report the debate, as each participant has their own prepared propositions without responding and acting on the arguments of the other participants (yet). But there is a place to "democratically vote" on what we think about the debate, so I guess afterwards we'll learn at least whose arguments the audience liked.

* And the audience like this debate. This is the topic that has this audience rocking, to the point that they actually line up in front of the microphone in order to ask questions or participate in the discussion. This is, if nothing else, good academic/intellectual theatre!

** "If Richard wants to set up a server in Liechtenstein and say the law of Lichtenstein governs this..." The debate rages on, and I find myself wondering of any of the participants here would happen to know anything of economic law, by which I mean: your money are taxed according to the country in which they are. Money are virtual value, they exist in the virtual realm. While we can have a physical representation - an avatar - of money in the form of coins and notes, the real value is money is just that we have all agreed to accept their value.

This virtual object is already goverened by national law, while at the same time being handled beyond national law through trade agreements and international rules, laws and sanctions. How might a group of international economy lawyers approach this question?

*** The power of virtual worlds is the fact that the people who inhabit virtual worlds are humans, people who also have influence in the flesh world accordign to where they live. This is something so wonderfully obvious it has to be spelled out for people to remember it.

And this was the public vote at the end of the debate:

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