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The Law of Virtual Worlds and Internet Social Networks



About the Author Praise for Andrew Sparrow’s Previous Books Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Introduction: The Advent of the Avatar Entering into the Virtual World and v-commerce Contract Formation 2.1 The Geneology of Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 2.2 Creating an Avatar and Navigating the Virtual World 2.3 How Contract Law enters Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 2.4 Capacity Legal Terms and Conditions Governing Participation in Virtual Worlds 3.1 How to Ensure Legal Terms Govern the In-world Experience 3.2 Example Clauses for a Virtual World Service 3.3 Legal Terms and Conditions Governing Third Party Virtual Retailers Featured In-world The Minimum Content the Law Requires for Virtual World and Social Network Websites 4.1 The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 4.2 Overview 4.3 The Regulations in Detail Protecting and Exploiting Intellectual Property Rights in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 5.1 Background 5.2 Copyright in Virtual Worlds 5.3 The Convergence of Media and Technology and How that Impacts Copyright in Virtual Worlds 5.4 Copyright in the Creative Inspiration for Virtual Worlds 5.5 Copyright Liability in Virtual Worlds – Issues for Virtual World Service Providers 5.6 Case Law on Distributing Media Content over the Internet Without Consent 5.7 The Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 and Their Application to Virtual Worlds

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5 5 9 9 21

Chapter 3

23 24 24 35

Chapter 4

41 41 41 43

Chapter 5

53 53 55 59 67 71 73 78


T h e L a w o f Vi r t u a l Wo r l d s a n d I n t e r n e t S o c i a l N e t w o r k s

5.8 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16

Trademark in Internet Social Networks and Virtual Worlds Internet Social Network and Virtual World Trademark Use Policies Creating in-world Software Platforms for use by other Inhabitants Controlling the use of the Virtual World Operators’ Branding Material Licensing Digital Content The Rise of Social Networking Websites and User Generated Content Creative Commons Image Rights in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks Case Law relating to Virtual World and Social Network Intellectual Property Rights

90 94 95 98 99 100 102 107 111

Chapter 6

Marketing, Promotion and Advertising of Internet Social Networks and Virtual Worlds 6.1 Background 6.2 Internet Social Networks and Media Audience Engagement 6.3 The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 6.4 In-world Advertising and Marketing Protecting Personal Privacy in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 7.1 Background 7.2 The Data Protection Act 1998 7.3 Data Processing Principles 7.4 Database Right and the Virtual World or Social Network 7.5 Virtual World and Social Network Privacy Policies 7.6 The Vulnerability of Social Networks and Virtual Worlds to Computer Hacking 7.7 The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 7.8 Privacy and In-World Behavioural Targeting The Distance Selling Regulations and Sales Through Virtual Worlds 8.1 Background 8.2 The Consumer Protection (Contracts Concluded by Means of Distance Communication) Regulations 2000 and How They Relate to Virtual Worlds 8.3 The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) (Amendments) Regulations 2005 8.4 Guidance For The Distance Selling Regulations

121 121 122 123 130

Chapter 7

151 151 153 155 165 167 170 171 173

Chapter 8

177 177

178 182 183



Chapter 9

Agreements between Virtual Worlds or Social Networks and Infrastructure Providers 9.1 Background 9.2 The In-world Avatar Design and Development Agreement 9.3 The Virtual World Hosting Agreement Strategic Agreements between Virtual Worlds and Aggregators of the Service 10.1 Background 10.2 Linking and Revenue Share Agreement (The Click Through Revenue Deal) 10.3 The Virtual World Environment Licence Agreement Protecting Corporate and Individual Reputations in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 11.1 Background 11.2 The Defamation Act 1996 11.3 Case Law Relating to Defamation and Internet Use 11.4 The Liability or Otherwise of Virtual World or Social Network Operator’s and Balancing the Defamation Act 1996 and the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 11.5 Drawing Together How the Courts View the Process of Caching and other Internet Techniques Disability Discrimination Considerations with Virtual Worlds and Social Networks 12.1 The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Web Accessibility Best Practice Employment Law Issues and Employees’ Participation in Virtual Worlds

185 185 186 191

Chapter 10

195 195 196 199

Chapter 11

203 203 205 215

222 225

Chapter 12

229 229

Chapter 13

233 237 239

Bibliography Index