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Virtual worlds players – consumers or citizens?

Harbinja, Edina (2014) Virtual worlds players – consumers or citizens? Internet Policy Review, 3 (4). pp. 1-12. ISSN 2197-6775

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Abstract

This article questions the preconceived notions that participants in virtual worlds are essentially consumers. Building on the existing scholarship around virtual worlds and notwithstanding the current character of virtual worlds, this paper explores aspects of End User Licence Agreements and notes the unfairness of their provisions, particularly the imbalance between user and developer interests governed by such contracts. It argues that the contracts cannot be regulated with consumer protection legislation, as interests such as property or intellectual property are beyond the scope of consumer protection regimes. Finally, recognising the phenomenon of constitutionalisation of virtual worlds, the article argues for stronger regulatory solutions in this domain, in order to strike a more appropriate balance between competing interests in virtual worlds.