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Antitrust Law and Virtual Worlds | Author: Marques Tracy

Antitrust Law and Virtual Worlds | Author: Marques Tracy

Much has been written about the law in virtual worlds, though the focus has been on the more obviously applicable areas of the law, namely property, copyright, and crime. Indeed, in the few instances when disputes involving virtual worlds have reached a federal court, the focus has usually been on contract or copyright claims. It is the purpose of this paper to argue for the use of the antitrust laws as set forth in sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and possibly the Clayton Act, to forestall the anticompetitive behavior of virtual world developers. First, this paper will discuss the general purposes of antitrust law and the reasons for their preeminence in commercial law. Second, this paper will focus on the economic effect of real-money trading (“RMT”) in virtual worlds, focusing on the perceived, as well as the actual, impacts on commerce. Third, this paper will argue for the application of section 1 of the Sherman Act’s prohibition against tying arrangements as it relates to RMT. Fourth, this paper will argue for the application of section 2 of the Sherman Act’s prohibition against monopoly as it relates to RMT. Finally, this paper will introduce the possibility of liability under the Clayton Act, noting the difficulty inherent in such analysis because of the nature of in-game items.

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