Monday, January 29, 2007

Ebay delisting Virtual Property

Ebay has decided to enforce its policy about selling virtual property over its online auction house service. Their terms of service do not allow the transfer of intellectual property unless the seller owns the underlying intellectual property, or is authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner. I am a bit confused though: how do they define intellectual property? These items and gold are certainly not patents, trademarks, or copyrights. Ebay claims that Blizzard, the manufacturer of World of Warcraft, and like service providers are the true owners of the intellectual property. Is this because they created the weapons and gold? Apparently, items created in Second Life (where the player is given tools from which he can construct items) will not be delisted. Ebay isn't sure if Second Life is a game, and as such recognizes that the virtual economy can run through it without too much problem. Is it because Second Life's currency is convertible to US dollars? More than it being an intellectual property issue, it seems that Ebay was profiting off practices that Blizzard does not condone, namely transferring resources in the game between players for resources in the real world. Is that reason enough?

Virtual Property delisted from Ebay

I am currently writing a paper on virtual assets and marketplaces, so expect to see more!

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