Beware Second Lifers! Virtual crime has become a reality and, as these incidents make headlines, legal scholars are trying to figure out how to handle these new, sometimes perplexing issues. Although virtual crime is certainly less common than real world crime, its implications, both from a philosophical and legal standpoint, are great. Should criminal virtual conduct trigger real world responses? How does virtual rape affect real victims? Should virtual “murder” have real world repercussions and what exactly is virtual “murder” anyway?

Be sure not to miss Fantasy Crime: The Role of Criminal Law in Virtual Worlds, in The Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law‘s Fall 2008 issue (Vol. 11 No. 1). Professor Brenner’s Abstract of the Article follows:

This Article analyzes activities in virtual worlds that would constitute crime if they were committed in the real world. It reviews the evolution of virtual worlds like Second Life and notes research which indicates that more and more of our lives will move into this realm. The Article then analyzes the criminalization of virtual conduct that inflicts “harm” in the real world and virtual conduct that only inflicts “harm” in the virtual world. It explains that the first category qualifies as cybercrime and can be prosecuted under existing law. Finally, it analyzes the necessity and propriety of criminalizing the second category of conduct, both now and in the future.

Article Author: Susan W. Brenner

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