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Die ökonomische Bewertung rechtlicher Schutzfragen bezüglich virtueller Objekte auf Online-Plattformen insbesondere MMORPGs


  • Florian W. Bartholomae
  • Pamela Koch


The spread of broadband Internet access as well as Internet flat rates pushes the emergence and growth of virtual worlds especially Massive Multiplayer Online Role--Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as \emph{World of Warcraft}. The increase in the economic role of this sector has given rise to many economic and legal questions. This interdisciplinary paper examines the assignment of (intellectual) property rights to the players as well as to the licensee considering intangible property rights. We analyze the legal as well as economic characteristics of virtual goods differing two types of virtual goods: the avatar, a virtual character that is driven by the player, and virtual objects that can be gathered by the avatar during the game. Although Terms of Service prohibit the Real Money Trade of avatars and virtual objects, a sizeable market came to existence, where trade between players as well as between players and newly founded commercial enterprises takes place. Therefore it has to be clarified on the one hand, if customization of those avatars and items means that they also become the players (intellectual) property and on the other hand, if this trade does make economic sense at all. Finally, we develop a pricing model which assigns different property rights to the players and the licensee according to the players' preferences to solve the arising legal as well as economic problems matching all interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian W. Bartholomae & Pamela Koch, 2009. "Die ökonomische Bewertung rechtlicher Schutzfragen bezüglich virtueller Objekte auf Online-Plattformen insbesondere MMORPGs," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(4), pages 539-569.
  • Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqsjb:v129_y2009_i1_q1_p539-569

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    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software


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