We see much discussion of the openness and collaborative nature of the web 2.0 world. However, many of the challenges facing us as a result of this new world relate to ownership of virtual goods.
There are longstanding conventions that enable us to sort out who owns property in the real world and some of the traditional principles of property rights include:
- control of the use of the property
- the right to any benefit from the property
- a right to transfer or sell the property
- a right to exclude others from the property.
But as we move further into the digital revolution then issues of ownership regarding digital assets and virtual goods comes to the fore.
However, some of the traditions of the web – such as openness – seem to be at odds with this notion of ownership. Also legal definitions might not be keeping up with the developments of these new digital and virtual goods. For example, what are the rules around a virtual good that I give away? What jurisdiction does it live in? How does title to the virtual good transfer?
These are all the questions facing the modern music industry with the shift to digital music. Locking down access does not seem to be working. Perhaps it is time to think about this from a fresh angle?
Other related issues are copyright and defamation. The old rules often seem very clunky and difficult to apply in this new digital world.
Some interesting questions for us to sort out. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.