Legal Issues with MMORPGs

The legal issues that develop in MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games) can be explained by investigating the dichotomy of game developers versus the players or subscribers.  Copyright is undoubtedly crucial for game developers. Moreover, every part of the scripts, artwork, music, sound recordings and computer code produced by or for the developer are copyrightable game components. A lucrative market has developed around MMORPGs; this marketplace includes the sale of items, characters, and game currency through outside auctions[1]. Therefore, the fundamental question of gamer’s rights in the ownership of virtual property arises against the backdrop of real world intellectual property laws. Game developers illustrate that the inclusion of End User License Agreements (EULAs) establish intellectual property proprietorship and rights throughout any trades with the game characters and items. Nevertheless, countless gamers object to the aforementioned contention and therefore, should be able to claim rights for characters and items that they have spent many hours developing.
The USPTO has long been granting a myriad of patents to game developers for virtual worlds or MMORPGs. These software patents have often cause lengthy litigation or end as quickly as they began. Moreover, amongst the gaming community many stipulate there is a huge controversy over the ability for game developers to patent what many claim are ideas not inventions.

[1] When referring to outside auctions, I mean out-of-game sales not sanctioned by game developers or companies that illustrate in their EULAs that in-game currency trade (outside of the game by exchanging real money) is not permitted.