Virtual Worlds – a Legal Post-Mortem Account

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the lack of legal literature in the area of death and virtual worlds.
It sheds light on the legal status of different in-game assets, assessing whether these
could fit within the notions of property or other relevant legal concepts such as
intellectual property, usufruct, or easements. Having determined this, the paper goes on
to explore the possibilities regarding the transmission of these assets on death.
The author does not share views of a great portion of the legal literature arguing for
recognition of ”virtual property” as a concept. Rather, this paper proposes an alternative
solution in order to reconcile different interests arising in VWs; primarily, those of
developers and players. Recognising a phenomenon of consitutionalisation of VWs,
this article suggests a solution in the form of servitudes (usufruct). Virtual usufruct is
herein conceived as player‟s entitlement to use the VW account and profit from it, if
applicable. It is suggested that the entitlement to use the account expires on death, but
that it allows a player‟s personal representative/executor to gain access to the account
and extract any possible monetary value. This solution would enable players to take
more control over their virtual assets and heirs to potentially benefit from valuable VW
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-307
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

© Edina Harbinja 2014. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please click on the link to read the terms and conditions.


  • Virtual worlds
  • post-mortem
  • EULAs


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual Worlds – a Legal Post-Mortem Account'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this