Virtual ownership

04.11.2021 13 3449
Virtual ownership

Source of Virtual Ownership

Management of Your Virtual Property

Types of Ownership Acquisitions

Possessory Property Rights in the Virtual World

Receiving Original Ownership in Virtual Worlds

Receiving Derivative Ownership in Virtual Worlds

Contemporary Challenges of Virtual Ownership


Frequently Asked Questions— FAQ


Ownership rights on real-world items are quite clear and easy to control. In cases of not understanding something, owners turn to the law to clarify their position concerning the property. However, in the virtual world, it is hard to find such regulations. While defining what virtual property includes in itself might be not so difficult, decisions made about owned entities and rights that come with their acquisition often need some clarifications.


The concept of virtual ownership is still quite new. That is why new additions and implications are added to it regularly. These extra features might confuse users and their understanding of the concept. One should frequently check the updated versions of the ownership's definitions and regulations, which can be very time-consuming at times. On the other hand, constant improvements of the virtual ownership conditions provide a significant sense of owners' stability over the possessed items. When your rights are clearly defined, you know that nothing harmful will happen to your property.


What is considered to be a virtual property? There is a variety of tangible and intangible, movable and immovable items that can be under your virtual world ownership:


  • website and email addresses
  • domain names
  • bank accounts
  • items that exist only inside virtual worlds


Items that exist only inside the virtual environment have been causing interest and discussion about virtual ownership for the last several years.  These entities represent everything that users come into contact with during their experience in the virtual world: items for fighting and building, houses, lands, avatars, everyday items, currencies, and many other things.


This article will focus exactly on those things for which only virtual ownership is possible. While they might have some real-world value, their main utility is among the virtual world users.


Source of Virtual Ownership

When entering a virtual world, for example, one of the computer games, you are offered to read and agree with terms of contract and service. The majority of people usually do not even read them, and even if they do, it is not always clear why they are needed. Scrolling down to the end of a long list and accepting the terms without even knowing them has become a very common practice in our society.


Some assume that those long texts are only required from the game development companies as some rule of the business making. But those terms and conditions of contract and service are significant for the users in the first place.  In these very terms, the right of virtual ownership is given to a user. By agreeing with the rules, the creators of the virtual world, or the game development team, give you the rights for using and possessing virtual entities. So basically, you become one of the virtual owners once you agree to the terms and conditions of the virtual world.


Moreover, in the virtual practice, you can receive your virtual property rights through other component factors of virtual worlds:


  • You can buy a virtual item and be the only or one of the owners;
  • The rights can be transmitted from other users or a company if they wish to perform a cession;
  • Virtual ownership can be acquired as a result of heritage;
  • If another user has lost the ownership rights due to insolvent estate, you can take the position of an owner of the lost item;
  • You can be the creator of virtual world entities and become an original owner.


The combination of terms of contract and service and the other component factors of acquisition allow each user to be guaranteed his or her rights to the owned virtual world items.


Management of Your Virtual Property

In everyday life, people often have decisions facing them with what to do with the real-life property. As legal owners, they can choose from the variety of actions allowed by the law.


There is no example of a legal source that lists the actions permitted to perform on virtual property. Every possible rule of virtual ownership is embedded in the software. Without it, there would be no guarantees for the virtual owners, as the rights of ownership are implications of the virtual worlds' code. This is the main difference between owning real-world entities and virtual ones.


Despite the distinction in the source of ownership, there are not many significant differences in the actions allowed to perform with the virtual property. Virtual ownership permits you to sell, cede, inherit, or be lost on an insolvent estate. Those are the same things from which you can acquire your ownership.


Types of Ownership Acquisitions

Corresponding to the laws from the real world, virtual world ownership can be received in the original or the derivative way. The rich data, which both include, differ in the sense of acquisition source and number of previous users who owned the virtual item.


1. Original acquisition

Original acquisition of virtual ownership is achieved by the user if he or she created a virtual item or its implications with the use of technology. Development of a product from scratch and full control over it allow the user to take the position of an original owner.


The concept of the original appropriation presupposes having a new and significant item, which has no previous owners. The process of acquiring virtual ownership is one-sided. Giving away the original ownership rights can make you a great profit, as others are ready to pay a lot for something novel and not possessed by others.


This virtual ownership can be strengthened by making a registered trademark over the developed product and its implications. However, this method is more often used by business companies connected with technology development rather than ordinary users.


An example of original acquisition would be finding treasures or minerals, picking fruits and vegetables, conquering land, and so on.


2. Derivative acquisition

Derivative acquisition of virtual ownership is attained by receiving or repurchasing the virtual world item from another user or a company.

This type of ownership is based on two-sided deals, where the rights are either paid for or transmitted on a nonprofit basis. To get the ownership rights, you have to contact the person or the company who owned the item before, and in some cases, have a discussion about the terms of transmission.


The derivative acquisition can be represented, for example, by the transfer of rights from another user or a company or by the registration of a new owner.


Possessory Property Rights in the Virtual World

In the real world, there is no robust association of ownership with the possession of something in fact. When we possess something, this thing might not even be owned by us. However, in the virtual world, once a user possesses an item, it automatically gets under his control and ownership. It happens because the game data restricts a user of a virtual world from using component factors of another player's world.


This limitation in technology creates a significant rule of virtual ownership: once you take something, you obtain ownership over the object. Usually, every item that is attached to a player and being carried with him is considered to be the virtual property of a user.


Still, as simple as it is to obtain ownership in the virtual world, it is as easy to lose it. The main focus of many virtual worlds is to get rid of the rivals and make a great profit out of them in case of success. In some sense, such conquest of the items is a composite structural factor of ownership attainment.


This simplistic acquisition of virtual ownership causes big discussion and puts the developers under the pressure of creating very complex codes with extensive bases of data. Management of owned items becomes more and more sophisticated with each new generation of games. This causes a bigger variety of companies dealing with virtual worlds and a common user to be more assertive over his virtual ownership rights.


Receiving Original Ownership in Virtual Worlds

As we have already discussed in this article, the crucial thing in receiving virtual property is possessing a virtual item. One option for a user to obtain possession of significant virtual data is through capturing some virtual world creations, such as animals or magical creatures. Another variant is to create products by gardening, mining, or farming. There are many other foundations on which you can gain virtual ownership as well, so let us discuss the most commonly used ones.


1. Capturing virtual creatures

Original acquisition of ownership in virtual worlds usually comes from killing or taming the creatures and receiving something for it. This achievement award is the object of the originally obtained ownership.


The process is quite similar to our real-life hunting, where the stuffed animals or rugs made of animals' skin become hunter's "originally" owned property. However, in the case of virtual loot, there is no real-world value to the items. The only thing that increases is the virtual wealth of the user.


Sometimes the virtual worlds do not have the corporate governance rules regulating which player receives the ownership right in conflict situations. This is where the unofficial rules of gaming communities come into play.

Players have a discussion on who brought the team the most amount of success, and the loot gets owned by this person.


2. Crafting virtual items

Another source of original acquisition of ownership is creating virtual items by applying certain skills. There are many games where the cost of something is measured in entities created by the user himself or herself. Such simple economics create a great base for the attainment of objects under virtual ownership.


Things that a player creates during farming, mining, gardening, business making, or any other type of activity that has an economic value are considered to be under the original ownership of the player. With the usage of one's virtual skills, items can be brought to virtual life. As there would be no previous owners, the product of the virtual work would be under the original virtual ownership.


3. Accession of items

There is also an option of joining multiple virtual items together in order to get something new. This method is often combined with the crafting one. After the transformation, the new item, due to its novelty and absence of previous owners, will be considered an object of the original acquisition of ownership.


4. Changes in the code

One of the most advanced yet still commonly used options for obtaining the original ownership is through the modification of the game's coding. While the rich data embedded in it provides all the necessary tools for a full experience in a virtual world, many companies that produce the games allow us to put certain changes in the code.


Such complicated technology is a great way of obtaining the original ownership over the items, as your code will create the items accessible to your game avatar only.


Receiving Derivative Ownership in Virtual Worlds

Derivative ownership of virtual items comes from purchasing or receiving them from another user or a company. There are a lot of ways of how one can derive the ownership of an item in the gaming reality.


Places to purchase virtual items

Many virtual worlds have highly developed systems of economic relationships. The commodity exchange in some games is so advanced, and it can rival the most complex real-world economics. Game developers select the marketplace of the virtual world according to its theme.

Management of trade relationships can be organized in the forms of:


  • auction houses
  • markets
  • shops
  • bazaars
  • taverns
  • town commons, and other shopping facilities.


Housing markets

Economics and regulations in the virtual estate marketplaces are quite similar to real-life ones. Many virtual worlds allow purchasing buildings and lands from other players or special virtual companies.


To complete a business deal with success, one must follow certain rules of housing governance. There is also a technology that was built on the example of real-life estate property regulations. The system logs in all the existing buildings and lands, and it creates a rich database containing all the estate items owned by players.


Thus, economic deals concerning housing are also very common in the virtual world. By purchasing lands or houses, one obtains derivative ownership, which makes a profit to the selling side of the business transaction.


Contemporary Challenges of Virtual Ownership

If previously the article described only the gaming aspect of the virtual world, now we would like to discuss the other side of this area. Virtual worlds include not only video games' realities but every platform that is created with the use of technology and used in the virtual space.


While gaming is considered to be a nonprofit activity for an ordinary user, the activity on the web platforms is usually performed with economic incentives. Being a part of the platform and a robust association with it are not the final goals of the participants. Whether it is a whole company or a single individual, almost everyone seeks profit to be made out of the posting content on various platforms.


However, the major problem arises in the process of content management. As the content and platform ownership levels of the virtual world are very interconnected, the separation of owners might cause some trouble. While looking for all the possible ways to post content, companies and individuals might come up with ideas that might not correspond to one of the owners of the platform.


If we focus on the side of content creators, we can surely argue that they have the ownership rights over the content they post on the platform (except in the cases when plagiarism takes place and the ownership claims are not true). Whatever they create while aiming for the economic or another type of success is wholly owned by them, and no one can dispose of their intellectual property.


Points for consideration

However, those companies who have ownership over the platforms on which creators post can easily manage the virtual items of the latter. Materials can be deleted, or the content might not appear to every user of the platform.


Thus, the discrepancy is created. While the content creators still possess ownership rights over their virtual entities, platform owners can use and change those entities. In fact, it violates the ownership of the former, but it can be justified by the rights the latter have.


This conflict creates a lot of discussions, and this sphere of virtual ownership still has to focus on developing many rules that would regulate such an inequity.



The field of virtual ownership is a very complex one and requires a lot of regulations and clarifications. While being somewhat similar to the real-life property laws, the virtual world requires its own specific rules on the acquisition and possession of virtual property.


There are two different types of ownership that one can acquire: an original one and a derived one. The source that your owned item is created from defines what type of ownership it will be classified. There are not many differences in the quality of both types of items. However, creating or conquering something novel and unique might make your item more valuable than simply purchasing it.


Functions of virtual ownership vary for different people as well. Some use the virtual world for recreational or socialization purposes only, so ownership of virtual items is quite nonprofit for them and might seem important only in the context of a game. Others strive to achieve economic success by being an owner of valuable virtual entities.


No matter what use of obtaining virtual ownership you choose, you must be aware of the governing laws of virtual property. Decisions facing those who try to sell or cede the ownership must be based not only on the desire to get some profit but also on both written and unwritten rules of virtuality.


Frequently Asked Questions— FAQ


When is ownership merely virtual?

The ownership can be considered merely virtual in cases when it exists only in virtual worlds. Such ownership can be one over movable or immovable things. Virtual world ownership rights are similar in some sense to real-life ones. However, they are more complex and are often regulated by software rather than law. All of the virtual property and other entities are fixed in the code data, so virtual owners are guaranteed their ownership rights.


How will the ownership of virtual items in video games be?

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are the newest great addition to the video games world. With their implications in the virtual environment, virtual ownership and property rights become more precise and consistent. By purchasing NFTs, one seeks the firm statement of personal ownership and a clear history of previous acquisition. If previously virtual items in video games were hard to regulate and control in terms of ownership, with NFTs being implemented, it becomes much easier.


Are NFTs worth investing in?

As the NFT market grows and develops each day, it can make a great profit for you in the future if you invest in it now. By choosing the right items to invest in, you can make a real fortune. Your success in this sphere depends on how much you know about the market and how well you can distinguish valuable items from useless ones. Investment in NFTs can make you a good short-term income or even an ever-growing long-term one, so either way, you are in abundance.


How can I create, buy, and sell NFTs?

You can create a non-fungible token (NFT) just by uploading your item to the NFT marketplace. There is a great choice of those marketplaces, and each of them has its own cryptocurrency. You can set the price for your NFT in a convenient currency and make it either fixed or as an auction. Once you acquire some crypto money, you can buy NFTs from other creators. There is also an option of exchanging your real-life money to the cryptocurrency on the exchange platforms.

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