Wednesday, November 06, 2013

New Publication Alert: My UBC Law Review Article is now Available!!

I found out over the weekend that the special issue on Media & Video Game Law, edited by Jon Festinger, for the UBC Law Review journal is now in print!!! 

The issue includes a great assortment of articles, moral rights and mods (Michela Fiorido), privacy rights and computer searches (Lisa Jorgensen), legal implications of virtual item theft (Tina van der Linden), an overview of judicial ethics in a digital age (Lorne Sossin & Meredith Bacal), and an exploration of FTC's Google settlement (Michael A. Carrier). Topped off by an intro by Festinger, who is the leading Canadian thinker and legal expert when it comes to video game and various other digital media law. 

I'm honoured to have an article included in this issue myself. In this piece, I finally delve into some of the lingering issues/problems with EULAs in kids' games that I've raised, but never fully explored, in some of my previous works on policy/ethical dimensions of commercial children's games. I learnt a TON in the process, thanks in no small part to the peer reviewers, all of whom were generous enough to give me thorough and thoughtful feedback, as well as a bit of a crash course in minors' restrictions and the infancy doctrine.

Here's the title and abstract: 
“Persistent and Emerging Questions About the Use of End-User Licence Agreements in Children’s Online Games and Virtual Worlds” - Sara M. Grimes
Abstract: The appearance of standard form end-user license agreements (EULAs) in online games and virtual worlds designed and targeted to children raises a number of important cultural and ethical questions—about children’s autonomy, liability, responsibility and authorship—that warrant closer attention. For the most part, EULAs contain highly complex language, terminology, and highly abstract economic and legal concepts, while mechanisms for obtaining user and parental consent are largely inadequate. In addition, many of these documents work to preemptively resolve regulatory grey areas that have not yet been subject to public discussion, as well as expand corporately advantageous power relations into new spaces of childhood. An exploration of current trends, future implications and possible solutions is provided in five sections. The first part examines common terms and arguments made about EULAs, and questions whether and how they might apply to players who are minors. The second section reviews theories used to justify children’s special legal status, specifically in regards to younger children and contracts. The third part explores the notion of parental liability and reviews recent legal developments relating to the enforceability of infants’ waivers. The fourth part examines the converse trend of officially ‘banning’ minors from participation, and considers the legal ramifications for children who misrepresent their age in order to play. The final part explores how the criticisms and problems raised in previous sections of the paper can be used to devise an alternative framework, and provides a series of recommendations for drafting a more reciprocal, balanced and child-centric EULA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for working on this. EULA's are not exactly something most folks read, but they are important. My daughter and I thank you. Off to play Dragonvale with her now, even if we didn't read the EULA!

PS I hope you worked in a comment about the EULA where they included selling your soul when you signed.